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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

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Table of Contents Table of Contents ................................ ................................ ........................ 3 Introduction................................ ................................ ............................... 17 Nothing Attracts a Crowd Like a Crowd ................................ .............. 20 Capitalize on Your Mistakes ................................ ................................ ... 20 Don't Fight Web Conventions ................................ ............................... 21 Don't Innovate on Navigation................................ ................................ 22 Key Web Usability Question: What Do You Expect To Happen?: . 23 Limit Choices ................................ ................................ ............................ 23 Give Customers Control ................................ ................................ ......... 24 Leadership is Influence ................................ ................................ ............ 25 Avoid Jack Ass Management ................................ ................................ .. 26 Integrate Your Marketing Tools ................................ ............................. 27 Pick the Right Marketing Tools ................................ .............................. 27

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

Marketing is Communication ................................ ................................ .. 28 Timing................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 29 Fast Enough................................ ................................ ............................... 29 Don't Get Fooled Again ................................ ................................ .......... 30 Have a Meeting Agenda ................................ ................................ ........... 31 Logos are International ................................ ................................ ............ 32 Use a Logo ................................ ................................ ................................ . 33 Turn Your Blog into a Book ................................ ................................ ... 33 Write an Outline................................ ................................ ........................ 34 Write a Book ................................ ................................ .............................. 34 Design is More than Making Things Look Pretty................................ 35 Don't Put Welcome on Your Home Page ................................ ............ 35 Don't Put Home on Your Website's Home Page ................................ 36 Have a List of FAQ's................................ ................................ ................ 36 Squash the Rumor Mill................................ ................................ ............. 37

188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

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Promote Features and Benefits ................................ .............................. 38 Colors Matter ................................ ................................ ............................ 39 Play for the Name on the Front of Your Jersey ................................ .. 40 Play the Game, Not the Scoreboard ................................ ...................... 41 Have a Clear Job Description ................................ ................................ . 42 Catch People Doing Something Right ................................ .................. 42 Manage by Walking Around ................................ ................................ ... 43 Put Your Book in Other People's Bathrooms ................................ ..... 44 Put Books in Your Bathroom ................................ ................................ . 44 Take Celebrity Photos ................................ ................................ .............. 45 Get Naked ................................ ................................ ................................ . 46 Use a Feed Reader/Aggregator ................................ .............................. 46 Figure Out RSS Feeds ................................ ................................ .............. 48 The Enemy of the Best is the Good ................................ ...................... 48 Say No ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 49

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

Take a Braincation ................................ ................................ .................... 50 Create a Flow Chart ................................ ................................ .................. 50 Buy Your Domain Name................................ ................................ ......... 51 Do a Beta Test................................ ................................ ........................... 52 Start a Fight ................................ ................................ ................................ 52 Compromise Sucks ................................ ................................ ................... 53 Embrace Conflict ................................ ................................ ...................... 54 Think About the Team ................................ ................................ ............ 55 Start a Video Channel................................ ................................ ............... 55 Get Permission ................................ ................................ .......................... 56 Don't Spam ................................ ................................ ................................ 57 Start a Newsletter ................................ ................................ ...................... 57 Create Your Own Online Social Network ................................ ............ 58 Join an Online Social Network ................................ ............................... 59 Measure ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 60

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Write an Article ................................ ................................ ......................... 61 Vlog................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 62 Living is Not Enough ................................ ................................ .............. 62 Shine Your Shoes................................ ................................ ...................... 63 Create a Special Day ................................ ................................ ................. 64 Unleash an Idea Virus ................................ ................................ .............. 65 Don't Accept all Social Network Invitations ................................ ........ 66 Leverage the Long Tail ................................ ................................ ............ 67 You Only Have a Split Second to Make a First Impression .............. 67 Think Long Term ................................ ................................ ..................... 68 Crops Don't Grow Over Night ................................ .............................. 69 You Reap What You Sow ................................ ................................ ....... 71 Don't Sell to Your Network................................ ................................ .... 71 Organize Your Network Around a Common Interest ....................... 72 The Best Business Networks are Not Your Friends ........................... 73

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

Practice Your Elevator Pitch................................ ................................ ... 73 Join a Networking Group ................................ ................................ ........ 74 Create a Toolbar................................ ................................ ........................ 75 Create a Widget ................................ ................................ ......................... 76 Use You Instead of I and We ................................ .................... 76 3 Simple Steps to Web Design ................................ ................................ 77 Form Follows Function ................................ ................................ ........... 78 User Generated Content is Gold ................................ ............................ 79 How to Format Video for the Web ................................ ....................... 80 Websites Should Be Interactive ................................ .............................. 81 People Do Judge Books by Their Covers ................................ ............. 82 What You Reward Gets Repeated................................ .......................... 83 Use Descriptive URL's ................................ ................................ ............. 84 Go Little to Big When Labeling Web Pages ................................ ......... 85 Remember The F Reading Pattern ................................ ..................... 86

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Use Descriptive Headlines ................................ ................................ ...... 86 Go Big to Little When Writing ................................ ............................... 87 Contracts are Worthless................................ ................................ ........... 88 Don't Jump to Conclusions ................................ ................................ .... 89 Your Employees Are Your First Customers ................................ ........ 89 Say Happy Birthday to Employees and Co Workers .......................... 90 Say Happy Birthday to Customers ................................ ......................... 91 Be a Problem Solver ................................ ................................ ................. 91 Sell a Solution ................................ ................................ ............................ 92 Ask Open Ended Questions ................................ ................................ ... 93 Everyone is Not Your Customer ................................ ........................... 93 Don't Treat All Customers the Same................................ ..................... 94 Don't Project Your Paradigm ................................ ................................ . 95 Put Yourself in Your Customer's Shoes................................ ................ 96 Remember the FUD Factor ................................ ................................ .... 96

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

Create an Inviting Business Space ................................ .......................... 97 Move Your Desk................................ ................................ ....................... 98 Sit Next to People ................................ ................................ ..................... 98 Work with the Right Family Members ................................ .................. 99 Working with Family is Risky ................................ ............................... 100 Work with Family ................................ ................................ ................... 101 Work with People You Love................................ ................................ . 101 Follow Your Priniciples ................................ ................................ ......... 102 Think About Space ................................ ................................ ................. 103 Take Money When You Advertise ................................ ....................... 104 Saying Merry Christmas is Good for Business ................................ ... 105 Have a Singular Identity on the Phone ................................ ................ 106 Your Customers Don't Understand Your Identity Crisis ................. 107 How to Be an Expert ................................ ................................ ............. 108 Be an Expert ................................ ................................ ............................ 109

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Be Transparent ................................ ................................ ........................ 110 The Danger of the Steady Job ................................ .............................. 110 Passive Income Requires Effort ................................ ........................... 111 Get Passive Income ................................ ................................ ................ 112 Avoid The Entrepreneurial Trap................................ .......................... 113 The Key to Multiplying Your Efforts................................ .................. 113 Empower People ................................ ................................ .................... 114 Leave a Comment ................................ ................................ ................... 115 Allow Comments ................................ ................................ .................... 116 Shake Hands ................................ ................................ ............................ 116 Watch Inspiring Movies................................ ................................ ......... 117 Give Me a Medium ................................ ................................ ................. 119 Small, Medium or Large................................ ................................ ......... 119 Remember Your History ................................ ................................ ....... 120 Don't Read Your Slides ................................ ................................ ......... 121

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

The Learning "T" ................................ ................................ .................... 121 You Can't Control the Internet................................ ............................. 122 Answer the Phone................................ ................................ ................... 123 The Phone Works for You ................................ ................................ .... 123 Diagnose Before You Prescribe................................ ............................ 124 Deal or No Deal................................ ................................ ...................... 125 Hook, Look, Took ................................ ................................ .................. 125 Wear a Tie ................................ ................................ ................................ 126 Go with What Sticks................................ ................................ ............... 127 1 versus 100 ................................ ................................ ............................. 128 Reprimand then Praise ................................ ................................ ........... 129 Ask Why ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 130 Use 2 Monitors ................................ ................................ ........................ 130 Turn Up the Heat ................................ ................................ ................... 131 Give Thanks................................ ................................ ............................. 131

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Go Green ................................ ................................ ................................ . 132 Don't Compete on Price................................ ................................ ........ 133 Treat Adults Like Kids ................................ ................................ ........... 134 Treat Kids Like Adults................................ ................................ ........... 135 Place Items in Relation to Their Usefulness ................................ ....... 135 File, Act, Delete ................................ ................................ ...................... 136 Read Weird Magazines ................................ ................................ ........... 137 Be Yourself ................................ ................................ .............................. 138 Take an Hourly Break ................................ ................................ ............ 138 Post Your Information ................................ ................................ .......... 139 Get Ergonomic ................................ ................................ ....................... 140 Use Emoticons :-) ................................ ................................ ................... 140 Have a Sense of Humor................................ ................................ ......... 141 Carry a Pen ................................ ................................ .............................. 142 Get Other People's Cards................................ ................................ ...... 143

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

Have Cool Cards ................................ ................................ ..................... 143 Give Out Your Business Card ................................ .............................. 144 Don't Give Out Your Business Card ................................ ................... 145 Use a White Board ................................ ................................ .................. 145 Open the Window ................................ ................................ .................. 146 Holiday Marketing is Boo-tiful ................................ ............................. 147 Have a list of FAQ's ................................ ................................ ............... 148 You Are Not Your Customer ................................ ............................... 149 Make Sure Your Stuff Works ................................ ................................ 150 Drive Nice ................................ ................................ ................................ 151 Get Testimonials ................................ ................................ ..................... 151 Clean Your Bathroom ................................ ................................ ............ 152 Enter a Contest ................................ ................................ ....................... 153 Transformation Tools ................................ ................................ ............ 153 Transform Instead of Transacting................................ ........................ 154

188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

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REALLY Give Stuff Away ................................ ................................ ... 155 Give Stuff Away ................................ ................................ ...................... 157 Your Customers Are Ignorant ................................ .............................. 158 Your Customers Are Smarter than You Think ................................ .. 159 Help Your Customers Even If Your Manager Freaks ...................... 159 Start Conversations ................................ ................................ ................ 160 Give People What They Want, Even If You Don't Have It ............ 161 Listen ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 161 Celebrate ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 162 Smile ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 163 Create a blog with 365 posts ................................ ................................ . 163

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

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Introduction
OK so this book began as a daily blog. My goal was to send out one business tip per day for one year. Well, I got about half way there. I was a little disappointed with myself, but then I realized I did write 187 tips. That s not too shabby and certainly enough for a book. So tip number one is: make the most of what you have. Sometimes stepping out and trying can lead you to different results than you expected, but they can still be successful. (I also needed to add one more tip lest you think this is a book about being a hitman.) While there is no particular order, you will see some clusters of thought and ideas lumped together that feed off one another. Every tip has a question to get you thinking about how these ideas can help your business. I ve written a few different types of books, from textbooks to pamphlets. I think this one falls into the bathroom reader category. Throw it on the commode and read a couple of excerpts the next time you have a seat. If you are like me, it may be the only time for reflection and thinking you have all day take advantage of it.

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

If you have any bolt of lightning inspirations from reading this, please drop me a line and let me know what it is, I d like to know. You can always get my latest contact details on www.MichaelDaehn.com. -Michael Daehn Saint Louis, MO 2010

188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

Nothing Attracts a Crowd Like a Crowd Have you ever walked through a fairground or down a boardwalk? All of a sudden you see a huge crowd of people. Do you check it out? Even if you don't stop, it gets your attention and you have to see what's going on. Have you ever gone to a restaurant on a Friday night at dinner time and the place is empty? It kind of gets you wondering if there is something wrong. Having a crowd is a great way to get more people interested in what you are doing. Is there a crowd gathered and clamoring for what you do? What could you do to get a crowd started and the momentum moving forward?

Capitalize on Your Mistakes We all make mistakes, and when you are dealing with customers they are an opportunity to make a good impression. If you show you are

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willing to take responsibility and solve problems your customers are more likely to trust you. I was at a restaurant last night and the kitchen made a mistake on my order. The waitress apologized and got a new order out in minutes. She didn't make excuses or explain away the problem. She took responsibility and acted right away. I will definitely eat there again because of the way the waitress took care of the situation. How do respond when you make a mistake?

Don't Fight Web Conventions When it comes to web design, try to stick with convention. That is, don't deviate too far from what is generally the standard practice on other websites. No matter how great your site is, cumulatively people spend more time on other people's websites. Therefore, people learn to use and navigate sites based on their experience elsewhere. For that reason it makes sense to stick with what people are used to. If you do dare to try something new, make

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

sure it is a definite improvement and easy to understand or your visitors will get frustrated. Does your website follow standard practices?

Don't Innovate on Navigation When I work with clients on new site designs most people want something cool or innovative. Those are good qualities, but some areas are off limits. It's not a good idea to come up with new ways to navigate your site. People get used to navigating sites a certain way so making them learn a new way to get around your site is not the best idea. Most people will just leave your site. How easy is it to navigate your site?

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Key Web Usability Question: What Do You Expect To Happen?: When testing web designs on users the most important question is "what did you expect to happen?" Whether they click on a link, mouse over a picture, or select an icon the best result is for the site to behave the way they expected. When blue words don't link, icons change into a new shape, or pictures go blank it is confusing to site visitors. When in doubt, ask users what they expected to happen. Do you test your web designs? What kind of questions do you ask?

Limit Choices Giving customers choices is a good idea, but don't give too many or you will confuse them. When I sold PDA's for FranklinCovey, we offered IPaqs, Palms and Handspring devices in a wide range of prices. Most of my customers didn't know where to begin. After

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

asking them some questions about their needs and planned uses for the device I would narrow the best choices down to a few units. When I first started I would explain the features of any and all the PDA's people wanted to hear about. This was way too much information. By narrowing the choices to the best fit for each person I was providing a service and making the decision easier for customers. And I started selling more PDA's. How do you focus on the best choices for your customers? Do you ever overload them with information?

Give Customers Control When in doubt, give your customers a choice. This is particularly true in web design. For example: · Should you write out the copy or post a PDF? Both.

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· ·

Should videos auto play or should people hit the play button? Let visitors choose to hit the play button. Consume your content as book, ebook, or audiobook? Yes, the more choices the better.

Give your customers control. What kind of choices do you give your customers?

Leadership is Influence Effective leadership is getting people to perform a task or behave in a desired way through your positive influence. Effective means the follower wants to perform and will likely continue to follow your lead long term. Of course there are shortcuts to getting people to do what you want, but shortcuts often lead to rebellion and sabotage.

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

What kind of leader are you? Are you effective long term? Do your people follow you because of your influence or because of your threats?

Avoid Jack Ass Management If you are driving a mule you have two options: · · Dangle a carrot Threaten a whip

Many managers use the jack ass approach, but people are more complex than animals. Motivating employees is about more than rewards and punishment, it's about motivation. Find out what makes people tick and help them fulfill their passion. Do you use the carrot and stick approach with employees? How do you motivate them?

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Integrate Your Marketing Tools Once you choose the right tools, make sure they are working together. Do your print ads have a web address? Do you post your commercials on your website? Do you mail a schedule of events to your customers? The more tools you use and the better you integrate them, the more powerful your marketing is. Are your marketing tools integrated? How?

Pick the Right Marketing Tools The major marketing tools are: · · · Public Relations Publicity Advertising

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

· · · ·

Sales Promotion Personal Selling Direct Marketing Internet/Interactive

Some tools work better than others depending on your message and your audience. Make sure you pick the right ones. What marketing tools do you use? Why did you pick them?

Marketing is Communication Marketing means different things to different people. In the end it is about communication. Marketing is the science of reaching your target audience. The best communicators are the best marketers. How do you communicate/market to your customers?

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Timing I got this great email from a local business reminding me to set my clock ahead for Daylight Savings Time. The only problem is that it arrived on Sunday afternoon, about 12 hours after I was to set my clock. Good idea, bad timing. How strategic are you about planning the timing of your promotions?

Fast Enough In 2000 computer companies advertised fast speeds. A PC with a Pentium III chip was considered a fast computer at around 500 Mhz. Today we don't hear much about computer chip speeds. What happened?

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

The first PC processors were relatively slow, but eventually they got fast enough. My car can go 110, but I rarely go over 70. That's fast enough. Marketers usually advertise the latest, greatest and fastest product features. The danger is when you base your business on a feature that is no longer a big deal. Do you base your marketing on a fast enough feature? What else could you emphasize?

Don't Get Fooled Again If you keep finding yourself in the same bad business deals guess what the constant is...you. The same goes if you keep trying the latest marketing fad, or watching your best people leave the company. Something needs to change, and that something is you. Take a look at the consistent patterns that take place in those situations. Make a list of what to avoid and what to look for in the ideal situation next time. Make sure you don't get fooled again.

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What mistakes seem to continually plague your business? What can you do to change the situation?

Have a Meeting Agenda If you call a meeting, make sure to send out an agenda ahead of time. This gets everyone on the same page as to what is to be covered and in how much time. It also is a way to ensure you cover what you need to in the time you have. It's a great way to prepare your participants so they can be ready with some answers when you meet. If you get called to a meeting, make sure you get the agenda ahead of time. No agenda, no meeting. Do your meetings have agendas? How well do you follow them? How effective are they?

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

Logos are International You do not need to speak English to recognize these logos: · · · · · Apple Taco Bell Chrysler Microsoft The Olympics

Since real logos are pictures, they are international by their nature. So if you ever intend to have a global reach, build a brand around a pictorial logo. Is your branding and logo ready to go global?

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Use a Logo Logos allow you to connect with people on another level. Your logo should be a visual representation of your business that people react to on an emotional right brain way. If your logo is a font, you do not have a logo. Unique fonts are great and complement to your logo, but they are not your logo. How well does your logo represent your company?

Turn Your Blog into a Book Blogs are a great way to accumulate and organize content. If you can post a handful of juicy morsels a few times a week, by the end of the year you will have enough information for a book, or as some call it a blook. You gotta know I'm turnin' this puppy into a book as soon as the year is up. (Yep) How could you turn your blog into a book?

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

Write an Outline Not everyone is an author, but it can be easier than you think. If you can write an outline you are halfway there. Can you come up with 7 or 8 key principles to share with customers about your business? You have an outline. All you have to do is put some detail and explanation to these and you have yourself a book- presto! What are some key principles for your business? How could you share these with customers? Why not write a book?

Write a Book A good way to establish yourself as an expert to your customers is to write a book. Some people spend time promoting their book and get some business on the side from it. Another angle is to use your book as an expensive business card. Give it out to customers and prospects. They are more likely to keep it and think more highly of you when you give them a book instead of a flimsy card. What could you write a book about?

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Design is More than Making Things Look Pretty I hear it all the time when it comes to web design "we'll make the site and then the designers can make it look pretty." Good design is more than just making things look pretty. Good design is creating websites, and products, made for human beings. Sure looking good is a part of appealing to people, but it goes way beyond that. The iPod is more than just pretty, it was designed to work well. The scroll wheel of the original and the touch pad interface of the iPhone are examples of great design in action. Do you have great designers working for you?

Don't Put Welcome on Your Home Page Welcome to my blog! Could you think of anything cheesier I could put at the top of a web page? Besides looking like 1999, no one reads a welcome message.

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

Find something more important to put in the prime real estate usually devoted to these sad vestiges of web design past. Do you have Welcome on your home page?

Don't Put Home on Your Website's Home Page If people click Home on the Home page of your website where do they go? That's right, nowhere. It's lame. Don't do it. Is there a link to Home on the Home page of your website?

Have a List of FAQ's A list of frequently asked questions on your website or brochure is a great way to respond to the queries of your customers and prepare your staff with the answers they need on a regular basis.

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Do you have a list of FAQ's? Where are they? How useful do you think they are?

Squash the Rumor Mill There is an inverse relationship between the rumor mill and intentional information flow from management. If you are not giving your people good information to make decisions, they will find other ways to inform themselves. This means they will rely on rumor and innuendo to fill in the blanks. I worked at an organization where one of the directors was terminated suddenly. Even though I was on the management team, I was given no explanation. I started to ask questions about what had happened to this gentleman. The stories I heard were of lascivious affairs and misconduct. Whether or not that was true, I still don't know. If you want people to make good decisions then provide them with as much information as possible. If you feel like your people can't be trusted with sensitive data then you have the wrong people working

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

for you. And their imaginations are always worse than anything you can tell them. What is stronger in your company, the rumor mill or factual information flow?

Promote Features and Benefits Most marketers know they need to communicate what their product does, but not necessarily why that's a good thing. Don't expect your customers to know why your features are beneficial. For example: Feature: This book is filled with brief ideas Benefit: It's a quick way to boost you business thinking without spending a lot of time You may know why your product's features are beneficial, but you may need to fill in the blanks for your busy customers.

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What are the benefits of your features?

Colors Matter What do you when you come to a red light? How about when you come to a stop sign? What do these items have in common...they're both red. Green means go, white means purity, black means death. Colors have meaning. I created my own business card for my training company, DaehnTrain, and went with Blue and Yellow. I picked those because I like the Blues, not because I understand colors. When I had a designer do my card he came back with brown, green and purple. I was not happy. I am too manly for purple, right? I trusted his understanding of color and found that people loved the new logo and card. People understand and react to colors on an emotional level whether they realize it or not. Make sure you are taking advantage of what colors communicate in your promotions. If you are not, be sure to

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

hook up with a good designer that can help you make powerful choices. What color are you? What colors best represent your business?

Play for the Name on the Front of Your Jersey There's an old saying in hockey: play for the name on the front of your jersey, not the name on the back. In other words, play for your team's success, not your own. Hockey is a team sport. Individuals can only win when they make their team better. The best hockey player of all time, Wayne Gretzky, made his teammates great. He had more than twice as many assists as goals. The same goes for business. If you are always out to make yourself look good, you may hinder your team, and probably look like a jerk in the process. I know I do better at work when I focus on making others successful rather than how I am going to get the credit.

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Even if you work for yourself, the best thing you can do is to make your customers look good. Business is a team sport. How can you play the game to help others win?

Play the Game, Not the Scoreboard When a hockey team is up by a few goals it is easy to get complacent. The best teams know they have to keep skating full speed, regardless of the score, or they give their opponent a toe hold to get back in the game. The best companies stay fresh and never let up. The ones that do get caught off guard by a wily start up or disruptive technology do so because they get cocky. Make sure you keep playing full speed. Are you complacent in your business? Are you the veteran hanging on or the rookie trying to earn a spot?

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

Have a Clear Job Description Lay out what people are supposed to be doing before they start work. If you do not have a clear goal in mind of what you want people to do, it is likely you will not get the results you want. By putting them down on paper you have something to discuss and clarify. Realize that jobs often change over time and that the description may need to change with it. If you have people currently working that do not have job descriptions, have them write one for their job and you write one too. Then compare and contrast your versions, it may surprise you. What is your job description? What are the descriptions of the people you work with?

Catch People Doing Something Right If you are trying to reinforce good behavior, catch people doing something the right way and praise them for it. People thrive on

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positive reinforcement, and you are also setting the standard for how you lead and manage your team. Do you reinforce the positive or focus on the negative?

Manage by Walking Around Have you ever heard the expression to manage by walking around? How could walking around make a difference? · · · · · You talk to the people who are doing the hands on work You make yourself approachable You get a feel for the climate and culture of your organization You can look people in the eye and reprimand or encourage them Your butt looks slimmer because you are not sitting at your desk all day

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

What could you accomplish be walking around your business?

Put Your Book in Other People's Bathrooms Do you have a book or brochure? Why not drop it off in other people's bathrooms or a public location? A lot of people like to read in the bathroom so you are providing a service. Where could you leave your book?

Put Books in Your Bathroom Having trouble getting those important books read? Put them in your bathroom. The next time you need to make a pit stop you can catch up on some reading.

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I often tell folks that buy my book to put it in their bathroom. I figure it's my best chance they will actually read it. What do you read in the bathroom? Are you going to leave this book in the bathroom?

Take Celebrity Photos Whenever possible I get a photo with a celebrity holding up one of my books. Of course my celebrities consist of fans, customers and people that like my book. I couldn't be happier. In my world they are more important than some drunken Hollywood starlet. Who are your celebrities? Do you have any pictures? Where could you display them? Do you have a picture of yourself with my book? If so, send it to me for posting, or put it up yourself and send me the link.

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

Get Naked Stop the hype. Strip down the rhetoric. Be yourself. When it comes to marketing today you need to be transparent and show who you really are. Use your real voice. Get naked. How naked is your marketing?

Use a Feed Reader/Aggregator Tired of surfing to your favorite website looking for new content? Well any site worth its salt these days has an RSS feed that sends out updates of new content when it is posted. By using a feed reader or aggregator, you can keep tabs on all of your favorite sites in one place. You can quickly scroll through your reader to see if there are any new posts that look interesting or relevant. Here are a few of the popular web based readers (which may or may not be around when you read this, just Google feed reader): · AmphetaDesk

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· · · · · · · · · · · ·

Bloglines Fastladder Google News Google Reader Imooty.eu Live.com mDigger Netvibes Newsknowledge Planet aggregator Rojo.com Yahoo.com

How could you save time and stay informed by using a feed reader/aggregator?

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188 Business Tips (and 300 Questions) to Get Your Brain Juices Flowing

Figure Out RSS Feeds There are lots of internet doohickeys and gizmos floating about these days, but the RSS feed is really valuable. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and if you have a home page with MSN, AOL or Yahoo! you are probably already using them. RSS feeds provide the news stories you subscribe to and the cool thing is if you have blog you can create your own feed. I predict that some form of RSS will likely replace email in the future due to its ability to bypass spam. For that reason alone it's worth checking out. It is likely to be a major form of communication with your customers in the future. Do you use RSS feeds? The Enemy of the Best is the Good Usually our choices are not between good and evil, but between good and good. That's why it is tough to make a decision, and tough to say no. Your job is to find the best thing to do with your: · · Time Money

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· · ·

Attention Love Advertising budget

There are lots of good things you could do, but what is the best thing you could do? What is the best use of your _____ right now?

Say No If no is a hard word for you to say to people I guarantee you are over committed. You may feel like you are being nice by saying yes to people, but if you can't follow through because of all the stuff on your plate it's not nice at all. Better to say no and find time to do it than to say yes and not do it, even when you are talking to customers.

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Do you ever say no?

Take a Braincation Give your brain a break. If you are at your computer all day like me, you should take short breaks at least once an hour. It may seem like you are being more productive when you work non-stop, but your brain doesn't think so. A quick walk around the office can really boost your productivity. How often do you take breaks?

Create a Flow Chart Do you have any idea how customers find you, interact, and make a purchase? Creating a flow chart can really help you see the whole process.

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If you have a complicated or long process flow charts are invaluable for helping to communicate with your customers and/or team and get everyone on the same page. Do you have a flowchart for your business? How do you use it? Does it help?

Buy Your Domain Name We are not sure how domain names are going to factor into future life, but right now they are pretty important. You probably already got one for your business (at least I hope you did), but have you thought about your personal name? Fortunately Daehn is not that common so MichaelDaehn.com was easy to get. My friend Jim Elder on the other hand didn't have a chance. I just got him JamesMichaelElder.com because I'm sure it will be taken sooner or later. I also purchased IvanMichael.com for my newborn. Do you own your name on the web?

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Do a Beta Test When developers launch a new software or website they often do a Beta test. A beta test is a live launch of the product that you allow people to try and help you find any bugs. Sometimes these tests are open to the public, other times they are only available to invited participants. When I launched marketingenious University I had a Beta group of 40 students test it out. I had a forum set up for people to post feedback and I made a lot of changes based on responses. Beta tests are a great way to get some feedback before launching the full blown product or spending a ton on advertising. What could you Beta test?

Start a Fight Hockey fights are great. It's hard to explain to a non-hockey fan the role they play in the game and why they are necessary. One purpose is for the combatants to energize their teammates and fans.

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You will often see a fight when a team needs to change the momentum. Maybe they just went down by two goals. Maybe their team looks like it is sleeping on the bench. Perhaps the fans are quieter than a librarian convention. Look at the crowd, and the benches, when a fight breaks out. Everyone is on their feet yelling, cheering and getting their blood pumping. Maybe you can't drop the gloves and punch someone in the head, but sometimes you have to do something similar to change the momentum and get people's attention. What kind of fight could you start at your company?

Compromise Sucks Compromise means meeting halfway. The problem is that you usually end up with a worse solution than either person could have created on their own. It's better to go for synergy where a third alternative is decided upon that leads to better results.

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Compromise is 1+1=1 Synergy is 1+1=3 or more It takes more effort, and maturity, but synergy is always better than compromise. Do you synergize or compromise?

Embrace Conflict Conflict is a dirty word to most people. The reality is that conflict is inevitable. People will always have disagreements. Conflict is not the issue, how you deal with conflict is what is important. The best solutions come when people have differing opinions. If everyone thought the same way you do, there would be little progress. As the saying goes "if you and I think the same way about everything, one of us in unnecessary." How do you handle conflict?

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Think About the Team As a hockey player I have had a bad shift or two. My tendency is to come back to the bench after making a mistake and get down on myself. It's important to care, and to show my teammates I take the game seriously, but it can go too far. When I sit and brood I take myself out of the game. I get overly focused on myself and stop thinking about the team. I love working with people who take responsibility for their actions. On the other when they focus too much on what they did or didn't do, it becomes a distraction. Take accountability and get back in the game. That's what your team and your co-workers need from you. What do you do when you make a mistake? How do you get the focus back on the team?

Start a Video Channel Ever wanted to have your own TV channel? Well your day has arrived. Create your own videos and post them to these free sites:

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· · ·

YouTube Google Video MetaCafe

Once posted, you can share these videos on your own website, blog or social network. You can also let other people download or share your videos on their sites if they like it. Do you feel like a big Hollywood producer yet? How could you use video to promote your business?

Get Permission In the past marketing was all about interrupting people while watching TV, reading, or driving down the highway. People have gotten pretty good at ignoring these interruptions. To be effective today, you need to have permission to speak to people. If you are providing them with updated useful information they can use they will want to hear from you. The trick is getting their

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attention long enough to get their permission. If you need more details then marketing guru Seth Godin (sethgodin.com) has some great advice on the topic. How do you get permission from your customers?

Don't Spam If you send email to someone that they did not ask for it is spam. You may or not get into legal trouble for violating the CAN-SPAM Act, but it is definitely bad for business. Don't be a spammer. Do you only send promotional emails to people that asked for them?

Start a Newsletter

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Newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with customers. The only problem is mailing those puppies can get expensive. The cool thing is now you can do the same thing with an email newsletter or eZine. Besides being less expensive, you can really track what people are interested in and get great feedback. Check out the Max My Mail website for a rundown of some of the most popular and easy to use email newsletter services. How could you use a newsletter to stay in touch with customers?

Create Your Own Online Social Network Don't see any online social networks that work for you? Start your own. All of these sites let you make your own for free: · · · Ning KickApps CrowdVine

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· · · · · ·

GoingOn CollectiveX Me.com PeopleAggregator Haystack ONEsite

Check out the one I created at MySTLBlues.com using Ning. How could you profit from creating your own social network online?

Join an Online Social Network Networks have always been crucial to businesses and now they've moved online. Millions of people are now using sites like Twitter and Facebook. The demographic tends to be younger and entertainment

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focused for those sites, but there are also business focused sites like LinkedIn and Plaxo. Online networks are able to leverage the breadth and reach of instant and asynchronous communication. Are you part of an online social network? What could you gain by being a part? What could you give?

Measure Carpenters have an expression "measure twice cut once." It may seem like you are saving time, but in the long run it takes more time, effort and money to fix a cutting mistake than to re-measure. Usually when I meet with a client they want a new website, brochure or ad campaign. When I start asking questions about their competitive advantage, or an explanation of what they do in a sentence I get blank stares.

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To throw money at marketing and advertising without first doing some measuring is a waste. A little bit of planning makes a huge difference. How do you measure your market?

Write an Article What are you an expert on? Why not write an article to share with customers, prospects and the world? Once you have written in, be sure to post in on your website or blog, send it to magazines and newspapers and/or post to an article directory. What could you write an article about?

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Vlog Do you have a blog? Do you have a camera or cell phone that can take video? Why not upload short video clips to your blog using YouTube or GoogleVideo? Now you are vlogging (video blogging). What could you vlog about?

Living is Not Enough Many site the destruction of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis as the death of modern architecture. Why did this massive project fail so miserably? There is debate, but many site the modernist approach to architecture as living machines as the cause. These buildings were created as low cost efficient places for people to live, not homes. People are more complex than machines. Creating something that works is rarely enough. Creating something that

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engages folks in a human way is what captures peoples hearts and eventually their finances. Does your product do the job or meet human needs and desires?

Shine Your Shoes Shine your shoes. Clean shiny shoes look nice. A lot of women say they first look at a man's shoes to size him up. What do your shoes look like? Do they need a shine?

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Create a Special Day It's a popular rumor that holidays like Valentine's Day, Boss's Day and Mother's Day were created by the greeting card companies. How does that make you feel? Manipulated? Grateful? Jealous? If it's true, it was a pretty smart move. What guy would be dumb enough not to buy at least a card for Valentine's day? Well if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. When I was the CMO for Eaglepax emergency preparedness kits, we promoted a preparation day. It was one day a year when you should make sure you have an emergency supply kit ready and waiting to go. The fire department (or someone similar) did a great job of promoting changing your smoke alarm battery 2 times a year, the same days as daylight savings time. When you create events like this, eventually they become a public standard. How could you create a special day for your customers to use or update your product?

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Unleash an Idea Virus In 2001 Seth Godin unleashed an Idea Virus in the form of a book. The concept is to create something that is so compelling that customers can't help talk to family and friends about it. It spreads from person to person like a virus. The idea of word of mouth marketing is not new, but the shift here is in the real power in the marketing relationship. Spreading an idea virus is dependent on empowering the market, not controlling it. Old school marketing is all about pushing a message. Marketing today only works when the market is given control and decides whether or not it wants to spread the message for you. Is your product worthy of an idea virus? How does your marketing support empowering the market to spread the message?

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Don't Accept all Social Network Invitations The goal of networking is to connect with as many people as possible, right? Well not exactly, and when it comes to online social networking it can backfire. Part of comedian Dane Cook's claim to fame is that he has over 1 million (update, now over 2 million) friends on MySpace. While that is impressive in its own right, there is no way he is actually friends with that many people. There has been a backlash against people who send out and accept invitations to connect with anyone on social networks. I am a bit suspicious when I see a business networker with 500 connections. I think they are more likely a spammer than a good communicator. Be choosy about who you accept requests from or what could be a quality network will be a hodgepodge of various levels of mutual spamming. How many connections do you have? Do you trust all of your connections? How likely are you to refer someone in your network? How likely is your network to refer you?

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Leverage the Long Tail Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine released a book called the Long Tail. The basic premise is that online distribution has created an atmosphere where niche products can scale to reach a larger audience. These products are now as profitable, if not more so, than traditional hit products for retailers. If you agree with Anderson's premise, the time has never been better to offer products with a narrow appeal. As my friend Bob Baker says, "the riches are in the niches." Do you have a niche product? If you have a mainstream product, how could you benefit from offering a niche version?

You Only Have a Split Second to Make a First Impression The book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell explores the notion that you make snap judgments about people and situations. The interesting thing is that those first impressions are usually the most accurate. A few lessons to be learned:

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· ·

Make sure you are ready when you first meet your customers. You may not get another chance to impress them. Don't over analyze situations. There is something to be said for gut feelings. Many folks have been accurate right of the bat, but then talk themselves out of it by thinking too much. You are who you are and people know it at some level. No amount of glitz and glamour can cover up for a poor product or lack of character.

·

Are you ready to make a good impression? Do you trust your instincts?

Think Long Term There are a lot of short cuts you can take in business, but if you want to be around long term you must focus on what leaves a lasting impression. As a salesman I knew I could make a quick buck here and there by telling customers what they wanted to hear. Instead I

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focused on helping them make the best decision. Sometimes this meant a lower commission and sometimes no sale at all. What I may have lost in short term sales, I gained in credibility. I saw customers return to the store and ask me questions because they knew I was honest. When I did recommend a purchase they usually bought it because they knew I had their best interest at heart. If you are working for the short term dollar, then don't plan on being in business for long. Once you have burned your customers once, they don't come back. By thinking long term and giving up a quick sale on occasion you build trust and a lasting enterprise. Do you go for the quick sale or the long term relationship?

Crops Don't Grow Over Night As a student, and later as a professor, I know that students often cram the night before an exam. I found that if I paid decent attention in class, took notes, looked them over them once a week and reviewed them before the final I did pretty good on the test. When I

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paid little attention and tried to learn a semester's worth of work in one night I bombed. You can't force that much information into your brain in one night. The little you do regurgitate on the test is likely to be gone by the time you graduate and may need some of that information. Farmers understand that they can not plant their seeds the night before and expect a crop in the morning. There needs to be a growing season when the seeds get water, light and time to bloom. The same is true for business. It takes time to see success. Most businesses fail in the first 2 years. I think this is because most people feel it is taking too long and give up. 2 years was never in their game plan. If you want to be a business success, it is going to take time. What are you really good at? How long did it take you to master it? Was it overnight?

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You Reap What You Sow I am amazed at the people that still believe you can get rich quick with no effort. Even the people pushing that message are working really hard to get you to buy their book, CD or seminar. You reap what you sow. The more seed you plant, the more likely you are to get a good harvest. You also must be planting good seeds. If your product is no good, it doesn't matter how much time you spend trying to get more people to buy it. It's a dead seed. How much time do you spend investing in your business by planting good seeds?

Don't Sell to Your Network A common mistake people make when talking to their network is to try to sell product. Often times the members of your network are not ideal customers for what you are selling, though they are interested in helping you become successful. A better approach is to communicate with your network:

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· · ·

What kind of customers you need Who you would like to meet The definition of a good referral

Presented in this way, a healthy network will do what it can to spread the word for you. Help them help you, instead of trying to push more product down their throats. What is a good referral for you?

Organize Your Network Around a Common Interest A great way to get a networking group started is to organize around a common interest. It may be professional like marketing or a public speaking group. It may also be a hobby or sports group like hockey players or Blues fans. Even if your goal is business, it helps to have something in common with the people you are doing business with. How could you organize a group or event around a shared interest?

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The Best Business Networks are Not Your Friends Sure your friends can be great referral resources, but the best business networks are the ones that reach beyond your circle of friends. Quite often the biggest deals are made with the random person you meet or a friend of a friend you hardly know. Take time to cultivate and look for people beyond the folks you know personally. Reaching out and connecting with new people is the key to successful networking. Who are the people on the fringe of your network? How can you find out if they would be good for your business? How could you connect with them?

Practice Your Elevator Pitch An elevator pitch is an explanation of what you do in 30 seconds or less. If you were in an elevator with a prospect could you explain what you do before you get to your floor?

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An elevator pitch is important because it crystallizes what you are about. I have talked to people for 2 hours and they couldn't explain what they did. Considering you have a brief window to get your message across you should be prepared with your elevator pitch at a moment's notice. What is your elevator pitch?

Join a Networking Group Networking groups give you instant access to potential customers and advocates for your product. If nothing else, they are a good place to express yourself and get comfortable sharing your business. A couple I have been to in the St. Louis area are Yellow Tie and BNI. They each take a little different approach, but I recommend them both. They are always looking for new members and like visitors so check 'em out. Have you ever been to a networking event? What did you think?

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Create a Toolbar Have you used the Google Toolbar? It is a handy little gizmo that stays on top of the pages you are visiting. I use the search box all the time. Now you can create your own toolbar and brand it with your company information. There are companies that will do it for a fee, or sell you software, but I recommend working with a company called BenefitBar. They make their money from search, but they share some of that with you and do all the set up and maintenance of your toolbar for you. If you want to try to do something yourself, Conduit also offers a free version that you can customize online, but they keep all the revenue. Check out a toolbar I created for my marketingenious. Either way, you can get great branded product set up for free. Give it a try. How could your customers benefit from your toolbar?

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Create a Widget You can make some cool little gadgets and widgets that serve content and information from your site for free. Check out some of these websites: · · · · Widgetbox Springwidgets Lab pixies Mashable

The secret to marketing today is to allow others to spread the word for you. Widgets are a great tool to get the job done. What could you widgetize?

Use You Instead of I and We Compare these two sentences:

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I created my own daily blog called Biz Memes where I share a business thought each day. Check out the daily blog called Biz Memes where you can get a thought each day to spur your business thinking. The first one is all about me. The second one is all about you. If you want to get into the heads of your readers and customers, make it about them. How do you get into your readers' heads?

3 Simple Steps to Web Design If you are designing a website use this simple 3 step approach: · · Purpose- determine what you want people to do when they visit the page Content- what do you need on the page to fulfill the purpose

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·

Layout- based on the content you have, lay out the page to accomplish your purpose

Sounds simple, but it can be harder than it sounds. Make sure you take your time and draw this out on a piece of paper or white board first. Making changes once websites have been created costs a lot more than erasing a few lines and starting over. What process do you use to design your web pages?

Form Follows Function Decide what the purpose of your product or campaign is first, then design it in such a way that it facilitates the purpose. I run into this frequently in web design. When I ask what the page is supposed to accomplish, I usually get a list of items the customer wants on the page. Or I get descriptions of being cool, flashy or professional. The first challenge is to decide what the primary function of the site is. The form then facilitates and enhances the functionality.

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So think function first then determine the best form to get it done. How can you use the form follows function principle in your business?

User Generated Content is Gold Why are Twitter and Facebook so valuable? Because people use them. What makes these social networks valuable is that they provide a platform for users to generate and share their own content. The more people use the site and generate content, the more valuable the site becomes. Lesson: Make your site interactive and allow your visitors to contribute their own content. How can customers contribute to your website?

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How to Format Video for the Web While there are exceptions, most people don't watch videos that are longer than 5 minutes on the web so: · · Keep your content short and be prepared to adjust your 30 and 60 minute formats Take advantage of audiences that will watch short videos that promote your product if it is entertaining

Long formatted programs with 30 second commercials are out, but 5 minute entertaining commercials are in. Take advantage while you can. How do you use video on the web?

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Websites Should Be Interactive Websites are an interactive media. Traditional media like radio and television tends to be passive. People sit back and consume the content. Websites are made to be interactive. Visitors armed with keyboard and mouse are prepared to use them. This has been a challenge to companies trying to slap their traditionally formatted media onto their website. If you are producing long formatted content like books and televisions shows then consider breaking it up into smaller chunks. Also provide ways for people to interact, rate, share and give feedback about the content. How interactive is your website?

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People Do Judge Books by Their Covers Ask any bookstore manager or buyer and they will tell you that they do judge books by their covers. In fact, most of the time the only thing they see is the cover to determine whether or not they should carry the title. Think about your experience. When you are looking at dozens of books on a shelf, how do you decide which one to pick up and read? The cover has to jump out at you or you never give the book a chance. Even if you are not publishing books, realize you have a brief moment to capture attention. The better you package and present your product, or yourself, the better your odds of someone giving you a chance and finding out more. What kind of first impression does your product make? What kind of first impression do you make?

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What You Reward Gets Repeated I have a 3 year old and have learned to reward good behavior and ignore undesirable behavior (as long as it is safe). Believe it or not reprimanding is a form of reinforcement. If the only time my girl gets noticed is when she acts out, not when she does good, she will do crazy stuff to get my attention. I've noticed in organizations that people respond the same way. You may have process and mission statements in place, but if people are only noticed when they behave a certain way, they will repeat it, good or bad. When I worked at Nordstrom the mantra was good customer service. In reality the only way to keep your job, and make a living, was to sell lots of stuff. This caused some compromises when it came to recommending products to customers. It is difficult not to always suggest the high priced item when you are on straight commission. There was also competition on the sales floor for the limited customers available that lead to an environment that was not always customer friendly. Yes Nordstrom encouraged and recognized good customer service. But day to day, and paycheck to paycheck the focus was on making money. The reward system was based on selling stuff, not serving

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customers, so in practice customer service was always second to getting paid. How are people rewarded in your organization? Are you unintentionally rewarding the wrong behavior?

Use Descriptive URL's URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator, but most people call it a web address. It's the name of your page after the WWW. How you name this makes a difference. I'm sure you have seen lots of gobbely gook like this: http://www.blogger.com/postcreate.g?blogID=4875028483495417897 What does all that stuff mean? Not much to the human eye, and often not much to search engines either. Google doesn't seem to like long URL's with the extra letters and numbers afterwards. As much as you can, make sure you keep these URL's simple and easy to read by humans and computers alike.

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Do your URL's look like Alpha Bits cereal?

Go Little to Big When Labeling Web Pages When titling your web pages make sure to put the most detailed information first: No- MichaelDaehn.com | How to Title Web Pages Yes- How to Title Web Pages | MichaelDaehn.com People are scanning your page or search engine results for answers so it is best to put the most relevant information first. People find it faster, and search engines index properly. If your web page title says "New Page" seek professional help immediately. How do you title your web pages?

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Remember The F Reading Pattern Studies have shown that people read in an F pattern when they are scanning material. If you are writing copy for a blog or website realize that most people are scanning for relevant information. Make sure you are taking advantage of descriptive headlines, breaks in copy and headings to communicate your best information and get people's attention. When looking for information, do you read every word on a web page?

Use Descriptive Headlines A rookie mistake is to use funny headlines or puns when writing your copy. I used to have a blast writing headlines with double meanings and jokes that referred to my blog posts. The problem is that a large part of your audience is going to decide what to read based on the headline.

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Most people are looking for answers to questions, so the best headlines describe what is covered in the text. Keep in mind that many people are seeing only your headline in RSS feeds and search engine results (SERP) pages so be a specific as possible in your headline. Why did you decide to read this?

Go Big to Little When Writing When you are writing copy for your brochure, newsletter or website remember the inverted pyramid: · · · Big headline summarizing the material Most important details Additional supporting information

Notice that the amount of writing increases as you move down the list, like a pyramid. The idea is to get your main point across early and provide details for your target audience.

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What is your favorite headline?

Contracts are Worthless You can tell I am not a lawyer, but I believe in practice contracts are worthless: · · If you work with someone honest you don't need a contract If you work with someone dishonest, they will use weasel words in the fine print that excuses them from responsibility down the line, so the contract is worthless

The bottom line is to work with honest people and go light on the paperwork. When is the last time you made a deal with a handshake? How did it turn out?

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Don't Jump to Conclusions Every episode of Three's Company revolved around the same plot twist. Someone overheard part of a conversation, jumped to conclusions, hilarity followed and then everything was worked out in the end. It was always a big misunderstanding. I always wondered why Jack, Chrissy and Janet didn't get the facts straight more often. You would think they would have learned from their past mistakes. Well, you know better. If something seems fishy, go to the source and get all the facts before you make judgments. Do you jump to conclusions?

Your Employees Are Your First Customers If your employees are not buying your product, what you do and/or what you stand for, it is unlikely your customers will either. Satisfied employees are at the heart of every successful business.

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Are your employees satisfied?

Say Happy Birthday to Employees and Co Workers Celebrating birthdays at work can be a real morale booster. It's an opportunity to recognize the humanity of the people you work with, and eat some cake. If you have a big company, you may want to celebrate all the birthdays of the month at one time. Otherwise you will need to start a Weight Watchers chapter on site to combat all the birthday cake calories your consuming. How do you celebrate birthdays at work?

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Say Happy Birthday to Customers Keeping track of the birthday of your best customers gives you a good excuse to say hi and offer them a promotion at least once a year. Everyone likes to get something for their birthday. By sending them a happy birthday note or gift you not only show you care, but that you are organized and professional enough to remember important dates. Do you say happy birthday to your best customers?

Be a Problem Solver I get so frustrated dealing with frontline sales and service people that can't think beyond corporate policy. There almost always is some kind of solution when there is a problem. It may be different than what the customer or the employee expected, but there are always alternatives.

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When a salesperson tells me that something is not his job, or it is company policy it tells me the company stinks. Either they enforce bad policies, or hire mindless drones who can't think on their own. Do you solve problems?

Sell a Solution Realize that you are not selling a product, you are selling a solution. Find out what problem your customer has and find them a solution. You may discover that your product does not solve their problem. Recommend a product that does. By establishing yourself as a problem solver, customers will come to you first the next time they have a need. Do you sell products or solutions?

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Ask Open Ended Questions Asking yes or no questions can really hurt you on the sales floor: Salesperson: Can I help You? Customer: No. On the other hand, when you ask open ended questions you get back useful information: Salesperson: What brings you in to the store today? Customer: Witty response that gives you insight into what they need. Do you ask open ended questions?

Everyone is Not Your Customer Effective marketers focus on a target customer. To be good at selling your product you must realize that it is not for everyone. The sooner

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you stop trying to please everyone and focus on the target audience that really matters the better off you will be. Who is your target customer?

Don't Treat All Customers the Same Some salespeople find a pitch that works and use the same technique on every customer. Don't be that guy. Being a robot is not the best sales approach. Realize that there are different types of customers including the following: · · · · I want to talk to the salesperson I want to be left alone to figure it out I want to be left alone until I have a question, then a salesperson better be available right away I know what I want, let me get it, pay and get out of here as fast as possible

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Each of these people needs to be approached differently to be effective. The first step is to figure out what type of customer you are dealing with. How do you approach customers?

Don't Project Your Paradigm It's good to put yourself in your customer's shoes, but don't project all your thoughts onto them. Your customers are not you. They have wildly different thoughts, feelings and goals than you. Don't expect them to approach your business or your product the same way you do. Do you ever project your paradigm onto customers?

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Put Yourself in Your Customer's Shoes If you are not sure how to approach a customer, put yourself in their shoes. Try to imagine what it would be like to buy your product for the first time. How do you feel when you first visit a place of business?

Remember the FUD Factor When you approach customers they usually have FUD on their minds: · · · Fear Uncertainty Doubt

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They most likely have not been to your business before and are not sure what to expect. Just say hi and put them at ease. The rest will flow from there. How can you relieve the FUD factor for your customers?

Create an Inviting Business Space Do you remember the old pharmacy counters where the pharmacist stood about 3 feet above you? I'm sure there was a reason for doing that originally, but it has faded into obscurity. When I go to the very successful Walgreens pharmacy, the pharmacists are right there on your level. Appearing to be superior to your customers does not work well today. Make sure your space to interact with customers is friendly and puts you on the same level, or puts the customer higher. Where do you interact with customers? Is the space set up to make customers feel equal or superior?

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Move Your Desk I put my desk facing the wall in my office. This leaves room for people to come in and meet. Most of the people where I work have their desks in the middle of the room. You have to look across their desk at them when you go in to talk. I feel like I am going in to see the Principal when people have their desks like that. When you put your desk against the wall, you are inviting people to come in and share your space. Unless you are trying to intimidate people, put your desk against the wall. Where is your desk? Why is it there?

Sit Next to People When you are doing a deal, or showing someone your product, try to sit next to them. Sitting next to people puts you on their side, so you

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are working together. When you sit across, it feels more like a transaction and a negotiation. When I tutored kids I always tried to sit next to them, or on the same corner of the table. This is a supportive position that lets them know I am there to help, not to yell at them. The same seating is helpful when you meet your customers. Where do you position yourself when you meet with customers?

Work with the Right Family Members Some people say you should never work with family. Others say it is a great idea to keep business in the family. It is not about working with family members being right or wrong, it is about working with the right family member. Just like any other endeavor, if you are hooked up with the wrong person you are going to have problems.

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The difference with family is that it is potentially a bigger risk since you could damage your family relations, and possibly a bigger reward since you get to share your blessings with those closest to you. Family or not, it is about working with the right people. Do you think it is a good idea to work with family?

Working with Family is Risky Working with family poses a big risk. If things don't work out, or you don't get along it can lead to hard feelings. The nice thing about working with strangers is that you can ignore them or do something else if things go sour. With family that is not possible. What has been your experience working with family members? Do you think it is worth the risk?

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Work with Family Since you spend so much time working on your business, wouldn't it be great if family were a part of your business too? Think of all the extra time you could spend together. And when you are successful you get to share that with the most important people in your life. How could you do more business with family?

Work with People You Love It is amazing much fun you can have when you are working with people you love. For Example: · · I hate painting, but have had a blast painting with my fraternity brothers I hate yard work, but enjoyed a beautiful day with a life-long friend raking leaves

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I get bored working out, but have pumped iron with buddies and laughed the whole time

Little tasks can be fun, and bonding, when you do it with people you love. Imagine how cool it would be to work that way all the time for your business. Do you love the people you work with? What would your business be like if everyone really enjoyed the work they did because they did it together?

Follow Your Priniciples If you step off a cliff you are going to go splat. Gravity is the principle that will suck you down to your death. Gravity is also the principle that keeps us all from floating off into space. No matter what area of business you are in, principles exist that will lead to success or failure depending on how you behave. So figure out the best practices for your industry and make principles work for you.

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What principles guide your profession? Are these principles working for you or against you?

Think About Space It is easy to get sucked into the day to day chores of your business. Don't do it. The great companies and people always reinvent themselves in some way. The only limitations you have on how you do business are the ones you place on yourself. Space is limitless. So is your potential. When was the last time you took a few hours to think about your business from a fresh perspective? When could you schedule some time into your calendar to do it this week?

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Take Money When You Advertise If you advertise, be prepared to take money. For example if you: · Use a website- make sure there is an easy to use shopping cart. The less clicks the better. Most shopping carts are abandoned when they ask for unnecessary information or take too long to load. Have a store- have your product easy to find with a fast check out. Don't make people wait in long lines to give you money, they may change their mind. Are taking phone orders- let people go straight to the part where they give you their credit card. Don't make customers navigate through voice mail or wait on hold while listening to bad music.

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In every case, be sure you take credit cards, debit cards, cash and checks. Any way people want to give you money should be OK. Is it easy for your customers to give you money?

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Saying Merry Christmas is Good for Business Most businesses have taken the route of saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, but I wonder if they have done their homework? It seems to me that no one was ever offended if you said Merry Christmas in the past, even if they were not Christian. On the other hand, since the majority of the market (in the USA) is of a Christian persuasion a good many folks are turned off by the politically correct way businesses are behaving today. Since setting yourself apart from your competition in a positive way is good for business it makes sense to say Merry Christmas to your customers. Even if you are Jewish you can still wish your Christian customers a happy celebration. The majority of your audience will appreciate it and others are not likely to be offended. Merry Christmas! Do you say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? Why? What would happen if you changed?

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Have a Singular Identity on the Phone I used to sell AT&T cell phones when I worked for FranklinCovey. Even though it was the one thing I got a commission for, I used to talk people out of buying a plan with AT&T. Many people bought one anyway because AT&T had the coolest phones. The reason I try to get out of it was because I hated calling their service line to set up the account. You would not believe how hard it was to get them to take the money from a new subscriber. Often times I would be told to hang up and dial another number because of the plan the customer chose. This was after a long time on hold and navigating multiple voice mail options. I would think there would be a fast track to the "we'll take your money now" line, but alas there was not. The thing is when a customer calls your company they don't understand your internal departments or divisions. They called to talk to or buy from your company, not to deal with your organizational silos. Customers don't understand why they would need to dial another number for your same company, and they shouldn't have to. Does everyone who works for you understand they work for the same company? What would happen if you called the wrong department in your company? Would you be helped, or told to dial a different number?

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Your Customers Don't Understand Your Identity Crisis I was sitting in Barnes and Noble and heard a customer ask the girl at the coffee counter if they took Starbucks gift cards. The girl said no so the lady turned to her friend and said let's go to another store. I overheard a lady sitting at a nearby table remark that Barnes and Noble was a licensed distributor of Starbucks, not a Starbucks store. She had a condescending tone as though the customer was stupid for asking. The cafe at B and N proudly displays the Starbucks logo all over the place. Why wouldn't a customer think they could buy Starbucks coffee from a counter selling Starbucks Coffee with their Starbucks gift card? Your customers don't understand your licensing schemes and corporate boundaries. You are lucky if they even recognize your brand in the first place. If they are trying to buy your product with a gift card with your name on it make it easy for them. If you have fancy licensing deals, then you are also smart enough to figure out a way not to confuse customers (like licensing the gift cards too). And watch what you say, because you never know when some guy with big ears and a computer is writing about you.

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Do you present a singular identity to your customers?

How to Be an Expert Being an expert is the best way to get customers today. Some of the ways to establish yourself as an expert include: · · · · · · · · Blogging Writing articles Authoring books Speaking Consulting Broadcasting- Radio, TV, Film Teaching Coaching

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Notice that they all involve writing at some level. Writing is at the root of establishing yourself as an expert. How do you position yourself as an expert to your market? What have you written lately?

Be an Expert We live in an age of information overload. In the past whole industries were created by controlling information. Now everything you ever wanted to know is a mouse click away. The problem is information overload. How do you know what information is accurate or the most important? You have to rely on experts to tell you what is the most important data in a sea of facts. So if you want people to buy your product today, the best way to do it is to position yourself as an expert. Are you an expert? How do you show your customers they made the right choice by coming to you?

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Be Transparent The day of the flashy, carefully worded ad are over. The Internet is about laying aside fake personas and showing who you really are. This shift in communication has changed how people interact with companies on every level. If you are still trying to look like a big company when you are not, or a friendly little guy when you are a giant you are going to lose. Be transparent, be yourself. How can you let your personality shine through in your marketing?

The Danger of the Steady Job Most people think it is safer to work for a big company than to start their own business. The exact opposite is true. When you work for someone else: · · You rely on them for everything You put all of your income ability in one basket

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· · ·

They could fire you tomorrow They could lay you off They could go out of business

It is far riskier to work for someone else and rely on their success to keep you afloat. When you work for yourself you don't have to worry about getting fired. And if you structure your business right, you will have many sources of passive income so that you get paid whether you work or not. Do you work for someone else? How could you start to build a business for yourself? How could you attain passive income?

Passive Income Requires Effort People that understand the concept of passive income often get fooled into thinking it requires no effort. That's why pyramid schemes work. They promise riches through passive income, but they ignore a couple of fundamental principles:

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· ·

You must make an initial investment Your investment must provide value to the marketplace

Acquiring passive income should be one of your primary objectives. Make sure this income is a result of an initial investment that leads to value for others, otherwise it is probably a scam. How could you invest today to receive passive income in the future?

Get Passive Income Income you receive without direct effort is called passive income. When you receive income on stocks, bonds, or investments it is passive income because you are not actively working to attain this money. Your goal as a business owner is to have multiple streams of passive income. Where do you acquire passive income? How could you get more?

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Avoid The Entrepreneurial Trap Most people start their own business because they want the freedom and flexibility of being their own boss. The problem is that they work for the business instead of the business working for them. They become a slave as everything from customer service to mopping the floor becomes part of their job description. So how do you avoid this trap? The secret is to hire, trust and empower people to help you make your business a success. Do you work for your business or does your business work for you?

The Key to Multiplying Your Efforts The key to multiplying your efforts is empowerment. When you give other people power to accomplish your business goals you are getting a lot more done than you could alone. So why don't more people use this technique? Because empowerment is:

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· · ·

Scary- it is unfamiliar and you are giving up some control of how things are done A risk- it may or may not work out Takes discipline- you have to allow people to make mistakes and do things differently than you would otherwise they never grow Requires trust- you have to believe the people you empower are capable of getting the job done

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The success of your business depends on your ability to empower others. If you rely solely on your own abilities you are severely limiting yourself. Where have you seen empowerment work? Think of a time in your life when you were empowered. How did you feel? What was the result?

Empower People

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Have you ever heard the word empowerment? I don't think most people know what it means. Either people think it is some bizarre management term, or that it means having other people do things. Empowerment is not about assigning people tasks, it is about giving them the power and resources to be successful. The leader becomes the servant, making sure the follower has everything they need to get the job done. Effective leaders serve their followers. How do you empower others?

Leave a Comment When you read blogs or forums it is easy to leave a comment. It is great feedback for the writer and you may just make a friend or business associate. So leave a comment the next time you can, and make sure it is a nice one. Where can you leave your next comment?

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Allow Comments If you have a blog or website, make sure you allow comments. You can learn a lot when you let people talk back. Big businesses pay lots of cash to get feedback from their customers. Comments are free. If you are afraid of what people may say, you can always moderate your comments or approve them before they go live on your site. I recommend you allow people to comment without screening them. Even if they say something negative, it shows you have nothing to hide. Don't have a blog or website? Use a comment card. Give them to your employees too. Where can you allow comments?

Shake Hands Nothing like a good old fashioned hand shake to say hello, show respect or cement a deal. Make sure you always shake with your right

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hand, even if you are a lefty, and get a decent grip. Don't try to impress the other person with a vice grip, but don't limp wrist it either, that's worse. A nice solid bite and brisk shake is all it takes. If you are holding something in your right hand, then move it to your left and shake with your right. If you are at a party or social scene and you have a drink, make sure you use your left hand to drink so your right is free for shaking. Do you always shake with your right hand? What kind of grip do you have?

Watch Inspiring Movies There's nothing like a good movie to inspire you to keep fighting. Who can watch any of these movies without feeling like they can give it one more shot? · · Rocky Rudy

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· ·

The Natural Star Wars

If these characters can come back against the odds so can you. But if you are not into fiction try a biographical movie about one of these folks: · · · · Abe Lincoln Thomas Edison Helen Keller The Wright Brothers

These were real people who faced some stiff challenges and persevered. You can too. What are your favorite inspirational movies? Why not watch one this week?

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Give Me a Medium Since most people want the medium size, call it a medium. Don't get cutesy with your offerings. When you offer medium, large or jumbo you only confuse your customers. Follow the standard naming conventions of your industry. Making your own names not only frustrates people, it makes you look kind of snobby. If they were smarter, they would know how to ask for the right product. So unless you are trying to be an elite company that narrows its customers to a select few, just give me a medium. Do you have special naming conventions that only a select few understand? How could you make them more accessible to all of your customers and new prospects?

Small, Medium or Large When given the choice of small, medium or Large, most people pick medium. So why not offer just medium? Because people want to

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have a choice. Plus you will have some people that want to feel thrifty by choosing a small, and the high living folks that want the best at all times that choose large. How do you position your product? Do customers have a choice of small, medium or large? If not, how could you give them this choice?

Remember Your History Knowing your company history is a big deal. It explains how you got to the culture you have today. Remembering important events and milestones creates an identity. Celebrating and reflecting on past achievements puts things in perspective. It also gives people hope that the things they are doing today will be remembered as important too. How do you celebrate your company's history?

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Don't Read Your Slides If you are giving a PowerPoint presentation, don't read your slides. Most people can read your slides themselves so it becomes boring fast. Make sure you add another element to the presentation. People came to hear you speak for a reason. It's OK to use slides, but use them to enhance what you are saying. Don't make the slides the speech, or you are unnecessary. Do you enjoy it when people read their presentation to you? How can you do a better job of presenting yourself?

The Learning "T" If you are giving a presentation you may think the most interested people are in the front and the least interested in the back. There is some truth to this, but studies have shown in academic situations there is more of a "T" to how people sit.

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This means that the most engaged audience members usually sit in the front and in the middle, all the way to the back of the room. So keep an eye out for people dozing off in the other sections, but folks sitting up front and in the middle "T" are usually into you. Where do you sit for presentations? Where do you focus when you speak to a group?

You Can't Control the Internet The Internet is a free flowing marketplace of ideas, expression and conversation. It is a little scary for businesses today because they know they need to play in this space, but it is hard to control. The old paradigm of business communication involved carefully crafting a message for consumption. This approach no longer works because today's market is controlled by consumers. Not only that, consumers are suspicious of companies that try to keep control. So if you are ready to jump into the web marketplace, strap on your seatbelt, take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.

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How could you give your customers more control of your message on the net?

Answer the Phone If you are someone who never answers their phone, give it a try some time. You may be amazed at the response you get from people when you actually answer your own phone. Some will be shocked, some dismayed, and some pleasantly surprised. Do you ever answer your own phone? What would happen if you did?

The Phone Works for You Did you know you don't have to answer the phone when it rings? If I am in the middle of something I don't have to drop everything and

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run to answer the phone. Some people have a pavlovian response to the ringing of the telephone and feel compelled to answer immediately. In an age of voice mail and answering machines you can actually call somebody back. If it is important they will leave a message. Remember the phone works for you, you don't work for the phone. What would happen if you let your phone ring?

Diagnose Before You Prescribe If you went to the doctor and she started filling out a prescription for you without examination or questions you would think she was a quack. How often do you get the full story from your customers or employees before you give an answer? Do you know what your customers truly want. Have you asked them? How do you diagnose before you prescribe a product?

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Deal or No Deal There are 4 basic paradigms of human interaction: · · · · Win-Lose: I win, you lose Lose-Win: I let you win Lose-Lose: Nobody gets their way Win-Win: We both win

Lose-Lose is no good for anyone, but the first two end up being Lose-Lose eventually anyway. So if you are working with someone it needs to be a Win-Win or no deal. How can you make doing business with you a win for you and a win for your customers?

Hook, Look, Took

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Whether you are creating a presentation, commercial or writing a headline here's a simple formula: · · · Hook- Grab attention with a headline, opening phrase or image Look- Give all the fact and support your message Took- Close with a call to action

Where could you use the hook, look, took approach in your business?

Wear a Tie If everyone at the office is business casual, you can stand out by wearing a tie. Don't dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want. If none of your competitors wears uniforms or suits then you can leap frog them in the mind of your customers by dressing smart.

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There are many ways to stand out, and dressing nice is one of the easiest. Even if you work from home, taking the time to dress professionally puts your mind in the right place.

How do you dress for work? How could you step it up a notch?

Go with What Sticks Try lots of ideas. Throw some stuff out there and see what sticks. Sometimes you don't know where your next product, innovation, or market is going to emerge. By being bold you can test the waters in a lot of areas and follow up on the things that take hold. When was the last time you tried a new idea for your business? What have been your best successes? Where did the idea for those successes originate?

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1 versus 100 Sow your financial seed and look for multiple streams of income. Most people get all of their income from one source, usually an employer. If this income stream dries up you are in big trouble. Entrepreneurs are on the right track because they are not relying on someone else for income. The problem is that most entrepreneurs put all of their eggs in one basket. They spend all their time and resources on one idea and if it does not work they are hurting. I know this problem first hand. By investing a little bit in 100 ideas instead of 1 you have a greater chance of a return. Chances are the return may be smaller since you are spreading out your investment. But imagine you are getting 100 little checks each month. They don't have to be big to start adding up. Where can you plant some small financial seeds? Would you be happy getting 100 small checks a month?

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Reprimand then Praise A lot of people use the praise then reprimand approach. "You are a spectacular person, but you smell bad." The problem is that people don't remember anything before the but. It is much more effective to be up front with the hard stuff, and then follow it with the soft. This works when you are dealing with: · · · · · Employees Children Customers Students Pets

So remember to reprimand first and end with strong praise. Give it a try and see what happens.

Who could you reprimand and then praise? How could this approach help your relationship?

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Ask Why My daughter is 3 and asks me why about 30 times an hour on an average day. It is kind of annoying sometimes, but I also notice that she is learning a lot more each day than I am. Could it be that her inquisitive little mind is soaking up knowledge and getting smarter with each why she poses? Why, I think she is. Why don't you ask why more often?

Use 2 Monitors If you are on the computer all day like me then an extra monitor or 2 can really make your life easier. If you are reading an email that asks if you are available, you can have your calendar open on the other screen. Or perhaps you want to click on a link in an email, but keep the email open, just open the link on your extra screen. Once you use it for a while you will wonder how you ever got by with just one monitor.

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How could an extra monitor make your computer time more productive?

Turn Up the Heat Make sure your customers are comfortable. If you are trying to save a few bucks on heating but your customers' teeth are chattering so hard they can't chew, then you have a problem. Best case scenario, your customers don't notice the temperature, they are just comfy all the time in your place. Does your business have a pleasant temperature?

Give Thanks Thanksgiving is about thanking God, but even if you are not into that stuff, there are plenty of people to thank:

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· · · · · · · ·

Parents Friends Customers Employees Cashiers Postmen Pizza Girl Cable Guy

So say thanks to somebody. Who could you thank today?

Go Green When you go green you are helping:

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· · · · ·

The environment Your employees feel good Your customers feel good Your kids and grand kids feel good Birds, squirrels and chipmunks

Going green is good for everyone. How can you make your business more environmentally friendly?

Don't Compete on Price To compete you need a unique competitive advantage that sets you apart. Trying to stand out by undercutting the price of your competition is a no win situation. If the strategy appears to work, your competition need only lower their price too. What you thought was a strategy suddenly disappears.

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Make sure you are basing your marketing message on something unique like: · · · Superior service Customer testimonials Years in the business\

These competitive advantages are difficult, if not impossible, to copy. What is your competitive advantage?

Treat Adults Like Kids Adults like to play sometimes but they are not given the chance. Break out some markers or playdoh for your next project or ice breaker. Adults may moan at first, but after a few minutes its hard to get them to stop. There is a kid in all of us that still likes to play. How can you play with your customers? Your employees?

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Treat Kids Like Adults If you are working with kids treat them like adults sometimes. Give them some grown up responsibilities. Ask them to do more than people usually think they are capable of doing. Kids love it when you treat them like they can do more. What are some safe ways to give kids responsibility?

Place Items in Relation to Their Usefulness Is your desk a mess? One way to overcome a messy work area is to place items in relation to their usefulness. Items you use all the time should be at arm's length. Things you use rarely, like reference materials, can be stowed on a shelf across the room. Only have files close by that you use all the time, the rest can go in a file cabinet. Besides reducing clutter, you are sure to have the things you really use close at hand.

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Are items in your workspace organized in relation to the frequency of their use?

File, Act, Delete Use the FAD (file, act, delete) principle to get organized. This works great with email. When you go through your inbox be sure to file the message, act on it or delete it right away. Do not read it and leave it in your inbox. If you do not have time to file, act or delete then wait until later to read your messages. FAD saves you time because you only handle each message once. Give it a try. How do you handle your inbox? Could the FAD system save you time?

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Read Weird Magazines Read magazines that seem weird to you because you do not usually read them. You will get great insights and new ideas by looking at material you usually ignore like: · · · · · Better Homes and Gardens Wired People Time Ninja Monthly

You never know where your next breakthrough inspiration may come from. What weird magazines could you check for ideas?

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Be Yourself Be yourself. It is what people want. It is the only way to be successful. It is the only thing you can truly be anyway. So be yourself. Are you yourself with customers?

Take an Hourly Break Give your brain a break at least once an hour. There is a reason that most classes are scheduled to be 50 minutes long. Even if you don't leave your desk, try to give yourself a mental break. It may seem like you are playing hookie, but you will actually improve your productivity by getting away for a break.

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Have you had a break today?

Post Your Information A lot of people are afraid to post their email, phone or address in fear they will get spammed. Well here's the deal, you will get spammed. The other side of the coin is that you want your customers to be able to find you. Particularly on the web, the only way people who don't already know you can find you is if you freely share your contact information. Some people have customers fill out a contact form. This is lame. Post your information so people can call or email you right away. If you get some junk mail that's just the price of doing business. Do you post your contact information?

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Get Ergonomic Be ergonomic by making sure your work area is a good fit for your body. How you sit where your desk is, how you set up your monitor and/or workstation can make a big difference in how you feel at the end of the day. If you are having pain in your arm try a trackball mouse. I won't compute without one anymore. And if you feel a little depressed, try opening the window shade or installing natural lighting. These little changes can make a big difference in how well you do you work and how long. Are you working ergonomically?

Use Emoticons :-) Emoticons are emotional messages you can communicate with keyboard characters. These are very handy when using email. It is difficult to read a person's tone in an email, but a clever smiley on the end can let the other person know you aren't miffed.

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If you still aren't sure how they work, take a look at this and turn your head to the left: :-) It's a face with 2 eyes, a nose and a smile. Still can't see it? Turn your monitor clockwise 90 degrees. Just kidding ;-) There are lots more on wikipedia. How could you use emoticons? Have a splendid day! :-)

Have a Sense of Humor Knock, Knock. Who's there? Grouchy business owner. There's nobody home. Who wants to deal with a curmudgeon who never jokes or cracks a smile? No one. So lighten up and have a sense of humor in the way

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you do business and communicate with customers. Whatever you do, don't get advice from your lawyer first. They suck the fun out of everything. How could you be more playful with your customers?

Carry a Pen Always carry a pen. You may need it to: · · · · Jot down your next million dollar idea To record important information (like at an accident scene) To get someone's contact info who forgot their card To look like a hero to someone else who needs a pen

There are some sleek models that fit in your front pocket. My favorite is the Space Pen. Don't leave home without packin' some ink. How has a pen saved your bacon in the past?

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Get Other People's Cards If you really want to work with someone don't just give them your card, get theirs. If you have their information you control your own destiny and do not have to rely on their organizational skills to contact you. If they don't have a card then write down their information with the pen you always carry. If you won't ask someone for their card, how can you ask them for their business? Do you ask people for their cards?

Have Cool Cards If you are using cheesy clip art, razor thin paper or perforated print at home sheets then you need new business cards. Have fun and experiment. It's your card and you can make it however you want. If your company makes your card, make your own set and hand them both out. Just because your company is boring does not mean you have to be.

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Can your card be identified in a line up? Does it stand out? Does it tell people what to do next?

Give Out Your Business Card Don't be caught without your business card. You should have your cards with you everywhere you go. You never know when you are going to make that special connections with someone. Sometimes I think I don't need my cards where I am going and inevitably I strike up a conversation with someone and go scrambling for a pen. Better safe than sorry so take you cards everywhere you go. You'll thank me later. How has being in the right place at the right time helped your business? How could being prepared with your contact info on your business card help you next time?

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Don't Give Out Your Business Card Have you ever been to a networking event and there is a guy going around the room handing out his card. He'll come up to you, say hi, ask your name and hand you a card. Don't be that guy. Relationships are not built on business cards. Cards are a handy way to share vital contact info without writing everything down. BUT the relationship comes before the card. If you are in a room of 100 people networking making 2 or 3 good connections is much more valuable than handing out 100 cards to strangers. Do you know the people you give your card too?

Use a White Board Have you ever been in a brainstorming meeting without a white board or some kind of shared device you can all see? It can be very

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frustrating as to where you are and what was accomplished. White boards are great because: · · · · You can all look up and stay on the same train of thought. It's easy to erase and start over The colored markers make it easier to throw out ideas than writing a formal paper You can add to ideas and write in the margins

Even when you are alone a white board is a great way to sketch out ideas. Do you use a white board for meetings? Can you think of a better tool to use than white boards when developing an idea?

Open the Window Hey, let some air in there. Real life is not like the cheesy ads for laptop computers. You probably are not sitting on the beach with

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your computer. More likely you have been cooped up in your office all day. Open a window. Can't open the window or you don't have one in your cubicle? Take a walk outside. It's good for you and what's good for you is good for your productivity. You need sunlight and fresh air on occasion. Did you know Vitamin D comes from the sun? Take a walk and if anyone asks what you are doing smile and say "gettin' some D, just gettin' some D..." When's the last time you went outside, breathed fresh air or saw sunlight?

Holiday Marketing is Boo-tiful Take advantage of the season you are in to pitch your product. How can people use your product for the holiday? Would it make a good gift? If it is a service why not offer a gift certificate people can buy for friends and colleagues?

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Be creative. Besides the standard holidays there are seasons you can capitalize on like: · · · · Sleds for a snowy January Kites for a windy March Umbrellas for a rainy April Ice cube trays for a hot August

Use your imagination. How can you relate your product to the next season or holiday?

Have a list of FAQ's Having a list of frequently asked questions, or FAQ's, available for your customers can do wonders. This works particularly well on websites where people are trying to gather some facts on their own and can quickly get their questions answered.

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Internally compiling FAQ's helps you determine what people ask the most. You can then address these concerns up front in your marketing. It is also great preperation for you sales people. If they already know what people are asking the most they can be prepared with some good answers before they make the call. What are your FAQ's? Where do you post them for customers and employees?

You Are Not Your Customer Bear in mind when you create your marketing that you are not your customer. · · · Your customers don't understand all your jargon Your customers may be more excited about your product than you are Your customers may be less excited about your product than you are

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·

Your customers do not work for you

One thing I know for sure, you are more interested in your cool Flash intro on your website than your customers. They want to get the product or answer they need quickly, not watch a commercial. Give people quick access to the bottom line or an avenue to purchase and options to learn more or ask questions if they need help. Do you design your marketing promotions based on what appeals to you?

Make Sure Your Stuff Works Does your stuff work? Do you use your own product? It's hard to know if your stuff gets the job done when you don't use it yourself. Most customers are more concerned with your product doing the job than your advertising. A well made product is the best advertising. Are you more concerned with advertising or making sure your product does what it says?

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Drive Nice It amazes me when a car covered with advertising cuts me off. I don't know about you, but I am less likely to call "Jerry's Plumbing" after they just ran me into a ditch. So if you have advertising on your car, or you just want to be an upstanding citizen, drive nice. Are you a considerate driver? Do you have advertising on your vehicle? Why or why not?

Get Testimonials No advertising is better than a customer saying they like your product. You may have all the answers and enthusiasm, but you have a vested interest. People connect with other people so having a real life human endorse your product on their own is gold. Make sure you put testimonies: · · On your flyers On your website

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· ·

On your bookcover Everywhere you can

If you can't find anyone to give you a testimonial then your product probably sucks and you have bigger issues than advertising. Do you get testimonials? How could you integrate testimonials into your marketing?

Clean Your Bathroom Sounds silly, but if you have a client visit your bathroom and it is a mess it makes you look bad. We don't like to think about bathrooms but consider your own experience. Don't nice places and businesses have nice bathrooms? Have you ever gone to a yucky bathroom at a restaurant- kind of rough on the appetite. In fact some countries are judged by their bathrooms. Would you rather go to the bathroom in Swaziland or Canada? You can bet your bottom dollar that having a nice bathroom affects the perception of your customers whether it is conscious or not.

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Is your bathroom tidy?

Enter a Contest Why not enter your company, brand, product or promotion into a contest? Put yourself up against your peers and see how you do. You may win a prize which is good for morale and nice to tell customers. If you lose, you can learn from the winners how to excel in your field. What contests are there for your industry? Why don't you enter one?

Transformation Tools So how do you turn your transactions into transformational experiences? Here are some interactive tools you can use to change the relationship:

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· · · · · ·

Surveys Blogs Comment lines Asking questions Shaking hands Inquiring about topics beyond the business at hand

What tools do you use to interact with your customers in a two way communication?

Transform Instead of Transacting A common approach to business is to think of interactions with customers as being this for that, quid pro quo, I scratch your back you scratch mine. This may get you some short term sales, but it goes nowhere in developing a relationship with your customers.

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To thrive your interactions with customers must be transformational. Sure you may be providing a product, but how can that product affect other areas of their life? How can you provide that extra bit of service that makes the product better? How can you allow your company to be transformed through the interaction? I bet I got you on that last question. For interactions to be transformational you have to allow yourself to be changed too. Each interaction is an opportunity to learn from your customers and do better next time. Transactional means no one changes, transformational means both parties change. How do you allow customers to interact with you? Are your relationships transactional or transformational? What tools could you use to become more transformational?

REALLY Give Stuff Away Take your giving to the next level and give your whole product away. I recently recommended to a client that they offer free downloads of

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some of their book titles and the room was aghast. Why would anyone buy the book when they could get it free? This was the craziest idea they ever heard. It is crazy in the old world of marketing and distribution where companies guarded their possessions and trade secrets carefully. We don't live in that world any longer. The world we live in has: · Marketing Guru Seth Godin offering his book on his website with three buttons- download free, download for a fee, buy the book. Sales of his book shot through the roof- and thousands paid for the download. Major label band Radiohead sells their latest record (if we still call it that) on their site for download and you punch in the amount you wish to pay- I put in $0 and that's what I paid. My buddy Scott Ginsberg offered a free download of his last book on his website and saw sales of the printed version 300% higher than his previous title.

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This is easier to swallow when you are talking about digital content where there are few cost associated with additional downloads, but there are ways to kick up what you are giving away to your customers. Your customers are starting to expect it, and if you don't do it, your competition will.

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What can you REALLY give away, no strings attached? How could this enhance your bottom line in the long run?

Give Stuff Away The best way to find new customers- especially on the internet, is to give stuff away. You are proving that you have your customer's best intererst at heart and allow them to see what you are about risk free. This works great if you are giving away information or advice. If you are giving product away be sure to narrow your gifts to your target market or you'll go broke. There are ways to give away part of your product for free- free consultation, free book chapter, free shampoo with haircut... Humans are naturally reciprocal and will try to give you something back. The ones that don't are the creeps you don't want as customers anyway. Give people a reason to start the relationship and make sure you are good enough to keep them.

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What could you give people to facilitate them giving you back a chance at their business?

Your Customers Are Ignorant Your customers may be smart, but that does not mean they know everything about your business. Don't assume people know your business as well as you do. Avoid jargon and acronyms and give 'em the straight stuff. Even people that are technical appreciate explanations in down to Earth terms. Do you use technical terms or jargon in your marketing? How can you re-phrase your terms to make them understandable to the man on the street?

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Your Customers Are Smarter than You Think Your customers know a lot more than you think. Treat them like they are intelligent decision making adults. Respect for their time and intellect goes a long way. Does your advertising talk down to your customers?

Help Your Customers Even If Your Manager Freaks While working for the retail king of customer service Nordstrom, I had the chance to go the extra mile for a customer. I left my department in suits to use the little boys room and on the way back a lady asked me about a shirt on a mannequin. Long story short I spent about 45 minutes tracking down 3 of the shirts and gift wrapping them for the woman. I let my coworker in suits know that I was helping a customer and would be back, but when my department manager found out she reprimanded me for being gone so long even though there was not one customer in our department the whole time. I'm still not sure

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why my manager didn't get it, but I did and so I did what I thought was right for the customer. Two months later the manager was gone and I was still there. Is it better for your career to really help customers or to listen to managers that don't get it?

Start Conversations Markets are conversations. Your job is to getting people talking about your product and sharing it with their communities. The Internet allows people to congregate and communicate on a massive scale. Make yourself easy to find and talk about. If you have a good product you will do well, if you are relying on fancy marketing campaigns and slogans for a crappy product you are in trouble. How easy is it for your customers to talk about you?

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Give People What They Want, Even If You Don't Have It If someone comes to your business looking for a product that you do not have, help them get it from somewhere else. When I worked for FranklinCovey I actually printed maps to other stores for customers when did not have the item they needed. People were overwhelmed by the service and it was not that hard to do. But guess where those customers go first when they need something? That's right, they go back to the FranklinCovey store because they know they either have what they need or will make sure they get it. How can you help customers find what they need, even if you don't have it?

Listen What if you went to a doctor's office and they started prescribing you medication before they knew what was bothering you? What if the doctor started asking: does your head hurt, do you have a sore back, does your butt itch... before you could say a word. It makes no sense

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to offer customers things they did not ask for or do not need. Ask you customers want they want and then give it to them. It will make you both happier if you listen first. How do you listen to your customers?

Celebrate Share your victories with customers. Let them know your milestones, success stories, and anniversaries. Make them part of the family. And since they are family celebrate the great events in their lives. Send them a birthday card. It's more fun to work with family and friends than strangers. How can you celebrate with your customers?

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Smile Smiling is good for business. Customers love it when you smile, your co-workers like you better and golly it just makes you feel good. Do you smile at work? Give it a try and see what changes. Does your day, and your business, go better or worse?

Create a blog with 365 posts I suggested to my employer Joyce Meyer Ministries that they post a daily devotion from Joyce on a blog, one per day. People could read the blog, or get a new post/devotion via RSS or Email each day. They are thinking about it, but I figured it was a good idea so why not create a marketing/business thought per day myself. The cool thing is this is my first post. I'm doing it now, and I only have to come up with 364 more (or I guess 365 more since leap year is coming up)!

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Update: OK , so I only got to 188, but I think it turned out pretty good :) What could you blog about as a quick thought for your customers each day?

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