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JVC Understands Car Buffs JVC is a huge company with many divisions so how does it show a tight knit segment of consumers that they are understood? One way is to tailor schwag specifically for them. Of the hundreds and hundreds of booths in the CES mobility hall, JVC and their Arsenal line was the only company to offer…. car air fresheners. Yep, the only one. Others offered pens and bags and hot girls signing posters. JVC offered schwag attendees could use. And attendees hoarded the hot looking air fresheners. This very tight target of influentials will return home and put them in their rolling showpieces. Very clever.

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A Marketer’s View Of The CES Some people attend The Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas for the new technology. I attend for the schwag. You see, with thousands of companies competing for our attention, the best attendees can do is glance at the new technology and then revisit the company’s website when we return home. Schwag is a tangible reminder to do so. It also can drive others to the company’s booth by informing them that the company is there.

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The Spandex Rule There are two reasons that I don’t write longer posts here. One is that it would be hypocritical of me to post on a blog aimed at doers and not actually do. Doing takes time. The other is that it violates what William C. Taylor, author of Mavericks at Work calls the Spandex Rule. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I shouldn’t write longer posts because doers don’t have time to read them. They want their soundbites, their grand concept reminders (I’m not talking about anything new here), and then be able to move on, to do.

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Why Employees Give Notice A friend had a key employee leave. Knowing that she provided critical functions (like payroll and cash) and had a hard to find skill set, this employee gave a very generous one month notice. My busy friend waited until that month was up before starting the search for a replacement. Three months and many, many angry employees later, she still hasn’t found that person (not for lack of trying). Notice is given for a reason. It is meant to be spent locating the right candidate and that candidate is getting more difficult to find. This is one area, managers don’t want to procrastinate in.

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Get Uncomfortable I’m fond of saying that if you want to make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs. This not only means doing the dirty stuff (not being Miss Popular) but also shaking up your own routine. Trying something different. Getting out of your comfort zone. I recently took on a contract gig that was way out of my comfort zone. I lost what little sleep I usually get but gained valuable experience. It made me a better businesswoman and I now look at the world a bit differently.

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Jim Cramer’s Voice Jim Cramer has a unique voice. His over the top style on his tv show Mad Money has made cult followers out of folks otherwise not financially inclined. His style is not bound only to TV. I just finished his book Real Money and was pleased to read that voice replicated faithfully in print form. It was so closely tied that I could almost hear the man speak in my head while reading the words. That is what great brand building is about. It’s a consistent product regardless of format.

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The Purpose Of Line One In Target Marketing Russell Kern outlines 13 proven strategies to create high-performing copy. One of the strategies is to write your letters so readers slide into the response pool. What is the goal in writing copy (or any writing) of line one? It’s to drive the prospect to read line two. The goal of line two? To drive the prospect to read line three. Line after line after line should be designed to move the prospect forward until she reaches the “must buy” point. This tightness defines great copywriters.

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Showing Your Hand Never underestimate the intelligence of your employees. XYZ, a global company, had one older manufacturing facility in North America. Looking to expand, a huge second facility opened. This fully automated newcomer, situated in a lower cost state, was called XYZ North America. So now the older facility has staffing issues. You see when there are two North American locations and the new one is called the company name + North America, you can bet that the older one is closing. In this case, you’ be right. It might seem “kind” to preannounce the closing like this …if it wasn’t so damn difficult to run a plant with no employees.

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Making Line-Ups Sexy I asked for and received numerous books for the holidays. Now almost all bookstores were packed, with long lines. Some loved ones complained about the waiting. However, one raved about it. You see, the bookstore made the line-up an event. Shoppers were offered chocolates, bottled water, and entertainers kept them happy. Yes, entertainers. Comics, magicians, and even the dreaded mimes. The store earned a loyal customer by making him wait.

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Be Open When Your Prospects Are I love the holidays because during the holidays, readers discover which bloggers target doers and when bloggers target the others. You see, the bloggers that target doers like Seth Godin’s, Trump’s and others have just as much content during the holidays as during the rest of the year. Doers are always on. They are always doing. When I was opening presents, I was noting packaging and asking why presents were chosen. I wanted to know about line-ups at stores and collecting selling points. And doers just assume that others are doing the same.

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Be Present Sometimes the most important thing a manager can be is present. Especially on a direct report’s last day on the job. Show up, regardless of your feelings towards that person. A no-brainer, right? Nope. I temporarily replaced a company controller. This controller was the sole finance guy for the North American operations. There was a three day overlap between his tenure and mine, needed for critical training. On the second day, the President shook the controller’s hand and said that he was ”working from home” the next day (code for taking the day off). This disrespect angered the controller (he came in only for a half hour the next day to pick up some forgotten personal items). A controller with access to everything in the company, financial records, banking, payroll, everything. Guess the President was counting on his direct report being more professional than he was.

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Responding To Executive Changes When I figured out that the brand new executive was planning on restructuring the company, I had three main choices… I could wait it out, I could start sending out resumes or I could ask to be part of the restructuring team. Despite knowing full well that I would be universally hated in the company, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn about restructuring from an expert. Landing that job was child’s play. An e-mail mentioning that I would like to be part of his group, and a meeting following to plead my case. Not much competition for the position (and no one asking for it) and once I shared with the exec that I knew what he was up to, I was given points for forward thinking. Executive changes mean big opps for perceptive employees.

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Executive Changes Changes at the top are never done without thought. It usually indicates a directional change. So a smart employee sits up and pays attention. Years ago, I was working for a property management company. The company was sucking big time. Then all of a sudden, we had a brand new executive. I did my research on this executive (easier to do now with the internet) and noticed a trend. Executive hired, restructuring, executive hired, restructuring, executive hired, restructuring. Just like you and I are “specialists” in something, so are executives. This executive was an expert in restructuring.

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The Media Champion Clientk has some of the most intelligent readers in the blogosphere so many of you realized that the technique used to land a project champion, can be applied elsewhere. Most recently, I used it to land media coverage. I was working with a new media outlet and didn’t know whom I should be contacting. So I sent an e-mail to one of the staff, explaining my story pitch and asking just that. I received a two line e-mail back with the contact name and e-mail. So what did I do? I sent an e-mail saying ”Jill Smith in editorial thinks you would be interested in this story.” The chances of my e-mail being read substantually increased and I landed the coverage.

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The Follow Up I’ve been watching a few blogs, blogs that gather media attention and unfortunately mess it up. Sometimes a single post blows up big but the blogger doesn’t follow it up with another quality post. The readers never return. Sometime the blogger does but then has no idea how to turn those readers into cash. A big break is good, great even, but only if you know what to do with it. Have a plan in place.

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Timeless What’s the biggest threat to watchmakers? Cellphones. Yes, a completely different industry. Sixty-Six percent of teens never wear a watch. They don’t have to. They carry their cellphones everywhere with them and cellphones have a time function (not to mention a reminder function). More and more threats are coming from outside industries. A great business leader expands her network and knowledge.

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Competing With Oscar What do you do screen when you’re a television network not covering the Academy Awards? You could, as one network did, try to capture the few artsies not watching the Oscars by presenting the vintage Casablanca. Or you could target the non-artsie crowd and play the antithesis of artsie movies. Movies about vampires and werewolves (Van Helsing and Underworld) and throw in an sci-fi action movie (Chronicles of Riddick). That’s what TBS did and for once, they got my eyeballs.

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A Nice Guy I asked an associate for her impression of a potential business partner. I was told “he’s a nice guy” and that was it. I have no doubt that he was a nice guy. I prefer to surround myself with nice people. And being nice would be sufficient if I was looking for a friend. I wasn’t. I was looking for a business partner. What did I read between the lines? That he didn’t have much more to recommend himself than simply being a nice person. That was not enough.

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Mixing Media 70% of us watch tv while using the internet. A smart blogger turns this to her advantage. She doesn’t try to compete against the season finale of Lost by hosting a half hour long podcast. She instead slices up information in commercial break sizes. Find out how your customer is using your product and work with it.

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Spitting Against The Wind Many industries do it. They get so complacent in their little niches that when change comes, they resist. Look at the music industry. Instead of figuring out how to make money from downloads, they tried to fight it. The downloads happened anyway. The tv industry is next what with Youtube and copycat sites. Instead of offering free quality video on their own websites and selling the commercial space, many are trying to fight it. There are fads that simply fade away. These, however, are trends. Trends are continuously moving waves and almost impossible to stop. What trend are you trying to fight?

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Successful And Marketing Nora Roberts aka JD Robb and her publisher have been aggressively marketing her latest novel. Nora Roberts is one of the bestselling authors ever so I’m hearing back from other authors with questions about why she has to market. For one, the successful usually get successful because they can market and sell. They don’t turn off this skill once they reach number one. For another, a reasonable amount of marketing is required merely to stay at number one. Number two (and three and twenty-four) have number one place in their sights. So no, you can’t sit back and relax once you reach number one.

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Growing Your Vendor’s Business I was interviewing vendors last week and one of the questions I asked was ”How do you plan to grow your business?” There are a number of ways to grow revenue. You can increase the number of clients. You can increase the price you charge. You can sell add on services. You can increase your client’s business so they, in turn, grow your business. I, of course, was looking for the last answer. I want a vendor who will help me grow. Surprisingly, most vendors talked about the first, the ”big deals” they were going to land. How they thought this would help me I don’t know.

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When Saleswomen Get Bored I was waiting for a friend in a bookstore so I started hand selling books. It was surprisingly easy. You see the bookstore had a huge selection and consumers, well, they were confused. Too much choice. So I narrowed it down for them. I’d watch what they were looking through and then suggest two choices in the genre. Why two? I tried three, which usually is the perfect number. Turned out to be too many. They’d ask which one of the three I reco’ed. I tried one. Prospects almost always refused that single choice. No one likes to be told what to buy. But two? They’d happily pick one or maybe even both.

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Know Your Competition I’ve been working as a temporary controller for the past month and a half. During this time, a salaried consultant has been doing all he can to take over my job. I’m letting him. You see, he’s afraid I’ll try to replace him when the controller position is finally filled. Who wouldn’t want a full time gig, right? I wouldn’t. I like my short term contracts. I’m a project girl. If the consultant had asked, had tried to get to know his competition a bit better, he could have saved himself hours of overtime. As it is, I’m going home early.

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Prepare To Be Hated A buddy told me that she wanted to be more of a leader. I asked her if she was prepared to be hated. I was serious. A harsh part of leadership is dealing with abuse. Leaders are criticized, resented, and yes, even hated. It’s not fair, it’s not nice, and in some cases. it’s borderline illegal. But it’s part of holding a position of power.

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The Checks In The Mail An on-line eBook publisher offers a mail in, pay by check option. Why? Because, according to Neil Wickham, the average American household writes 20 checks a month (compared to the average Canadian household with their 2 checks a month). Failing to honor a customer’s preferred method of payment is foolish, even though that method is a disconnect with the product purchased.

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Staring Into The Chasm A new plant manager was telling me that a “chasm” was developing between him and his team and it was a ”conundrum” as to why. Uhh…I could guess. Some people think that using fancy words makes them look more intelligent. A more likely result is that it makes their listeners feel dumb. I don’t like or respect or even listen to people who make me feel dumb.

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George Orwell On Writing Guy Kawasaki recently linked to a piece of George Orwell’s writing. In it, Orwell advised ”Never use a long word where a short one will do.” and ”If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.” I wish that more writers of e-mails of business proposals of blogs, would follow these guidelines. The essay was written in 1946 but is even more applicable today. Readers have less time, not more. Be respectful of it.

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One Woman’s Garbage PRpulp’s post on $$ from a trash can reminded me that a big part of successful and profitable product development is reducing costs. Reducing costs usually means reducing waste. An example is a gelatin company. Gelatin companies often buy food processor’s “waste” (pork rinds). The gelatin is extracted (cooked) and a by product choice white grease is left over. Is that discarded? Nope, the choice white grease is also sold. There is a market for the byproduct of a byproduct. Look at your “garbage.” Is someone willing to pay for it?

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The Perfect Blogger The blogosphere is supposed to be honest, open, all out there. Really? Then why is it that every investment a personal finance blogger owns never loses money? Or every single ad a marketing blogger produces is wildly successful? You and I both know that isn’t honest. Mistakes are part of doing. The more people are doing, the more mistakes they make.

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The Sweetest Sound I re-read Dale Carnegie’s classic How To Win Friends & Influence People. Then I read Seth’s post on Ego. Both send the same message. People want recognition, they want to feel special. They want us to know their names and know what they feel makes them special, unique. Direct mail with my name on it has better odds of being opened. A telemarketer asking to speak to me by name rather than to the “head of household” is more likely to be listened to.

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The Gifts To Give My mother came to visit for a week. As a thank you, she gave me a bouquet of yellow roses. Yellow roses are her favorite, so she told me (again). Notice what was said. Her favorite, not mine but hers. People tend to give presents that they themselves like. To please them, I give them right back for the next special occasion. So my hard to buy for mother is receiving yellow roses for mother’s day (the busiest day for florists).

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Garbage Bag Peer Pressure Three weeks ago, everyone in the neighborhood put out their raked leaves in brown kraft bags for pick up. One house had a row of bags with the Costco logo blazed across them. Two weeks ago, three houses on our block had Costco leaf bags. Last week, even my house had the bags. Were they the least expensive? No, no, no. But they were worth it, to be part of “the club.”

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Changing Minds I had a half hour conversation with an artist today. She insisted that business people were not creative. I came up with example after example of situations where they were. At the end of the conversation, she hadn’t budged on her position. Changing minds is very difficult, if not impossible. Ensure that the success of your product does not rely on that happening.

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No Small Implementations The conversion to a new platform on one of my blogs was supposed to be seamless, invisible to the reader. Days later the site is still down. When it comes to the customer, there are no small implementations. I know that. My Tech Partner knows that. Yet we delegated this implementation at a time when both of us were swamped with other projects. A junior jammer mistake. Junior jammer mistakes that I remind readers of each day here. There’s a reason we need reminding.

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Exit Interviews When I was a lower case k, and leaving my first full time job, I did an exit interview. The human resources interviewer asked me the standard questions like “what could the company do better?” and “what improvements would you make?” and the killer “why are you leaving?” Being young and naive, I answered truthfully and enthusiastically. The interviewer listened quietly and then wrote four words in my file “Difficult to work with.” If you don’t want to burn bridges, say as little as possible during the exit interview.

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Leading By Example The receptionist called in sick last week so all staff members pitched in to cover… all staff members including the company President. He walked past reception while a young lady stood there, waiting to be interviewed for a sales position. The President took her coat, paged the sales manager, and asked her to be seated. Think of how difficult it would be for anyone in the company to utter those dreaded words ”Not My Job” when the President himself answers the phones. Corporate culture flows downwards. Lead by example.

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Feeling Responsible I was associated with a project recently but not leading or actively participating in it. I was hands free… until it started going south. Then I found myself feeling responsible, caring that the project was failing, stressing about it, to the point where I stepped in, taking over the project management. I worked like a demon to turn it around. I worked much harder than if I managed the project from day one. My learning? If I’m going to feel responsible, I should take responsibility.

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How To Exit A Job Friday is my last day on the contract gig so I’m busy preparing my exit email. On the day I leave a company, I always send an email to the execs. This email is a pat on the back to all those individuals who have helped me and an acknowledgment of often under recognized talent. Executives take these emails very seriously. They figure that because I’m leaving, I have nothing to gain. They are incorrect. I’m only leaving the company, I’m taking the contacts with me. Grateful, happy, pleased contacts.

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Resume Length Keeping resumes short is a must. It shows that you can prioritize and prune non value added information. But how short is too short? A survey of execs by Accountemps showed that 73% prefer a two page resume for staff positions, 47% expect a three page resume for executive positions. With such limited real estate, I wouldn’t waste space on airy fairy things like mission statements. I would also tweak the resume for each position. Give the employer what they’re looking for.

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Charging To Get Out Of Jail Visa will now be a part of The Game Of Life and Monopoly. As long as it’s a balanced approach (both the good and the bad use of credit), I say about time. The U.S. consumer has an average of 9 credit cards. Yep, 9 cards. To have a game mirroring Life without credit cards is unrealistic. Branding those credit cards also reflects real life. I don’t pay by credit card, I pay by Visa. Is your product still relevant?

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Making Money From Mistakes This weekend, while many people are thinking about forgiveness, I’m thinking about the opportunities arising from the mistakes themselves. I belong to a blogging group. Every one has a turn to post. However, many bloggers “forget”. So I emailed the admin, offering to be an “emergency” blogger. Win-Win They get content and coverage. I develop a better relationship with the hosts and more publicity. Yes, making mistakes is part of being human, but so is taking advantage of these mistakes.

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Giving The Customer Control A loved one is turning 7. I won’t see her until a week after her birthday. So I called her up. I told her that I could spend $20 and mail the present, ensuring that she received it on the day. Or I could give her the $20 and deliver the present a week late. She thought about it for about ten minutes, finally deciding to receive the present late. And she was thrilled about it. Even (almost) 7 year old customers like to control decisions.

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The Company Q&A At most large company employee meetings, there is a question and answer session at the end. Executives sit up at the front of the room and take questions from the audience. If there are no questions, the execs feel like jack asses. No one likes feeling like a jack ass. So I always go to these meetings prepared to ask a simple question that sounds intelligent but is easy to answer. The execs look brilliant, I get face time and credit for making them look brilliant. Everyone is happy. This holds true for information sessions hosted by customers, suppliers, and business partners.

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Weekend Training A friend was complaining about his company booking a training seminar on the weekend. Couldn’t they have booked it during the week? No, no, they couldn’t. This is a common practice in large companies. The invite for this training was extended to the privileged few, the high achievers, the employees execs had their eyes on, and the weekend had one main purpose… to see who wanted it enough to forgo personal time. In other words, it was a test. An easy first test.

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Tag Team Success I learned this trick from executives. Notice how the V-P’s in an organization all seem to be buddies? This isn’t a coincidence. Just as in Survivor, executives-to-be form alliances. Then they get themselves promoted tag team style. When there’s an opening in Finance, the alliance members from other departments promote their buddy. When there’s an opening in Sales, the same thing happens. There’s strength in numbers, cross-department co-operation is a sign of a future executive, and it’s much more effective to actively promote someone else than self-promote. Great bloggers do the exact same thing. If there’s a call for interesting links, great bloggers suggest links to on-line buddies. They nominate each other for awards. They work as a tag team.

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Managing With Humor Part of a project manager’s job is to manage the stress level of her team. When stress reaches unhealthy levels, I diffuse it using humor. Humor is a tricky tool.

I use humor sparingly. I am the project manager, not the office jokester. I lean towards self-depreciating humor. Sharing a light story about past learning not only gives the group a much needed laugh but it reconfirms that I’ve ”been there, done that.” And I never, ever, use humor at someone else’s expense. Even the use of past employees is a no-no. Current employees know that they are your future past employees.

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Betting On The Jockeys I asked a gambler which horse he liked for an upcoming race. He replied that he doesn’t bet on horses, he bets on jockeys. You see jockeys want to get paid and the more they win, the more they get paid so the best jockeys pick the best horses. And if a jockey shows up for only one race you can be sure that he intends to win. In every business, there is more information provided than needed. Cut through the noise to focus on what is key.

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Trade Magazines How to advertise in a magazine? It depends. If the magazine targets the average person, is sold on newsstands everywhere, and consists mostly of glossy ads, an ad is the only way to go. However, if it is a trade magazine like Romance Writers Report subscribed to and read cover to cover by aspiring and publishing romance writers, then seriously consider the more cost effective classified ad. It WILL get read.

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Sexy Nuns Did that get your attention? I bet it did. The post title is a clear example of a charged coupling A pairing of two opposite words, each with high emotion. It is a copywriting standby and it works. Marketing is about emotion. Ensure that your copy has it. Google is going to love me for this post.

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Marlboro Fences And Coca-Cola Kids When designing ads, great marketers not only concentrate on what is there, but they also pay attention to what isn’t. In Marlboro ads, there are never any fences. Why? Because they didn’t want to give an impression of restricted freedom. In Coca-Cola ads, you should never see a child drinking a cola. Why? Because it would be socially irresponsible. Everything, even nothing, sends a message.

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The Blazer A common saleswoman trick is to travel with a navy blue or black blazer. Putting on a blazer immediately dresses up a polo shirt or tank top or a pair of jeans. I took this trick and applied it to corporate. I had a blazer hanging on a clothes hanger behind my office door. The rest of my wardrobe consisted of pieces that I could wear with that blazer. Even if I was pulled into a board meeting on casual Friday during the company bbq, I looked half decently dressed.

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The Cost Of Arrogance When I moved from Road To Forbes to my own domain, I almost reposted my two years of history. I told myself that it was because readers wanted the old posts. A lie. All that content is available with a simple Google search. No, it was arrogance, pure and simple. It irked me to be back to being a baby blogger, starting all over. The price for this arrogance would have been high. I’d be back in the Google Sandbox (where I have my own chair) penalized for duplicate content. How is that serving my readers? Easy answer. It doesn’t.

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Getting To Yes Seth Godin has a great post on how people accustomed to saying no will continue to say no. The opposite is also true. People accustomed to saying yes will continue to say yes. A common sales “trick” is to start the prospect off with easy yes answers. Have you thought about getting a new car? Yes (or else what are they doing on the lot?) Do you have some models in mind? Yes (again, they are on your lot). Those types of questions. Working, of course, up to the big yes, the yes to your sale.

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No Invulnerable Egos On the weekend, I made a comment about being an arrogant ass. A friend turned to me and said “But even arrogant asses cry sometimes, don’t they?” Too true. As Harry and Christine Clifford Beckwith state in their new book You, Inc. “There are big egos. But there are no invulnerable egos. All people are fragile.” Make a person feel important and you’ll make a friend or make a sale.

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Street Tricks Mirroring is a powerful sales technique, matching the saleswoman’s actions to the prospect’s. Some street people looking for hand outs know this. They know that if they walk beside the prospect, they’ll get more money because they become one of us.

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A Damn Fool Taking criticism is tough but necessary. Whenever someone tells me I’m being a jack ass, I remember this story about Abraham Lincoln (retold by Dale Carnegie in How To Stop Worrying And Start Living). After Lincoln heard that Stanton, his Secretary of War, called him a “damn fool”, he immediately replied “If Stanton said I am a damned fool, then I must be, for he is nearly always right.” No defence, no excuses, only acceptance.

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Your Target Customer I may not know anything about your business but I can guarantee…. Your target customer is not you. Within a week of working in an industry, you already know more and care more than your average customer. If you want to make money, ignore what YOU like, listen to your customer and give her what she wants. Oh, and market it with words she understands (i.e. no industry acronyms)

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The Shoe Story With my business suits, I wear a pair of shiny black patent leather Timberlands. These shoes look like steel toes and aren’t…well… feminine. I have multiple pairs. Why? Because every time someone looks at these shoes, they’re visually reminded that I’m not an ivory tower manager. I spend time on the plant floor or in the restaurant kitchen or behind the cash register. One of my former executives, a winner of the industry’s international CEO of the year wore buckskin steel toed boots with his thousand dollar suits for the exact same reason.

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Doing Lunch When I hear a guru suggest “doing lunch” as a means of networking, I know she’s dating herself. A new study by Packaged Facts tells us that the average lunch is 25 minutes long and 25% of us don’t eat lunch at all. Lunch as a meal no longer exists. It’s a snack. So pick a less crowded snack time. I do coffee breaks for a face to face (with me contributing the travel time) and then a follow up formal meeting or email or phone call with more information.

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Kicking It Old School Right now, I’m listening to the radio. People ask me… it’s 2007, the day of iPods, CDs, music on demand, why am I listening to what other people want to play? Because I’m a marketer and I want to sell to these “other” people. I can’t do that being in my own bubble. I listen to the radio, I watch network television, I read the most popular papers including the National Enquirer. Its part of the job.

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A Good Job Whenever I see someone doing a good job, I tell them. Whether its a stockboy arranging the shelves in the grocery store, a temporary co-worker assisting me at a contract gig or a blogger giving me thoughts to ponder at one of my regular on-line haunts. Sure, they are only words but according to the National Association of Women Business Owners, 24% of respondents don’t even receive that.

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Talent Is Not Enough I hear it all the time. I write better than she does, why did she land a book deal? I know more about the product, why did he get the promotion? Simple. Talent is not enough. Duct Tape Marketing’s John Jantsch suggests adding creativity. I advise adding marketing. Regardless of the add on, you need more. Oh and hard work is a given.

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The Three Phrases To Know When I travel, before getting on that plane, train or ship, I ensure that I know at least three basic phrases in the native language (s)…. Hello, Do you speak English?, and Thank you. This isn’t about communicating obviously. If the answerer says yes to the second question, I could have as easily used English. This is about making a connection and showing respect.

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Honesty In Interviews When I hear an honest, semi-unflattering answer in an interview, I sit up and take notice. Why? Because this signals one of two possibilities. One is that the person is an idiot. In which case, my candidate screening process should be tightened. The other is that the person is so damn good that she can be honest and still expect to land the job. These are the candidates I love. Larry Winget in his book “It’s Called Work For A Reason” points out one bit of interview honesty he loves. “When someone says “I don’t really like working with others,” hire her and give her an office with a door and a lot of work to do and then watch it get done.”

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Slow It Down According to communications professor Ray Hull, the average adult talks about 170 to 190 words per minute. The average central nervous system processes information at about 120 to 124 words per minute. This ability to process decreases after age 36. The average age of a CEO is 56. What does this mean? Your boss is hearing only a fraction of what you’re saying. Slow it down.

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How To Deal With Requests For Reciprocal Links On each of my other blogs, I get at least a request a day from sites asking for reciprocal links or mentions or offering me “free” posts. I prefer not to link to strangers. I prefer not to post guest pieces from strangers. So what do I do? I ask if they’re interested in completing a short interview (3-5 questions) via email. I then post their answers, linking back to them, using them as “experts” (everyone is an expert in something). But wait, isn’t this a lot of work? It would be if everyone said yes. Fortunately for me, only about 24% say “yes, send me the questions.” And then 46% of those don’t bother answering them.

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The Goal Of Marketing I was talking to a friend in the early stages of a company start up. She has been busy, busy, busy sampling her product. She must have given out a thousand samples. When asked, she’ll tell you that her marketing is working. It’s not. The true test of whether marketing is working is in the sales. She hasn’t sold a single product and she is quickly becoming known as the sample lady. Unless your product is marketing, marketing is not the goal, sales are.

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Daytime Emmy Thank You’s Last night, during the Daytime Emmys, you heard cast members of The Guiding Light, the longest running soap opera on American television, thank Proctor & Gamble. P&G owns a soap opera? No, they don’t just own the show, they helped create it. Soap operas are called that because of their sponsorship by soap companies. And P&G has been affiliated with The Guiding Light since that first radio broadcast in 1937. A marketer’s dream. A campaign lasting 70 years.

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Stephen King And Passion Stephen King’s goal is to create passion for the product (in this case, the stories). Recently, he compared his stories to heavy metal music. Metal music’s message is… “I’m going to clear out your head.” “Don’t you be talking about sh** when I’m playing.” His writing… “I want you to burn dinner.” Are users so passionate about your product that they burn dinner?

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The Secondary Market For Father’s Day Cards Who buys Father’s Day cards? Children, right? A no-brainer. Or is it? According to Greetingcard.org, 15% of all Father’s Day cards are bought by wives for their husbands. This is a huge secondary market and should not be ignored. As with any secondary market, target the primary market (the kids) but ensure that the product is suitable for the secondary (the wives).

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Do I need a blog? I hear the questions asked often… Do I need a blog? Do I need a website? Do I need business cards? No. That’s not what you truly need, that’s a tool. What you truly need could be A way to communicate with your customers daily. A means for prospects searching online to find you. A reminder for that person you met at a cocktail party to call you. There are many tools available to accomplish that. Pick the best one.

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Wisdom From A Roofer In Morocco It doesn’t often rain in Marrakech during the month of May. One of the locals said he couldn’t remember it raining in May the past 12 years. It rained this year. Almost everyone at the breakfast table was unhappy about this. Almost everyone. One smartly dressed businessman bounced into the room, exclaiming how wonderful the rain was. And it was…for him. The man was a roof installation salesman. When better to sell roofs than when it was raining? Someone profits from every situation.

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The Illusion Of Privacy Zane Safrit writes that “38.8% of companies with more than 20,000 employees employ staff to read and analyze outgoing email content.” The subordinate of a friend of mine went on vacation for a week. He forwarded his email and voicemail to my friend (his manager). During that week, his inbox was filled with personal email including a conversation by a competitor about his interview the week before (If you think competitors don’t talk, you’d be wrong). My friend is glad to see the back of this employee. In the era of cellphones and throwaway email addresses, using the company’s resources for personal use is simply stupid.

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Changing Customer’s Perception An orange juice company I worked for tried to change the perception of not-from-concentrate vs from-concentrate juice. Despite the from-concentrate juice scoring higher in blind tastes, customers insisted that the not-from-concentrate juice was “better.” Decades and millions of dollars in advertising later and the perception remained. The juice company finally gave up and launched its own not-from-concentrate product. A couple weekends ago, my writing group had a forensic scientist speak. He insisted that the crime shows (like CSI) had it all wrong. So which source of information should we use in our romance novels? The crime shows. Why? Because that is what the customer expects.

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The Value Chain A hotel I recently stayed in was upgrading their rooms. The rooms hosted expensive furniture, curtains, bathroom fixtures and had the hottest decor colors. The problem? The hotel used bargain workers to install everything. The paint had been dripped on the carpet and touched the ceiling. The light fixture in the bathroom was too close to the shower curtain. The grout covered the tiles. It was a mess. A company is only as premium as their weakest link.

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Steven Spielberg, Filming Jaws With A Broken Shark So what do you do when the day before shooting starts on a shark movie, your mechanical shark sinks to the bottom? If you’re Steven Spielberg, you improvise, end up shooting an even better movie and add, he estimates, 175 million to the box office. Every film maker, entrepreneur, employee is faced with “disasters.” You can throw up your hands and walk away or you can make your Jaws.

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The Advisors You Use There are a number of techniques to sell into large companies, most require an affiliation or introduction from an already known entity …like your lawyer or accountant or advisor. That’s right. One of the best value added services your advisors can provide is access to their contact list. That should be taken into any advisor evaluation.

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Getting Things Done When people ask me what I do, I tell them “I get things done.” I say I’m going to do something and then do it. It might not be a successful, it might not always be the “right” thing, I may not actually do the work myself, but I execute. There’s value in that ability. As Jeffrey Pfeffer says “success depends on execution— on the ability to get things done.”

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The Origins Of Strategy When many people think strategy, they think boardroom strategy, executives sitting around dreaming up the big vision for the company. So unless you’re in that select group, you have nothing to do with strategy, right? Wrong. Vince Thompson, author of Ignited, points out that 94% of strategy is in reaction to the marketplace. The lower in the hierarchy you are, the more likely you are to be close to that marketplace, the bigger the opportunity you have to suggest strategy changes. Having trouble getting through to the top? My most effective means has been a typed letter, hand addressed and mailed (externally) to the President.

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How To Avoid A Lawsuit Many people use a lawyer after they’ve gotten themselves into trouble. Me, I use a lawyer to avoid trouble. Some people prey on the weak, the employee least likely to sue, the neighbor with no idea of her rights. I’d rather not be that person so what I do is subtly let people know that I have legal counsel. I’ll make jokes every once in a while about “how my lawyer’d like that” or how I drive my lawyer crazy. I ALWAYS take legal documents home before signing, stating that I’ll have my lawyer look over it (whether I do or don’t). The best lawsuit is the prevented lawsuit.

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Asking For Ideas A friend of mine recently parted ways with her protege. The protege asked her opinion on a project. My friend, taking her role seriously, put valuable hours into her answer, hours she didn’t have to waste. The recommendation was not taken, no concrete explanation given. Fine. Then the protege asked another question. More hours were put into that new answer. Again, no action taken on the recommendation, no explanation. The third time, my friend was asked, she replied that the relationship wasn’t working. If someone takes the time to give a response, the least they’re owed is an explanation for the no.

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Getting Ahead One of my buddies is also a daily blogger. She is constantly having to forgo opportunities and rearrange her schedule to get her posts done. She thinks this sends a signal that she puts her non-time sensitive blog first. I disagree. It says to me that she’s disorganized and a last minute type of person. Not someone I prefer to have on my team. In contrast, I always have a week of general type posts “just in case.” That way if I get a chance to meet Stephen King, I don’t have to say no thank you. Give yourself a buffer so you can take advantage of opportunities.

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The Action Packed Resume Most of us have heard that the average resume is looked at for 10 to 20 seconds so how to make those seconds count? First, use white space. White space draws the eye to the words that count. What words to use? The words on the front page (as most employers don’t look at the second) must clearly address (as in use the exact words if possible) all the requirements in the job posting. And when talking about experience, start with a verb. This illustrates that you’re a take action type of person. Take action people get hired.

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Knowing When To Quit Lately there has been focus on quitting, quitting the big idea, quitting quickly, etc. so when do I know when to quit? Based on missed benchmarks. Over a year ago, I started up a new venture. I had benchmarks for testing and for implementation. Cost benchmarks (I had a price ceiling so margins could only move so much), time benchmarks (production) and sales ramp up benchmarks (in writing so I couldn’t fudge with them). The first two, the venture aced. The third? It bombed. I tweaked. Still bombed. I tweaked a few more times. Bombs away. So I folded and moved onto the next venture. Was it a difficult decision? Of course it was. But it had to be made.

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Why Barney Is Purple Barney is the big purple dinosaur, loved by children the world over. Was Barney being purple a random choice? I don’t think so. In surveys, 75% of pre-adolescent children prefer purple over any other color. In package design shades of a color of sky are hotly debated. Why? Because it matters. Every single aspect of the product matters.

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The Detailed Complaint If a customer comes to you with a complaint, action steps to fix it, and perhaps even volunteers time and energy, listen up. This person is passionate. This person is driven. And if this person is not listened to, they will either go to the competition or build a competing product. Recently a group of advanced members of an investing forum spent time and effort on proposed fixes. These were presented. These were not listened to. A month later, a competing forum is now active. Their first customers? The attendees of the previous forum.

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Your Company Money Is Your Money I had to order checks for my business account. Based on the amount of business I do with the bank, I insisted that there be no additional charge. When the account manager didn’t argue, I said “guess you get this request all the time.” No, actually he didn’t. He did for personal accounts but never for business, no matter how small the cashflow was. Foolishness. Expenses are expenses, whether they’re business or personal. Don’t overpay for either.

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Artificial Deadlines And The Editing Death Spiral No product is ever perfect. There is always something to be tweaked. Maybe the blue on the package could be more blue or the copy one word shorter or one more bug taken out of the program or… That is why deadlines, even artificial, are important. Stick to the deadline and get that product out. If its successful and money flows in, then consider “upgrades.”

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Who Cares More? Recently I overheard an argument between a publisher and an author (online of all places). The author was upset about his book sales. The publisher suggested he market the books more. The author felt that was the publisher’s responsibility. That’s fine if he didn’t care about results but he did. My general rule is… if I care, I take responsibility. Not doing so causes stress. Not doing so and whining, makes one look like a putz.

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The New Assignment So how did I handle that new assignment? The one where I was unfamiliar with both the task and the industry? I had a weekend to prepare. First I sent out an email to buddies, looking for someone in the industry or someone experienced in cash controls documentation. I stopped at the library where I loaded up on industry related books. By the time I received the response I needed, I had absorbed enough lingo and key concepts to not sound like an idiot. With the books and the interviews, I walked into the workplace Monday morning, confident that I could add value. Was I the ideal candidate? Hell no. But I got the job done.

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Two Cents Short I mailed a letter this week to a loved one. Since I mailed a similar letter the week before (and ended up overpaying the postage), I didn’t go to the fuss of weighing it again. Simply stuck two stamps instead of one (over paying the postage, I thought, once again) and sent it off. A couple days later it got returned with a sticker on it, asking me to add two cents worth of postage (note to self: pink bracelets are heavier than the identical ones in blue). And you read that right. Two cents! The sticker attached was worth that much. Someone was following the policy to the letter (literally). Look at your own policies. Is there any flexibility for borderline cases? If not, it could cost you… goodwill, customers, money…

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Delegating Cash A huge entertainment venue was opening soon. The owners hired a specialist to come in and set up controls and accounting systems. This specialist needed help so they called me in. I told the owners up front that since I had no industry experience and hadn’t formally documented controls in a decade, I was not the right person for the job. They insisted on hiring me anyway (only for a week). The control they assigned me? The all important cash. There are two key lessons in this story. One is if a specialist is hired to do a task outside of her core strengths, she is no better, yet higher paid than a junior jammer. The other is to not delegate the most important task to a junior jammer.

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The Guest Host Relationship A local business held an event recently. The press came, the press received their goodie bags (press bags), the press had a good time, and the press wrote long stories on the event. Then instead of using the local business’ name, the location of the event was identified quite deliberately as “a local bookstore.” A President of a certain country visited a U.S. University recently. Before he even said a word, before he could even thank his hosts for the invitation, he was treated to a berating of his policies and actions. A berating that went on and on, that had to be translated so he could be insulted in his own language. The bookstore will likely never treat the press so well again. The next guest of the University is likely right now rethinking his or her decision. Being a bad guest or a bad host does not hurt others as much as it hurts yourself.

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You Never Write, You Never Call I have a loved one who used to complain I never thought of her. Despite calling her semi-regularly, sending her emails, etc., I would hear that repetitive complaint. Then I started sending her weekly letters. Now for a cost of a stamp and a postcard, she’s happy. She feels loved. What does this have to do with sales? Most customers have a tiny, tiny ”thing” that if supplied, they feel loved. For me, as a customer, it is the follow up phone call/email/letter after I buy. Do that and I’ll be a customer for life. How to find out that one thing? Simple. Ask. Ask about their best buying experience and what the salesperson did during it.

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Investing In Capital Last I worked for a Fortune 500 beverage company. We were coming out with a new product. In my plans, I planned for capital investments. But not in the first year. In the first year, we planned to have a co-packer make the product. This co-packer would supply the equipment. This meant leaner margins, less profit. So why this strategy? Because we weren’t assured of success. And until we knew that it was, we weren’t investing long term. If a Fortune 500 company bootstraps new products, so should the untried entrepreneur.

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Pitching Vs Negotiating I recently saw an entrepreneur pitch ownership to a possible investor. The investor, of course, counter-offered and the entrepreneur walked away, refusing to negotiate. You, as a vendor or potential partner, may be entering a boardroom to pitch a product or a deal but your prospect is there to negotiate. Expect it, prepare for it. Run through what if scenarios in your mind. Don’t walk away from a possibly better opportunity because you have another one stuck in your mind.

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The Number One Etiquette Blunder Recently I was being pitched by a financial advisor. He assured me that managing my money would be a priority for him. That he would give me 100% of his attention. Then… he got a message on his Blackberry. Instead of ignoring it or excusing himself, he suggested that I “keep on talking” while he answered it. I considered sending him an email (which obviously he gave higher priority to). Instead I left his office. Louise Fox, owner of The Etiquette Ladies, says the number one etiquette blunder is the improper use of technology. She reminds people that the person they are with should be most important. I agree.

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The Hockey Player Walk And Guitar Player Fingers I spent a lot of time in the rink, having grown up in a family of hockey players. Today, I can pick out a hockey player off the ice by the way he walks. I was watching Tyra a few weeks back and she exclaimed to the tv star guest “You play the guitar.” He looked surprised and asked how she knew. Tyra told him because of his fingers. Long time guitar players have fingers on one hand shorter than the other. How do these seemingly trivial matters help with sales? Sales is all about establishing a connection. As soon as Tyra pointed out her observation, her guest immediately relaxed, his shoulders lowering, his smile becoming genuine.

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Pavarotti’s Gift Yesterday, I was watching the news coverage of the great tenor Pavarotti’s death. One anchorwoman said “How could he have not been successful? Listen to his voice.” How could he have not been successful? Read his biography. Few people realize that Pavarotti’s dad had a half decent voice also. Why don’t they realize that? Because the dad didn’t try. He was too nervous. Pavarotti did, however, try. Hard. He convinced his first singing coach to teach him for free. He worked part-time jobs. He sang for free to gather experience. Even with Pavarotti’s perfect pitch, success was far from assured. A gift is not enough.

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Is Your Knowledge Out Of Date? The maximum length of time I spend writing is four months. Why? Because any longer than that and my business knowledge is no longer relevant. That’s how fast business evolves. As Louis Ross, CTO, Ford Motor Company, said “In your career, knowledge is like milk. It has a shelf life stamped right on the carton. The shelf life of a degree in engineering is about 3 years. If you’re not replacing everything you know by then, your career is going to turn sour fast.” I think 3 years is optimistic.

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Knowing When To Listen I talk often about the power of asking questions but I sometimes don’t talk about how shutting up and listening is as important. Recently I went to a workshop with a fascinating host. Instead of letting the paid host share her expertise with the group, some audience members asked such long questions that a friend was able to run out, get a coffee and return before the question was done. A waste of a learning experience.

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Crying At Work Some of the most emotional managers/execs I have worked with have been men. Why? Because they can get away with it. Studies show that women are judged more harshly than men for crying. Not only crying but also for anger issues. Women are initially assumed to be emotional and must prove that they are rational. It isn’t fair. It isn’t right. It simply is. So don’t cry publicly at work (that is why there are doors on bathroom stalls).

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The Halloween Focus Group Tomorrow, a hundred target consumers will knock on my door and ask for a favor. I’m talking, of course, about the Halloween tradition of trick-or-treating. We, marketers, have an opportunity to ask only one question while giving out the candy. If you’re a beverage manufacturer, that could be “what is your favorite drink?” or if a toy retailer, “what is your favorite toy?” (perfect for the upcoming holiday season). After getting the answer, I reply ”well, I don’t have a sticker of xyz but what about this one?” Happy kids and one happy marketer.

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Running With Success Last year I ran an event for a not-for-profit organization. I came up with the idea for the event. I managed it. I promoted it. It was a roaring success, the most successful event the organization held. This year the organization decided that it was too important an event not to be run by the executive. I am not on the executive and so am excluded from the event management. This happens in companies every day. And the results are the same. The founders get ticked and take their abilities elsewhere. Let your people run with their successes. Give them extra resources, extra training but keep them involved.

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Knowing Where To Fish On one of my blogs, I’m spicing up content by posting more interviews with experts. At first I was finding these experts with simple Google searches. Took time and I didn’t have a very good response rate. Then I realized that I was searching in the wrong place. I went to an article directory. Here were a list of experts writing content for free, all in hopes of publicity. Suddenly my response rate increased to pretty close to 100%. Are you also searching for customers in the wrong place? Are you buying ad space for online ventures offline? Are you trying to sell romance novels to poetry readers?

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Be Kind To Student Journalists Today I was manning an information booth and was swarmed by a team of student journalists. I happily did interviews for their class assignments, easing them over their nervousness, and treated every… well… rather junior question seriously. When they left a few hours later happy, one of the other women at the booth said “I can’t believe you gave them so much time.” I can’t believe I didn’t give them more. You see, student journalists graduate to become “real” journalists or go into public relations or… and they never forget their first few interviews. I was lucky enough to be one of those interviews.

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Non-Linear Vs Linear Thinking When looking for project staff, there’s one personality trait I insist upon. They need to have project thinking, not linear thinking. Linear thinking is… do Step 1 first, Step 2 second, Step 3 third. Project thinking is… do all three Steps as soon as possible if they’re not dependent on each other. If Step 3 is dependent on Step 2, do Step 2 either first or at the same time as Step 1 and THEN Step 3. Linear thinkers add days, even months, to project timelines.

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How To Kill Sales I received an email promoting an event. At the end of the email, I read this… “We will begin at 6 p.m. sharp. Please be on time! No Cancellation after Wednesday October 17, 2007 and No shows will be charged . Advanced Registration Required. Payment required in advance by credit card only.” Was this sent to a bunch of high risk attendees? Nope, it was sent to professional accountants. And it was for a bowling night. With this fun, fun email, what do you think attendance was? (I don’t know… I didn’t go)

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Evaluating The Filters On one of my projects, customers, in the past, contacted a business partner first. These contacts were filtered for junk and then forwarded to me. A couple years in, the partner left the company. It was only then that I discovered there was a problem with our system. What was the problem? Simple. The partner’s definition of junk was VERY different from my definition of junk. She was filtering out possible media opportunities. These opportunities could have built the business quicker. So if you’re using filters, and I do recommend using them, check them every once in a while.

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Spooky Marketing A local businessman, in his low budget tv ads, dresses in tights and calls himself Cashman (”I give you cash for your old jewelry”). He is laughed at, ridiculed, and… adored. Everyone knows these ads. Everyone knows his chain of stores. And by acting crazy, he makes crazy amounts of money. It might not work for every business but it works for his store and for his prospects. And now, he has imitators (but no one can beat the original Cashman). With Halloween fast approaching, there are opportunities for businesses to get creative with marketing, with promotions, with advertising. Most won’t for fear of looked crazy. But a few brave businesses will and those will break away from their competitors.

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Total Sponsorship During October, Personal Finance Bloggers are using their sites to help promote financial literacy in schools. They are encouraging readers to donate. This being a cause near and dear to my heart, I decided to give. But how much to give? I wasn’t sure. Then I saw that the fundraising was broken down into projects. I had a choice. I could give what I usually give to charities or for a little bit more, I could support an entire project. I decided on the entire project. Most customers or donors or… would do the same. If you give them an option between partial and total ownership, they will choose total ownership. An easy way to upsell.

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How To Dress For Seminars I went to a seminar after work two days ago. About a quarter of the attendees were in suits or blazers and the rest were very casual. An interesting thing happened at the end of the seminar, all the suits were talking to each other, exchanging business cards. There wasn’t a single casual dresser in the group. Why? Because the suits knew while the primary reason to attend was to hear the presenter, the secondary was to network, and networking while looking one’s best is more effective.

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Prune Juice Sales About a decade ago, I pushed the beverage company I was working for to get into prune juice (they resisted). My thoughts were that with the baby boomers aging and the digestive issues that come with that, prune juice sales would soar. Classic, classic mistake. Instead of focusing on the problem, I focused on the solution. Prune juice sale aren’t booming but sales of products with probiotic cultures are.

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Answer Your Own Question Over the weekend, I was looking for an answer to a very specific question. I posted on several on-line groups, emailed the world, made phone calls. Difficult to find the answer. Took me about 14 hours of asking. Then when I found it and successfully applied it to my situation, I posted the answer everywhere I posted the question. Why? Sharing this knowledge was a thank you for being able to ask the question.

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Repetitive Delays I recently consulted at a business that delayed its launch by a month… for two years. At first, the delays meant something. There was disappointment by investors, staff, media, prospective patrons, and then the excitement rebuilt. It made the papers. It was talked about. Two years later… not so much. Now the deadlines not only meant nothing, but were expected. There was no push to meet them because they “could always be moved.” Set a deadline and meet it. Move drop dead dates only when absolutely necessary.

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Out Of The Trash Working on the low budget promotional plan for my May book launch and one of the questions I ask myself is… “How best to keep this item out of the trash?” As long as the promotional vehicle is out of the garbage, it has a shot at being effective. Accomplishing that could be as simple as putting a motivational quote on the postcard or financial ratios on the back of a business card. It requires a little more money but a lot more creativity.

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Sucking The Greatness Out Want great ideas, great products, great employees? Then don’t punish concept failures. Gil Schwartz in the April edition of Men’s Health writes “Managers who punish well-intentioned failure eventually suck the greatness out of their people.” There really is no need for the big stick. The people brave enough to head a risky project, are usually the same people harshest on themselves. Plus looking like a jacka$$ in front of the company is punishment enough.

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Cast Your Hook One of my favorite phrases is “If you don’t buy a ticket, you can’t win.” I feel better when I have a possibility of having things happen. Since deciding to focus on writing, I’ve always had a contest entry, a manuscript to be edited or query letter out there. If I didn’t, I knew I had no chance of being published. Ovid put it more elegantly “Let your hook be always cast, in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish.” Send out a sales letter today. Give your product a chance.

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Talking About “Them” I was recently in a meeting and the discussion turned to temps. The talk wasn’t positive. I heard how they don’t know anyone or anything (a temp spends her working days being “new”) and that there were reasons why some people were on contract. No one in the group remembered that I was a temp (albeit a high level one) but I certainly remembered who in the group doesn’t like temps. A friend was in a product development meeting. The project leader talked disparagingly about the target customer. My friend IS the target customer. Two great reminders that when we talk about “them”, we don’t know if we’re talking to “them.”

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What Are You Marketing? With the fancy tech tools available, it is often easy to forget what you’re truly marketing. Authors spend time promoting their blogs instead of their books. They attend courses on video production so they make a mini movie and put it on YouTube. All to promote their print book to readers. And authors aren’t the only ones to do this. I’ve seen companies so swept into a charitable giving program that they promote the charity more than they promote themselves. So step back and ask yourself “What am I marketing?”

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That First Success I was told that once I signed that first publishing contract, my view of writing would change. I didn’t believe it. But it did. Without a success under my belt, expectations were lower. I was on my own schedule. I could write what I wanted when I wanted. Now, there’s a benchmark, a schedule. Is book #2 as good as #1 (#2 is better)? There can’t be a long wait between #1 and #2. When will #2 be ready? The same is true with projects and products. As soon as the iPod was deemed a success, analysts wanted to know about the next product. Once the iPhone launched, eyes were on the product after that. Keep the momentum rolling and the product development funnel full.

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Short Term Goals Keep The Momentum Going Clicking on my favorites, I see that many of the promising new bloggers I’ve been reading recently have disappeared. I understand. It is difficult in blogging, business, life to keep the excitement level high. The longer the project, the bigger the goal, the more difficult this is. That’s why I break down my larger goals into more achievable short term goals. It gives me something to celebrate, something to tell others about, something to even send out press releases for. Most of all, it keeps me moving forward.

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Can’t Please Everyone A company was undergoing an office redesign. The manager in charge set up four test design sites and then had employees vote on it. When he announced the decision, he received a wave of complaints. He asked me why this process didn’t work. My reply was “it did work.” A tough part of being a decision maker is that not everyone will be happy with the decision, not matter how its made. You can minimize the negativity but not eliminate it completely.

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Industry Specific In the past year, I’ve had contract gigs in entertainment, restaurant, retail, service, and, recently, a not for profit. My recruiter buddy told me that I’m ”lucky” to be so flexible with industries. That was not luck, that was intentional. In the short run, industry hopping meant a decreased paycheck. In the long run, it has paid off. Expanding industries, as with expanding skill sets, means more competition, more demand. More demand translates to more dollars. So think about your next job jump. Can you hop to the next pond?

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The Free Critique I’m currently taking two on-line classes. Class A started off with a bang. Day One, the prof offered a free critique of any taglines or back copy. I sent mine in, happy that I had already recouped the cost of the course with the value of that critique. After that, any other information (and there was a lot of it) was bonus. Class B was more traditional, a lecture with questions asked at the end of the course. I had to wait for my information and I’m still not sure if I got my money’s worth. If you have a choice between giving a freebie at the beginning or the end of a relationship, choose the beginning. Add value right away.

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Working With Personalities An author friend of mine may be brilliant at writing but when it comes to public speaking, she’s a mess. She’s shy and can’t think on her feet and… She gives her first workshop next year. Why? Because she was told that could be a great way to build her readership. Doesn’t make sense… for her. There are plenty of different ways to market any product. Why use a route she hates? Why associate that negativity with her feel good novels?

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Your Current Employer On an episode of Sunset Tan , an employee was considering jumping from the salon to a supplier. The rather awkward approach was going well until… he badmouthed his current employer. I saw the expression on the supplier’s face change from interested to cautious in an instant. Why? Because she was thinking that if this employee ever leaves the supplier, he will talk negatively about them too. No negatives. If prospective employees want to know why you’re leaving, make it about them and the positives they offer.

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Tony Blair And The Art Of Leadership Tony Blair once said “The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.” Once you get a little bit of success, the requests will come. Sometimes the requests are one sided, with no benefit to you or your company. These requests are easier to say no to. The more difficult ones contain opportunities, new projects, new directions, new revenue streams. But some of those will also have to be turned away (or redirected to someone else). A company or person moving in all different directions goes nowhere. Saying no is a success requirement.

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Multiplying Mistakes It is the classic email mistake. Everyone I know has done it at least once. I sent out a reply which was supposed to go to a specific person and it went to the entire loop (blasted Yahoo). So what did I do? I thought about sending out an email asking recipients to ignore the previous one. Not a good choice. That would rouse curiosity, prompting a higher percentage of readers. So I ignored it (there was nothing terribly embarrassing in the email). And I received zero comments on it. Which gets me to thinking that most people don’t read their emails.

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I’m Sorry A recent study showed that higher income people apologize more often. This surprised many people. Sorry is often viewed as a weak word, apologizing a weak action. It is actually the opposite. It is the transfer of responsibility from the recipient of the apology to the apologizer. It is also the acknowledgement of power (although misused). An apology done right strengthens the relationship, rather than weakens it.

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The Price Of Admission Went to a live interview with mega media mogul Ted Rogers and he had some choice words to say about entrepreneurship. His feeling is that entrepreneurs are born, not made because from the beginning he was told by his Mom that “if you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you might go bust.” He did it anyway. Every business builder, he argues has “to be willing to lost it all.” He should know, he almost lost everything including the family home 3 times in his career. That is, he says, “the price of admission.”

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Wired And Earning I went to lunch with a senior executive lately. He checked his Blackberry before and after but during the meal, he was completely there. And I was flattered. According to a Korn/Ferry poll of 2,300 executives from 75 countries, 80% of high earners world wide are literally wired all the time. When the number is that high, it isn’t because they want to be, it is because its a requirement so work with it. And don’t squander a tech free moment.

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The When In Emergency Planning There’s been a lot of fearful talk lately. When and what will cause the stock markets to crash. When and what will cause the American consumer to stop buying, spreading pain and trauma in the retail world and beyond. These, in my mind, are emergencies and emergencies are to be planned for. Like our house burning down. How do we plan for it? We need to be able to recognize that our house is burning and have a plan we can automatically follow even when scared and confused by the smoke. Do we need to know what day our house will burn down? Or what will cause the fire? If we could prevent it, that would be helpful but otherwise, no.

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Teens And The Power Of Free The biggest lesson I learned this Halloween was that teens still appreciate the power of free. Knocking on doors, dressed in a costume, and asking for candy is embarrassing for the average teen boy. The power of free, even a small free item (30 cents worth of candy), overcame this embarrassment, making this demographic over 50% of my trick or treaters. The first group commented on the quality of candy and after that (likely due to the cellphones each boy had) the waves of teens came. So don’t think of this group as spoiled and unwilling to appreciate free.

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The Tale Of Two Classes Recently I ran classes on the same subject to two separate groups. The first class, I was personally affiliated with, and I gave the class free of charge to participants. The second class, well I didn’t really want to host, so I charged a nominal fee. The results were interesting. Participants in the second class asked more questions, offered more discussion, and after the class was completed, they offered more thank you’s. Substantially more. Wasn’t even close. My conclusion? If I want appreciation, I’ll charge a fee.

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Paying For Mistakes I got approached to do a business plan (back before I got sucked into the black hole of publishing) and I stated my darn close to volunteer work fee. The entrepreneur went silent. “But, but, but,” she said, “I already paid for a business plan. It shouldn’t cost that much. Most of the work has been done.” “Then why are you coming to me?” I ask. “Because the plan was unusable.” “Then most of the work hasn’t been done,” was my reply. Basically she wanted me to pay for her mistake. This happens ALL the time. A product flops or a mistake is made and the company tries to recoup the costs with higher margins on the next launch. When the prospect has choice, however, she simply walks away.

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NORAD’s Santa Tracker I often hear from employees that there is no room in their jobs for innovation. That is a bullsh** excuse. Take one “impossible” example: a posting at a missile defense command center during the fearful 1950’s. No room for innovation or creativity, right? Wrong. In 1955, a department store promotion accidently put NORAD as their contact number for Santa. Instead of turning the kiddies away, the airmen not only took the calls but added a military twist. This year, on December 24th, NORAD (staffed by volunteers and funded fully by donations) handled half a million calls and over a billion website hits. If there’s room for innovation and customer service in the military, there’s room for innovation and customer service in your organization.

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When To Join A Project I’ve read advice saying to gather all the members of a project launch team together from day one. This supposedly promotes ownership of the project. I disagree. It promotes frustration. I recently joined a group project. My role was to help implement. I was a doer. This was the first day of the project so the group was still at the conceptual part. They were thinking. (Because they wanted this product to be “unique”, they weren’t interested in my input.) Three weeks later, I’m still waiting for the go-ahead decision. Am I frustrated? Yes. Am I ready to walk away? Yes. Bring people onboard when you need them or their insights, not before.

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Zero-Sum Game Vs World Of Abundance Successful people come from all backgrounds, all beliefs but most of them have one belief in common. They believe life is not a zero-sum game (win-lose). It is abundant (win-win). Rich Kaarlgard in Forbes calls zero-sum thinking the “World’s Worst Disease“ I agree. And it is especially deadly for innovation. With zero-sum game, there would be no “new” markets, simply stolen markets. There would be no line extensions because the products would fully cannibalize the existing offering. Entering competitors wouldn’t grow a market. Companies would grow only by stealing from other companies.

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Playing The Buffer I’m a big believer that buffers are where the truly exciting opportunities lie. Have a bit of a financial buffer? Then you can invest in that bit of marketing that will pay off big, sure, but only in a year. Are your projects ahead of schedule? Then you can take on that high profile, executive fast track assignment everyone else would kill for but doesn’t have time for. So whatever spare moment/dollar/resource I have, I use it to build buffer, creating space for those future opportunities.

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What Is In A Name? I was part of an online question and answer session. One of the people on the panel would, sure, happily answer each question but would address the person incorrectly. I would send a question with my writing name Kimber and she would respond with Kimberly. And this happened with every single question. By the end of the session, the group was openly hostile to her. Yes, the sales rule of using the prospect’s name holds true but use the right name or no name at all.

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The Sneak Peek A loved one is a movie reviewer. I’ve noticed that whenever he gets free advanced screening tickets, he finds at least one thing positive to say about the movie, no matter how bad it is. Why? Because he feels like an insider. There is a sense of ownership. How can you use this? If possible, offer your influentials and loyal customers the option of obtaining a new product early.

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Networking For The Introverted With the holiday seasons come parties and plenty of opportunities for networking. But that can be a challenge for those of us who are introverted or shy. My favorite trick? I volunteer for a task (usually door or registration duty). When I’m focused on a task, I don’t have time to be nervous. I have an excuse to approach people. I look like a leader. Best of all, everyone ends up knowing my name. Which is what networking is all about.

Mood In Communications I received an email from a spa recently. I don’t remember what it said but I certainly remember how it made me feel. The sentences within the email were long and flowing, using peaceful and calming words. Simply reading it invoked feelings of relaxation. Days later, I still associate that spa with those feelings. Why am I mentioning this? Because mood in communications is important. It is part of branding. It creates an emotional bond between the business and the prospect. And it sells product. Be conscious of the mood you’re setting.

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Partners And Money Many entrepreneurs trade ownership for expertise. No money, simply expertise. This sounds like a good deal. It’s not. What I have found time and time again is that unless money changes hands the commitment level is low. That expert you “bought” suddenly becomes busy with money making opportunities, opportunities which do not include your freebie venture. So what’s the solution? Charge a nominal amount, even if it’s a thousand bucks. If your expert balks at that, she didn’t think your venture would work anyway. You don’t want to partner with someone who thinks you’ll fail.

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The Introvert In Business 25% of the population are introverts (people who lose power around other people, extroverts gain power around people) and I include myself in this number. When I am “on”, you wouldn’t know it. Why? Because I figured out early on that if I wanted to be successful, I had to act like an extrovert. 28.4% of executives do the same thing. So stop using it as an excuse.

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The Shrinking Market Last weekend I went looking for an ornament for my Mom to give to her sister. The ornaments are two piece, one to be given to each sister. My Mom gives this gift every single year (regardless of price). Except for this year. I went into my regular card store, they didn’t have it. Told me to go to Hallmark. Hallmark didn’t have it. The market, it was explained, wasn’t big enough… For a large corporation. It is perfect for small business. And I know my local card store would have directed their loyal customers there, a solid source of new customers for an aggressive young company. Watch for big company delists. It could be an opportunity for small business growth.

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About ClientK.com I started blogging a couple years back when I semi-retired from corporate life as a means of passing on learning from my mentors. My posts aren’t exactly revolutionary. They consist of basic, junior jammer stuff that any experienced new business development junkie knows. That we know and sometimes forget. Why ClientK? So I remember to always put the client first. Why only the initial K? My name is unimportant. This isn’t a blog for fame and glory. This is a platform to pass on information. For more pearls of wisdom See http://clientk.com/

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