Competition Customer service Leadership Management Positioning Small Business Strategy

Money loves speed

Need for Speed
Creative Commons License photo credit: Amnemona

Dan Kennedy is one of the many well-known business experts who can often be found saying “Money loves speed”. What they mean is speed of implementation. IE: How fast do you take information and take action on it? The faster, the better, as far as your wallet is concerned.

For example, we talked yesterday about pet peeves.

A few hours later, Bruce Johnson was in the middle of his client base’s online community asking what their pet peeves were with his company.

Some business owners would have printed out the post, tossed it on a pile of todo notes and gotten around to it “someday”. That isn’t what Bruce did.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, someone emailed me and said that the blog looked like crap on Internet Explorer 6 under Windows XP. That long awaited move to WordPress 2.5 simply had to get done, so last night, Business is Personal moved to 2.5 and to a new look and feel (which isn’t quite where I want it…yet).

Every time you look closely at a very successful entrepreneur, you’ll find someone who takes action on information as quickly as possible.

It doesn’t mean they’re always in a hurry (though they might be), it means that they take action. Now. Today.

Not “someday” or “soon”.

Competition Corporate America Marketing Small Business

Can video stores compete with a robot?

Yesterday, I received an email from someone whose clients are video stores. Because they subscribe to my print newsletter, I asked them to put me on their email list.

Part of today’s email to their video store clients included this comment:

I had a customer ask us how to compete with RedBox (emphasis mine). I’ve been doing some thinking and asking questions about this. I’ve watched people in our Albertsons store waiting in line to get a $1.00 movie from a machine. I kept thinking how impersonal it was.

So xxx went down and rented at Redbox to see how it worked. He rented a movie. Then when he got home, he got a receipt for the movie in his email. When he returned the movie, he got a receipt again in his email. Later on he got some offers for a free movie and information about new releases soon to be available.

I *love* that they noted right off the bat that this kind of rental was impersonal and created a line – but also noted the smart things RedBox does as well.

Warp speed - Revolve around a center photo credit: fabbio

2 strikes against RedBox, right off the bat. Impersonal. Lines. Every store has lines now and then, but will people stand in line to wait for a machine? Maybe an ATM, but a video dispenser? Time will tell.

If 10 people are in the video store, think about how 10 of them would mill around a RedBox machine (it’s about the size of a Coke machine).

I’m sure you can think of some things to pick on regarding Netflix – while noting that you (you being the video store owner) can clearly see their primary advantage (no late fees).

What’s easy to overlook is the primary advantage to Netflix: No matter how many videos you watch, they get their monthly fee, month-in, month-out. As I’ve noted in the past, you should be looking for ways to implement this model in some part of your business.

Our goal is to give you the tools to compete with RedBox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and anyone else. But, there is one thing you have to do… use the tools!

No doubt. Kinda like all the things we talk about here.

Implement them. Otherwise your time here is largely wasted, don’t you think?

I was listening to Gary Vaynerchuk on Donny Deutsch’s The Big Idea last night and he repeated what Dan Kennedy says regularly: “Money loves speed.”

He means speed of implementation. Do it today. Not next month or next quarter, or “someday”.

P.S. I’m testing Windows Live writer to write posts for the next few days (it works on WordPress blogs too) so if you see anything funny (other than that photo of me up on the right), please let me know.

Book Reviews Email marketing Employees Internet marketing Marketing Small Business

Hiring staff to help with marketing? Start them off with these business books.

Over the weekend, one of my readers emailed and asked this very smart question:

We are hiring someone “green” to do marketing for us in about a month. I thought that starting someone from the ground up would be a good way to build someone’s skills for our business and not have to pay a small fortune at the same time. Do you have a couple of books that you would recommend for this person? I’m looking for books on both general marketing theory and on the nuts-and-bolts.

Still Life with Plato
photo credit: chefranden

So that you don’t overwhelm them on that first day, let’s go with 6 books.

That’ll start them off with a good baseline so they won’t spend a huge pile of your money and have no idea whether it was well spent or not – plus it may avoid scaring them to death:)

It’s hard to come up with a list that short until these 2 questions came to mind:

  • What books would I least want to give up if I found out they were the last copies ever?
  • What books would I want someone to have if they were going to spend a lot of my money on marketing without my oversight?

With those thoughts in mind, it was easy:)

Number 1 – your business procedures manual. (no, not the HR policy manual, ugh)
I’m sure you have one, right? I mean, we’ve ALL read Michael Gerber’s E-Myth (that was sneaky wasn’t it?), so we know how important that procedures manual is. I’m talking about the manual that your newbie assistant manager would use to run the place while you are off on that romantic cruise that you promised someone about 15 years ago. It has all the vendor contact info, how to turn off the alarm, how to lock up for the night, how to Z out the cash register (and when), how to do all the things that someone has to be trained for – step by step, so you don’t have to be a dozen places at once, or interrupted 72 times per day.

Number 2 – Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. Doesn’t seem like a marketing book from the title, but it’s critical path brain food for someone who will be coming up with copy, headlines, emails and so on. Both practical and theory, this one is a keeper.

Number 3 – The Ultimate Marketing Plan by Dan Kennedy. Mostly practical. Dan isn’t much on theory, instead he relies on results. Not very thick, not very expensive, but worth a ton.

Number 4 – The Secrets of Successful Direct Mail by Dick Benson. Not just about direct mail, if you look closely. Definitely a must have for anyone who sticks an envelope in the mail. The list at the front is worth the price of the book.

Number 5 – My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins. These come in 1 volume, so I counted them as one. So there. Claude was marketing like a master before your parents were born, or most likely so. Even this many years later, something to have on your marketing nightstand.

Number 6 – Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples. That’s Caples as in Ogilvy, Caples and other world-class folks from last century.

Total expenditure: About $94 or so new, even less if bought used.

PS: Being the shy person I am, I would have recommended a 7th one: Business is Personal – The book, but it isn’t out yet…

In fact, it was a little hard not to include a handful of others on this list, but this will get you started. Next time, perhaps I’ll limit it to books written in this century:) And besides, I don’t think Gary Bencivenga has a book:)

Competition Customer service Management Marketing Strategy

Quality: As your small business grows, it’s more critical

The Lady in Red
photo credit: Hamed Saber

Have you ever been 1 in a million? If so, you’re one of those hypothetical software bugs that programmers talk about as they work on a routine that processes transactional data in a new system.

During that conversation, the pragmatist in the group mentions the possibility of a problem with the programming in a certain situation. The rest of the group rolls their eyes and one says “That’s a one in a million shot, we don’t have to program anything for that.”

And maybe, just maybe they’re right. Until they find real success.

How do I define “real success”? Let’s take a random number. Suppose you consider success to be 1000 customers.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that those 1000 customers average 10000 transactions each, per day, in your software.

That’s 10 million transactions per day. And while this is somewhat of an edgy assumption, 10 million opportunities to stumble across a one in a million issue means that 10 times today, your phone is going to be lit up by a ticked off client.

Tomorrow, the same thing. And the day after.

In many situations, good enough is good enough (those of you who follow Dan Kennedy know exactly what I mean). However, the problem with waiting to fix these kinds of things is that they tend to crop up when your quality can least afford to get in your way.

  • On the Friday after Thanksgiving if you are in retail.
  • On the Monday after Thanksgiving if you have an e-commerce store.
  • On April 1st through 15th if you are in the tax business.
  • In June if you are a wedding photographer.

You get the idea.

Where are the critical locations for improving quality in your business?