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The Jim & Travis Blog

Jimmy Vee and Travis Miller are the nation's leading experts on attracting customers and the founders of Gravitational Marketing. They provide entrepreneurs, business owners and sales people with simple ideas, tools, strategies and tips for naturally attracting customers and closing sales without having to perform manual sales labor like cold calling, prospecting or begging for business.

Be prepared for a bold, contrarian view point and non-traditional ideas about what it takes to attract the right customers who pay more, stay longer and refer everyone they know.

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Tuesday
Jul262005

How A Magazine Subscription Could Cost You Your Business

A great friend of mine recently forwarded several ad-related articles from Inc. and Fast Company's list of the best ad-related blogs. As I skimmed the articles and the blogs, a dark feeling crept into my heart: This information is not for those of us down here on Earth.

There was no discussion about the most important aspect of marketing: getting new customers. Instead, the space was filled with discussions of image and art and how to create and maintain a brand for your company.

It seems that these glitzy ad folks have created this world, high above the rest of us, in the clouds, where getting new customers doesn't matter. Looks are more important than leads.

This may all be fine for Coke, McDonalds, Nike, Sony, Tommy, and the like, but it doesn't do a bit of good for those of us down here on the ranch.

My big problem with all of these major ad blogs and the major ad and business magazines - Adweek, Adage, even Fast Company and Inc. - is that they reside in the land of the brand. That's not where we are. That's not where our clients are.

None of these blogs discuss real concepts for getting prospects to call your phone or bang on your door. I read fast company every month and have decided it is DEADLY to an entrepreneur starting a small business. I'm not saying their ideas aren't good, or the concepts aren't sound, or the information is bad, or the writers are dumb. But I am saying it's the wrong information for the small guy. And most of us are the small guys.

The big companies are controlled by a small amount of executives and Madison Ave. firms. It's the rest of us, the majority of us, who represent the sea of small businesses trying to pull it off in the NOW economy.

The more I learn and the more I see, the greater the divide seems to become between what's real and what's glossy magazine fantasy. It's like a woman reading Cosmo and Glamour and believing her life and looks should be like those discussed in the articles or shown in the pictures. It's really no different.

Inc. and Fast Company paint pictures and tell stories of eclectic companies with execs who wear sneakers and mohawks and drive electric cars - and oh, by the way, that's the extent of their marketing. It may be true. About as true as Brittany Spear's wedding was - but that doesn't mean it exists down here at ground level where the rest of us are working to pull a buck or a million.

So why don't these scented glossy magazines portray the bootstrapper who started with a 1000 piece direct mail campaign and a small ad in a trade pub and turned it into a million dollar business?

Because it's not glamorous, it's not sexy, and that guy doesn't have a mohawk.

Well, neither do you or I.

The take away here is to understand that these magazines' jobs are to sell magazines. Sensational stories sell magazines. Great.

But small business owners and entrepreneurs everywhere must be very careful and aware of this truth - and be cautious not to let their brains be filled with self-doubt, envy, or disappointment that their businesses and their marketing aren't like those in the magazines and blogs. They're not supposed to be - anymore than your wife is supposed to look like Julia Roberts during her pregnancy.

Monday
Jul252005

What Happens When You're Away From The Shop?

I'm sorry to admit it, but my wife and I frequent a a particular fast food taco joint. I've noticed in the past few months since they open that their operation spins like a top. The place is usually spotless, the environment is comfortable (for a fast food joint), the service is lightening fast, and the employee are generally friendly and somewhat conversational.

Interestingly, several employees have made negative comments to me about their manager (who is basically a fixture in the place). You must understand, I have a tendency to ask probing questions whenever I'm at a business - because I'm interested. But I always found it interesting that more than one worker had a problem with the same manager - and was willing to spill their guts about it.

Today I stopped in - and guess what? The manager wasn't there. Guess what else? The place was a wreck. It took over 10 minutes to get our food, there were no straws, the sauces were piled up on the counter in cardboard boxes, ice had overflowed the drink fountain and was spilling onto the floor and it wasn't even busy. Instead, these people were just lost in space - it never even occurred to them to come out into the restaurant and check up on things.

It sounds like an all-too-common tale. And maybe it is. But the points I make are several.

One: When the boss is away, the workers will play. So be prepared.

Two: The success and failure of your operation isn't necessarily tied to whether or not the folks in the office like you. This manager wasn't liked, but she ran a tight ship (at least when she was there).

Three: All of the best marketing efforts break down at the point of sale. Marketing can easily become the biggest investment you make in your business. It can quickly trump your rent and your payroll. And for good reason - done correctly it can earn a much larger ROI than anything else you do. But watch out! Even if you don't own a taco stand and even if you don't have employees, you can be a victim of the same trick.

Vendors, colleagues, competitors, and even you can be your worst enemies at the point of sale. Think about your own business - and the process the customers you've paid to get must go through to do business with you. Is it worth paying for? Would it be worth returning? Would it be worth talking about? And importantly, when your back is turned, is it the same as it is when you're looking?

Michael York (www.michaelyork.com) suggested to us recently that real change within an organization comes from personal development. At first that may seem obvious, but it bears re-reading.

Clearly, the workers at the taco place were submissive to this mean manager when she was there, but rebellious when she was gone. And why not? What kind of personal development is going on there? My guess is not much.

Your business should be different - and if the people within it, including yourself, are not doing something to develop personally, you are all paying the price.

What separates leaders from managers? I submit to you it is the ability to spark a small flame within the belly of someone else. I don't believe the taco boss is sparking many flames in bellies (although I feel a little something hot in my belly right now).

So what flames are you sparking? Don't worry about finding the perfect flame, either. Just pick something to be passionate about and start spreading it. Read a book.

Passion sells - it sells everything from your customers to your employees - your passion for certain ideals and goals will rub off on those around you and cause them to buy in.

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