Friday, October 24th, 2008

Flabby brains make Johnny a dull boy.

The brain has three natural roadblocks that stand in the way of truly innovative thinking:

1. flawed perception
2. fear of failure
3. the inability to persuade others.”
– Dr. Gregory Berns, neuroscientist, psychiatrist, and Distinguished Chair of Neuroeconomics at Emory University.

The brains of retail owners and managers are stuffed full of these roadblocks.

Dr. Berns explains how worthless the brain becomes over time. He says, “Did you know that when you see the same thing over and over again, your brain uses less and less energy? Your mind already knows what it’s seeing, so it doesn’t make the effort to process the event again.”

A trusted teacher-adviser taught me to never offer ideas without ways to help implement them.

Unlike other consultants, I choose to take this advice. Don’t let some marketing guru claim to know how it feels to walk in your loafers. Most of them have never risked their own money on much of anything.

So here’s the deal. Competitive Analysis, Differentiation, Market Segmentation, Persona-fication™, Discovery, and Strategic Planning are all designed and tested to improve your company’s sales.

Keep your brain well exercised! Life’s a hoot when you do.

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Saturday, October 11th, 2008

Social Media

Foul language shouldn’t be needed to make your position clear.

No one has ever accused me of of being a prude. In fact, just the opposite is more likely the case.

The use of bottom rung slang is no longer my style. Today’s post is an exception because, after an exhaustive search, I’ve not been able to find another way to better explain this new style of marketing.

Today I met with Rex Williams and Keith Miller to discuss Keith’s website, book store and most importantly his upcoming book. We talked at length about ideas.

Thanks goes out to Rex WIlliams for the courage to finally make the post. I’ve been saving it for weeks because of the foul language.

As for the bad language, I’m truly sorry. Get over it!

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Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Retail Downer

After reading the September newsletter from furniture guru Jerry Epperson I wondered if death were a better option than retail.

Jerry is typically easy on the ears and his market presentations, while interesting, are typically a rewrapped repeat of his previous words of wisdom.

The industry clamors to hear him speak.

His newsletter didn’t talk about the meteoric changes sweeping through the industry. It wasn’t chock full of nuggets of research data to act upon. It didn’t provide a single ray of hope for small business owners. Depressing!?

To me, he suggested only the lucky will survive and the rest will simply be gone.

His diatribe makes me think about something more basic, something that feels to me like eternal, ancient wisdom: the age-old, secret formula for success in customer relationships and communication.

This long lost secret is kept alive by powerfully portraying situations with carefully chosen words. Someone once said, “This price of clarity is the risk of offense.” Words start wars, and end them. Words create love and hate alike, they make us double over in laughter, and crawl deeply under the covers all alone to sob.

Get your “word” act in order. It’s important. Don’t just say or write things for the sake of filling the space or the time; speak to change the world, even if it’s one life at a time.

Face it. As far as the vast majority of customers are concerned, it’s all about the bottom line. Their bottom line – not ours.

There used to be an old media equation of placing advertising in appropriate places, with appropriate budgets, hoping someone will see it, hear it and read it. This just doesn’t cut it any longer. Retailers know this. Retailers want marketers, and customers want stores, who are able to speak their language, understand their issues and fight the good fight right next to them in the trenches to gain sales, share and market dominance.

I wonder, in this day and age of communication, why people of great influence don’t spend a little more time choosing their words.

The pink shaded sky seen through rose colored glasses won’t help stores pay their bills, but as Bill Cosby said, “”Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working.”

Want to take on the world? Call me!

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Monday, September 1st, 2008

It’s not your fault.

Sometimes leaders just have to pay the price.

The price of people’s failures: People just “leave the ranch,” they break laws, they backslide and backstab, they believe it’s your job to solve their problems, the list could go on. Leaders have to understand why they are leaders and others are not.

The price of complaining: As a leader you’ll have to face the failure of others to be content. The opposite of complaining is gratitude. Be grateful for the complaining employees. Without them it could be worse. Sometimes it might be an hour-by-hour thankfulness that gets you through.

The price of comparison: Recognize when others are reliving the glory days and move on quickly. People use selective memory. The good ole days were never as good as people claim them to be. Don’t fall into this trap yourself.

The price of playing God: What do you expect of me? My situation is terminally unique. Understand there is a big difference between being responsible FOR somebody and being responsible TO somebody. Don’t try to solve problems that aren’t yours.

The price of being placed on a pedestal: I’ve only heard of a single man who was willing the pay the price for all of the rest of us. Each of us is replaceable. Don’t fall into the trap of believing you’re indispensible.

Check out these leaders. Some might say they are crazy. What do you think?
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Monday, July 21st, 2008

Rite of Passage

For the first half of our life, passages are fairly easily marked. We go to school, get a job, find a mate, raise a family and contribute to our community.

But a strange thing happens on the way to the finish line. The built in “life detector” begins to ask why are we here, and what is this all for. Questions begin to form. We wonder about retirement-from what, to what? How will we cope with maintaining health in an aging body? We question our ability to mentor younger people, begin to experience the loss of loved ones, and face the eventual certainty of our own mortality.

Big questions, huh?

Passageways, not aging, are on my mind.

Retailers are presented with rites of passage daily. How do I get the sales staff to move? How do I get more cash in the bank account? How do I get rid of excess inventory? These are all questions that require movement from where you are to where you want to be (or at least a step in the right direction).

Your rites of passage will take you over thresholds and through gates. A threshold is something we cross, a place we tread, turn, twist, and flail. Thresholds often mentally move us to the brink of something. A gate, on the other hand, is a passageway into sacred ground, or holy land, or a place of protection, testing, and/or spiritual depth.

Fear neither. Go through both. Move From Success to Significance.

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Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Idiom: Construction

You say, “We have 8-way hand tied cushions!”

She says, “So what?”

The closest your customer ever came to building a piece of furniture was a paper towel rack she made in 8th Grade shop class. Do they even teach shop class anymore? Respectfully, her experience with furniture construction is limited to cramming one more pair of socks in the overstuffed drawer and setting the table.

She most likely does not understand the difference between French and English dovetailing, or between 8-way hand tied and hogtied. She certainly does not walk in the door knowing the difference between Grade A and Grade D fabrics.

How do you teach your customer about what she’s buying in a way that makes her appreciate its construction, strength and durability… and its price?

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