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November 2007

Tell me....

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
Benjamin Franklin

True then, even more true now in this Information Age.

Today every possible piece of information is stored somewhere on the 'net', available to anyone. Websites, Wikipedia's, specialised blogs, forums on every subject. Information aplenty. So we all would know more, wouldn't we? It's all out there.

Need to install a wooden floor? Our own simple article "How to install a wooden floor, keep it simple.." is the most read post on our FAQ & News site (234 out of the last 800 page loads).

Funnily enough it's also the post that attracts the most 'comments' (from 12 different persons so far) i.e. 'online' requests for more information on this simple subject, based on their own specific circumstances.

This makes your wonder. I know personally that all the information on their specific needs with installing a wooden floor is available on-line. So why didn't those 12 search further until they found the information themselves? Now they had to type in their question (had to think about the wording to make the problem - pain - as clear as possible), had to wait until we received notification of 'new comment posted', we had read the question and we had found time to hopefully answer them adequately.

That's a 'powerful' position to be in: 12 different persons searching the world-wide-web filled with free and instant available information willing to wait until the 'expert' has time (and willingness) to answer. And that's just on one specific small item in the field of our 'expertise', of our knowledge.

Information is free, knowledge is valuable. Aren't we all more than willing to hand over something (be it  - waiting - time, email address, name and number, money) if someone else turns all the free information into knowledge for us?

But is that possible nowadays? Turning your knowledge into 'paid-for' information? Isn't the world-wide-web based on 'free' information? And isn't the only way you can 'make money from the web' by filling your website/blog with AdSense?

Read the 'Teaching Sells' Free Report to understand why free information is rather passée.

Teaching Sells Free Report

I've enrolled in the Teaching Sells course and am learning a lot in a very interactive way. Some of you know of my 'learning - maximising' strength and this course is turning my already over active mind even more into overdrive!

Stay tuned!


Robert Craven's Bright Marketing (both book and vibrant workshops of the same title) contain some remarkable but simple (yeah!) definitions:

Marketing = about systematically selecting how and what you're communicating to whom.

Brand = combination of

  • Signs by which you are known and remembered
  • A bundle of explicit/implicit promises
  • A reflection of personality
  • A statement of position

Conclusion and learning objective (more about that in a later post)

By the time you finish the book (or leave the workshop) you should have sorted out
How and What your Brand should be Communicating and to Whom.

Talking about workshops, like business advice books I have an personal 'definition' on proper, worthwhile workshops: it's in the word WORK - i.e. not having to listen for hours to a so-called guru going on and on about mostly already known strategies and/or marketing ideas, but being actively involved in the going ons. You can find more on my ideal image of how workshops should be organised in my The Kiss Business novel:

"Like why (business) workshops should be interactive and not just a lecture filled with cliché solutions (clichés most times only suitable for specific kinds of businesses - nine times out of ten not yours)."

The 'Lets talk...' workshops by Robert Craven in cooperation with Barclays fit the bill perfectly, if you are ever in the position to join in don't hesitate, just go and be prepared to work!
(Another proper example has been a workshop I attended some years ago now - organised by Burns-Waring's Stephen Askew and Mind Mentor Lauri Philp.)

Talking about Robert Craven and Accountants (see the above reference to my own accountant) - this week Robert published a blog-post on the very subject: I love my accountant.
In his post you'll find a link to an interview he recently did - made me smile many times over!


Very versatile, Robert is, and he does keeps it simple.

('award' button thanks to cool.text)

What goes around.....

We all know that every good deed never goes 'unrewarded'. In that respect, allow me to tell you about the following event.

A man and his wife are awakened at 3 o'clock in the morning by a loud pounding on the door....

The man gets up and goes to the door where a drunken stranger, standing in the pouring rain, is asking for a push.
"Not a chance," says the husband, "It is three o'clock in the morning."

He slams the door and returns to bed.

"Who was that?" asked his wife.
"Just some drunken guy asking for a push" he answers.
"Did you help him?" she asked
"No. I did not. It is three in the morning and it's pouring rain outside!"

His wife said:"Can't you remember about three months ago when we broke down and those two guys helped us? I think you should help him, and you should be ashamed of yourself!"

The man does as he is told... (of course), gets dressed and goes out into the pouring rain. He calls out into the dark, "Hello? Are you still there?"

"Yes" comes back the answer.

"Do you still need a push?" calls out the husband.

"Yes Please!" comes the reply from the darkness.

"Where are you?" asks the husband.

"Over here on the swing!!"

Marketing lesson from a f** chef

This week we watched Gordon Ramsey's 'Kitchen Nightmares' and I must admit, in between the f**-words I do admire his knowledge, passion and drive for good quality.

Gordon's programs are not for the faint-hearted, IMHO he branded the f** word (now there's a feat!), and I think he should consider writing marketing books instead of cook-books ;-). His advice, delivered with passion, drive and based on experience is straight forward and simple - time after time.

This week's (repeat) program showed a 'traditional pub' owned and run by an elderly couple, where the menu was filled with, well lets just say, dishes you wouldn't really expect in a traditional pub. Tables were 'dressed-up' as if the Queen herself was coming to dine.

Earnings were down, employees 'drive' even more.

Comment by Gordon:

"If you're stating you're a f** traditional pug, start behaving like a f** traditional pub! Don't confuse your clients with posh dishes.
If you want to serve f** posh dishes, open a f** posh restaurant!"

Or in other words: know your target market and be consistent in providing your target market with those products and services your target market expects from you.

Gordon and the passionate employees turned the traditional pub around in one week. The pub is now famous for its traditional gravy instead of its posh dishes.

The marketing lesson from Gordon is simple, so..... (drum roll, please) I decided to award him the first:

('award' button thanks to cool.text)

All entries from 'What I learned from.... anything at all'

Whillogo Robert Hruzek over at Middle Zone Musing has done it again: his monthly group writing project - simply called WILF - attracted a record number of contributions:

Anyway, here’s the entire list of entries (more-or-less in order of receipt discovery). Do yourself a favor and take the time to check them all out. Heck, start a conversation, why don’cha! Each and every one finishes the phrase:

What I Learned from…

the Moonflower, by Anna at Anna’s Attic  ....I’m going to believe in myself the same way I believe in that moonflower, the same way that I believe in spring and sunrise and the power of love.
And I’m going to try really hard to believe the same things of others in my life when maybe they have days of unrealized potential and disappointing failures...

My First Sales Mentor, by Brad Shorr at Word Sell, Inc. .....I’ve come to believe that what separates the good sales people from the great ones is follow-through. A lot of reps can make a sharp first impression, but not so many wear well over time. Customers love it when they don’t have to worry whether something is going to get done....

Fighting With My Neighbor, by Genesis at her At Home Mom Blog ...It can make you mad to hear people talk like you´re an idiot for working at home or starting your own business. But, when you get angry with them for their comments, really, they win, because that energy just takes away from your work . . . if you let it...

a Currency, by Karin H. at The Kiss Business Too ....As soon as you realise and recognise that what they had already noticed, the relationship changes. It becomes a two-way-traffic of unconditional trust and belief. Traffic in combined efforts, supplementary talents where 1 + 1 makes 5. Isn’t that a great ‘return of investment’ on the currency Talent?

Signing Up For NaNoWriMo, by CSS at Here to Create ....I like to write. This shouldn’t be news either. But because I was always giving up on other writing projects, I was starting to doubt that I actually liked to write....

John Wayne (or, Pulling the Trigger), by GL Hoffman at What Would Dad Say ....3.  On your deathbed, is this one of those things you will be thinking…”I wish I had done XYZ back in 2007.”   If the answer is yes, go for it....

Life, by Patrizia at VOIP ...Wisdom is understanding that the happiness you dreamed doesn't exist, but it is in what you are and what you think and what you feel....
(one of my personal favourites this month)

My 4-Month Old Daughter, by Eric Peterson at Leadership and Other Ramblings ....Shouldn’t this be our goal? To brighten others’ days? Maybe it’s our employees, our bosses, our coworkers, our friends, our family. Shouldn’t we strive to put on a smile and really brighten up the day for somebody else?...

Starting Several Businesses, by John Crickett at Business Opportunities and Ideas ....Starting a business is easy. Starting the right business is hard...

Ellen Weber, by Robyn McMaster at Brain Based Biz ....Ellen often asks me where I see myself five years down the road. If you get stuck in daily details, life can carry you along with no real purpose...

Eavesdropping, by Bob Loch at Leadership Ramblings....I don't think it is too much of a stretch that a blogger would be prone to eavesdropping. I'm still new to blogging, but some things are obvious. Blog reading is kind of like eavesdropping...

A Hole in the Sky, by Mike DeWitt at Spooky Action....Change happens discontinuously. That is: we all like to have goals and plan for incremental, manageable change. Life, however, doesn't work that way! Circumstances and opportunities seem to come unexpectedly, at a time and place of their own choosing. There's an old saying: Luck is where preparation meets opportunity...
(one of my personal favourites this month)

World Pool, by Derrick Kwa at Sui Generis....Just goes to show how everything is a matter of perspective. The same soft break, the same result (less spread of balls), but two completely different conclusions....

Reading The Age of Conversation, by J. Erik Potter at J. Erik Potter....Up until the early '90s, marketing has been a fairly passive exercise. Messages had to be kept generic and appeal to a broad audience to keep costs down. Customization/personalization was minimal....

Rejection, by Lillie Ammann at A Writer’s Words, An Editor’s Eye ....Failure is quitting, giving up, believing the rejections. Success is moving forward (no matter how slowly), ...

Robert Hruzek, by Troy Worman at Orbit Now!....Just because someone has poor taste doesn’t mean you have to hate them.  But you can and that’s OK...

Cloud, by Edith Brown at Jeteak Press Writer Blog ...He’s always ready to camp, hike, run, walk, ride or rest beside me. Although he may occasionally sigh and look up at me as to say, “Is this all we’re gonna do today?”...

My Son, by Dana Hanley at Principled Discovery ....Instead, he can learn that he is special, a unique and wonderful creation of God. He can learn that he is valuable and that he is loved. The rest will come, of course. But these things I would like him to learn first....

Being Downsized, by Jean Browman at Stress to Power ....I take full credit for marrying someone who would do well in a crisis. I cheerfully admit this doesn’t sound very romantic, but if you believe marriage is for the long haul, not just temporary excitement, pick someone who will weather adversity well. You won’t be sorry....

Podcasting, by Joanna Young at Confident Writing ....Start! Don't be frightened.. just start, you can evolve over time but don't wait for perfection...just take those first steps ....What stops us are things that are more human and personal – not wanting to sound foolish, not liking the sound of our own voice, fear of getting it wrong, and just plain fear....

Waiting Backstage, by Jon Swanson at Levite Chronicles ....It is the place where you stiffen your spine before walking out to create a persona. It is the place to be real before putting on your best behavior and stepping out into the performance.....

And of course, last (but hopefully not least) –
Striking Out on My Own, by Robert Hruzek at Middle Zone Musings ....Just because you can’t be prepared for everything doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared for something!....
(one of my personal favourites this month)

What the heck, here’s a bonus post, too –
Bob Ledbetter, by Robert Hruzek at Middle Zone Musings ....I mean, who hasn’t had to face disappointment from time to time? From the cradle to the grave, each of us will have been told “no” countless time – yet amazingly, we survive to grow, not in spite of it, but because of it!...

Next month, feel free to join in. It's great fun!

Unique, in who's view?

Every marketing 'guru' will tell you the same: have your client in mind when creating products, service, ads, marketing material, sales scripts etc. Some even call it: clients are focused on station WII.FM (What's In It For Me), make sure you broadcast on the same 'wave-length'.

I've been rereading 'The Jelly Effect' by Andy Bounds and one of the items discussed brought back 'memories' of my own début novel:

If we are all focused on our clients, why do we keep talking about Unique Selling Point? We sell, but our clients buy.

With that (the client and his WII.FM station) in mind, wouldn't it be better to talk about Unique Buying Point?

Now, I've never been a 'fan' of restricting USP terminology my self - and allow me to quote from my own novel to explain this better:

"...Also, concentrating on finding that one single unique point that makes you different from all others can take up so much time, you could lose site of more important things, like trying to sell your product. I think one should lose the U in the Acronym and replace it with a O of Outstanding and add an S to make it points instead of just point. Why would you have to restrict yourself to only one item you’re good at? Why not use three or four fields you’re outstanding in? Suppose you have the combination of high quality products with superb service and delivery within 48 hours, all of them Outstanding Selling Points on their own, but which of them is the unique one? Or is it the combination that makes you unique?”
(The Kiss Business novel - chapter 12: More New Ways - discussion between Johnston - John for short - Adams and Kate on marketing ways)

So, combining 'John Adams' (part fictitious, part factual character) thoughts on USP with Andy Bounds UBP, perhaps we should start talking about Outstanding Buying Points (and should I edit my novel?).

Or should we just forget about fancy names and make sure our clients experience an unique and outstanding buying experience every time they buy from us?

The Jelly Effect contains many more valuable ideas and 'mind-sets' than just the one I've mentioned above, but that's for another post. Stay tuned!

What I learned from.... a currency

Yesterday was.... the first Monday of the month - cue my turtle friend Robert Hruzek's Middle Zone Musings Group Writing Project: What I learned from..... (duh, and don't forget to fill in the blank -  no we won't Bob, we know the 'drill' by now)

My contribution this month: What I learned from a currency.
(extended version of "The Currency: Talent" published as Birthday-party contribution at Liz' Successful and Outstanding blog-gers)

Work on and with your talents, it's an obligation to your own life There is a well-known biblical parable about Talents (an old currency), which still is true.  (I’m sure you know the story, otherwise, read it here)
The one servant who didn’t use his talent angered his master. Moral of the story – in the most simplest way: if you have a talent you have to put it to good use.

But in order to do just that you have to know, realise, recognise what your talents, strengths are. And that’s the most outstanding single fact that happened to me this year.

Beginning this year, through a publication of the Gallup Organisation, recommended to me by Kent Blumberg in a mind-blowing way I recognised those characteristic of myself others had already discovered as my strengths. Mind-blowing in a way that I first didn’t believe the results of the test.

Learner – Input – Maximiser – Intellection - Connectedness
the talents/strengths I have to put to good use to the best of my ability.

What’s funny though is as soon as you realise and recognise those unique personal traits everything seems to shift into place.
You suddenly realise why those tasks/jobs where you can work to your ‘strengths’ are the ones you can never get enough of, those are the ones that almost always seem to give the best result, the most success. You feel, become more complete as if everything fits together – at least that’s my experience.
Over the last months I've must have said at least a thousand times: I'm really having the time of my life!

But there is more. Relationships start to shift too, for the better. Specially with those persons who had long before you even had the slightest inkling realised and recognised your talents and strengths. They almost let out a ‘sigh of relieve’ – finally!

As soon as you realise and recognise that what they had already noticed, the relationship changes. It becomes a two-way-traffic of unconditional trust and belief. Traffic in combined efforts, supplementary talents where 1 + 1 makes 5. Isn’t that a great ‘return of investment’ on the currency Talent?

My Kiss Biss Crew, finally together in one place The best examples I can give are the (increasing amounts of) projects I’m working on/for together with those very special persons

Working together with Richard C - first on his Company Doctor typepad blog, now on his new Wordpress bizRichard blog and static website - has been and still is a constant buzzing process of bouncing off ideas, trying out other software - he or I find-  to enhance my own business too (AWeber is a good example of that) and the list of future projects for this is growing (stay tuned!).
I like to think we've become a proper team.

'Teaching' others the wonders of the blogosphere (i.e. talking about and showing the results of how I learned and maximised blogs and blogging software) turned into a fun filled project with Lesley, The IT Girl. Every workshop we have done so far is filled with tremendous enthusiast neo-bloggers. I'm so glad Lesley is by my side, she's the real teacher and most times manages to temper my over-enthusiasm (especially when I waltz through the matter with my well known seven-miles boots, conveniently forgetting the steps it took me to learn or understand something I'm explaining to our 'students').
I like to think we've become a proper team.

Then there is Peter, my local business friend who keeps calling me a 'bully'. He now has two blogs to his name, filling it almost daily with his knowledge about the benefits (and dangers) of water treatment and nutrition. Next project with him is to transfer his static website to the typepad platform so he can 'content manage' it himself. He's a wonderful guy with thousands ideas - a month - and I'm trying to guide those ideas into workable plans - and 'copy-extend-paste' his ideas into our own business if so suited.
I like to think we've become a proper team.

And my circle of special persons is growing.

Sometimes the more I ponder about it and the more I reap and share the fruits of it, the more mystical it feels.

I’m fine with that.
Mystical has its own place between heaven and earth. Like strengths.

Salmon or Blackbird - Nature's call?

Business talk is peppered with definitions that more resemble nature than anything else:

"Survival of the Fittest"
"Dog eat Dog"
"Bear or Bull Market"

Salmon, the spectacle before dying picture by David Hay Last night I was watching a Nature Program on TV (Nature of Britain - presented by Alan Titchmarch). One of the items shown was that always spectacular site of salmons swimming, jumping, struggling up stream.

4 years afters they are spawn and swim out to the open spacious deep sees or oceans the salmon returns to its birth grounds to reproduce. Swimming up river, jumping strong currents and rapids and many die trying. The ultimate reward of making it back to the little stream their own life began is to mate and die.

As I said, always a grandiose spectacle to watch but it left me with a question. Why? In this situation has Nature forgotten its own adaptability? Am I missing something here?

Blackbird thriving in its new environment I mean, the blackbird was mainly a wood/forest bird only 50 years ago before adapting to 'city-life' - where survival-rates are better. Numbers of blackbird are increasing.

Salmon is more and more 'thwarted' - by 'human' intervention of for instance building dams, barriers and flood-defences - in its struggle to swim back to the only place they mate and die. The numbers of Salmon is decreasing.

In business it is said that in order to survive and/or grow you have to adapt, be able to change and embrace the most practical way. See and take opportunities to create a better future, to increase the chance of survival.

Would you rather be like the Salmon, 'sticking' to the only known way, perhaps even being applauded for your spectacular efforts, but dying nonetheless or would you adapt to the changing (business) environment like the Blackbird and keep singing your lovely songs?

Just some thoughts from a wondering ponderer.

p.s. Steve, perhaps the ponderings above will give you a different kind of cigar on change? ;-)