Monday, October 24, 2011

The Great Internet Marketing Lie

I keep having this recurring nightmare; but then I wake up and find it’s really happening to people I care about. I’ll call this disturbing “dream” The Great Internet Marketing Lie. Here’s how it goes…

A business owner with no plan, no strategy, and no idea why he or she is using the Internet at all jumps into social media, SEO, local search, and other costly activities in the name of not missing out on an important marketing wave. These people waste time, they flush precious money down the seemingly-never-ending black hole of this marketing cash drain, then they sit back and hope something great will happen. And, of course, it doesn’t.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, the Internet isn’t magic. It isn’t free. And it isn’t the tool that has replaced all other marketing tools. Those who would have you believe these lies are either blinded themselves, or simply out to sell you something that benefits them, and not necessarily you.

The Internet is a tool. It is a vehicle that, when used properly, can carry your message effectively to your targeted, intended audience. It’s a place to be found by those looking for what you offer, right at the moment they need it. That’s pretty cool! But none of this happens as a result of random shotgun blasts in the general direction of people who just happen to be surfing by.

I’ve watched many decision-makers throw thousands upon thousands of dollars at SEO services to get on the first page of the search engines. And you know what? Many of them have made it there! But it hasn’t made them a dime because they didn’t have the rest of their strategy and system in place to convert clicks into cash. (That last phrase sounded a lot like sleazy Internet marketer talk; but I’ll leave it for effect.)

I’ve also witnessed many other business owners invest large amounts of time and money into social media, only to have thousands of followers who are not engaged. In most cases this is because they fell for the lie of “bigger is better,” focusing on quantity of followers instead of quality.

I could go on, but you get the picture.

Am I saying the Internet isn’t a viable marketing vehicle? Of course not. Am I suggesting people should not engage in SEO activities, social media pursuits, and other Internet-based marketing practices? Not at all.

What I am saying is, “Wake up!” Realize the Internet and its accompanying accoutrements are marketing vehicles, not “marketing” in its entirety. We still need to research our audiences and get our messages in the right place. We need to have the right message for that right audience, too. We must have a big picture that clearly outlines our strategies for advancement, and campaigns to turn those strategies into action. Then, if the Internet shows itself to be one of the vehicles we use to grow our businesses, we know why we’re using it, how we’re using it, who we’re getting in front of, and what we’ll do to convert those viewers into engaged followers and, ultimately, repeat clients.

Please, stop torturing yourself over The Great Internet Marketing Lie. If what I’ve said here makes sense and you can take a few steps back and see your way clear to analyze your company’s use of the Internet, great! If you need your team to assist (which I highly recommend), get them together and talk through what you are trying to accomplish and how the myriad possibilities presented by the Internet may fit into your company’s plans for greater success.

If you don’t have your team yet, or can’t otherwise see your way clear to getting a handle on managing the barrage of information being thrown at you with regard to online marketing activities, I’m here to help. Ask your questions . Let’s get you out of any nightmares you may be living through and into the fulfillment of the pleasant dreams you had when you decided to go into business.

Here’s to your marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, September 26, 2011

Increasing Touch Points Increases Revenues

Are we bent on getting single impressions with as many people as possible, or do we focus on achieving enough interaction through multiple touch points to help convert prospects into clients, and clients into loyal advocates?

Here’s a quick illustration of two scenarios I see over and over:

Business person #1 has enough money to make 10,000 impressions, so he makes a single impression with 10,000 people. His conversion rate is 0.5%, so he gets 50 new buyers.

Business person #2 also has enough money to make 10,000 impressions. She chooses to make five impressions each with 2,000 people using the same budget. She achieves a 5% conversion rate, yielding 100 new clients—twice the number for the same money.

As impressive as that is, here’s where the real difference comes into play…

Business person #1 does the same thing again to get the revenues he needs for next month. Sure, some of the people who have bought from him in the past make additional purchases, but he doesn’t do much to foster a long-term relationship with them. His focus is always on bringing new people through the doors (literally or virtually).

Business person #2 knows if she keeps a large percentage of her clients active, that’s good for her business in the long run, so she reallocates half her marketing budget for client retention activities. This means she’s only bringing in 50 new clients a month now through her initial acquisition activities, but well over half the clients she brings into her fold stay and keep buying from her because of her proactive relationship-building efforts. Furthermore, they become her ambassadors, bringing new clients into the fold with simple incentives that add to their positive experience with #2 and her company.

Over the course of just a few months, #2’s client base is multiple times that of #1’s. Over the course of years, you can image the difference.

Simple? Yes. Easy? Apparently not, since business person #2 represents an extremely small percentage of the business owner population.

In the end, #2 isn’t #2 at all. She’s #1 in the minds of her clients. She’s their #1 choice for what she provides. And her company is #1 in client acquisition, client retention, revenues, and profits.

Here’s to our being #1!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, September 12, 2011

Instant Gratification (and other marketing campaign flow considerations)

I had an experience this week that made me pause and think about how mechanical we get in creating marketing that doesn’t fit the needs of our prospects and clients. In one respect or another, this undoubtedly applies to all of us.

Early afternoon on Saturday I went to the website of the theater we go to almost every time we see a movie somewhere besides our own family room. There were two movies playing that interested my children.

As I was looking down the listings, I noticed, on the left side of the web page, something I hadn’t seen before (and I consider myself to be quite attentive when surfing). It was an ad offering me the opportunity to get on the theater’s email list to receive weekly updates along with a special coupon for concession treats good only that week. Sounds great! I’m sure we’d frequent that theater more if I didn’t have to think to check and see what is playing. And to get some type of concession deal for being on the list…that’s a no-brainer. So I signed up.

When I was finished, I ended up at a sterile “Thank You” (sort of) page with a couple of paragraphs of legal mumbo-jumbo in eight-point type. That’s it. No mention of when my deal would show up in my email. No notification of when the weekly emails are sent. And, most importantly, NO INSTANT GRATIFICATION.

Let’s think through this for a moment: I was obviously at the site looking at current listings. I’m going to assume that most of the time when someone is doing this, it is because they are ready to make a purchasing decision, as I was. I checked my email for 15 or 20 minutes, curious as to what kind of deal the theater might be offering me. Should I buy my tickets online, or does the “deal” happen some other way? I certainly didn’t want to move forward, then find out I should have waited. Maybe there would be a link in the email. I didn’t know what my next step was.

The short version of the story is that we decided to do something else. I was at the site, ready to buy. And I would have made a purchasing decision without the “deal” ad if it hadn’t been there, just like I have so many times before. But an expectation was set by the ad on the site—one that was, in my mind, going to be a step up from prior experiences. Being taken off my regular course, then let down, led me to abandon my pursuit. We decided to do something else altogether.

We’ve all done this to our clients; unwittingly, of course. Each case will be different as we carefully consider how to avoid stepping in this same mire. In this theater’s case, it would have been as simple as sending me to a landing page that said, “Thank you for joining our weekly email deal club. Here’s your first members-only deal!“ This timely message, followed by a graphic of the coupon I could print out and use RIGHT NOW, would have led me to complete the transaction I went to the site to make in the first place. Clearly, this theater has some thinking to do on the flow of their offer.

I’ll be interested to see when my weekly emails show up. If they show up each week at the same time—which, in Saturday’s case was hours after I had been on the site—they will always arrive after we’ve made our plans. I’m going to assume this won’t be the case. They’ll likely go out Thursday or Friday so I can make weekend plans. Which leads me to my last point: How simple would it have been to have a question as part of my registration asking me when I’d like to receive my weekly deal coupon? If I’m a religious, every-Wednesday-night movie goer, but I’m receiving my email with the deal in it on Friday mornings, the time the strategic gurus at the theater have determined is best to send the email to everyone, I will likely never use the deal because of the time lapse between each Friday and the following Wednesday when I will be going to a movie again. Therefore, I may or may not go to this theater. Their deal will not help retain me as a client.

Neither of the corrections I’ve suggested for this campaign are difficult. It’s just a matter of remembering that we’re serving clients, not marketing campaigns.

Gather your team. Involve your best clients (the ones who will be painfully forthcoming with you). Look at your campaigns. Where is the prospect/client experience getting derailed for those who may otherwise make purchases?

Here’s to thinking through the flow of our marketing campaigns!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, August 29, 2011

Offer Our Best First

Too many of us tend to offer our mid-line or low-end products and services first with a hope of capturing our audiences’ attention with a deal. Consider the value of offering our best products and services up-front instead.

Doing this sets a benchmark that will cause many people to make purchases above the level they would have otherwise. At the same time, it makes less expensive products and service seem an even better bargain for those who are price conscious. We don’t lose those buyers. And they may upgrade with future purchases.

Am I saying discounting or leading with a killer deal has no value? Of course not. Clearly this approach has its place, just like leading with our finest offerings has its place. My point is simply that in testing our options, we often forget this alternative approach that has proven effective for many companies in a wide variety of industries.

Gather your team. Look at how leading with the best you have to offer may open doors that aren’t available when competing on price. You just may find you’ve been missing out on a world of opportunity.

Here’s to your marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, August 22, 2011

A More Effective Use of Prospecting Time

We all fight the same battle of balancing the time and resources we invest in prospecting for new clients with maintaining a pricing structure that upholds the integrity of our business and its products or services. It’s tempting to slash prices to generate revenues; but being busy without being profitable is a guaranteed trip to the poor house.

Maintain your image and message with prospects, and keep working to bring in new clients; but in the mean time, here’s a way to fill excess capacity in a fruitful way. It’s beneficial in the big picture and sustainable over the course of years.

We all have clients who have been loyal to us. They like what we have to offer. We spend our time making a positive difference for them with whatever we are providing, and not addressing petty complaints or engaging in other time-wasting activities. These are the clients we’d like to clone and with whom we’d like to fill our books of business. Good news! We can.

Go to these clients with an offer that makes sense for them and represents a significant deal beyond the good value they already receive from us. Let them know we’re making this custom-tailored, one-on-one offer because of their history with us--a “Thank You” gift, if you will. Be sincere, and make an offer that is truly something they simply won’t get elsewhere.

In doing this, we accomplish two things: 1.) We fill our time with guaranteed revenue-generating activities that would have been spent on prospecting, and 2.) We build even greater loyalty with those who are already our best clients. Everyone wins. And you know what? Chances are good these happy clients will become your best salespeople as they send quality referrals your way.

Gather your team. Think outside your normal parameters. What do your most loyal clients need that you can offer but are not currently providing to them? Get creative. Get aggressive. Fill that wasted capacity with meaningful, paying work for those who have already said, “We like what you have to offer!”

Here’s to your win-win revenue-generating success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Big Middle

Most companies position themselves in the big middle of the spectrum of their industries. They are “me too” businesses. They lack any quickly discernible differentiating factors that would draw prospects to them exclusively. They have not entered the marketplace with a specific focus that speaks to well defined potential clients. Because of this, they struggle.

As business decision-makers, why do we do this to ourselves, our businesses, and our audiences?

Discovering how our market (or potential market) views us, defining ourselves in a way that makes us providers of choice, and remaining true to our focus are all necessary elements of being standouts instead of generics.

How many no-frills price leaders have we seen add features to their products or services until they are lost in the sea of their competitors? And how many times have we witnessed a niche business attempt to go mainstream, only to realize (sometimes too late) that what made them successful was their laser-tight focus?

If we’re not currently meeting our businesses’ goals, we need to identify why. We must invest in discovering our competitive advantage (or developing it, if it doesn’t exist). Being “good” isn’t good enough anymore. We need to be uniquely accessible to and specifically effective for our clients.

Gather your team. Look at your position in the marketplace. Are you differentiated appropriately? Are your prospects clear on why they should choose you? Do you stand out, or are you lost in an ocean of me-too options? If changes are needed, have the tenacity to move forward with confidence in getting your company out of the bog of the big middle.

Here’s to your positioning success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Reason We Should Make More Money

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve had a problem in the past with the idea of making a significant amount of money. I’ve watched it ruin too many people. I believe in the old adage, “Money doesn’t create character, it reveals it.” I guess I was a little concerned to find out who I really was.

But a truth regarding money has emerged for me. Here it is:

Assuming what we’re doing to make money is legal, moral, and ethical, the more money we make, the more good we are doing.

At first blush, this may sound like one attempting to justify a pursuit of riches; but this isn’t the case at all. When we are successful, we create value. We provide employment. We enrich others’ lives. And the payoff for doing this well is money.

Even though I believe in this principle, I still believe that money should not be the main focus of our business efforts. When it is, we tend too often to drop off on the important things when the money begins rolling in. Of course, this is a very personal thing. One person may create a better business and serve more people by focusing on the financial side of the business, while another may not. It’s up to each of us to examine ourselves and see what motivates us and how we can best keep our focus.

In the end, if we’re offering superior value, the money will follow. And if we’ve done our part correctly, we will have benefitted many people in the process.

Here’s to your financial success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, July 11, 2011

Becoming a Great Marketer

I’ve been listening, once again, to Earl Nightingale’s “The Strangest Secret” as I’ve been traveling. If you’re not familiar with this classic piece, I strongly suggest you get it and absorb it.

To oversimplify Mr. Nightingale’s message, he tells us that we become what we think about. He cites Napoleon Hill and others throughout history as having shared this same truth.

Think about this principle in the context of being a marketer. That may be your full-time job, but more likely it is just one of the hats you wear in the course of running your business. So how do you become a great marketer?

Let me pause here and state clearly that I don’t believe you can simply see yourself as a successful marketer and have it become so magically. It takes effort and dedication. It takes time. But it can’t happen if you don’t see yourself as such, even with effort, dedication, and time.

There are many truths in our world. The truth that we become what we think about is one that has become increasingly important and apparent to me. What a powerful nugget this is. We are, and will continue to become, who we want to be at the level of our core beliefs. How empowering it is to know how to direct that reality from its foundation.

Here’s to your thinking like a great marketer!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Quick Way to Do Basic Market Research

In many situations, we tend to swing to one extreme or the other of the market research scale. Either we skip this step altogether, or we get so mired down in research that we lose sight of why we’re doing it. Here’s a solution that works well for lots of situations.

One problem with asking people what they would or would not like, buy, or champion is they don’t know. Until the opportunity arises to actually make a purchasing or other commitment-level decision, their views may be skewed.

Given this reality, a great way to accomplish effective market research in many cases is to offer a product or service in a live, but limited, situation. Depending on the nature of the product or service, production may even happen after this test is complete. Let me share a simple example from a real-life test I helped a client with a number of years ago.

This client made organizers for garages that included shelves, cupboards, closets, countertops, and so on. He wanted to ramp up to get into this business in a big way, but wasn’t sure if the market would support his vision. He had completed a couple of jobs on a word-of-mouth basis, but didn’t want to dive in without more substantiating research, so he came to me.

This guy was sharp, and had completed some of his own digging into how to conduct market research. He had a pretty good plan. When we looked at the time and expense of implementing the plan, however, he became discouraged. Then I shared this approach:

We created a half-page flyer describing his product and showing pictures of the two jobs he had completed. We made an easy call-to-action of a no-cost initial bid which included rough plans and put his phone number as the contact vehicle. We then made 250 copies, which yielded 500 half-page flyers. He and his family stapled rubber bands to the corners of the flyers and distributed them to homes that fit his target. In one day of distributing flyers he got two jobs--more than enough to warrant moving forward. (I might note that instead of telling him to go full throttle based on this initial outcome, I suggested he continue to distribute flyers while he completed these two jobs and let the business grow naturally and according to market demand.)

One of the beauties of simple marketing vehicles like this (another one I’ve seen good results from is free online classified ads) is that you can turn the prospect faucet up and down in volume according to need. Just make sure to consider sales cycle time frames and work ahead of your need.

Of course, this isn’t an answer for all businesses. And it shouldn’t be your company’s only marketing activity, even if it works well (because markets and response rates change). But this approach, or a similar one you devise with your team’s help, can turn market research activities into profit centers instead of expenses while taking the anxiety out of wondering if a product or service will be accepted by your audience.

Here’s to your profitable market research success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Best Way to Build a Network of Advocates

Those who know me know I’m an avid networker. I love to mingle with other business people. I enjoy the intellectual stimulation. The sharing of ideas by the amazing people I get to meet starts my mind racing. Best of all is hearing others’ success stories. Networking has played a huge part in my own success. Here’s why…

Networking is about everyone BUT ‘me.’ You read that right. The best way to build a network of advocates is to become one ourselves before we expect anyone to reciprocate.

The Rule of 2

To help me remember this truth, I developed a simple rule for myself a number of years ago. I call it “The Rule of 2.” This means every time we find ourselves in a networking situation, we look for two people we can benefit within the next two or three days. Sometimes this means we can send a good client referral their way. Other times there may be a strategic alliance opportunity we can help connect. And sometimes it’s just a matter of taking a little time to drop into a person’s place of business and/or study their website so we can become of value in sending the right people and resources their way. Easy, right? It’s just a matter of making it part of our calendars following an event.

I had to smile as I sat down to write this today, because in my email was an annual thanks-for-being-my-best-friend message from a guy I don’t even remember meeting. I got a similar message last year as well and talked about it then (if not on my blog, at least to some of my audiences). He starts out by saying I’m receiving his email because we do business together and he wants to ‘personally’ thank me. I’ve never done business with this guy. Then he goes on to say his fiscal year is ending in a couple of weeks and tells me exactly how I can benefit him by sending him the right kind of prospect who is hot and ready to sign on.

The interesting part to me is that last year I took quite a bit of time (two hours or so, as I recall) in a carefully crafted reply aimed at helping this lost soul understand the shortcoming in his approach. I do believe I got an email back that said, “Thanks for your reply,” but that’s about it. Apparently what I had to say didn’t help him much. I haven’t heard one word from this person in a year, and now I’m stuck with the decision of whether I ask to be taken off his list, or continue to watch with morbid curiosity.

The bottom line is this: If our approach to networking and staying in touch with those we meet through our networking activities takes the angle of, “Here’s what you can do for me…,” we’re missing the boat. Intent listening, meaningful follow-up, and an eye toward what we can do for others will always trump the slickest pitch or the greatest deal we might be able to offer others. It’s all part of the abundance mentality.

If you operate in a state of abundance, looking at how you can benefit others first, you may be a good fit for The Abundance Group, an organization that facilitates small, local, live gatherings of business people who know (or are open to learning) the right way to build a network of advocates. In keeping with the theme of this group, membership is complimentary. If you’re not a member, take a look at by clicking here. If you are a member already, thank you for being part of this new team of service-oriented decision-makers and leaders. We’re excited to take this highly effective networking tool to the world.

Best wishes in all your endeavors to build your network of advocates by serving the needs of others first.

Here’s to your networking success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Crowning Leadership Quality

Regardless of the type of company or organization we’re building, effective leadership is an absolute must. And there is a crowning leadership quality that sets the best leaders apart from the rest. I was reminded of that this weekend as I ran into an old friend and mentor.

I’ve served in the same operational position of two different geographic chapters of a large service organization. My first experience was under the direction of the gentleman I referred to above--a dynamic leader with a clear view of our objectives and superior results in achieving our prescribed goals. When I say “dynamic” you probably picture a high-energy person who pumps everyone up and gets the adrenaline flowing. Actually, that’s not the case at all.

This man is a relatively quiet, reserved individual who actually says very little. So why would I call him a dynamic leader? What makes him so effective? I’ve always known the answer to this, but it was reconfirming to hear him validate my beliefs during our brief conversation.

When I approached and greeted him, I could see in his expression that he recognized my face, but could not quite place me. We haven’t seen each other for over six years. I reminded him of our association. The light bulb instantly went on, and his already pleasant smile grew into the warm, friendly one I had seen so many times before.

He instantly asked about my family and how life was treating me. He shared a memory of our working together. I told him my experience under his mentorship had served me well, and that I hadn’t seen the kind of results in my subsequent involvement with the other division of this group, due to its bureaucratic nature, that I had seen under his direction. He smiled, and, looking me straight in the eye, said three simple words that sum up the quality I had always respected in him that I knew was his secret to success: “I love people.” The sincerity in his eyes spoke volumes and took me back to so many situations under his mentorship in which I learned to see people first and put processes and policies in their place as secondary support systems to help others achieve their goals and dreams. He taught me that the path to a winning public image and meaningful social standing isn’t the pursuit of such status as politically crafted destinations, but rather natural outcomes to focusing on helping others achieve their aspirations and always seeing the good in them and what they have to offer.

I walked away from this recent encounter walking on air, as I had dozens of times during the years of our prior association. As I recollected the energy with which our team worked together to serve, envisioning the countless hours of collaboration, planning, and execution of many activities and efforts directed at improving the lives and situations of our organization’s members, it was once again confirmed to me that among all the attributes and skills necessary for effective leadership, the crowning quality of truly effective leaders is a genuine love for those they lead. I appreciate the recharge I received from this chance meeting with this most extraordinary mentor and leader and hope you’ll find similar value in this message.

Here’s to your leadership success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

You can become a leader in your own local business networking organization with a no-cost membership to The Abundance Group. This is real business networking for real business people who understand the power of serving others' needs first. Get all the details at

Monday, May 23, 2011

Legendary Customer Service

I recently enjoyed dinner with my wife, one of our sons, and my mother at a well-known restaurant. I hadn’t been there before, even though the chain has opened a number of locations in our area. I enjoyed the experience. The people were great, as was the food.

During our meal, one of the managers dropped by our table to see how things were going and left a quarter-page sheet for me to complete to let them know how they did in serving us, as well as providing me with an opportunity to sign up on their email list. I completed both portions.

On each of the service and product questions, I was able to choose from a number of levels as my response including the highest level, “Legendary.” I have to admit, as much as I liked the experience, none of it fell into the “legendary” category for me; but it got me thinking…what constitutes legendary service?

I was reminded of a story I’ve heard on numerous occasions about a man who returned some used automobile tires to a Nordstrom store and promptly got a refund, even though Nordstrom does not sell tires--illustrating the store’s commitment to an unmatched client experience. The story comes in a variety of flavors with the details shifting to meet the storyteller’s style, but the basic premise is always the same.

Being one who is careful to identify potential legends as such, I checked out Snopes before writing this, and sure enough, there’s a lengthy entry on this story. No surprise there. If you’d like to read it, you can see it here. I won’t tell you what it has to say. You’ll probably be as surprised as I was to discover the story surrounding the story if you choose to read it.

My point today isn’t whether that story is true, but that it has gained legendary status. There are plenty of other such stories out there about other companies as well. And, perhaps on much smaller scales, there may be stories about us and our companies floating around our marketplaces.

Everyone loves a memorable story of superior client service. We hear them. We usually believe them because they paint a picture of something we would all like to experience. Then we turn around and tell them again to a new audience. This process repeats just as it did many times before we heard the story, and just as it will many more times after we’ve passed it on. Whether it is true or not, the hero in the story still wins.

I’m not suggesting making up stories to tell about our businesses in an effort to attempt to become legendary. That clearly won’t work. What I am suggesting, however, is that when we strive legitimately to be everything we should be for our audiences, stories--factual and embellished--have the opportunity to be formed, shared, and retold by our audiences.

What do we do that is, or could be, legendary in serving our audiences? Are we sincere about it? Does it bring value to those who follow us? You’re smiling just thinking about the possibilities. I know you are.

Get your team together and share your vision. Get their input. Then become infectious with your pursuit of the unmatched client experience. And if you feel so inclined, please share your experiences and knowledge in this arena with us below. Thank you.

Here’s to your legendary success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, May 16, 2011

Our Companies’ Customer and Client Experiences

We’d all like to believe we have laid out and perfected the client experience for everyone from those who just heard about us for the first time to those who have been doing business with us for years. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t true. Not for any of us.

Where is the experience strong for our clients? Where do we fall down? This is an area of our businesses we should look at regularly. Here are a few pointers to get you started.

1. We must realize we are not our clients. What you or I want does not necessarily reflect what our audiences want. I’ve even had businesses that sold products and services I don’t personally use. That doesn’t matter, and it shouldn’t. It’s the audience’s needs that matter, not mine.

2. Ask our clients how we measure up. A great place to begin our journey to a superior client experience is to ask our clients how we’re doing. How could their experiences with us be even better?

3. Look at our competitors. What are they doing well? Where do they fall short? What opportunities are our because of these realities?

4. Engage the assistance of some trusted advocates. Members of our marketing teams, or other advocates, who our employees don’t know can be assets to us in the form of secret shoppers or similar prospects or clients. Have them test the waters. Ask them to be a little less than model clients and see how employees manage their requests or attitudes. This can be very insightful.

These are just a few ideas. Gather your marketing team or get with some trusted peers from other businesses and explore the ways you can take a look into the experience your clients are having with your company. These insider peeks may be very useful to you in enhancing your clients’ experience.

Here’s to your marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, May 9, 2011

Get OUT! You heard me...

Years ago as I was just beginning to build my network and my business, I found myself often sitting behind my desk in my nice office shuffling papers, looking busy, and getting nothing meaningful accomplished. In retrospect, I realize I was unsure of myself and, therefore, a little fearful of misstepping.

I now realize that sitting behind a desk gets little done in the way of building a business. Yes, we need to spend time on our computers for various reasons. We need to make phone calls. And some of that can be done from behind a desk. But most of the real work that takes us to new highs is done when we stand up and get out of our offices, stores, and comfort zones.

Whether the best use of our time is seeing customers or clients face-to-face, networking to meet new people, setting up joint-ventures with our peers, creating new products and services to offer, or just about any other high level growth activity, very little of it will likely happen from behind a desk.

So let’s get up, and GET OUT. We’ll make meaningful appointments with people who can truly help us accomplish our goals, whoever they may be. This week we’ll attend at least one event that allows us to meet people outside our existing network. After all, we’re hubs in our respective spheres of influence. We have to be out there!

And when there isn’t a scheduled reason to get out of the building and we need some fresh perspective, we can always simply get out by taking a walk, clearing our minds, and looking around us for triggers to our next big idea.

So truly—get out! You heard me…

Here’s to your marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, May 2, 2011

Stop. Start. Continue.

I’m going to share a wildly simple, yet amazingly effective, thought with you today. It’s something I’ve seen a number of places over the years, and used with great results. Despite my efforts to find its true origin so I can give proper credit, I haven’t been able to find its verified genesis.

It’s a three step analysis process that goes like this:

STOP ineffective activities
START activities that may be beneficial
CONTINUE activities that are producing benefit

Granted the verbiage following the initial verbs in each case is mine (and I’ve seen a number of variations out there), but the Stop/Start/Continue concept carries through all the variations I’ve seen. Let’s apply this to marketing for a moment.

Too often, we see business owners continuing to invest time and money in marketing activities that are not producing profitable results. Why do we continue with these activities? Stop them, and invest resources elsewhere.

Next, we can’t know what is going to work in our specific situation unless we try new things, so we need to start activities that may be beneficial. Taking this step in test mode will prove beneficial so we don’t misstep on a grand scale and miss our mark. Consistently testing new marketing strategies and tactics is a hallmark of true marketers.

Here’s the one that surprises me often: amid failed marketing campaigns and other activities that have not worked as desired, a business owner will land on an approach that works--something that makes real money--only to abandon it before it runs its course. Isn't that strange how we work so hard to find a silver bullet, then get too busy to use it to its full advantage? If a marketing strategy, vehicle, or other activity is working, continue using it! Tweak it when results begin to fade to see if there is new life in an altered version of it. Don’t walk away from something that is working.

This may sound painfully obvious, but we all do it. We all get busy or distracted and fail to continue the very activity that would continue to bring us the success we’re seeking if we simply kept kicking it along.

Gather your team and take this assessment. What can you STOP doing that will preserve precious resources? What can you START doing that may bring new business or other desired success your way? What are you currently doing that you can CONTINUE doing to meet your goals? Also consider what has worked in the past that might be brought to the forefront once again, this time not to be forgotten about or abandoned prematurely.

Here’s to your marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Most Important Person in the World

As Daniel pushed open the door at the Smalltown Five-and-Dime, the familiar bell jingled and Mr. Thompson, the proprietor, turned to welcome his guest. “Mornin’, Daniel!” came his greeting. “Good morning, Mr. Thompson,” Daniel replied.

As Mr. Thompson excitedly scurried past the counter and disappeared into the stock room, he cheered, “That bike you ordered for Jake’s birthday showed up yesterday. He’s gonna love it!” Mr. Thompson reappeared moments later with a shiny, new bicycle, complete with a brightly chiming bell. He grinned ear to ear like a kid at Christmastime as he pressed the thumb lever on the bell, filling the store with the music of childhood memories. Daniel smiled contently as he imagined how thrilled Jake would be with this unexpected gift.

The next few minutes were spent by Mr. Thompson asking questions about Daniel’s family and his work, and telling him a little bit about the bike he had researched and ordered on Daniel’s behalf. While they were talking, a delivery driver appeared in the store, as did two other customers. Mr. Thompson appropriately acknowledged each of these people without taking his focus away from Daniel.

When the transaction was complete, Mr. Thompson stepped ahead of Daniel to the door as Daniel wheeled the bike to the threshold, picking it up before leaving the store so the perfectly black tires would still be in their unused state when Jake saw the bike in their living room. Mr. Thompson opened the door for Daniel. “Thank you again for allowing me to help you with this surprise,” beamed Mr. Thompson. “Thank you for all your effort,” Daniel replied, his sincere appreciation showing in his warm smile.

Mr. Thompson stood at the open door and watched as Daniel carefully placed the pristine bicycle on a blanket in the bed of his pickup, tugging on it gently to see that it was properly settled before climbing into the cab and firing up his old truck. Mr. Thompson waved as Daniel pulled away from the front of the store and headed down main street toward his small farm. Daniel responded with a salute of appreciation.

Mr. Thompson turned to the delivery driver who had walked in shortly after Daniel. “Good morning, Frank,” his genuine happiness apparent as he read the driver’s name from the tag sewn on his shirt. “What do you have for me today?”…

How did you feel as this brief scene played out in your mind? No doubt, the feelings and images were warm, inviting, and positive. Maybe childhood memories were conjured. Perhaps, like me, you saw a scene from a television program like “The Andy Griffith Show.” But we all know these days are past. Or are they?

Far too many of us are caught up in the speed at which we do business today. Granted, technology has provided for some enjoyable changes in lifestyle and work style, but in too many cases it has taken the focus off the most important person in the world: the person in front of us.

Think about it…

:: When was the last time a retail cashier didn’t make eye contact with you or even acknowledge your existence past blurting out the amount due after ringing up your purchase?

:: When did you last find yourself in a social situation where someone was wearing a wireless headset while talking with a group at a lunch table or even a formal networking event? Really? Are the people in front of us that UNimportant? Perhaps rather than bother with having to insert the headset each day, it would be simpler to just have, “You’re Not Important to Me!” tattooed across one’s forehead.

:: How long has it been since you were serious about making a purchase at a store, only to have a salesperson shuffle you aside for another task or customer perceived as more important than you?

I’ll venture guess all three of these things have happened to every one of us within the past few weeks.

What is important? Better yet, WHO is important?

Let’s slow down. Maybe we need to organize ourselves better. Perhaps simple awareness of this dilemma is all we need. Whatever the case, we CAN return to making the person in front of us--whether that’s live, on the phone, or otherwise--the most important person in the world.

And this doesn’t just go for clients, either. Our family members, friends, neighbors, vendors, co-workers, employees…they all deserve this same treatment.

And here’s a little secret: When you genuinely see the person in front of you as the most important person in the world, you’ll be more successful in everything you do. That’s a promise I can make without reservation.

Go ahead…take it to the next level.

Here’s to your interpersonal success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, April 18, 2011

Making the Most of Groupon, Living Social, and Other Group Discount Programs

Many business owners wonder how they should manage discount offers. If we only discount deeply for new customers and clients, we risk losing existing patrons. If our best discounts go to our loyal advocates, we may pass opportunities to bring in new business. And, in the end, is it good to create a client base of discount-minded buyers? As with most topics I address, the answer is, “Maybe.”

It all depends on two factors: our business model, and our retention systems.

Take a discount pizza chain as an example. Most of these establishments have business models based on ongoing discount campaigns. It’s the way the business was meant to operate and can run profitably with a large percentage of patrons using discounts. Other business models only allow for a small percentage of transactions to be made at a discount without digging into planned profits.

A fast-growing approach to discounting is the use of programs like those offered by Groupon, Living Social, and other such group discount sites. Are they worthwhile? Again, maybe.

Before getting overly excited about having hundreds of people taking advantage of our offer, we need to make a few considerations:

:: Can we handle the volume, or will we just upset a large group of would-be clients while inconveniencing those we already serve?

:: If the offer needs to be significantly restricted to be doable (e.g. blackout days, limited number of redemptions per day/week/month, limits on products or services that can be purchased, etc.), do we risk misunderstandings that stress prospects and our own staff?

:: Do we have a plan in place to transform these bargain hunters into ongoing clients if our business model is not overtly discount-based?

In addition to these basic considerations, remember that when using these services, we’re discounting costs already, then splitting the reduced revenue with a third party. Being able to figure out whether this makes sense for our business shouldn’t be a guessing game. What is our current Client Acquisition Cost (CAC)? Run a few numbers and see if such a discount approach is in line with other paid advertising activities. We may find group discounting represents a good investment, and we may find we can do better with other approaches. Knowing these numbers in advance will help keep us from misstepping.

Even when the initial process of bringing a first-time buyer through our doors is cost effective using these services, we mustn’t forget the importance of keeping that newfound client active. An effective, functioning loyalty system is a must prior to engaging in any such prospecting activities. Whether new business comes to us through paid advertising, low-cost publicity or social media, or contingency programs in which we only pay for results, we want to capture and keep those customers.

So here’s my answer as to whether group discount programs are worthwhile:

:: Do you capture, manage and use data on your customers or clients to keep them active?

:: Does your business model allow for discounts of up to 75% as your investment for gaining a first-time buyer?

:: Do you have opportunities to increase first ticket sales with products or services above and beyond the discount without making your new client feel like a second-class citizen for having used a coupon?

:: Will the use of the coupon offer put restrictions on the prospect that make his or her first experience different from future experiences as a “regular” client?

:: Will you be able to bring back these first-time patrons and build a rapport with them that is in keeping with your existing model?

If the answer to all five questions is yes, group discounting may be a viable for your business. It may warrant a carefully crafted test. If there are ‘no’ answers in your responses, consider all angles of this approach carefully before taking the leap.

Whatever we do to grow our businesses, we want to create consistently positive experiences for our employees, prospects, and clients. Here’s a 3-minute news story video that brings up some of the potholes you may encounter. It’s worth watching if you’ve considered using group discounting as a means of building your business: Groupon Pros and Cons News Story

I’m not saying group discounting is inherently good or bad. It makes great sense for many businesses, and can be the destruction of others. If we follow the steps leading to making informed decisions about how we will share our message with our audience, we’ll more consistently engage those vehicles that bring expected returns while avoiding those that will damage our efforts.

Gather your team and discuss your specific situation. That’s why they are there.

Here’s to your marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, April 11, 2011

3 Must-Have Elements for Successful Sales

Nothing brings me more discomfort than watching a salesperson struggle through a sale. Perhaps it’s worst of all when I’m the subject of the attempted sale.

As you’ve probably heard me say before, no one likes salespeople. It’s true. None of us want to be “sold.” We do, however, welcome informed consultants and advocates who can help us make intelligent decisions that create the outcomes we’re seeking.

To be seen as an expert and not a salesperson, here are three must-have elements your visits need to employ:

1. Only talk with decision-makers. If you’re happy to spend your time talking to gatekeepers, you’ll never be the salesperson you could have been. Yes, gatekeepers are decision-makers, too. But the only decision they need to make is to pass you on to the final decision-maker. Don’t be snooty. Treat all people with the respect they deserve. But know the decision-making level of each person in your journey and help them make the decisions they need to in order for you to advance in your sales effort.

2. Identify the prospect’s motivation early. Sales presentations are useless. I dislike the term “sales presentation” altogether. I can’t think of a better way to set one’s self up to be a monkey on a leash than to prance around in front of a prospect with a dog-and-pony show hoping something said will magically trigger the prospect into a buying frenzy. Ask why the prospect is willing to meet with you. Uncover the motivation, the pain, behind the person’s search for a solution. Then fix the pain. Don’t make a presentation.

3. Talk about money up front. Have you ever been in a sales presentation (there’s that nasty term), either as the salesperson or the prospect, where things are zipping along nicely only to have it all come to a screeching halt when the subject of money comes up? Nobody wants to be there. If you have real value to offer, price isn’t a problem. If the prospect sees it as such, he or she wasn’t a bona fide candidate for your product or service in the first place. If the money works, proceed with the discussion. If it doesn’t, move on.

As you confidently talk with prospects as a resource, an expert, and fixer of problems, you’ll find anxiety goes away (for both of you), more deals get done, and you enjoy your sales efforts a whole lot more.

Here’s to your sales success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, April 4, 2011

Migrate Your Facebook Profile to a Business (Fan) Page

Facebook has done something that should have probably been done a long time ago. You can now migrate your personal profile to a business or fan page.

Many businesses, and individuals whose business brand is themselves, have used personal profile accounts for their businesses. This has been problematic for them for a number of reasons, one of the most significant being the limitation of 5,000 “friends.” Now that can all go away.

I might mention that from my reading (I haven’t personally migrated a page, so I’m relying on the information of those who have), it appears there’s a loss of much of the data in one’s profile during this process. “Friends” are converted into “Likes,” but past there it seems pictures, posts, and profile data are wiped clean. And there is no reversal of the process once it’s been executed.

For all the details, read this informative blog from and check out Facebook’s Help Center, which offers information on all the facets of the migration. If you choose to migrate your page, you can find the migration tool here.

I’ll watch these migrations with great interest. As with any such change, there will be those who benefit from it greatly, and those who will migrate, only to find myriad reasons they should have stayed with their original profile. I already see hiccups in such a move for the majority of people who have used their profiles for a mix of personal and business use.

Here’s to your social networking success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, March 28, 2011

Customer and Client Satisfaction Utopia

Every business owner wants completely satisfied customers or clients. Here are four realizations I’ve experienced we can all use to help us reach this Utopia.

Realization #1: I can’t be everything to everyone.

This was a tough one for me to learn. There was a time I truly believed I could be all things to all people. But as time has passed, I’ve realized the power of the niche. If we decide who we are and what we’re about, we can create a following in just about any space we choose.

Realization #2: I can be the best at one thing.

In the movie, “City Slickers,” Jack Palance’s character, Curly, tells Billy Crystal’s character, Mitch, the secret to life is one thing. When Mitch asks what the one thing is, Curly tells him that’s what he has to figure out.

So is the challenge for each of us. When we each figure out what the one thing is for us, we can move forward with full confidence and achieve greater success than we have previously imagined. I looked for my “one thing” for a long time before understanding it was right in front of me. It has proven to be increasingly powerful as I’ve acted on it.

Realization #3: I must consistently make up-front agreements.

We’re all products of our experiences. Because of this, many situations in which a person feels mistreated isn’t because another party is trying to do the wrong thing, but rather because we all have different opinions as to what is acceptable or expected. A simple, but not necessarily easy, way to overcome this hurdle is to consistently make up-front agreements with those with whom we are doing business.

Assume nothing. Disclose everything. Re-check levels of understanding and agreement often.

This may seem like overkill, but when a misunderstanding does arise, the chances of being seen as a fair person who works hard to avoid such conflict just may be the difference between saving or losing a client.

Realization #4: If a shortcoming is mine, I’ll eat it.

No matter how hard we try to foresee every possible contingency, life is just too fast and unpredictable to always be right. That may be a hard fact to swallow, but it’s true nevertheless. Despite our best efforts to be focused, to be the best at what we do, and to make meaningful agreements with others, we’re going to misstep from time to time. When a shortcoming is ours, or even when we see that from another’s perspective it could be ours, we should be quick to take ownership and make things right.

This may mean some extra time on our part, it may require the addition of some value to a transaction to create compensation for the misunderstanding, and it may even take money out of our pockets at times. In the end, we lose little (and often gain a lot) by being stand-up and watching out for the best interests of our clients and others with whom we do business.

Should we become door mats for every abuser who comes our way? Absolutely not. But that’s a topic for another day…

Here’s to your marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, March 21, 2011

Small Increases That Bring Big Profits

Too often, we find ourselves concentrating on bringing in new customers and clients as the sole method of increasing revenues and profits. Building our client base is important, no doubt. But here’s a way to substantially increase revenues by adding two commonly overlooked variables to the mix beyond bringing in new clients.

Get MORE clients to spend MORE money MORE often. Let’s say we get 10% more clients to spend, on average, 10% more per transaction, and help those transactions happen 10% more often. That scenario could look something like this:

If we have 1,000 clients spending, on average, $100 per transaction, and that happens 10 times a year, we have gross revenues of $1,000,000. Not a bad little business. Applying the formula above, we now have 1,100 clients spending, on average, $110, with 11 transactions per year for total revenues of $1,331,000. That’s a revenue increase of over 33 percent with just 10% more clients! And if we run those numbers through our funnel to determine profits, we’ll see that, in most cases, a much larger percentage of our newly found revenues go to the bottom line since our fixed expenses are already covered prior to this increase.

While your situation may differ from my example, the principle holds true for all businesses. We’ll never have exactly the same increase in all three of these areas. Growth in each of these segments is easier or more difficult from industry to industry. My point is that we altogether too often don’t look at increasing the average value of each transaction or helping those transactions occur more often as significant means of increasing revenues. Run your own numbers based on your current situation and plausible opportunities for your business and see the difference these two often-forgotten variables can make in your revenues.

Here’s to your marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Myth of Dead Media

I keep hearing it from Internet marketing ‘gurus,’ and I’m sure you do too: Traditional media are dead.

Yes, the Internet and its accompanying technologies are powerful. They’re fun. And they can be wildly effective. There’s no question the uses of new technologies and the audiences they attract are growing at ever-increasing speeds. Only someone living in a cave would argue against these facts.

But this doesn’t mean old, low-tech media are dead. Not by a long shot. In fact, these changes may just make for some unique and potent uses of these long-standing marketing vehicles.

Consider these nuggets from our history: When TV came around, radio was surely on its way out, right? Apparently not. The fax machine was going to put a serious hurt on the overnight delivery business. Hmmm…seems FedEx, UPS, and others are doing just fine. And what about email? There’s the end to hard copy snail mail. Oh, wait! My snail mail campaigns are still beating email for response rate and profits.

The bottom line is this: there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all answer to the best vehicles for us to use to carry our messages to our audiences. Use the Internet. Use other technologies. Test them just as you do any other medium for your messages. But make sure you’re not walking past willing prospects in the process by completely missing the places they read, socialize, look for answers, and make their purchases if they are not completely immersed in our techno-society. You may be surprised to find unclaimed territory where you can make a meaningful impact on your audience. Instead of simply following the hype, step back and do a little research of your own. As always, make sure you include your team in these efforts. Their insights can be invaluable.

Here’s to your on- and off-line marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, February 28, 2011

Making the Most of Trade Shows, Expos, and Conferences

I spent a few days last week at an expo and a separate conference and, as always, was surprised at how few exhibitors and speakers had properly prepared for success. And that was just from my surface observations.

Although this isn’t an exhaustive list of possible preparations and actions, simply following these few key items would have made for a much more successful event for many of the companies that spent plenty of time and money to be in these shows. Here’s my short list of tips:

:: Decide what you want out of the show/expo/conference at the beginning of your planning, then create targeted actions based on your strategy. Capturing every attendee’s business card for a TV giveaway isn’t necessarily a good idea if your target audience is a small segment of those in attendance.

:: Give passers-by a reason to engage with the people at your booth. Far too many people set a table up at the front of the booth and sit behind it. Bad idea. Be accessible. Getting people out of the flow of traffic in the aisles into your booth can bring much better results in most cases.

:: Have a 3-second pitch to stop qualified attendees in their tracks. “How you doing?” isn’t what I’m talking about, either. At one show I helped a client prepare for, their pitch was this simple question: “Did your company have to fire more than 10 employees last year?” Everything about their booth asked this question and drew people in. They only talked to their target audience (HR managers with pain points surrounding employee turnover due to performance problems). The quality of their leads was impressive. No, they didn’t leave the show with the 1,500 business cards the people in the neighboring booth had; but they did leave with a few hundred qualified leads with whom they had meaningful conversations and specific follow-up agreements. They didn’t have to wade through the looky-loos to get to the serious prospects after the show.

:: Follow up. I’ve gone so far as to create business cards with specific, trackable contact information on them to give to exhibitors at events just to see how the follow-up is handled. Sadly, by far the majority of vendors never follow up at all. Why do the show and gather the information if you’re not going to proactively use it after the show?

Having a complete plan that addresses strategies and activities before, during, and after trade shows, expos, and conferences will help you meet the right people and achieve your desired results. Maybe I’ll write a book on this topic some day. For now, I hope these tips are helpful.

Here’s to your live event success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, February 14, 2011

Nike’s and Wayne Gretzky’s Advice

For years, I’ve appreciate Nike’s tag line that tells us to “Just Do It.”

This past week, I’ve encountered a number of situations with clients, cohorts, and myself in which the answer has been, “Just Do It.” What a refreshing reminder! When we let doubt, fear, or any other obstacle keep us from getting out there and making our mark, we rob ourselves of the success we’re seeking.

Not sure if a campaign is ready to roll out? Just test it! Don’t know if the question you’re going to ask will lead that prospect to make a purchasing decision? Just ask it! Whatever the next step is you need to take to get your marketing results to the next level…Just do it!

Gather your team. Define what your company needs right now to move forward. Don’t focus on obstacles, but instead see solutions. Then act. Famed hockey legend Wayne Gretzky says it best when he reminds us that we miss 100% of the shots we never take. Take that shot.

Today is my day. How about you?

Here’s to your marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Paradox of Superior Client Service

Consider these two statements:
“No one can be everything to everyone.”
“The customer is always right.”

We’ve heard both these statements many times. Most of us will agree that these two notions each have merit. But if they are both true, how can we offer great service to our clients?

If we spend our time creating one-off solutions for the exacting needs of each client, we can’t be efficient. If we don’t meet our clients’ desires, however, we won’t have a business very long. Where do we win?

Somewhere between a strict, cookie-cutter approach to the way we do what we do and an attitude of bending any direction possible on the whim of every prospect and client lies a place where we can be defined in what we do, yet still be flexible enough to meet our clients’ needs.

Rather than offer up specific solutions on this point, I’d like to begin a conversation. How do you balance the need for consistency with the requirement of meeting clients’ demands? How can we create a model in which some customization of products or services is part of how we do business without creating a resource overload?

I invite you to share your experiences, insights, and further questions on this topic below. We all have much to share from our own experiences. Let your experience benefit others.

Here’s to our collaborative success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, January 31, 2011

When Desperation Pays Off

Any business owner who has spent any amount of time around me has heard me say, “No…that makes you look desperate,” in response to ad copy, a sales pitch, or some other effort to close a deal or bring in business. No one wants to look desperate. And with rare exception does anyone want to work with someone who is desperate. It’s typically just not good business.

But what if you truly are desperate? The good news is, you may be in luck.

While appearing desperate is almost never good, handling desperation creatively and aggressively can actually pay off in a big way. Here’s why.

When we’re in our comfort zone, we don’t want to risk making a mistake and losing what we have. We tend, in general, to become less aggressive in the way we think and, therefore, the way we act. As money tightens up, clients leave us, or other situations arise that take us out of our comfort zone, we become more willing to stretch ourselves and try new avenues to get back where we want to be.

In reflecting on the highs and lows of my career, I’ve realized that what I (and most people) would consider to be my high points were actually nothing more than the times when I’ve had the most clients, made the most money, or had the most toys. The more I’ve pondered my path and experiences along the way, the more I’ve realized my real highs—the times I’ve been the most creative, aggressive, passionate, driven—have been when I’m “down.” Interesting.

If we step back from the popular view that being successful is directly correlated to money, and instead tie our success to innovation and the good we do for those we serve, the only thing keeping us from success is ourselves. Yes, there may be a period of time during the learning curve when money may be scarce. This is true in any pursuit. But a firm belief in this principle will always result in a match between needs and resources.

So, if desperation is at our doorstep…if we genuinely have nothing to lose…we may be in the best place of all. No mistake will take us further down. No misstep will cause us to lose what we have (because we have nothing). At this moment, we can look at someone who has successfully taken a direction we never thought we could travel because of our limitations. We can formulate our plan. And we can act on it without reservation. After all, we have nothing to lose.

In a strange twist of irony, it’s at these moments so many of us seem to perform best. This is when we look the most confident to others. Our desperation positively charges our efforts and makes us what we should have been when we were “up.”

The challenge after realizing this truth is to harness our ability to act boldly when we don’t feel the pressure of imminent destruction closing in on us. Only in this way can we remain far from the cliff’s edge and consistently continue our ascent to higher pinnacles of success.

Here’s to your confident success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, January 24, 2011

How to Ensure Your Success (in one proven step)

I have some bad news: I’m dying. But I have some even worse news: You’re dying, too.

Recently, I’ve observed reminders all around me of our unstoppable progression toward an inevitable end of our days in business, our physical abilities to serve others, and our mortality. But don’t jump ahead of me. This isn’t a message of gloom, but rather one of exuberance!

Businesses die. People die. But despite these unavoidable facts, we each have the opportunity to make a positive difference before these times come. My father used to say, “Make hay while the sun shines.” That’s what I’m talking about.

As important as “making hay” may be, the reasons why we’re doing it are even more important. Of course, we each need money to live. That’s a given. There are many ways to make money, however. Some make a positive difference in the lives of others, and some do not.

It all comes down to adding value to the lives and situations of others. If what we do for a living enhances lives, creates jobs, helps businesses and people succeed at what is important to them, and so on, we’re adding value. We will be personally fulfilled and we’ll make the money we need.

By contrast, when we’re making money but not adding true value to the lives of others, we don’t find sincere personal fulfillment despite the fact we may have a fat wallet. I would submit in this scenario, we are not genuinely successful. And, of course, if we’re not adding value and not making money…well, it’s definitely time for a serious assessment.

I’ve watched friends and acquaintances travel both directions on this road. Some move from working hard to add value to taking the easy road of hollow and meaningless profiteering, while others have caught the vision of the importance of always adding value to the lives of their vendors, employees, and clients--thrusting forward and upward to new and better heights.

Take some time to step back and assess your situation. How can you add even more value to what you offer? How can working with you bring more fulfillment to the lives and situations of your target audience and others with whom you associate in business?

If you are vigilant in making this your ongoing focus, I can promise you without reservation you’ll find every success you desire. My sincere thanks to those who have molded me over the years and helped me see this reality.

Here’s to your value-building success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winning Customers and Clients by Owning Our Mistakes and Shortcomings

I recently returned from being out of town with a couple of clients. Over the course of two days, we were in a number of meetings, large and small, with clients, prospects, and joint-venture partners. After a group meeting the first morning, one of my clients went to lunch with a large group, while I and my other client went to lunch privately. (I just have to throw in here that we found an amazing little Thai restaurant just west of downtown L.A. It was nothing to look at, but the food…Wow! And the proprietor was the neatest lady you’d ever want to meet.)

When we rejoined the others after our heavenly meal, we discovered their lunch experience hadn’t been the pleasurable one in which we had basked. They had gone to a well-known, semi-pricey place near the Staples Center downtown. They ordered their food, then visited for 90 minutes before their lunches began coming out. By this time, they needed to leave to get to their scheduled appointments.

Not only had my client’s lunch showed up extremely late, it was ice (literally) cold. It appeared the “grilled” chicken had come directly out of a freezer and not even been warmed. Everyone got their lunches packed in to-go boxes and left…not at all pleased with their experience.

The two gentlemen who had organized this lunch group felt terrible and offered to pay for everyone’s lunch--a bill of somewhere around $650. They then went to the manager to explain the situation to see if the establishment wanted to own up to its shortcomings and give them a discount. When they finished sharing their story, the manager apologized sincerely and told them lunch was on him. The entire bill was covered.

The gentlemen were shocked!

What had developed into an unpleasant, uncomfortable situation for the people in that party (most of whom were very upset and swore they would never set foot into the establishment again), was immediately reversed as all were pleasantly surprised at this gesture of genuinely going the extra mile to make things right. While there were some conversations that afternoon about the less-than-acceptable dining experience, the bigger point was everyone’s disbelief that the manager so readily owned up to his staff’s mistakes and did the only thing he could at that point to try to make amends.

There are two morals to this story: 1.) We all stand prepared to receive much-deserved complements when we perform well for our clients. We should be equally prepared to take the heat when we fall short. 2.) A mom-and-pop Thai restaurant is almost always a good bet.

Here’s to your client satisfaction success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, January 10, 2011

Great, Free Template for Managing Marketing Campaigns and Activities

A new year is upon us, and with it comes the need to make sure our plans are in place to make it the best year possible. An important tool for making this happen is a functional marketing campaign calendar.

For years, I’ve kept mine in a word processing document with monthly headers and activities chronologically listed for each month. There are two problems with this approach:

1. Activities that span multiple days require entry on each of those days manually.

2. This list approach doesn’t give me a very good vision of how activities correspond.

I found a great, free template for Excel that takes care of the problem. The file covers the whole year, with each month being on its own sheet. I can enter an activity once, then stretch it to cover multiple days if necessary. Perhaps best of all, I can assign preparatory tasks, execution activities, and follow up efforts in different colors so I can quickly differentiate them.

Since I’m color blind, I use orange for tasks that need to be accomplished in preparation for upcoming campaigns, green for activities that relate to campaigns being executed, and blue for efforts tied to follow-up on prior campaigns. These are three colors that stand apart well for me. Now, whether we’re talking about a campaign, event, or other marketing activity, I can quickly and clearly see what’s on my plate for any given month. I love it!

The template is available at no cost at cnet (, a highly trusted resource: Cnet Download Page

I hope you find this template and my comments helpful in planning and executing your marketing this year.

If you have ways you plan, track, and execute your marketing that may be helpful to others, we’d love to hear them! Just comment below.

Here’s to your 2011 marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Ethical Way to "Steal" Marketing Ideas

“There’s nothing new under the sun.” I believe this old saying in every sense of its meaning.

What there is, however, is creative application, reworking, and improvement of ideas and tangible objects that give us ever-evolving products, services, and lifestyles. Though we could all argue society would be better off without some innovations that have come along, most will agree that, in the big picture, our situations, experiences, and comfort are enhanced because of the drive of untold millions of human minds making incremental changes to existing realities over centuries of time.

What does this have to do with marketing? EVERYTHING!

If we begin at square one with everything we do, we won’t make it very far in business. We must use others’ successes as springboards to move ahead. Here are just two of the many ways to borrow and build on the efforts of other businesses in meeting our marketing goals:

1. Look for successful marketing strategies and tactics in industries outside our own. It’s easy to get stuck in the rut of doing the same things as our competitors in marketing our businesses. What’s working in other industries? Other geographic markets? How can these successes be adapted to work for us?

2. Borrowing existing assets of other companies is another way to enhance our opportunities. When Canon decided to enter the copier arena against Xerox, they didn’t start from square one. They licensed existing technology and aligned themselves with established distribution channels. They leveraged others’ assets to gain a foothold in the marketplace and launch a thriving division of their company.

Gather your team and look at these two areas of opportunity. What can you borrow from others’ success that has application in your situation? Whose intellectual property, technology, client base, or other assets can you leverage to bring greater returns to your business while benefitting the assets’ current owners?

OK, so what I’m talking about here isn’t really “stealing” as the headline said. It’s innovating…the same way mankind has been doing it from the beginning. As we open our eyes and our minds, we’ll find new, productive ways to market our businesses using others’ ideas and innovations as stepping stones to our own greater achievement.

Here’s to your 2011 marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope