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