Follow by Email

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Help! I Need Somebody! - John Lennon


When you need help ask for it.
Recently my back went out. And when I say my back went out I mean I couldn't walk or function. It was the week leading up to Memorial Day weekend. We had been planning on camping for a few weeks and my husband had been furiously working to get the camper ready for our first camping trip.
I had played softball on Monday evening and even though my back was sore I thought I was still okay and just needed to rest. On Tuesday morning I bent over to pick up my shoes and my back went out. Basically, my world stopped. I was in excruciating pain and I knew I would not be able to fulfill my business responsibilities for the remainder of the week.
But instead of this week being a total loss, I called in the troops. My new employee, Amanda, is a very competent young woman. I called her to tell her not to come to the office but to work from her house all day Wednesday. We spoke on the phone in the morning and I gave her instructions on what I would like her to do. We touched base again after lunch and I gave her additional assignments for the day. I also contacted my group of business associates that I network with and asked them to help me find a sub for my BNI meeting that Friday morning. People jumped right in and helped me find someone quickly.
I also knew that if I really needed it I could ask my church to help provide meals for me for a couple days so that I could rest. I did not call them but knowing that I could make me feel a lot better.
The story has a happy ending. I got most of the work done that I had planned on that week and on Friday morning my back was able to be adjusted and I started feeling almost normal by lunchtime. I was able to go camping with my family and relax for three days knowing that my workload had not built up over the week and I would be able to return to work on Tuesday morning on schedule.
As entrepreneurs we are used to doing everything by ourselves. I must tell you however that that is not a good idea when you have an unexpected event happen to you. Don't be afraid to ask for help. People love to help other people because they know that their time will come when they need help as well. It can also be an opportunity for some people to pay it forward for something someone had done for them in the past.
Ask for help. Get the help. Stay on track. You will not regret it and you will really appreciate those people who stepped forward to help.

Get by with a little help from your friends.

Joanne Randall
724-603-LEAP

Sunday, May 19, 2013

What Do Santa Claus and Vacations Have In Common?


When my husband and I were planning our wedding we considered going on a cruise for our honeymoon. We also really wanted to buy a house so we saved our money and used it for a down payment on our first home. I don't regret that decision but 12 years later we still haven't gone on a cruise. We did talk about going on a cruise on our 10 year anniversary, but we had a two-year-old at the time so that wasn't happening.
A few months ago my two sisters in law went on a 14 day cruise to Hawaii.  When they returned saw all their pictures and heard the stories of their trip of a lifetime.
That was enough for my husband. Within a week's time we were booked on a cruise.
So what does this have to do with your business? It is important to relate to you the feeling I had once I knew that cruise was booked. Even though it is five months away I think about it every day and get excited about spending a whole week on a cruise ship with my husband. There are days in business when everything seems to go just right, clients are thrilled, and somehow you manage to catch up on your to do list. Then, there are those other days. You know the ones I'm talking about. It is extremely important during those days that you know you have a vacation scheduled.
What is it about a vacation? Is it the actual time we spend doing the activities we look forward to? Or is it the anticipation of the vacation? I submit to you that planning vacations is a lot like the anticipation that builds up before the holiday season.  The excitement, the shopping,  are all part of the experience of the holiday season. Christmas is only a 24 hour period. But look at all we do in anticipation of that one day! It's an experience in itself.
I think we all know that it is important to take vacations to rest and get a break from hard work. But I think knowing that a vacation is planned is just as important to the business owner during those days when things just aren't going right. Somehow you can get through a tough week knowing that you're about to get a break. Without that knowledge it is easy to get burned out.
Even if you don't make plans to go anywhere, once in a while schedule yourself a working vacation. One whole week when you concentrate on getting caught up, doing some research, and maybe a little planning and marketing. Don't set any appointments for that week, and set a vacation reminder on your email. Uninterrupted work time is extremely productive and reduces your stress level immensely.feet on beach
So go ahead and Photoshop pictures of your bare feet on some Caribbean beach and post them on Facebook that whole week. No one will know the difference and you will come back just as refreshed as if you had been there for real.
Merry Christmas!

Joanne Randall
724-603-LEAP

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Boil Your Frog and Other Marketing Strategies


You may have heard this one before. There is a story about a pan of water on a stove top and inside sits a frog. The water starts out at room temperature. Someone enters the kitchen and slowly begins to increase the temperature of the water, but just 1° at a time over several hours. The frog notices nothing due to the length of time it takes for the water to heat up.  The water gets hotter and hotter until it reaches 211°. Still the frog sits there. But what happens when one more degree is added? It changes everything! Ribbit!

What temperature are you operating your business at? Room temperature? 211°?
Do you even have a pan on the stove?
frog
What is the one thing that you could do to raise the temperature of your business? It could be personal development. It could be writing a real marketing plan. It could be hiring an employee. If you are not sure what that one thing is, take a look around at some other business owners who are very successful and find out what they are doing to raise the bar for themselves.

Personal development always leads to business development. You cannot have business development without it. I always recommend a business coach to my clients. It increases their accountability and their chances of success. They will always see improvements in their personal life as well.

Writing a real marketing plan is one of the most effective ways to increase the laser focus of your business activities. Our company offers a marketing map which is a marketing plan that offers flexibility and control to the business owner and identifies many of the items that fall into a traditional marketing plan, without ending up on a shelf.

If you find yourself completely bogged down with work all the time, it may be time to consider hiring in employee. Talk about risk! Do it right and hire a payroll company like Paychex to facilitate the payroll process. Then train the person correctly and give them work. Now you have time to increase your sales to pay for that person. Being in employer is a huge responsibility and will instantly step up your game professionally.

Sometimes, like the frog, we do not know how close we are to reaching that one degree that makes all the difference. What can you do to bring your business to the next level? Call us at Leap Year Marketing to do some coaching and goal setting. THAT will get you boiling, I guarantee it!

Joanne Randall
724-603-LEAP
joanne@leapyearmarketing.com

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle is a Contradiction in Terms


character-donatelloEvery day when my teenage daughter gets home from school, I ask her,  "How was school?" She always says, "Good". Then I ask "What did you do today?" And she says, "Nothing". So then I ask if she has any homework and she says, "No". Earlier today after the same series of questions and answers I said to her, "It makes me wonder if I should even be sending you to school. It's never exciting, you never do anything, and you never have any homework". Further confirming her belief that her mother is a complete nerd.
Now I am certain that not only is school more than good, it can be fun and eventful. I am also sure that she doesn't do nothing all day. And when she has homework she usually gets it done during school or right after school.
But it made me wonder, what actually does happen at school every day? I mean, if she doesn't tell me I can really only find out a little bit of information from her teachers. I am obviously interested in what my daughter does in school but unless she tells me what she does I really have no idea. Hmmm......
I think it is important that as business owners we share at least to some degree what we do all day long. It is important to business owners to be able to relate to each other, tell war stories so to speak. On another level I also think it is important we tell customers and potential clients as well. If they don't know what we do and are capable of doing for our current customers how will they know what we can do for them?
Social media, Facebook in particular, is a great place to share success stories of your business. If you are in the habit of collecting testimonials from your customers, possibly on Linked In, then you should be sharing those on your business Facebook page as well. These types of posts lend credibility to you and your business. It's okay to tell people what you have been doing all day. It isn't boasting, it is building your reputation through marketing. Big difference.
If you don't tell them what you are doing then you are  like the teenager who has a good day doing nothing with nothing to show for it.  And dude, that's lame.

Joanne Randall
joanne@leapyearmarketing.com
724-603-LEAP

Saturday, May 4, 2013

What is the Big Deal About Social Media?


With all the items that fall under the umbrella of marketing I have found that people are most fascinated with social media. I think this is mainly because it is so popular in the mainstream and yet so simple it makes me wonder why no one came up with the idea sooner.
social-media-marketing2
Jump on!
So why is social media so popular? My theory is that people crave relationships, friendships, and leadership. Deep down we all want to feel that we are needed and that we have value.
I believe that people spend time on social media to fill those gaps in their lives that are not being filled by people in their physical space. This is important because social media is the most effective way businesses can talk to people about solving their problems. If the business understands human nature and the psychology of purchasing habits, they can be extremely effective in growing their sales.
You may not care about someone posting that they are STILL waiting for their Maytag repair man to show up, but you should care that there are businesses out there not providing good customer service and customers react by posting it to the world.
How much time do you spend on Social Media each week for personal reasons? How about for your business? I would like to know.

Joanne Randall
Leap Year Marketing
joanne@leapyearmarketing.com
724-603-5327
www.leapyearmarketing.com

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Do You Know What Good Customer Service Feels Like?


Why do we bother to create a positive customer service experience?
All buying habits are psychological in nature. Sure, people need or want to buy something because of the product, but where they buy and if they return are based on their customer service experience during and after the transaction. We want to be able to control the loyalty of our customers. So how does that happen?
Excellent customer service LEADS TO Customer Satisfaction, which ultimately drives loyalty, sales, and the bottom line.
You probably remember a time when you experienced good customer service. That is because every customer service experience is just that - an experience. I could give you a textbook definition of customer service, but you would likely forget it and just remember an experience you had and how it made you feel.  The good news is that you can control the experiences your customers have and therefore create a positive one that will likely bring them back. Remember ALL customer experiences are experiences. Even the good, the bad, the ugly, and the neutral. Let's explore a little.
customer service
Bad-Bad experiences are really just experiences that are below the expectations the customer had when they walked in, but still may be somewhat acceptable. This happens when only a small portion of the experience goes awry. You may not  lose the customer for good, but for them to return there will need to be another factor to draw them in, possibly location, or more likely price. Really bad experiences will cost you that customer and will damage your reputation. In the world of Social Media, this is disastrous. People have on average 230 friends on Facebook alone and if they post something about you, you're done. 
Ugly- The difference between BAD and UGLY is that in BAD, there is no real attempt by the company to rectify the situation. In an UGLY experience, you will not see this person again unless you are able to rectify the situation and make it right. This however, does not guarantee the return of the customer, it might save your reputation in the sphere of the customer and they may refrain from telling all their friends about their poor experience. An ugly experience, if handled properly, may end up turning into a great experience if the customer is open. You won't know until it is all over. 
Neutral-This is a very dangerous experience because the business will never know if the customer had a good enough experience to make them come back. A neutral experience is what the customer expected or it was satisfactory. This will not win you loyal customers. If you do not create a compelling reason for them to return, there is a good chance that next time they will go somewhere based on another factor, maybe location or price. Neutral experiences are damaging because there is no added value to their experience that will make you stand out over your competition. 
Good-people may or may not share their experiences, but you have created an experience that their subconscious will remember the next time they need or want to buy something you offer. There will need to be a compelling reason for them to not return. Good, positive experiences even allow for small future mistakes.
What memorable customer experiences have you had? How did they affect your future buying decisions.
As mentioned in my podcast, communication is the real driving factor behind customer service and satisfaction. Tune in to hear the rest of the discussion and visit Leap Year Marketing or Marketing Mojo Radio Facebook pages to tell us about your own experiences.

Joanne Randall
joanne@leapyearmarketing.com
www.leapyearmarketing.com
724-603-LEAP
Marketing Mojo Radio Podcast