Three Keys To Success . . . At Anything

What separates the good from the great in any endeavor?

What allows one athlete to compete at a consistently high level for many years, while another, who may appear on the surface to possess great talent isn’t able to achieve even close to the same level of success?

Why do some kids go on to achieve very high levels of success in academics, sports and careers, while others never quite get there?

Why are some coaches, consultants and professional service providers able to operate their businesses at a very high level, making a very good living and living the life they imagined when they went into their own businesses, while others languish, never quite ‘figuring it out’?

I don’t think that success in any endeavor can be explained ONLY by intelligence, hard work, luck or ‘good’ genes.  Obviously some or all of these factors do help, but there is something else that separates the top 5% of the people from the rest.

I have coached youth athletics for many years, trained hundreds of coaches, consultants, sales professionals and professional service providers in how to grow and improve their businesses and I have identified what I believe are the three most common (or maybe not so common) traits in the most successful:

  1. Commitment
  2. Action
  3. Persistence

But, I truly believe that the best of the best not only use this approach, but they understand that implementing all three of these behaviors together and in this exact sequence is required to bring them success. Let me repeat this thought.  The most successful people I have ever met, whether it is a kid trying to learn how to play the game of baseball, a mother trying to raise fully functional children or a business owner trying to operate a successful business, all these folks seem to understand, whether it is consciously or unconsciously, that in order to achieve greatness, they need to follow the sequence of COMMITMENT, ACTION and PERSISTENCE in order to achieve remarkable results.

Once you understand these are the three things that will lead you to success, then you need to develop a laser-beam focus to outlining what your vision is and what you are trying to achieve (commitment); then developing the proper success factors to get you there (action) and finally developing the ‘fire in the belly’ attitude to keep at it until success is realized.  (persistence)

In my next post, I will go into greater detail defining commitment, action and persistence and more importantly the ‘how’ to develop the proper mindset and habits to achieving greater success.

Remember, you have the power to change your business and your life with commitment, action and persistence.

To your success,

Joe

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Just The Facts; Only The Facts

I won’t bore you with all the doom and gloom propaganda about how many businesses fail within a one year, two year and five year periods . . .  it’s just not productive.  And quite frankly, most of those stats are inaccurate.

But, here is a stat that I believe is fascinating and is significant; according to the Small Business Administration of the United States there are four main reasons why businesses fail:

  1. Insufficient capital
  2. Lack of strategic planning
  3. Poor or inconsistent marketing
  4. Failure to anticipate marketing trends

Notice something here?  Three out of the four top reasons for business failure in the Small Business Administration’s list are directly related to marketing or the lack thereof.

Marketing, sales and innovation are the only three areas that can produce revenue for a company, everything else is a cost.  So whether your business is humming along or is struggling a bit, improving your marketing efforts should take center stage.  If your business is struggling a bit, this is not the time to be pulling back on your marketing budget and trying to ride out the storm.  You have the power to improve your marketing and in many cases, inexpensive, simple actions can produce big results.

How Can You Improve Your Marketing?

Here are the top 4 ways for small business owners to improve their marketing efforts:

  1. Develop a marketing strategy, before you implement any additional tactics -your strategy should include the following:  clear goals outlining the what you’re trying to accomplish; your positioning strategy or identify you want to project to the marketplace.  This needs to be compelling and unique addressing the needs of your target market; the tactics you intend to use to drive your strategic message
  2. Practice, practice, practice.  Like anything in life, the more you practice, adjust and persist, the better you get.
  3. Develop systems for every aspect of your marketing
  4. Hire an expert to help you with your efforts

Simple actions can and usually produce big results.

You have the power, take action!

To your marketing success,

Joe


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Be Part of National Small Business Week

Since 1963, the president of the United States has proclaimed National Small Business Week as a way to recognize the many contributions that small business contributes to our economy.  This year, the week for this special recognition is May 16 -20.

Why should we all celebrate National Small Business Week?

First, and most importantly is the fact that more than 50% of the American workforce either owns or works for one of the approximately 27.2 small businesses in this country. Small businesses also create 60-80 percent of the new jobs in this country.

There are three ways you can improve your business by taking part in celebrating Small Business Week with the founder of Duct Tape Marketing, John Jantsch.

1) Chance to win an iPad2 every day this week – Match the five guest blog posts with each guest author for a chance to win Five new posts and a new chance to win each day this week
Details here http://ducttape.me/smbizipad

2)  Attend a FREE online marketing seminar – On Wednesday, May 18th, at 1:00 pm ET, John Jantsch will host a free online seminar on How To Create a Marketing System for Consistent and Predictable Results – Here’s the link to register – https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/770874945

3)  Receive a FREE Business Evaluation – In addition, every business owner can receive, absolutely free, a Signature Brand Audit. This is a free business 30-minute evaluation of your business, which will include valuable tips for ways for you to improve your business.  Please follow the link below, choose Joe Costantino in the drop down menu.

http://ducttapemarketingconsultant.com/free-30-minute-marketing-evaluation/

Take action today, visit one or all the links above to get involved with National Small Business Week.  You may be surprised at the tools offered that can help you improve your small business.

Thank you for reading,

Here’s to the success of marketing your small business,

Joe


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Stop Playing Pin The Tail On The Donkey When It Comes To Marketing

When beginning a new consulting engagement with a client, one of the first areas I explore during the Discovery Meeting, is their current processes.  My goal is to improve upon some of the things they may be doing, but may not be leveraging as effectively as possible.  Here’s a quote from a new client in response to this question that I posed at our first meeting;

Me:  “Can you you describe you marketing process step-by-step for me?”

Business Owner: “The best way to describe my marketing process is that I play pin the tail on the donkey when it comes to marketing.  I blindly keep trying tactics, never sure whether what I am doing is the best use of my money or even if it is effective.”

Initially, I laughed at this response, but when thinking about this later that evening, I realized this is a very good analogy for what most business owners do when it comes to their marketing efforts. They just blindly spend money, represented by the tail pin and just stick the tail pin all over the place without a whole lot of forethought about what they are trying to accomplish or whether it even makes sense for their business given their budget and marketing strategy.

And do you know what the problem is with this type of approach?  Every once in a while the business owner actually does a blind tactic, or places the tail pin where it’s supposed to go and they have some degree of success.  Obviously, It’s great to have success, but when the approach is wrong, usually the business owner has spent a ton of money on tail pins that are that aren’t remotely close to where the tail pin is supposed to be.

One of the best ways to market then, is to stop wasting money on marketing tactics (pins) that don’t work, concentrate on a couple of things that do work then consistently keep doing the successful things.  It’s not how many tail pins you stick, but where you stick the tail pin that determine the effectiveness of your marketing. Many times, I suggest business owners stop wasting money on things that are not yielding results.  And the only way to determine if your tail pins are bringing results is to test and measure everything you do.

My experience demonstrates that many business owners do use marketing tools or tactics that could be effective if only they only stopped using so many pins and focussed their attention on just a few tactics or pins.  But, first, you need to take your blindfold off, test and measure your tactics to determine what is actually working and what isn’t working.  Then do more of what is working, and STOP doing the stuff that isn’t yielding results.

Thanks for reading,

To your marketing success,

Joe

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Do You Have What It Takes To Be Successful?

I coach, consult and train coaches, consultants, trainers and professional service providers on how to improve and grow their businesses by implementing systems into their businesses.  I have found there are some common characteristics common to the most successful people in this group and all have very little to do with talent.

Well, let me explain.  I’m going to assume that if you are a coach, consultant or trainer you have some pretty in depth expertise in your particular field or you wouldn’t be in business in the first place.

But, I believe there three extraordinary factors that separate the great ones from the pack of so-so ones.  These factors are coach-ability, determination and accountability.

Coach-ability refers to the ability to be coached, but not always in the ordinary sense of the phrase.  The truly great coaches, consultants and professional service providers understand that there are always new things to learn, are open to learning, and have dedicated a portion of their time to constant improvement.  It becomes part of their being.  It may mean that they also understand that they need the help of a professional to get them to the next level.  All successful people that I have worked with are coach-able, no exceptions.

Determination is an attitude; a decision to be successful at any cost. My term for this is ‘fire in the belly‘.  Fire in the belly refers to a person that has the drive and passion to do whatever it takes to succeed at something no matter what.  All successful people that I have worked with are determined, no exceptions.

Accountable refers to taking ownership of your actions not only to others but just as important to oneself. It is doing what you said you were going to do not only for your clients but also the commitments you make with yourself.  Accountable people take ownership of their lives, make no excuses, and understand that the results they achieve in live have to do with the manner in which they conduct their lives.  All very successful people that I work with and have worked with are all accountable, no exceptions.

In most cases when clients are engaging with a consultant, coach, trainer or professional service provider the brand they buy is you. You need to be coach-able, determined and accountable to be the very best.

I’m sure there are other factors that separate the very best from the rest.  Please share your thoughts with me.

As always, thank you for reading.

To your success,

Joe

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Grow Your Business by Developing a“Hug” Your Customer Mentality

Believe it or not, conventional business theory states that there are only three ways for a business owner to increase revenues and grow their businesses:

  1. Get new customers
  2. Sell more services or products to their present customer base
  3. Encourage their present customer base to buy more often

Well, I would like to add a fourth method to the list and the one that I believe is the most important.  Drum roll please … number 4 is … retain your present customers by developing and implementing a hug your customer mentality in order to keep them loyal to your business so that they don’t defect to the competition.

So, here’s the new list:

  1. Get new customers
  2. Sell more services or products to their present customer base
  3. Encourage their present customer base to buy more often
  4. Retain your present customers by developing a hug your customer mentality

Let’s think about the above list for a minute. .  . . three out of the four ways to grow your business have absolutely nothing to do with getting new customers, so maybe I’m on to something here.  Three out of the four, #2, #3 and #4 have to do with strategies for working with the present customer base of a business.

I believe that if you consistently practice #4, retaining your present customers by ‘hugging’ them, then #2 and #3, selling more services or products and getting your customers to buy more often will follow automatically.

Why it’s important to retain your customers

There’s a bunch of stats on the difficulty in getting new customer versus keeping your present customer happy, but the bottom line is that is much more difficult to obtain new customers especially in a challenging economic environment than to keep your existing customers happy.

What is a hug your customer mentality?

The “hug your customer mentality” was coined by Jack Mitchell in his book, Hug Your Customers, The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding Results. Mitchell is the CEO of Mitchell/Richards a chain of very successful clothing stores in Connecticut.

The hug your customer mentality is a method where business owners adopt and practice methods for creating long-lasting and loyal customer relationships.  At the heart of this method is that the relationship-building is the key to success and is accomplished  by a series of consistent ‘hugs’ to demonstrate that you appreciate and respect the fact that someone has decided to do business with your company.

Here are some things you can do to immediately implement a “hug your customer mentality” into your business today:

  1. Appreciate your customers for doing business with your company – Something as simple as sending a card, letter or note with a message of appreciation along with a special offer for “customers only”.
  2. Respect your customers – treat your customers exactly they way you would like to be treated . . .  really practice the Golden Rule.
  3. Listen to your customers – survey your customers on a regular basis to determine what they want from a business that does what you do.  Then DO IT!  This is why you’re in business.
  4. Create the proper expectations – relationships are a two-way street.  Your customers want to know what to expect from your business.  Let them know.
  5. Be Responsive – If there is some issue, deal with it immediately.
  6. Make it easy to do business with your company – life is difficult enough, make it easy to engage with your company.
  7. Deliver Results – Do what you promised.  And if this isn’t accomplished to your customer’s satisfaction, get it right!
  8. Train employees – if your customers will engage with employees, make sure they are trained properly to practice all the above.

If you develop a hug your customer mentality your happy, loyal customers will purchase from you more, purchase additional products or services and refer you to others more often.

To your marketing success,

Joe

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Don’t Believe The “Inbound” vs. “Outbound” Propaganda

Recently, an inbound marketing company (of course) displayed the following headline on an e-mail inviting business owners to attend a FREE webinar:

Inbound vs. Outbound – Which One Makes The Most Sense For Your Business?

Can you guess what an inbound marketing company that sells inbound marketing services is going to preach to the business owners that attended the webinar?

Maybe this might be a more honest, transparent title for the webinar . . .  .

How Business Owners Can Integrate Inbound and Outbound Marketing Strategies into a Well-Balanced Marketing System

Boy, do I wish these inbound marketing guys had asked me to create the title for their webinar . . . well, maybe next time.

For those that are not even familiar with these two terms, let’s clarify what outbound marketing and inbound marketing is.

Outbound marketing is the traditional form of marketing where a company initiates the conversation and sends its message out to an audience. Tradeshows, TV commercials, print advertisements, cold calling, and even email blasting are considered examples of outbound marketing.

Inbound Marketing is the practice of bringing warm, qualified leads into your sales funnel or being “found” by your customers rather than reaching outward.  The goal of inbound marketing is to harness the three most important elements of internet marketing into a single, trackable process.  The first is to create high-quality content, such as articles, websites, video; optimize these for internet searches; and then finally to share this content via the social media tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Both approaches are very important in today’s marketplace.  But, here is where the inbound marketing companies are being ingenuous;  their propaganda always describes the more traditional approach, “outbound” marketing as businesses blasting out their messages to the masses, interrupting people that don’t want to hear these messages and wasting a ton of money in the process.  With this description, I don’t even like outbound marketing.

But, hear me clearly; both outbound and inbound marketing are critical in a well-developed marketing campaign.  But, in order for outbound marketing communications to be the most effective, they need to be accomplished with a specific strategy, including a message of value or differentiation directed to a specific group of people, or the business owner’s ideal target market.

The real point here is that as is the case with everything a business owner does, whether it is marketing, sales, or operations, unless it is done the “right” way, it will not be as effective as it would be if done properly.

So, for business owners, the message is that both inbound and outbound marketing strategies are important in a well-developed marketing strategy.  And for you inbound marketing companies that believe it should only be outbound marketing or bust, get real and stop trying to deceive and confuse business owners with information that is misleading and false.

To your marketing success,

Joe

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Does Social Media Really Make You More Social?

Has Social Media helped you better communicate your value to your target market, or increased your awareness, credibility and trust to the people you would like to engage with or at the very least allowed you to become ‘more social’?  Or has the result been, as I suspect may be true, provided you with a way not to fully engage with people on a deeper level?

First, let me point out that I am an advocate for using Social Media as a method or tool for business owners to expand their reach and to communicate with their target markets on a more regular basis.  I use most of the common social media outlets, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, on a regular basis.  I do think the social media has an important place in an overall well-rounded marketing strategy.

That said, I don’t think  social media can be used as a replacement for the basic fundamentals of marketing that have proven themselves over the years as legitimate means for a business owner to communicate their value and build their businesses. Unfortunately, some business owners are using this strategy as their primary means to promote their businesses, and I think this is because social media has been touted by the ‘social media gurus’ as the latest and greatest bright, new shiny object.  What I don’t hear touted as often, is that social media is just one tool in a plan (your marketing strategy) that requires many tools.  But think about it, what do you expect a Social Media guru to tell you? (sorry people)

If you believe as I do that the primary purpose of marketing for most small business owners, coaches, consultants and professional service providers is to build awareness, credibility and trust, then, as a small business owner you still need to do the fundamental strategies and tactics to accomplish this purpose.

What are the fundamentals?

The fundamentals are what they have always been . . . getting out from behind your desk and actually ‘seeing the people’ that can most impact your business and life in a positive way.  Attending networking events, engaging in charitable work, speaking on a topic of your expertise are all excellent methods for engaging with people on a more personal level. This is how you build the awareness, credibility and trust that is vital to grow your business.  This hasn’t changed and don’t let marketing people convince you that the whole marketing environment has changed and you, Mr. (or Ms.) business owner better get on board or your business will be lost.  For most of us, including myself, our businesses were and still are built one customer at a time.  And if we do what we are supposed to do, then that customer/client refers us to another customer and so on.

Here’s my success tip of the day . . . . get out from behind your desk, get off the computer and go engage with your clients, and prospects face-to-face.  I bet you great things will happen.

To your marketing success,

Joe

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The Power of Speaking To Elevate Your Business

One of the fastest ways for professional service providers,coaches and consultants to build their businesses is by delivering presentations to their target audience on a topic of their specific expertise.

In my capacity as Managing Partner in the Duct Tape Coaching LLC, I train new marketing consultants in how to operate a successful consulting practice.

One of the key strategies outlined for the new consultant during their training, is the importance of speaking in front of small business owners about marketing.  Most successful consultants include this tactic when marketing their consulting services.

Think about it . . . what better way is there for a consultant, coach or professional service provider to build awareness, creditability and trust than to speak in person to their target audience about their specific expertise.  The benefits are usually immediate and have a long-term rippling effect.

So, what are the major benefits of getting in front of your target audience and delivering a presentation on your area of expertise?

  1. You become positioned as the “expert” in your particular area of expertise. Just by standing in front of an audience and providing information on a particular area, you are considered an expert.  
  2. You receive instant exposure to your target market. Even if you had 10-15 people attend your presentation, think about how long it would take you on a one-to-one basis to deliver the same message.  There is incredible leverage by speaking in front of groups.  
  3. You position yourself in front of the very people who need your help. The people who attend your presentations, usually need your help or at the very least want to learn more about your expertise.
  4. You obtain ‘borrowed credibility’. If you’re endorsed by a Chamber, association or a networking group to speak in front of their audience, there is a built-in credibility factor just because that group endorsed you.
  5. You receive additional opportunities to speak in front of more groups. Without exception, every time I have delivered a presentation, I get additional inquires from those who have attended about doing another presentation for a different group.
  6. You can provide attendees with a “call to action” or how a method to take the next step. Your presentations should be education-based and not selling opportunities, but you should always have a way for the attendees to take a a very low-risk next step in the engagement process.  (I will address how to best present your seminars and workshops in a future post.)
  7. You build your data base of ‘warm’ prospects. With attendees permission, you can continue to educate them about the value you bring to the marketplace.

In future posts, I will address some of the key areas you should know and be aware of relative to your presentations such as:

  • How to deliver non-selling presentations that lands you new clients
  • How to get started in delivering presentations
  • How to host your own speaking workshops and presentations
  • How to provide free workshops that will pay you big money
  • How to attract more people to your presentations
  • How to enlist strategic alliances to help you fill the room for your presentation

To your marketing success,

Joe

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Live By The Golden Rule

In my last post, I wrote about the importance for business owners, consultants and coaches to build trust as a way to powerfully position and then grow their businesses.  I listed the 13 behaviors that build trust outlined by Stephen Covey M.R. in his book, The Speed of Trust.

I ended the post asking the question, “Are you practicing all 13 behaviors listed or are you at least working on #7,  getting better?”

Here’s the good news . . . if you’re not very good at these behaviors, you can change your behavior to dramatically increase how you are trusted if you make the commitment to take action. Trust isn’t something you are born with like eye color or it isn’t an either or proposition.  Once you determine that you want to begin this process, then you can take action today to start the process.

For the most part, the difference between those who change their behavior and those that don’t is a compelling sense of purpose. If for example, you believe that you don’t demonstrate respect to others as well or as consistently as you should, then start today to genuinely begin caring for others and begin treating everyone with respect, especially those who can’t do anything for you.  This may sound a bit odd, but I believe you can tell a great deal about a person’s character by watching their behavior in food establishments.  The manner in which a person treats and reacts to the wait staff speaks volumes about their respect for people as a whole.  I have been with people and witnessed first hand rude behavior directed toward wait staff for no other reason than they believe the wait staff are in some way “not as important” and don’t deserve respect.

One of the rules that was enforced and reinforced in me at a a very early age was the Golden Rule. The simplicity of treating others as you will like to be treated is what makes this rule so beautiful.  Everybody wins when the Golden Rule is practiced.  The person I treat well is happy, and I’m happier as well.

It’s true: the rule of treating others as you would want to be treated in their place will ultimately lead to your own happiness.

Let’s say that you apply the Golden Rule in all of your interactions with other people, and you help your neighbors, you treat your family with kindness, you go the extra mile for your co-workers, you help a stranger in need.

Now, those actions will undoubtedly be good for the people you help and are kind to … but you’ll also notice a strange thing. People will treat you better too, certainly. Beyond that, though, you will find a growing satisfaction in yourself, a belief in yourself, a knowledge that you are a good person and a trust in yourself.

Those are not small dividends. They are huge. And for that reason — not even considering that our world will be a better place if more people live by this rule — I recommend you make the Golden Rule a focus of your actions, and try to live by it to the extent that you can.

Here’s an added bonus . . .  watch the improvement in your professional interactions as well as you make this behavior a habit.

To your success,

Joe


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