Monthly Archives: July 2009

How Strong is Your Customer Loyalty? What AT&T and Apple Can Teach You

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Apple or AT&T?

I’ve recently run into an interesting dilemma — will my loyalty to Apple win out against my disgust with AT&T?

I admit it. I’m been a lifelong Apple lover. My parents bought the family an Apple 2E in high school. (Remember those)? The first computer I bought was a Mac Classic. I own an iPod, not a MP3 player.

It’s Apple all the way. There’s been no turning back for me.

So of course I’ve been salivating to get my hands on an iPhone. However, to get an iPhone means I need to do business with AT&T.

Hence my dilemma.

I actually tried to order the iPhones and had such a horrible experience with AT&T’s customer service what I really want to do is cancel the entire order and do something else while I wait for Apple to (hopefully) open the iPhone to more carriers.

So this ends up being an interesting business lesson. Will my loyalty to Apple win out? Or will my anger with AT&T win out?

But the real question is where are YOU with your business? How loyal are your customers to you?

And what kind of experience does your customers get with you? Are they happy or just putting up with you?

Clearly the idea here is to build customer loyalty like Apple and avoid customer service issues that turn you into AT&T.

So how can you be like Apple? Well one (big) way is to give your customers what they want.

Apple’s customers want cool. They want innovative. They want a product they can rely on. Apple gives them all of that and more.

Your customers may not want cool and innovative (although I’m sure they want to rely on it). I mean, a computer company should be innovative, right? If you’re not a computer company then innovation may not be at the top of your customers’ list.

Your job is to find out what your customers want and give it to them. Do that, and you’ll be on the first step to creating powerful customer loyalty.

Now what about the flip side. How do you NOT create the AT&T experience? Well, amazingly enough it’s the same as creating customer loyalty — listen to what your customers want and giving it to them.

When you boil it down, people aren’t getting what they want from AT&T. What do they want? To make it easy to do business with them. Right now, it’s not. You have a problem and it’s very difficult to get it resolved.

How easy is it for your customers to resolve problems with you? Do you listen to them? Are you hearing the same problem over and over again or is it always a different problem? If it is a different problem, what is the common dominator?

And, most importantly, if you KNOW that, what steps have you taken to fix it?

It’s a 2-step process. First, find out what your customers want most and give it to them. Second, find out what your customers AREN’T getting from you, and fix that. That’s how you can create an amazing experience for your customers and have them keep coming back to you again and again.

3 Reasons Why You Aren’t Making Money From Multiple Streams of Income

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Imagine — money flowing into your business from all sorts of places. That’s what it’s like to have multiple streams of income. Your business isn’t dependent on one stream of income but instead you can make money from a variety of places.

Is that what your business actually looks like? Or are your streams limited to one or two?

Especially for you service providers out there, I know it can feel a little daunting to think about creating other streams of income. But the reality is, if you don’t do it you’re really going to be limiting your growth.

So, with that said, if your multiple streams of income look more like trickles or maybe a ditch filled with water, you’re in the right place. Below are 3 reasons why you aren’t making any money from multiple streams of income and what you can do to fix it.

1. Start selling something other than your services. Okay, this sounds really obvious but we got to start somewhere. And this might be the reason why your business doesn’t look the way you’d like it to.

So which category do you fit in? Are you working on the same info product or book for the last 6 years and are (almost!) done with it? Or do you create products the way you change your clothes but you never actually put a marketing system around them so you actually sell a few?

Regardless, you need to stop what you’re doing right now and take stock of what you have. If you’re still struggling to finish your first product, remember good is good enough, and you’re losing money every day you’re not selling that product. Ditto for the too many products and no way to sell them. Put a plan together to get them on your site so you can start getting some income in the door.

2. You have info products but they aren’t selling terribly well. There could be a number of things wrong, but here are some of the top problems:

* You don’t have a sales letter (or the sales letter you have isn’t very good)

* You don’t have anyone visiting your sales letter on your web site

* You don’t have the RIGHT people visiting your sales letter on your web site (i.e. those who would actually be interested in buying your product)

* You’re selling something your target market isn’t much interested in buying

You may need to hire an expert to help you pinpoint which one (or ones) is the problem.

3. You’re not thinking outside the box. There are more ways to get multiple streams of income then selling an info product. There are group programs, licensing, certifications, classes, events and more. Or maybe you need to vary your service offerings or offer a high-ticket program.

There are a lot of different ways you can package what you sell, and depending on your prospect, they might want something different than your usual offerings.

My guess is you have a bunch of loyal fans following you, but if you’re not packaging what you offer in a way that’s attractive to them, they won’t bite. They need to feel like what you’re offering is a fit for them.

So try mixing it up. Offer some out of the box things and see what happens. Who knows, you might discover a whole new product line out of it.

When It’s Okay to Quit

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The other day when I was running/walking a 10K race, my knee started hurting. It had been troubling me off and on for about a month but I thought I had it under control.

My initial reaction was to grit my teeth and walk through the pain. That’s what I normally do, and it’s what I do when I walk marathons.

But then I reconsidered. I had just passed the 4K marker when it really started hurting so I had more than half the race ahead of me. And then I started thinking, why am I doing this?

Clearly I had an issue with my knee. And I could force the issue and hurt it worse. Or I could quit and work on healing it.

I opted to quit and live to walk another day (sooner rather than later).

So that got me thinking, when is it okay to quit and when should you muscle through it? How do you know if this is the time you should throw in the towel or is this just more of your demons popping up to torture you?

Here’s a little system you can follow to help you know the difference:

1. How important is this? Are you talking about the life of your business (i.e. quitting it all and getting a job) or are you talking about dumping a product that isn’t selling well (and to be honest, you never liked much anyway)? If it’s the product, then yeah — quitting might be the smart thing to do. If it’s your business, then it’s probably your demons doing a jig in your brain.

In my case, doing a 10K isn’t that big of a deal. I’ll do a 10K on a weekend. So to cut this race short wasn’t an issue. Not tearing my knee up was far more important than finishing the race. Which leads me to my next point:

2. How important is it for you to quit? Or what is the cost if you don’t quit? Is there someone you work with (like a customer or a vendor) who is toxic to you? (For example, they’re costing you tons of time and/or money and you’re getting very little in return. Or, worse yet, they’re involved in something unethical that could hurt your reputation, or worse, something illegal.) Depending on the severity of the issues, you probably want to dump that relationship. Or are you just feeling uncomfortable or discouraged or stuck with your business? Nope, not a good reason to quit your business.

In my case, not being able to walk for a month was way too high of a trade off then quitting the race early.

So, here’s how this works. When you’re faced with something you’re thinking about quitting, ask yourself both questions, then compare the answers. If the answer to number 1 is high, and the question to number 2 is low, then you shouldn’t be quitting. If the answer to number 1 is low and the question to number 2 is high, then you should be quitting.

Where it gets a little tough is if the answer to both questions is the same. Then, you need to dig a little deeper. One is got to be stronger than the other (for instance, if you’re looking at something that’s really important to you, is the cost not to quit as high as you’re really saying or are you just scared right now?)

My other rule of thumb is answer to the first question is probably the way you should go. If what you’re looking at is very important, then you probably shouldn’t be quitting. If what you’re looking at isn’t all that important then you probably should be quitting. (After all, why are you wasting your time with it if it isn’t that important?)

How Your Social Networking Habits Determines Your Business Success or Failure

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The first time I heard the saying “How you do one thing is how you do everything” I didn’t get it. (Actually I think my exact response was: “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”)

However, as I continued to work on myself and my business over the years, this statement has finally sunk in. And now I see how it relates to pretty much everything in my life. (After all, the state of your business is just a representative of what’s going on in your head at any given moment.)

So, what does any of this have to do with social networking? Well, it occurred to me as I look around at what people are and aren’t doing with their social networking that this is a microcosm of your entire business.

Let me explain. How do you approach your social networking?

* Are you someone who set up a bunch of social networking accounts months ago and haven’t touched it since? Where else has this shown up in your business? Are you someone who has a bunch of half-finished information products or books sitting on your desk? Or maybe you finished them but you haven’t put up the sales letter or did any other marketing so you’re not actually making any money off of them.

Needless to say, with this habit, you’ve simply wasted a bunch of time without anything to show for it. You’re not making any money with your social networking nor are you making any money selling products.

* Are you someone who does your social networking in bursts? You ignore it for weeks, then for a couple of days you’re on it in a frenzy, only to go back to ignoring it. (Or you only jump on and do anything on it when you’re feeling stressed about cash flow and lack of clients.)

So where else does this show up in your business? Are you someone who sends out an email newsletter once in a blue moon? Or you only pick up the phone to follow up when you’re desperate for new clients?

With this habit, while it’s good you’re doing something, you’re only going to see consistent results when you’re consistently doing your marketing tasks. Communicating with people once in a while and/or only when you’re looking for something (i.e. for them to give you money) is an excellent way to have a feast-or-famine business model.

* Are you someone who is pretty good on one social networking platform but doesn’t do anything on any other one? For instance, you love Facebook but your Twitter account sits there unloved and you pretty much never update your blog, never mind anything else.

So where else does this show up in your business? Are you someone who’s really good at going to live networking events and collecting business cards but doesn’t follow up? Or maybe you send out an email newsletter fairly regularly but you don’t do anything else with the articles you write for your newsletter (although you keep meaning to). And you don’t use any other methods to touch your prospects (i.e. direct mail or teleclasses.) You’re getting part of it right but if you followed an entire system you would see far more results. (And, in many cases, it’s not about YOU doing more but simply having a system and a team in place to support you so you get the biggest bang for your marketing time.)

Now, this isn’t about making you feel bad about what you are or aren’t doing. This is about looking at one piece of your business and using what you see there to make your whole business more successful.

How to Screw Yourself Up on Social Networking in No Time Flat

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Have you heard any of these?

* A guy who works part time for the Eagles Football team updates his status report by saying something to the effect that the Eagles suck due to a trade they made. The Eagles fire him.

* A woman gets a job offer from Cisco. She tweets “Got a job offer from Cisco. Now have to decide between a fatty paycheck versus a long commute and hating my job.” One of Cisco channel partners sees it on Twitter and comments. I didn’t hear how it turned out but I’m fairly certain Cisco rescinded the job offer. (And chances are she’s going to have a heck of a time finding another job since this story was all over the place to such an extent it will take awhile to get it out of Google.)

* A guy who I think is the agency owner travels to the headquarters of one of his biggest customers for a presentation (ironically on social networking). He tweets an unflattering tweet about the city where his client is headquartered. The employees spot it, call him on it and he ultimately loses the account.

I’m sure there are more of these stories, but you get my point. Social networking can give you credibility, visibility, leads and can help grow your business. It can also lose you jobs and customers.

So what do these stories have in common? Simple — the person forgot social networking was public.

And that’s the point of today’s article. What you do on social networking is public.

Now, I know that sounds obvious but, like most obvious things, it gets overlooked. And it’s easy to see why. I mean, half the time (or even more) you get no response to things you do on Twitter or Facebook. So it’s easy to start thinking no one’s watching.

And the moment you slip and think no one is watching, no one cares, that’s when it bites you. You think you can say whatever you want, and you do. Only to discover much to your dismay that people really ARE paying attention.

The same thing that makes social networking such a powerful networking tool is the same thing that can ruin you. Remember, your biggest strength is your biggest weakness. And that’s true here as well. The power social networking has to get your name out there in a big way can also replicate your unfortunate choice of tweets or posts in a big way and ruin your reputation faster than you can say “to tweet or not to tweet.”

Now, I’m not saying you should run scared of social networking. This isn’t about you agonizing over every comment, tweet, post, etc. you put out there. This is about being smart. It’s about never forgetting you’re dealing in a public arena and people are paying attention, even if there are days where you wonder where all that social networking love went.

And if you DO screw up and say something you shouldn’t? Well, depending on what exactly it was, you might have to do some damage control, and/or just come to grips you’ve put a black mark on your reputation and have to do some cleaning up. You CAN come back, it might not be easy or fun, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world either.