For years I’ve shared with you about where business is going, and how it is changing, I’ve tried to plant idea’s into your noggin, with the hopes of giving you some insight, or….foresight of what’s to come, and what to do about it. Everything is changing so fast it’s hard to keep up, and yet, so many are doing what they’ve always done, and many don’t understand why business is still changing. We want things static, we want things in their place, we love our comfort zone, I think that’s how the theory of Pavlov’s dog came to be. With that in mind, a short story.

There was a man who owned a dog, the dog always sat on the porch, and it howled constantly. The neighbor complained about the constant howling and barking, the owner said, the dog howls because it’s laying on a nail. The neighbor says, “why doesn’t get off the nail, go lay down somewhere else?”. The dog owner says,”I guess it doesn’t hurt enough”.

Today the business owners are the dogs sitting on nails, they want to get off the nail, but they are afraid because they know they aren’t really in charge. They believe if they get of the nail (change) they’ll lose business, worse yet, they’ll have to close the business. This belief isn’t really true, but it’s a real emotion. So who’s in charge?

The answer to the question of, who’s in charge is simple, it should be obvious. It’s your customers.

The future of business, and the future of your business will always have the same boss, those who come to your business, visit your site, and buy your product or service. You, were never in charge, you merely ran the business, and provided what customers wanted. When you  change the way you think, stop worrying about how to use Social Media, and looking for short cuts, you can get to the heart of the matter. The questions you should be asking, if you don’t know is, not how to use Social Media, but why your customers are using it, and which one’s are they using. At the very least, start there, the rest will come out of the data you’ve collected, if the rest is still not coming, you’re still asking the wrong questions, and maybe in the wrong place.

If you want your business to survive in the future, ask yourself who’s really in charge.




I’ve been struggling with this question for some time now, I could go in so many directions on this question but, I’ll just share some random thoughts. Why is it that we default to our old conditioning when we don’t understand something? It’s a natural human behavior to either lash out or try to fit what we know to make things work. The square block into the round hole kind of thinking. Some businesses treat Social Media like any other advertising channel, they continue to practice what they have always done, they advertise, they yell, and then try to force you to listen, and then force you to buy. A HUGE mistake if you are asking me. The future of business is not business as usual friends, we are in the midst of a paradigm shift we can’t control with old practices.

To make matters even worse, the mobile movement is going to reshape not only how we communicate, but the landscape of commerce in the digital world. But that’s another topic for another time. The RESET button is being pushed, business is trying to prevent that reset. Why? They don’t understand what it means, and worse yet, they realize they can’t control it.

In order for the business of the future to survive, they will have to figure out how to give up some control to consumers. Provide access before revenue, actually listen to their customers, build a different relationship, and hire the right people who have a better understanding of this space called Social Media. This list is long and confusing, it requires a willingness to admit your business doesn’t get it. Humility will take you along way if you are willing to risk embarrassment.

In my community, we have people being hired to market on social networks, some of these people either don’t understand what to do, or they are being told to do things in a traditional manner because that’s what they know and understand. Business owners need to get out of the way, but how can they, they are wired to be in control. Taking risks in business these days only seems to happen in the start-up phase, why is that, probably because they believe the community needs what they are offering and will do whatever it takes to make it (risk). Once established, they lose they ability to risk again because they go into a management mode over what got them there in the first place.

Social Media has the ability to keep your business moving forward if you are willing to risk again. Let me give you a very low level, low risk, and simple example.

When a company wants to change something, it could be anything, what do they do? They go into the board room and try to find a solution to the problem, they look inward rather than outward. They try to solve their problem with the same thinking that got them to where they are, with a problem. Why not go out onto one of the Social Networks like Twitter or FaceBook and ask the world for a solution to your problem. You will be very surprised at the response you will get from the people formerly known as consumers. These are smart people, why not hire them for free and have them help you solve your challenge. Talk about building trust, an opportunity to actually have a relationship with those who buy your products and services. Your transparency and willingness to listen changes the relationship at a level yet to be calculated.

You as the business owner or leader, have an opportunity to take this even farther, what if you were to recognize the person or person’s responsible for solving your problem in a very public way? I’ll let you ponder that one.

We all are becoming very public, more and more we are putting our lives out there for all to see and learn. There is a risk in that act alone, consider long and hard what you put on the Internet, it’s now your legacy once it’s out there.

Building relationships is not new or changing, it like 60% of commerce has merely gone via the digital realm, that changes the rules, ummmm….what rules? Maybe the rules are the problem, maybe that is what the business world struggles with most, I think it still goes back to one thing and one thing only, Control.

When it’s all said and done, Social Media is not that complicated really. It’s forcing businesses to be human rather than machines that run by unchangeable rules. Start giving your business away to customers, let them help you and more importantly, treat them with the respect they deserve. Why? Because that’s what a Social Business does, it values those the same way you value people in your personal life. Stop trying to complicate Social Media by thinking too much. I could go long and deep on this topic but I’ll let you do comment and add value to the subject.

I’ve been thinking about how much time a person or company should spend on Marketing / Promoting their Blog. Is everything you do on your Blog considered Marketing and or Promoting? I mean everyday you do things like branding, PR, adding content and making sure your name (company name / brand) is everywhere. Is there ever a time when marketing what you sell or do is too much marketing? I can’t imagine an executive ever saying we are advertising to much, we have our name out there too much we have saturated the marketplace with our Brand. If you do have someone like that, he or she probably won’t be there very long. I would rather have the problem of too much business and too much awareness than not enough.

Some of the tasks involved in marketing & PR today are changing subtly, because the rules are changing, now that Social Media has become mainstream you can’t just set it and leave it. You have to listen more than you do anything in todays new marketing environment. So, how much time should you spend listening? More than you are probably willing to spend time doing I’ll bet. If you aren’t willing to listen, how will you know what to do? How will you know when to do it?

So I keep asking myself, how much time should I spend doing PR & Marketing my blog? I think you should invest more time listening and then figuring out how you can solve what you just heard that day. So, do you market your blog everyday? How much time do you alot for that task?

Do you promote your blog everyday? I would love your input so please leave a comment below.

We looked at Markets in the 1st part of the Analysis section of our plan, and in this post I want to share with you about Key Success Factors you’ll want to identify for your I.T. Strategic Plan. Every business has them and some even know what they might be but many don’t, these are things that you believe you are delivering or close to delivering at 100% in your organization. These would indicators that allow the organization to have a high level of productivity. You might think hiring smart people would fit in here but they don’t, they actually fall under the next category in our Analysis called Core Competencies.

Think of this area similarly to fixed assets that can be modified or changed, (sounds like an oxymoron but…) here are a few to consider:

1. Application software availability approaching 100%

2. Network availability approaching 100%

3. Provide Infrastructure and tools for appropriate access to data by staff

Those may be reasons why your organization is able to function at a higher level of productivity, resulting in greater results and possibly profitability. Again, only you and your team can decide what these Key Success Factors might be, they are important to making your case when securing your next years budget. The entire I.T. Strategic Plan plays a huge role in your budget and your job security over the next 3 – 5 years.

Even having a rough draft of your I.T. Strategic Plan gives you a solid view of what your organization is doing and or shifting towards, and to meet customer demands. Consider how this allows you to see patterns and an opportunities, giving you ample time to make adjustments before delivering this plan to executives and board of directors. Regardless of who you have to deliver this message to, the exercise helps you and your team more, it’s a guide or a map of where you are going and what you need to do.

Your primary customers that can undo you the fastest are those you work closest with, staff and field staff, word of mouth there needs to be top drawer or you’ll have a short window of opportunity to do what you do best. Customer support on ALL levels has to be the best you can provide to prevent a change you can’t control.

In the next session I’ll touch on Core Competencies.

ROI-1In July I wrote an article for you called, ” Your Break Even Point “. The premise was to help you calculate that number and for you to have a better understanding as to why you might be loosing money everyday and not know why. Your business depends on you knowing! I mean it’s not something real obvious because it’s kind of hidden, if you don’t have the right indicators in front of you everyday you won’t see it. Hopefully you were able to figure out what those indicators might be and you are monitoring them daily. I’ll assume you’ve done that because next I want to walk you through an advertising slash marketing concept with you.

Years ago when I was selling Radio Advertising we used a thing called Return On Investment Selling, it was an education and very interesting. The program was to show how you would be able to pay for a new ad campaign and make money too! Yep, pay for the advertising and make your desired ROI, sounds to good to be true right? Well….yes & no. Let me lay out a scenario and we’ll walk through this together, I think you will find it most interesting.

I’ll change the names and places to protect the innocent, just kidding. I’m going to take you through a simple Growth Objectives equation and an Investment Analysis so you can understand the number at the end when I’m finished. Oh, and the Forward Slash ( / ) means Divide By in my equations if I don’t use the ÷ Symbol, I thought I should clear that up right upfront 🙂

Let’s pick a market, let’s say you are in the furniture business and the Market Potential was say 5 Million Dollars. That means 5 Million Dollars in business is being done in the Market your business operates in. Lets keep it simple and say you have a present Gross Sales figure of $500,000. That means you have a 10% market share. But you want to realize a growth objective of $100,000 out of your market, what kind of additional penetration do you need to achieve your goal? You would need 2.2% more, here’s how I figured it out:

100,000 ÷ 5,000,000 – 500,000 = 100,000 ÷ 4,500,000 = .022 x 100 = 2.2 (actually 2.222222)

If you’re struggling with the equation, get your calculator out and punch it up. It works.

So now we know the Penetration needed to reach a $100,000 Growth Objective in your Furniture market. Next I’ll break down how many customers or prospects it will take per day to achieve your goal of One Hundred Thousand Dollars.

To make this equation work we will need to know a few things first before it will work. We need to know what the average customer worth is in your store, how much each customer spends in your store. We also need to know what your closing ratio is, a great way to see how well your sales staff produces I might add.

For the purposes of this exercise I’ll use an average customer worth of $1,000 and a closing ratio of 40%. That will keep the numbers easy to work with. The equation is somewhat simple, I’ll try to lay it out that way.

$100,000 /   $1,000 =   100

Growth Objective   /  Avg. Customer Worth  =   Additional Customers Needed

100 /   40% =   250

Additional Cust. Needed  /  Closing Ratio = Additional Prospects Needed

250 /   312 =   .08

Additional Prospects Needed  /  # of Selling Days (Days Open)   =  # of Prospects per day

Is the number of prospects needed realistic?  Yes No

This is only part of the equation, this merely tells you how many prospects per day you would need above and beyond you current customer base over the course of one year or 312 business days.

OK, we now know what the daily number is, but it still doesn’t tell us what the additional Gross Profit is going to be. Well, if your Growth Objective is $100,000 we now need to multiply it by the  Average Gross Margin. Let’s use a simple number and one that might be realistic, let’s use 25%. Using our numbers from above this is how the equations looks:

$100,000 x   25% $25,000

Growth Objective  x   Avg. Gross Margin  =  Additional Gross Profit

So in order to achieve the additional gross profit of $25,000 you were going to need to make $100,000 more (above and beyond) in business over the next year. We figured out how many new prospects / customers it would take to hit that number (0.8 per day) and we felt it was realistic. Now, what kind of ROI did you want to achieve, I’ll assume you wanted 100%! You want to make $100,000 in additional business which would give you an additional gross profit of $25,000 and you want a return of 100%, right?

The question begs to be asked…..HOW?

Well, obviously you would have to do something different than you have been doing to achieve that fine 10% market share. You want to grab 2.2% more of that market right? That means you have to do something above and beyond what you are already doing in your advertising efforts. You WILL have to put more advertising dollars into achieving your goal of 12.2% Market Penetration, your $100,000 Growth Objective and put the additional $25,000 Gross profit in your pocket.

The ROI I’m talking about is what you have to spend in additional advertising dollars to make it happen. You are probably asking yourself how you figure out how much to invest in advertising dollars. the Investment Analysis is quite simple. Here’s the equation:

Desired ROI is 100%

$25,000         /     1  +  1 = $12,500

Gross Profit  /   Desired ROI as a Decimal (1 + 1) = Maximum Additional Advertising Investment

25,000 ÷ 2

So, you want to get 100% of your advertising investment back, you will spend $12,500 in new advertising dollars plus make $12,500.

You will Invest $12,500 in additional advertising to realize the Growth Objective of $100,000 in additional revenues that will produce and directly impact your bottom line by an additional $25,000. Cool & achievable based on the above numbers.

The above is an over simplified view, achieving a market share growth of 2.2% on top of the already acquired 10% market share is not easy, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Now you still have to go through the process of doing the creative, copy, layout and cross promotional stuff but now you an idea in advance the hill or mountain you may have to climb.

I hope this helps you when you get the notion to grab more market share, do your homework and crunch the numbers. You will have a much better picture and it will allow you to enjoy the process of achieving it. Keep this in mind the next time your advertising sales rep wants to up sell you. If you want more real gross profit you will invest to get it, it’s a fact of life. Just make sure it fits your goals, think with the end in mind and work hard to reach it.

Until next Time.