Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Resource of the Week: Evernote

What is it?

On it's website, Evernote says, "Our goal at Evernote is to give everyone the ability to easily capture any moment, idea, inspiration, or experience whenever they want using whichever device or platform they find most convenient, and then to make all of that information easy to find."

Evernote is an independent, privately held note-taking and record-keeping program, headquartered in Mountain View, California. It can be downloaded to your PC, downloaded as an App to your smartphone, and accessed on the web. All data input is instantly synced, enabling users to access notes on any platform.

Why I love it

Evernote is so easy to use and it enables me to capture and sort my ideas in seconds. As a writer, aspiring entrepreneur, and sales person, it is of insurmountable importance to me. I have folders for each of the blogs I contribute to, for each of my business ideas, and to take notes on various customer accounts.

I primarily us the App for the iPhone. With it, I can sort my notes into folders, change fonts, add links, created bulleted lists, add photos, and more. Also, a really cool feature of Evernote is that you can search your entire database. If you know you jotted something down but don't remember exactly what or where it was, you can simply search keywords to find it quickly.

I most likely use Evernote more than any other tool and could not be more pleased with it.

Who uses it?

Of course, I am not the only one who has made use of this amazing tool. In fact, you would probably be hard-pressed to find a mildly technologically saavy person that hasn't. Below is a list of just some of the brilliant people who have positive things to say about Evernote (and links to their articles).

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stuck in the Snuggly Duckling

One of my favorite movies that has come out in the past few years is Disney's "Tangled." It is a great story and is absolutely hilarious, not to mention the catchy tunes that get stuck in my head all day long. The theme of the movie is fulfilling your dreams. In one scene, Rapunzel and Flynn, the main characters, happen upon a bar (called "The Snuggly Duckling") full of scary, malicious "ruffians" who threaten to hand Flynn (an outlaw) in to the authorities. They are interrupted by Rapunzel, who insists that she needs Flynn as her guide to find what she'd been dreaming of her whole life. "Find your humanity!" She exclaims, "Haven't any of you ever had a dream?"

At this point, the scariest of the miscreants trapses toward her and, just as you think he's about to assault her, he bursts into song, revealing his lifelong dream of becoming a concert pianist. Soon, everyone in the bar begins chiming in, expressing the dreams they've always had but have never pursued. One man wants to be a mime. Another wants to do interior design. A third longs to find true love. All of these men have big dreams but, up until this point, preferred to waste away their lives in a bar in the middle of the woods, complaining about their misfortunes.

My questions for you is, "Are you stuck in the Snuggly Duckling?" Are you at a point in your life that you are stuck in a dead end job, relationship, belief system, etc? But, instead of doing something to improve your situation and achieve your dreams, you find it easier to wallow in self-pity. You are not alone. The world is full of people with big dreams but little ambition to see them through. Too many people are waiting on a fortune cookie to give them permission to be successful, as if success is something that either happens to them or it doesn't.

Dreams don't come true. They are made true. Rapunzel would never have seen the floating lights that she had dreamed of seeing her whole life if she had never summoned the courage to leave her tower. Her enthusiasm soon spreads to a bar full of low-lifes, bemoaning the futility of their existence. By the end of the movie, everyone in the Snuggly Duckling is doing what they had always dreamed of. Why? Because, just like Rapunzel, they had decided to leave their comfort zones and actively pursue their dreams. They realized their dreams when they decided to leave the Snuggly Duckling.

How about this? Stop making wishes and start making demands. Life is too short to wait for something good to happen to you. Hope is not a strategy. Stop crossing your fingers and, instead, put them to work. Go out and actually pursue what you have been dreaming of your whole life. If you won the lottery today and you could do anything you wanted, what would you do? Go out and do that thing. Life is too short to worry about failing. True failure is dying without ever having tried to accomplish what you were living for in the first place.

What is your biggest dream? Do you want to see it realized? Stop wallowing. Get out of the Snuggly Duckling!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Book of the Week: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence people is the quintessential work on communication. Originally published in 1936, it has set the stage for decades of business, psychology, and self-help literature. The theme, as Carnegie spells out for us, is "the fine art of getting along with people in everyday business and social contacts." Laid out in six distinct sections, Carnegie dispenses nuggets of truth that, if followed, can certainly make us all better communicators. Below are my ten favorite pearls of wisdom from this masterpiece.

10 Key points to remember

1. Empathy is better than criticism. People do not respond well to being told they're wrong, but they will listen if you demonstrate understanding for their point of view. "There is a reason why the other man thinks and acts the way he does." Carnegie says, "Ferret out that hidden reason--and you will have the key to his actions, perhaps to his personality. Try honestly to put yourself in his place."

2. The only way to make a person do something is to make them want to do it. Carrots are always more motivating than sticks. You can, of course, force someone to do something. But if you want continued performance after your back is turned, your primary focus should be what's in it for them.

3. "Bait the hook to suit the fish," Carnegie says. Don't talk to people about what you want, but rather about what they want. My favorite quote in the book: "Thousands of salesmen are pounding the pavements today, tired, discouraged, and underpaid. Why? Because they are always thinking only of what they want. They don't realize they neither you nor I want to buy anything. If we did, we would go out and buy it. But both of us are eternally interested in solving our problems. And if a salesman can show us how his services or merchandise will help us solve our problems, he won't need to sell us. We'll buy. And a customer likes to feel that he is buying--not being sold."

4. Honest appreciation is better than flattery. Carnegie vehemently opposes manipulative intentions. In the end, they always backfire. "I am not suggesting flattery," he says, "far from it! I am talking about a new way of life." Every person has good qualities. Learn them and focus on them, so that your compliments are actually worth something.

5. You'll make more friends by becoming interested in others than by trying to get them to become interested in you. Carnegie names the dog as the only animal that doesn't have to work for a living. Cows five milk. Hens lay eggs. "But a dog makes his living by giving you nothing but love." We can be a man's best friend by focusing on what interests him, but he really doesn't care about what interests us.

6. Act as if you are already happy, and you will become happier. Everyone likes to be around happy people. If you're not feeling pleasant, just pretend you are. Eventually, emotion will follow action and, by coaxing yourself into believing you are happy, you'll actually cheer up.

7. Never forget a name. "A man's name to him is the sweetest and most important sound in the English language." If you forget a person's name, it doesn't matter what else you do or say to improve the conversation, you will be fighting a losing battle. Prancing a name is the first step in caring about the other person. Repeat it to yourself. Write it down. Ask how to spell it. Whatever it takes, learn it!

8. To be a good conversationalist, be a good listener. Carnegie tells the story of a botanist he met at a dimmer party and conversed with for several hours. The entire time, Carnegie said nothing about himself. He would merely express interest in what the botanist was saying and ask the botanist to tell him more. When he left the dinner party, the botanist remarked to the host that Carnegie was the greatest conversationalist he'd ever met. All Carnegie did was actively listen. People will love to talk to you if you love to listen to them.

9. Always make the other person feel important. Carnegie quotes Emerson in saying, "Every man I meet is in some way my superior; and in that I can learn of him." Look for ways to compliment other people. People will value you when they know that you see value in them. Never treat anyone as a "second-class" citizen or think that you are better than them. Treat ordinary men like celebrities and you'll be a hero in their eyes.

10. Avoid arguments at all costs. "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." Winning the argument never wins the person. Proving the other person wrong is counter-productive. It positions you as a dreaded enemy rather than a valued team-member. Next time the opportunity arises to engage in a debate with someone, ask yourself what you really stand to gain if you can show that the other person is mistaken.

Friday, August 26, 2011

On Reading Old Stuff

A friend of mine always has something cynical to say whenever I mention that I'm reading a business book more than, say, five years old. He doesn't see the point. He thinks that, by the time anything hits the press, is has already fallen into irrelevancy. If it's on a printed page, it's antiquated. The economy is changing far too rapidly for something to still be relevant today that was written years or even months ago. In some ways, I see his point. But, for the most part, I disagree.

I am always quick to point out that the Bible, the Constitution, and Shakespeare are all antiquated and yet still used widely today in their respective circles. Business literature is no different. "Classic" literature such as that of Napoleon Hill and Dale Carbegie is still used today. In fact, it is even frequently blogged about by modern writers who allegedly offer more "relevant" information. You see, just because modern Fiction writers do not use Iambic Pentameter doesn't mean their characters do not frequently echo Hamlet's age-old question of "to be or not to be." And just because "quartering soldiers" isn't really an issue in modern America doesn't mean Americans aren't still lobbying fir more privacy and freedom from government control. Just because modern-day Christians do not literally wash each others' feet doesn't mean that they don't strive to serve one another. Just because a work of business literature was written before the Internet, that doesn't mean it's irrelevant.

What makes such literature stll relevant today? The principles. Though processes change, fundamentals are timeless. Obviously, "How to Win Friends and Influence People" is going to have more relevance today than "How to Sell Subscriptions of Ulysses S. Grant's Memoirs Door-to-Door in 1886," but that's why the former is still around and the latter is but a footnote. Some books, it's true, were written for specific time periods or for specific activities. Others, however, were written about principles. Many are a hybrid of the two. Seth Godin's "Permission Marketing" was written years before the social media revolution but, if read, can still offer timeless wisdom about pull marketing and customer engagement.

I would advise you to rear the most current, up-to-date, cutting edge stuff available to you. But you are at a severe disadvantage if you don't know where you come from. Read old stuff too. Read Dale Carnegie. Read Mack Hanan. Read Stephen Covey. Just as biologists often study extinct species to frame theories about modern biology, business professionals can still find highly relevant and essential principles in "extinct" works of business literature. Know your roots. Do not neglect the classics.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

So Many Voices...Who Should I Listen To?

As regular readers of this blog know, I read a LOT. I read a book each week and probably another 200-300 articles from 50+ different writers. In addition to that, I listen to podcasts, watch webinars and presentations, engage in discussions in online forums, and so on. I allow myself to be bombarded with information. I am addicted to learning.

Yet, of all this content that I consume, do you suppose that somewhere along the line I run into conflicting opinions? All of the time. What do I do then? How can I learn when my teachers are in disagreement? With so many voices saying different things, who should I listen to?

Not too long ago, a discussion was raised on Paul Castain's Sales Playbook LinkedIn Group, one of my favorite online communities, regarding the validity of "cold calling" today. Most of the people offering their opinions viewed cold calling as an out-dated practice that only amateur sales people still use. This advice flies in the face of advice from Anthony Iannarino, possibly the most profound blogger on the web, who insists that cold calling is not just a good idea but rather something that we are ethically obligated to do as sales people. Both sources are valid. Both of them I highly respect. Who should I listen to?

Last month, I wrote a post on cold calling. Which side did I take? Did I follow the Uncle Paul entourage or did I side with Anthony Iannarino? Neither. I took my own side. I argued that, while initiating relationships is just as important today as it always has been, creating a personal brand prior to a cold call in something we should be constantly striving for. My view is somewhat of a hybrid of both sides of the argument. But, it isn't either side's view; it is my view. Whose voice did I listen to? I listened to my own.

Look outward for advice, but inward for permission. I would encourage everyone to learn everything they can from as many sources as possible. The bigger the pool of insight you have to draw from, the better decision you will be able to make. Yet, when all is said and done, you and only you will be responsible for the behavior you engage in. You can't say, "I'm only doing what so and so said" or "I can't do that because so and so said that I couldn't." You are the end of the line. You can get all the advice in the world but none of those advisors can set you on a course of action. Others can give you advice, but only you can give yourself permission.

What will you give yourself permission to do today? What advice will you follow? More importantly, what advice will you contradict? There are so many voices out there. By all means, listen to what they're saying. But when the time comes to take action, there is but one voice that matters: your own. What is the voice inside telling you today? Will you listen?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Signing Your Own Cards

I sign my own cards. Whether it be a birthday card for a distant relative, a Christmas card for a friend, or an anniversary card for my in-laws, I make sure to grace it with my elegant penmanship (elegant being very loosely defined). My wife usually writes a short message and then asks me, "Do you want to sign?" I always say, "Yes." It is important to me to personally sign off on anything that has my name on it.....and this, of course, isn't just about greeting cards.

In the contemporary world of sales and marketing, "automation" is a buzzword fighting for top billing. We are obsessed with systems that allow us to develop relationships efficiently. If a machine can do it, why should we waste our time (or emotional energy) on it? Automate social media. Automate PR. Automate conversation. Is this all a good thing?

Well, in many ways, I am using automation when I sign those greeting cards. 1: I don't make the cards. Hallmark does (okay, so it's actually the Dollar Tree, just don't tell anyone.) 2: My wife writes the "personal" message that is addressed from both of us. What do I do with the card? I read it. I sign it. I give it my approval.

The same thing needs to happen in sales and marketing automation. It is fine to use templates, but you need to personally verify what is being communicated to whom. There is little more embarrassing than a prospect getting an automated email that was meant for someone else, when it says "Dear _________" at the top and "Sincerely, Your Name at the bottom. Believe me, I know. It's very damaging to your credibility to have explain to a prospect that an email wasn't "really" from you, especially when you said such nice things about them in the email!

What am I saying? Just be smart about automation. Obviously, it is time that could be better spent elsewhere if you personally draft every appointment confirmation. But don't get carried away. Have genuine conversations with prospects when you can. When in doubt, err on the side of authenticity. You want "real" people to respond, right? If you don't want an automated response, don't send so many automated messages.

Or, at the very least, know what your messages say. Sign your own cards!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Resource of the Week: Disqus

What is it?
According to its website: "Disqus (dis·cuss • dĭ-skŭs') is all about changing the way people think about discussion on the web. We're big believers in the conversations and communities that form on blogs and other sites."

Disqus is a comments-integration platform for blogging. It was founded in 2007 and is currently headquartered in San Francisco. Bloggers can embed it into the comments section of their posts in place of what is there by default. They can then view in a single thread all of the comments from their blogs as well as those of others who also use Disqus.

Why I love it
Disqus is very user-friendly. As a commenter, you can be anonymous or set up an account and track your comments across the web. Others, including the author of the post, can reply to your comments. A comment stream can, therefore, consist of multiple conversations. The format is very clean, very easy to read.

As a blogger, it's great as well. I can get notifications by e-mail whenever someone posts a comment, so that I can promptly reply to it or, if I wish, remove it. I can also change the moderation settings for comments to only post after I've approved them. With Disqus, I have a clear, easy-to-read history of everyone whose commented on my posts and what they've said. It's just awesome!

Who uses it?
Disqus is ideal for bloggers who view their posts as conversation starters. As readers do not have to create a log-in to leave comments with Disqus, the platform is very inviting of feedback. If you don't want comments or don't have time for conversation, you shouldn't use Disqus.

Some of my favorite Bloggers use Disqus. Here is a list of my current Disqus community:
Anthony Iannarino
Dan Waldschmidt
Jim Keenan
Kelley Robertson
Paul Castain
Carrie Wilkerson
Charles Green
Aaron Bieber
John Jantsch
Chris Brogan
Matt Heinz
Gary Hart
Linda Richardson
and counting.....

Friday, August 19, 2011

How to Have an Out-of-Body Experience in Sales

I'm not really into the paranormal. I'm not a regular viewer of "Ghost Hunters" and I don't go to "haunted houses" for fun. But, growing up, I remember watching specials on TV about people claiming to have "out-of-body" experiences. They would be floating above their bodies, viewing them as external objects. They would watch themselves interact with others as if they were watching a movie. They felt "outside" of themselves. This may sound weird, but I always thought it would be interesting to have such an experience.

Authors Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen, in their book Difficult Conversations, discuss the importance of viewing discussions with other people from "the third story." They explain that, in every conversation, there are actually three stories being told. There's your story, there's the other person's story, and then there's the story as it would be told from an independent third party. The third story is that of the counselor, the jury, or the mutual friend. It's one that doesn't pick sides and, therefore, offers keen insight into the discussion taking place. The authors of Difficult Conversations suggest beginning each discussion with an understanding of this "third story."

What if we had an out-of-body experience in sales? What if we had the luxury being independent observers of our conversations with customers? It would be absolutely game-changing to have that kind of perspective. We would be able to see when we are saying stupid things to our customers. We would be able to see when we are letting customers take advantage of us. Engaging in negotiations and overcoming objections would be so much easier. But we can't really have out-of-body experiences, can we?

Of course we can. When we look at our sales conversation from the "third story," we'll be able to think outside of ourselves. We'll be able to sympathize with our customers and better understand their concerns. Let's pretend for a moment that we have no skin the game. Let's pretend that the outcome of the sales conversation doesn't affect us one bit. How would "fair" look from that perspective? Let's find out and then shoot for that outcome with our customers.

Sometimes, we can't see the forest for the trees. Let's be a little more forest and a little less tree. Let's have an out-of-body experience!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Presentations Are for Amateurs

For decades, sales people have been expected to give presentations. Hours are spent putting together storyboards (or Power Point slides), rehearsing delivery, and editing language. The presentation is everything. The speech and its delivery are all that matters. That's what will convince them to buy from you. Their applause is the precursor to signing a contract. If you nail the presentation, you get the business, right?

Actually, your presentation is highly overrated. Why do they need to set aside the time to listen to you ramble on in a conference room? Why can't you just send them a proposal for review? Why do they have to listen to you talk about it? They can read just fine. They don't want to listen to another speech as well. Not only is your presentation failing to advance the sale. Your presentation, regardless of how greatly your offering can impact their organization, is wasting their time.

What can you do instead? Start a dialogue. Scrap the presentation and get straight to the Q&A. That's what the meeting is really about. They already know your pitch, but they have questions. Answer the questions. Ask them questions. Go back and forth. The more you converse, the more the sale is in your pocket, because the prospects will begin to see you as a member of their team. You are no longer asking for the sale; you are working out the delivery.

Presentations are for amateurs. How much time do you spend getting the right phrases down and adding the right illustrations to your Power Point? And how much time to you spend investigating your customer's business and discovering ways that you can help them succeed? I can assure you that your prospect is far more interested in the latter. They don't want to hear another speech; they want a solution. Skip the presentation and get to the conversation. That is what matters. That is what will get you the business.

Friday, August 12, 2011

What Kind of Cows Do You Raise?

I was raised in a farm town, but I am not a farmer. I don't know the first thing about cows, so I apologize if I misspeak. As I understand it, there are two types of cows that you can raise on a farm: beef cattle or dairy cattle. Beef cattle, of course, are raised to be slaughtered for meat. Once you kill a beef cow, you no longer have use for it. Dairy cattle, on the other hand, are used throughout their lives for milk production. As long as the cow is alive, it has something to offer. There are HUGE business implications for this distinction.

What kind of business do you go after? Are you looking for the beef cow or the dairy cow? Are you looking for the quick, easy, kill or the long-term revenue stream? When you're hungry, the beef cow can look oh so tempting. Look at all of the meat you can get out of one sale! Do whatever it takes to get that sale! Crush it! Because, if you do, you are going to make a killing! What's the problem with this approach? Once you've killed the beef cow, it isn't coming back. Once you've eaten the meat, you will get no more from that cow. Your revenue stream has ended.

Dairy cows are the opposite. Maybe they aren't so satisfying from a single transaction. Maybe you invest a lot in them, nurturing them as customers. Perhaps you spend a lot of time, energy, and money to keep them loyal. But, guess what? They keep coming back. You have milk today. You have milk tomorrow. You have milk forever. The revenue stream never ends. You keep the dairy cow alive and it keeps giving you milk.

Are you in it for the long haul with your customers? In today's age of competition and commoditization, you need to go after loyalty. You need dairy cattle. One big sale, if you can even get it, is not going to sustain you. You need continous revenue. You need customers that are willing to partner with you. Go after those customers. Don't go for the quick sale. If you slaughter your customer today; you'll starve tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

50 Sales Books I Will Read in 2012

Going through online book forums, I noticed a common challenge that readers across the web like to take on: reading 50 books in a year. I am on par to hit about 40 for this year and I think that 50 is attainable for 2012.

In the past, I've gotten into books on multiple subjects: classic fiction, science-fiction, philosophy, theology, history, Christian living, biology, memoir, economics, marketing, business biography, coffee, cars, computer technology, the list goes on. I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge. For 2012, however, I think I will specialize. I am going to read 50 books on sales (and related areas such as marketing, entrepreneurship, leadership, social media, etc.).

Since I've gotten into sales, I have been overwhelmed by the breadth of material available to me. I want to read everything I can, but I often don't know where to start. By the end of this year, I will have read many of the classics, like Dale Carengie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People," Mack Hanan's "Consultative Selling," and Steven Covey's "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People."

Most of what I've learned about sales, however, has come from blogs. All of the sales bloggers that I follow and archive in my weekly "Top 10" lists have taught me more about selling than all of the books I've ever read. So, for 2012, all 50 of the sales books I will read will have been written by these bloggers. To be precise, there are 30 authors featured in my "Top 10" that have written books which I will read in 2012. Next year will be a tribute to these authors and their contribution to the world of sales, both on-line and on paper. Below is my projected list:

  1. Brian Tracy: The Psychology of Selling

  2. Seth Godin: Purple Cow

  3. Jeffrey Gitomer: The Little Book of Leadership

  4. John Jantsch: Duct Tape Marketing

  5. Charles Green: The Trusted Advisor

  6. Sharon Drew Morgen: Selling with Integrity

  7. Pamela Slim: Escape from Cubicle Nation

  8. Dave Kahle: Question Your Way to Sales Success

  9. Bob Phibbs: The Retail Doctor's Guide to Growing Your Business

  10. Paul McCord: Bust Your Slump

  11. Matt Heinz: Are You Selling Pants, or Selling a Dream?

  12. Art Sobczak: Smart Calling

  13. Tim Berry: The Plan-As-You-Go Business Plan

  14. Alen Majer: Trigger Events

  15. Kelley Robertson: Stop, Ask, and Listen

  16. Chris Brogan: Trust Agents

  17. Scott Ginsberg: The Power of Approachability

  18. Jim Domanski: Profiting by Phone

  19. Jeffrey Gitomer: The Little Red Book of Selling

  20. Seth Godin: Poke the Box

  21. Brian Tracy: No Excuses

  22. Mike Brooks: The Real Secrets of the Top 20%

  23. Tibor Shanto: Shift

  24. Kelly McCormick: Outsell Yourself

  25. Sean McPheat: E-selling

  26. Jeb Brooks: Perfect Phrases for the Sales Call

  27. Grant Cardone: Sell to Survive

  28. Kendra Lee: Selling Against the Goal

  29. Carrie Wilkerson: Barefoot Executive

  30. Kevin Eikenberry: Remarkable Leadership

  31. Diane Helbig: Lemonade Stand Selling

  32. Ted Coine: Spoil 'Em Rotten

  33. Robert Terson: Selling Fearlessly

  34. Dave Kahle: How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime

  35. Art Sobczak: How to Sell More in Less Time with No Rejection

  36. Tim Berry: Hurdle

  37. Paul McCord: Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income

  38. Jeffrey Gitomer: Social Boom

  39. Bob Phibbs: Groupon

  40. Matt Heinz: Sales for Start-Ups

  41. John Jantsch: The Referral Engine

  42. Sharon Drew Morgen: Dirty Little Secrets

  43. Alen Majer: Selling is Better Than Sex

  44. Brian Tracy: Eat That Frog

  45. Scott Ginsberg: Ideas Are Free, Execution is Priceless

  46. Seth Godin: The Linchpin

  47. Kelley Robertson: The Secrets of Power Selling

  48. Jim Domanski: Add-On Selling

  49. Charles Green: Trust Based Selling

  50. Chris Brogan: Social Media 101

If you are in sales, I would challenge you to join me in this endeavor. If you are not in sales, well, you are still in sales. Everything you do is related to convincing other people, in some way, shape, or form, that what you do or what you offer is valuable. Do you want to improve your disposition or your lot in life? Join me in uncovering and implementing the ideas in these amazing works of literature!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Beware of "Best Customer" Marketing

Liz Strauss wrote a post a few weeks ago about a large clothing company that sent her an email with the subject heading, "Only For Our Best Customers." Toward the end of the email, though, were the words, "You received this email because you subscribed to promotional emails from _______" and "If you received this email from a friend and would like to subscribe to our email list, click here." Liz's point was that it wasn't really for that company's best customers, unless "best" meant everyone on its email list and all of their friends. The suject line was obviously intended to get her to read the email. There was nothing exclusive about the offer.

I had a similar experience last time I went to the grocery store. I decided to "check-in" with Foursquare because I had some witty comment to make about shopping in 90 degree weather. As I "checked-in," I realized that my grocery store was offering me the chance to enter into a drawing for a $100 gift card if I checked-in on Foursquare. When I had finished shopping, I went over to Customer Service to enter into the drawing.

At first, the guy had no idea what I was talking about when I mentioned "Foursquare." Then, he said, "Oh, maybe you're talking about those boxes over there." I walked over to the boxes on the counter beside Customer Service. There it was, a stack of forms that anyone in the store could fill out to enter into the drawing. It had nothing to do with Foursquare. That grocery store gave me nothing for telling my friends where I was shopping, even though that's kind of what they had promised me.

Anytime you hear the words "best" or "exclusive," your skeptiscim alarm should start ringing! More often than not, it is a ploy. It's playing to your sense of feeling special. Don't buy into it. You're only as special as everyone else who is getting the same offer.

If you a marketer, you may want to stop using hooks like this to draw customers in. One of these days, you are going to be the marketer who cried, "Exclusive!" In an initiative to strengthen client retention, you are really going to want to reward your best customers. But, by that time, no one will believe you.

Besides, you don't have to lie. If you have a good product, you can use the truth to bring people in. Exclusive isn't always the most attractive ad campagin. Sometimes, people want to buy what everyone else is buying. Try, the hottest trend of the season. Just don't tell someone that they are getting something when they aren't getting it. That's a surefire way to not retain your customers.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Commitment Vs Addiction

Are you committed, or are you addicted?

I am addicted to social media. Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Google Plus. I can't get enough. I love the sharing and the interaction. I don't need to try to keep up with my network. I am compelled to. I need to try to unplug, because social media sucks me in. It is an addiction, an obsession. It's never a chore or an obligation. I am driven to engage...and I just can't stop!

I am committed to cleaning out my cats' litter boxes. I do not enjoy this activity. I love my cats but I, by no stretch of the imagination, get the remotest amount of pleasure from cleaning up their excrement. Why do I do it? Because it needs done. Because I have to do it. It is an obligation, something I have no desire to do but at the same time I know is necessary to do. I do it, but it's a hassle.

Do you see the difference between committment and addiction? Addiction is not something you have to be persuaded to do. It is your default mode to do that thing because you have an internal passion for it. It comes naturally. You have to summon self-discipline in order to stop. Commitment is quite the opposite. It's something that you are not naturally inclined to do, but you force yourself to do it because you know it's important. You have to summon self-discipline, in this case, to get going.

Oftentimes, commitment is given a positive connotation whereas addiction is associated with something negative. I don't think this always has to be the case. The important thing is what the object of your commitement or addiction is. What are you committed to? What are you addicted to? That is the question.

Now, think about your mission. Think about your dreams and your goals. How are you compelled to fulfill your purpose? Do you have to wake up every morning, look yourself in the mirror, and give yourself a speech? Or, is the speech inside you? Are you intrinsically motivated to do what you do? Do you make plans on the basis of what has to be done? Or, do you make plans on the basis of what you are driven to do? Are you ruled by obligation or by obsession? Does your mission come naturally?

Sometimes, you've got to talk yourself into keeping the fight going. But, wouldn't it be a whole lot easier if you didn't have to give yourself the, "Go get 'em, Tiger" speech? Wouldn't be easier if you did what you did simply because you were compelled to? Because you knew no other way? Because it is who you are?

Give addiction a try. Be obsessed with your mission. Consumed by it. Stop trying so hard and, instead, fall in love with your purpose.