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Friday, November 21, 2014

Marketing: The Art of Deceit

What is the job or primary function of Marketing?  To sell, right?  At least the last time I looked it up and did a little research on the subject that is what I learned.

Whether you are selling the most up to date new car model or convincing the public that a politician is the real deal you are selling something that you want people to buy, whether with money, interest, or votes.  To do this effectively, do you need to lie in your Marketing?  I guess that is the question that we need to constantly ask ourselves.

First, let's ask ourselves a very basic question; is it possible for an item to attract consumers on its own?  In my opinion the answer would be "no".  I think Marketing is essential to getting the word out about any product in order to attract customers.  Network Marketing companies like to say that they reach millions and billions of dollars in sales without spending a dime on marketing, which is a lie.  Lets me perfectly honest.  The company itself might not spend a dime on Marketing, but their Independent Business Owners or Representatives, or Promoters or whatever they are calling themselves today, are spending lots of money advertising trying to attract customers and team members.  The companies even sell them "Marketing Materials" to use during these efforts and have to approve ads placed and so forth, so regardless of their claims they Market, they just get others to spend the money on it rather than themselves.

Marketing is the life blood of any business.  You have to fill the pipeline in order to ensure that you constantly have flow going through the sales pipeline and that the cycle isn't broken.  Because when the flow shuts off and the cycle is broken it is difficult to rebuild the momentum that you once had.  That is when lay-offs and furloughs happen.

So, we've established by my reasoning that Marketing is essential and that everybody does it whether they admit to it or not.  So the the original question still remains.  Do you need to lie in your Marketing?  Of course the answer is "no".  Lying in Marketing is deceptive.  Some professionals would say that they don't lie, but rather embellish a little, which is completely acceptable in their opinions.  Others outright lie. Whatever you call it, a lie is a lie and wrong.

Recently my wife was on Facebook and came across a sponsored story.  It was talking about a breakthrough new beauty secret endorsed secretly by Oprah and Dr. Oz.  It talked about how this lady was struggling spending hundreds of dollars on creams, serums and lotions only to realize that nothing was working until she "accidentally" stumbled upon two completely separate products from two completely different companies and the results were phenomenal. Within 14 days she looked younger and her skin felt amazing.  There were before and after pictures and testimonials and scientific research and they were offering a month supply trial for only $4.99 so that everybody could  benefit from this "accident".  Not to mention the article claimed that through this person's research they discovered that these were the absolutely lowest priced products on the market. They even claimed to be natural products that used top quality ingredients to achieve results.

My wife asked asked me to take a look at it (since I own a company that sells natural skincare products) and found that the products were quite expensive and had maybe one or two "natural" ingredients and the rest were synthetic man-made ingredients. One serum alone was $86.  Then as for the $4.99 trial, it was for 14 days (even though they led you to believe in the write up that it was a month) and the 14 days were calculated from order date. If the purchaser didn't call within 14 days they would be charged the full purchase price and placed on an auto ship monthly for the same amount.  Needless to say my wife was pretty upset about the deceptive tone in the ad content.

To make things even better about a week later she was on Facebook again and came across another sponsored story.  The ad content or rather "article" was exactly the same as before down to the testimonials and before and after pictures, but this time there were two very different products that supposedly were the miracle breakthrough that people have been looking for.  She had me look the companies up again and they were the same deal, get you hooked with a trial and then charge you after 14 days.

Is this type of deception and downright dishonesty necessary to sell products? Obviously for them it is in order to achieve sales.  Other companies don't use these types of deceptive tactics and do just fine for themselves.  For example, Naturally You! LLC produces a line of natural supplements and skincare products.  Their advertising is straight forward and simple.  They state the facts and share valid testimonials.  The products are based upon scientific research and that's good enough for the ownership. There are many companies out there that use truth and facts that feel that their name and product speaks for itself.  They should be lauded for their integrity.

So what causes some companies to take the route of using deception or lies?  Competition.  It is that simple.  Companies are vying for a finite resource, your dollar.  In order for them to attract your dollar they need to attract you.  To do this in the never ending noise of life they need to hook you with something big and grandiose.  They need to stand out amongst their competition and therefore they resort to overstatements and fudging the numbers and data to suit their needs.  Recently a video of one of the principle architects of Obamacare was discovered in the which he stated that Obamacare was sold based upon the stupidity of the American voter.  Well many products are sold based upon the stupidity of the same person.  That's right we hear outrageous claims that can't possible be true but we purchase the product or service anyway.  If you don't believe me, how many politicians have been "serving" for several terms in office and keep getting voted in?  There you go, we complain that the government is broken and that those in office are the problem, but come election time they make a good marketing pitch and back they go.

How do we change the nature of how Marketing is done?  The answer is by becoming educated on the product, service or individual.  Don't take things for face value, and don't automatically assume that if it is more expensive it must be better because that isn't true either.  Some products are exactly the same, just with a different name plastered over it (ever heard of private labeling?).  Be educated so that people can't pull the wool over your eyes and fool you and read the small print.

Once we as a people stop falling for the glitzs and glamour we can bet that we will start seeing more truth in Marketing. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Why Hire a Business Consultant/Coach

As a business consultant for over 10 years I've come across many different types of businesses and more importantly a very diverse selection of business owners.  I love working with business owners, there is something about entrepreneurs that is intriguing.  It takes a special kind of person to start a business because most businesses fail within the first few years.  What is even more intriguing is that many of these people do it over and over again until they make it, if ever.

Real Business Owners understand that in order to succeed they need to surround themselves with high quality individuals to help them work their business.  Even then it is virtually impossible for people to be able to do everything or see everything.  Business owners are very emotionally intertwined with their business and they typically don't like to admit that something is wrong.  That is where a consultant or coach comes in.  A consultant will review the business operations, financials, records, documentation, etc to see where any deficiencies  are and work to create a plan to fix them and get things running more smoothly so that the business owners and their staff can focus on the business at hand.  As the consultant takes a objective look at the business they are able to provide real solutions to those problems that plague most businesses. 

For example, a few years ago I was working with a trucking company in a small town in Utah.  The company was doing quite well with their sales revenues, posting about $1.7 million in sales in their second year of operations, but they were struggling to stay open.  They invited me in to review their Quickbooks set up thinking that they were having a problem with tracking through their software.  Once there I was able to take a look at everything they were doing.  I developed a tracking system to determine where money was being wasted with in house truck repairs compared to outsourcing this service. I developed a tracking for individual employee expenses and developed a collections practices operations manual and standard procedures and policies for collections.  You see they had a good revenue base, but cash flow was suffering due to the fact that they had no standard procedure and policy for collecting.  In all by the end of my second day there I had saved them over $250,000 annually and set them up to be able to collect on about $700,000 of their accounts receivables that was nearing over 160 days past due.  That was almost $1 million in effective direct benefit from bringing in a consultant to help.

Sometimes business owners just need to bounce ideas off of someone who will be open to listening and at the same time be honest, and sometimes brutally honest.  I have a friend who is starting up a business.  When he first came up with the idea he came to me to see if I would assist him.  I agreed to be his coach and now he calls me frequently with ideas and updates on research.  As we talk I bring up all of the "what if" questions, which at times can be frustrating for him, but it makes him think and he comes back with a more solid plan when we speak again.  Playing the "devil's advocate" is sometimes all a coach will do, but the service is invaluable.

So in conclusion, the best reason why I would say that a business owner or entrepreneur would want to hire a consultant or coach is to help their business truly succeed.  Of coarse I am biased here, but even I as a business coach and consultant hire consultants for my businesses.

Friday, June 8, 2012

What is Innovation

Recently I received an award for business innovation.  As I've contemplated this award, I've asked myself what is business innovation.  My motto in business is, Innovation, Solutions, Service, so what is innovation?

It might seem like a simple answer, you can say it means new ideas, or new ways of looking at things.  To me innovation means a lot more.  It means being on the forefront of your industry.  It means researching the industry you are in and then then researching similar or like minded industries and then finding lasting solutions for your business.

A business entity is a living breathing thing.  If organized correctly, it will continue to live long after the founder has gone.  Therefore just like you can't go through life with the same skill set that you used when a baby, you have to grow and evolve as a business.  As you pass through the infancy stage of business you have to start looking at ways to re-energize your base clientele and bring new customers to the door.  Look at most successful businesses and you will see this practiced time and time again.  For example, there was a time when McDonald's would have been satisfied making cheeseburgers and fries and leaving it at that.  But their market analysts saw the writing on the wall and they began offering salads and alternatives to the traditional hamburger.  Carl's Jr. started beating them up in their advertising so they introduced the Angus burger line.  Now they are marketing the McCafe motif and renovating their stores to be more "upscale" with a modern look.  They are no longer the children's restaurant, but the young professional adults.

That is just one example of how a business must incorporate innovation into their business model.  Now, I am not saying that you have to be constantly renewing your business and introducing every fad into your business model.  Fads come and go, you shouldn't bankrupt yourself trying to always be on the cutting edge.  You can research each new trend and determine by your experience and customer demographic whether or not something might work for you.  Things that work in New York City, might not work or be practical in Stockton, Utah, and that's ok.  Your customers will help you sometimes determine if something will work or not.  Also, instead of going all in and making the change and expecting your customers to like it, do a trial run for a limited time and see how it is accepted.  That way your investment in minimal if it doesn't work for your business.

Another aspect of innovation in business is preparing a long-term and short-term plan on how you want to grow your business.  Since you don't want to bankrupt yourself by trying to implement everything overnight, make a plan on what things you can effectively implement now, and in the near future to increase sales and stabilize your business operations.  Then take the things that you want to implement in a year or two years and make a plan on how you are going to do it and what needs to be done prior.  Set measurable benchmarks to ensure that you are moving towards those goals.  And remember don't get discouraged if your one year plan is taking a little longer, because some things are just hard to plan for.  The important thing is that you have a plan in place and that you are constantly reviewing the plan and adjusting as needed, but don't just feel that you can freely adjust and postpone things all the time, you need to challenge yourself to make it and then do it.

In conclusion, I think every business owner should be a master of innovation.  You should always try and set your business in the forefront of your industry.  Be the benchmark that other similar businesses are measured against.  Don't be left behind and become the dinosaur of the industry or worst yet just another business fatality on the highway of success.

Friday, March 2, 2012

What to Expect from NewLine Consulting Services

As a professional I enjoy the feeling of helping others achieve their goals.  I love to see the  joy which quickly eclipses the feelings of hopelessness as my clients realize that there is hope.  It makes all the time I put into helping my clients well worth the work. 

I've devoted a great deal of time helping people, sometimes to my own detriment as I've found myself caring more for their success than the client.  I've had to teach myself to let clients go rather than burden myself with their problems that they themselves are unwilling to let go of.

I love it when I am asked to conduct a seminar for a group be it youth or adults.  As I educate and teach I can tell when I am getting to people.  I love to make people cry, not because I like to be mean, but because when I see them cry it tells me that I am getting somewhere, and they are learning and changing their lives for the better.

These seeds of education that I can provide are essential if we want to survive as a free people.  I've been asked before why I use the eagle in my logo.  My response is because the eagle is the symbol of freedom.  And that is what I aim to achieve through my efforts.  That is to spread freedom.  It's not only the eagle, but the colors of my logo; red, white and blue.  These colors are the colors represented on that Standard of Liberty that I love so dear, the American Flag.  We must stand as a people and shake off the shackles of debt and financial ignorance if we are to succeed as a people.  As business owners we should practice good business practices while striving to strengthen our communities through proper and adequate employment opportunities and striving to do those things which will strengthen our businesses and ensure their viability. 

This is my first post on this blog.  The first of what I hope to be many.  I will use this medium to provide insights, to educate, and to basically provide an outlet for me to talk about what I want, and for those whom I invite to do the same.