Archive for October, 2010

Are You Smarter Than Your Website?

I was shopping for a suitable e-reader.  I looked at Barnes and Noble.  I looked at Target.  I looked at Wal-Mart.  I looked at Best Buy.  I was surprised how few sales people knew anything about the devices.  I should have stayed home and looked on Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, ebay.com or BarnesandNoble.com.   That’s where the real answers are today.

How much do you know about your competitor’s pricing and products?  Have you researched the competition?  

Better still, how much do you know about your product and services? 

Do you know as much information  as there is on your web site?

Odds are, you don’t know much…not near as much as your customers know.  They are online RIGHT NOW checking what you have to offer against what everyone else has to offer.  Woe unto you if you don’t know when they call.  You do know (don’t you?) that people who call you on the phone are either frustrated with facts that are NOT easily accessible on your web site, OR they are on your competitor’s site looking at the answers you haven’t provided for them.

It’s a whole new world.  People who are told what the competition is doing can find out with one or two clicks…and they don’t have to wait for you to take their call. They don’t have to wait in a cue being told that their call is very important to you. Customers have more access (and are using it) to more information today than ever before.  They are over your lack of information or response. You simply can’t fool them like you used to. 

Go to school on your competitors.  Go to school on your web site.   Your customers are already there.

Your Best Opportunity is When the World is in a Fetal Position!

From Reinvention 101, Bold Ideas on Reinventing Yourself:

Panics are the best time for level-headed, creative people to take command.  While everyone is running around screaming, “The sky is falling” you can seize the moment and the market.  Also, most panics result in advances in technology.

During the Great Depression, air conditioning was invented and it forever changed life and business in the Southeast and Southwest.  During the recession of 2008-2010, social media (Face Book, Twitter, Linked In, BloggingYouTube, etc. ) forever changed the way we communicate.

Never let a good crisis or opportunity go to waste!

Is It Time to “Repot” Yourself?

I like to do landscaping in my spare time.  In fact, my step-daughter thought I was a professional landscaper when she first met me.  I am working on a great looking yard and have various tropical plants in my office.  They are high maintenance and constantly need attention.

For instance, recently I had to repot two palm trees that were beginning to stagnate.  They were turning brown and quit producing new growth.

I was having lunch with a friend this week and he mentioned that he was taking a sabbatical from some of his social activities.  “I am repotting myself,” he said.

“Huh? What do you mean?” I asked.

He explained, “I need to let my roots grow; get rid of the stale soil around me; and put myself in a larger place.”

Wow!  What a novel perspective on reinvention.  Have you let yourself stagnate in the market?  Are your roots “pot-bound” by old ideas?  Have you outgrown your environment?  When was the last time you bloomed (read that stood out from the crowd) or produced fruit (read that results) in your career?

You need to repot yourself.

Yes, it is messy.  Repotting gets dirt everywhere. It causes you to go into temporary shock.  You feel out of place for a while.  But as your repotting takes shape, your become accustomed to the new surroundings.  You acclimate.  You spread your roots and start to grow again.

I want to constantly be in growth mode. I want to bloom and prosper.  I need to repot myself continually.

Seek to Make Changes by Addition – Not Subtraction

From Reinvention 101, Bold Ideas on Reinventing Yourself:

Everyone equates change with loss.  First we think about what we are going to lose, rather than gain.  No one wants to lose anything.

People are more prone to accept change when you sell the benefits in advance.  It helps them focus on “gain” rather than “loss.”  This is why we say the economy is down; when in fact, it is different!

Think about basic changes you have been forced to make.  If you didn’t initiate the changes you thought about first what you would miss?  Your people will begin to focus on gains as well.

If Given the Choice, I’d Prefer to Spill than Get Spilled On!

I was in a high school play of Herb Gardner’s “A Thousand Clowns.”  It is about a young boy who lives with his free-spirited uncle Murray Burns (a creative genius), who is forced to conform to society in order to keep custody of the boy.  I played Arnold (Martin Balsam’s character in the movie), Murray’s brother. He was a sell-out to the business world.  When Murray accused Arnold of selling out to the business world,Arnold responded, “There are people who spill things and people who get spilled on…I choose to ignore the stains.” 

He got spilled on a lot.

Do you get spilled on alot?  If you get spilled on frequently, What do you do about the stains?  Do you ignore them or do you whine and moan?  Chances are, if you get spilled on, you encourage it by both mentioning it to everyone you see, or ignoring it and not changing your habits.  Life is full of people who get spilled on. We hear them all the time on television, in the office, at home and just driving around town.

I am not arguing that you should start spilling on other people, but the go-getters in this world shake things up.  They look at life and say, “Does it always have to be this way?” 

The people who get spilled on say things like:
“I wouldn’t if I were you (And aren’t we thankful they aren’t you!).” 
“Let’s wait and think about it.” 
“Maybe you should have something to fall back on when this doesn’t work.”
“Nothing good ever comes from change.”

Where are you today?  Spilling, getting spilled on?  What are you doing about the stains?  Are you a victor, or a victim griping about the stains? 

Funny.  The guy who played Murray turned out to be a conformist.  I turned out to be The Reinvention Strategist(TM).

I hope the stains make you uncomfortable so much that instead of talking about them, you do something about them.

Today.

What Is Our Organization Doing That You Really Like?

From Reinvention 101, Bold Ideas on Reinventing Yourself:

The best surveys are the ones that ask customers to tell their stories.  They serve two purposes: they get people talking about their great experiences with your company (and telling other people) and they generate feedback on how you are doing.

Surveys that ask “Yes” or “No” questions, or that ask you to rate service from 1-5 don’t give you any feedback or promote your customers to talk to others.

It’s time to reinvent the survey form and find out what the people really think.

Why Don’t You Wifi? It’s Expected NOW! (Updated)

Dateline: October 20:  MSNBC published an article today about more travelers wanting free wifi.  Harriet Baskas wrote, “When choosing a place to buy a meal or spend the night, most travelers say the availability of free Wi-Fi is now a factor in their choice of venue.”

Last spring I visited a resort while strategizing with a group in Costa Rica.  The location was beautiful – but miles from civilzation.  There was no cell phone service.  There was no ATM.  There was no Starbucks (OMG!). 

But they had wifi. 

Miles into the Central American jungle and I could connect with my wife, my office and my world.

I remember reading a travel article in 2002 about how most hotels offered hair dryers in the rooms and about half had complimentary shampoo bottles.  Now it’s different.

These accessories are common.

At that time very few hotels and almost no motels offered wifi – free or paid.  Most everyone wanted to check their email and you could go, in many hotels to the “business center” and log-in if you had an account.  Many had it only in their lobby.  So the lobby was filled with anxious business people and unruly children who wanted to game online.  That’s different now.

Most hotels and motels now provide easy access wifi.  Most charge little or nothing for the perk (although some chains like Marriott are very proud of their Ibahn connection and let you know in their pricing). 

We now expect wifi in some of the most unusual places.  I am writing this online on the plane as I fly to Boston.  Just two years ago almost no one could update their FaceBook page, tweet or send an email while they were flying.   A year and a half ago, AirTran (just bought out by Southwest Airlines) began to feature on board wifi.  Now almost every major carrier has it in some form.

Clear is making wifi available to connect to the internet through a connection in most major cities.  Once wifi was a perk for the few, but is now expected by your customers.  Coffee shops feature it.  Bookstores make it available (not just to their sites now).  Auto serivce centers provide it or their waiting customers. Small towns make it available.  Why don’t you?

What does this mean for your business?  It means business is different now.  Your customers, patients, travelers, shoppers, diners, passengers, visitors, guests and patrons all want to stay connected – just as they do at home. 

What are some ways you can capitalize on this trend?  What are ways your people can stay in touch with the world while doing business with you?  You can’t keep doing dis-connected business in a connected world. 

The world of 2010-2011 is different.   Are you?


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