Archive for the 'Business' Category



The Power of not having a Website

RainmakerThe following article written by Tim Klabunde was published in the September edition A/E Rainmaker, a PSMJ Resources publication.

I received a message the other day from a friend telling me that I needed to visit Skittles.com. It wasn’t that Skittles had an incredible website and they were not giving away free candy samples, instead it was that the Skittles website isn’t a website!

I have been enjoying watching the evolution of the web for years, so you can only imagine then that a message about a non-website was well worth a trip to the world-wide-web. Here is what I found:

Skittles.com home page is a Twitter page with a little box in the corner of your browser window that has links to each of their other “pages.” If you click on “Products” you will be taken to Wikipedia to learn more about each of the different types of Skittles. If you want to see videos or pictures, you are directed to YouTube and flickr. If you want to know what people think about Skittles, you’ll end up at Twitter. Actually, the only time you end up on a Skittles webpage is when you click “contact.”

Web 3.0

Could it be that a candy company was the first to Web 3.0, where customers create content rather than owners? Skittles has captured something incredible by creating a non-website: they have shifted the focal point of the content to the customer! We often focus on creating fresh and new websites that provide great information, yet to often the content of a website is designed more to make an owner feel good than to benefit the customer. Skittles turned the tables by reaching to their customers and giving them a voice. In doing so they turned over the ownership of the Skittles website to the people the site was created to reach in the first place.

Your non-webpage

What would a potential customer learn about you and your company if your corporate website was suddenly down for a day? Are others writing good things about your service and your capabilities? Do you have a blog, a Wikipedia page, a LinkedIn group, or a twitter group that gives an active voice to your company? Take a couple of minutes today to Google yourself and your company, and take special note of the information on page two and three of your search. Is your web presence painting a picture of your company that you want to see?

The future of the web

We truly don’t know what will happen next on the World Wide Web, but one thing is certain: it is the people that are searching for information that will dictate the future of the web, not the website owners.

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Breaking through Storm Clouds

I love the moment when you break through storm clouds in an airplane and the dark rainy day turns into beautiful sunny perfection. I was flying out to Denver Colorado the other week for the first Design and Construction Network (DCN) networking event in the Western US and I was excited to be skiing for the first time in Colorado. Because of the extra ski luggage I was traveling with a couple of books instead of my computer, giving me ample time to reflect.

Several weeks ago I shared with you my personal vision “to help others build relationships that create success in business and life.” This is based on a belief that relationships are the foundation of all real success. As I flew that morning I took the time to reflect on this past year and the journey that I have been on, recording some of it in my journal:

“As we broke through the clouds this morning life has become much clearer. My goal to help others is renewed as I reflect and see the successes of this past year. I simply can’t believe all that has happened since I first wrote why help other people. It is especially exciting to see the multitude of new relationships that have developed over the past year that have allowed me to succeed at work and in new ways that I never even imagined…  I have greatly enjoyed watching the real relationships that have developed across the US through the Design and Construction Network and I find it beyond rewarding to be a part of a group that has relationship development as its central focus. I have been humbled by numerous opportunities to speak and write this past year; it is nothing less than amazing to experience the response of others that have begun rethinking success and relationships.”

Your 10,000’ perspective

Have you taken a break lately to reflect and get perspective on your life? As the New Year approaches let me encourage you to find the time to rediscover your dreams. We were all designed with a purpose and true fulfillment is found when you live out your purpose. To all of my Cofebuz friends, I truly wish you amazing success in 2010 and beyond.

Tim Klabunde

Leveraging your marketing dollar

iswm_logoThe following article written by Tim Klabunde was published by the International Society of Weighing & Measuring.

“It’s not that I am cheep, it is just that I like getting a lot of value for my money.” 

I believe many people feel this way when it comes to their marketing budget.  We all want to figure out what is going to give us value when it comes to getting work in the door.  To that end here is a list of the three “cheapest” ways to get more work.

  1. Existing Clients – Ever wonder why the cable company is always trying to up sell you a 100-movie channel package?  It is because the least expensive way to bring in more revenue is to expand service to your existing clients.  This same model is utilized in almost all service industries.  So when you are looking to get more work in the door start by trying to solve more of your current clients problems first. 
  2. Referrals – When I had the siding redone on my home this last year I received 3 quotes for the job.  The most expensive was a national company, the least expensive was a company I saw on a yard sign in our neighborhood, and the middle bid was a referral from a trusted friend that had their siding redone a couple of years prior.  I paid the extra money for the middle quote because I felt comfortable and trusted the advise of my friend.  Did you catch that? The referral transferred the trust that I had in my friend into the company she endorsed!  Firms that use referrals make more money and their clients begin the relationship with confidence in their ability to do the job right.
  3. New Relationships – Note that I didn’t say clients I said relationships. Clients are expensive to get, but a network is not.  Networks of relationships in your industry allow others to provide you with leads that you can follow up on for minimal cost.  Here are some examples: the attorney that passes along leads to an accountant; the brink layer that that tells the roofer what projects he’s working on; the civil engineer that tells the architect which developers are considering building on a piece of land.  Your network can provide leads must faster and for less expensive than trying to find them yourself.

Time and time again I note that it is people that provide the biggest return on our marketing investment dollar.  Whatever you do, however, don’t give up on your advertising budget.  Advertising, networking, press releases, etc… are each only one tool in your marketing toolbox.  Every marketing tool has its place and must be used appropriately in order to achieve true marketing success.

The Old Rules Still Apply

MarketerCoverThe following article written by Tim Klabunde was published in the October edition Marketer.

Successful businesses are built on foundational truths that do not change with market conditions or time. To be successful in 2010 you are going to need to focus on the same things that business leaders needed to focus on in the last century: the people inside your company, the clients outside of your company, and your network in your industry.

People are the ultimate reason that businesses succeed or fail. Regardless of your placement in your corporate structure, your success and that of your company will be defined primarily by your relationships with people. The key is to build mutually beneficial relationships where people want to help you succeed as you help them succeed.

Rules that build success

We all know that relationships can be complicated, but there is a fundamental truth that determines if you are building up or tearing down relationships: relationships grow if you selflessly help another person succeed; relationships dwindle when you focus on yourself and your own wants.

If you meet someone for the first time, and they subsequently help you, you will be appreciative of their efforts and probably remember them. If that same person were to help you three times over the following month, you would keep an eye out for ways to help them in return. If they helped you a dozen times, providing you new client introductions, referrals, and leads, you would develop a strong desire to help them in return. This desire to help is the foundation of a mutually beneficial relationship where two people are constantly looking for ways to help each other. One important key to this happening is concentrated effort on a specific group of people that over time develops into multiple mutually beneficial relationships.

Rules for inside

Most everyone recognizes that they need IT support to succeed, yet many people approach their IT department with a focus on their own needs and then can’t understand why their requests are always at the bottom of the to-do list. In marketing we often seem to forget that the rules of building success with people outside our companies also apply to people inside our companies. We need people, both inside our companies and outside our companies, to succeed. People that focus solely on achieving their own success are rarely able to achieve it in the long-term because they lack the support of a team that wants to help them succeed. Consider what would happen if you started helping your IT department succeed by cleaning up your server space, purging or archiving old e-mails, and supporting their efforts in meetings. I can tell you from personal experience that the result with be that your requests will likely be given a high priority. The same applies to accounting, marketing, operations, human resources, other project managers, and even management. When you focus on helping others your build a team that wants to help you and make you succeed.

Rules for outside

We all know that when we market we need to focus on existing clients and prospective clients. What most people fail to realize is that, after marketing to your existing clients for additional work, the least expensive marketing approach is usually to market to others in your industry that can’t hire you! Networking is the art of building mutually beneficial relationships that provide a wealth of leads and referrals from others. Many people fail to build strong networks because in America we have improperly aligned “networking” with “sales,” and sales is something most professionals avoid at all cost. Sales should not drive the relationship; instead, the relationship should drive the sales. True networking is the development of relationships, and relationships are something that all of us have a God-given instinct and need to develop. What this means is that everyone in your company can help bring work in the door simply by being relational and developing an effective network.

The rules that still apply

So, there are some important old rules that still apply. A true network of relationships is not to be confused with the self-serving “good-old-boys” network.  Instead, success in business is derived from genuine relationships. If you are ready to build the foundation of your business this year, then it is time to refocus on people. After all, it is the people in your company that will make you profitable, and it is the people outside of your company that foster your growth.

Building Relationships that Build Business

Relationships are the foundation of business. Whether it is relationships inside your company or outside of your company, relationships allow your business to either thrive or fail. Because of this, focusing on relationships is one of the most effective ways to improve your company and simultaneously build personal success.

Identify key relationships
Think about the relationships that you need in order to succeed. These relationships may include others in your company, your industry, or your circle of influence. Now take a moment to write down the top 10 people you need to succeed and rate the strength of those relationships. How you are doing? Are these relationships weak or are they strong? Most people will find a mixed bag: some relationships that are incredibly strong, and others at the breaking point. In order to succeed you need these relationships, so what can you do to ensure that these relationships are strong?

Do something about it
The best way to build a relationship is simply to help other people; not to return a favor, but simply because you want to build the relationship. Business relationships are often weakened by years of taking with very little giving in return. To strengthen a relationship all you need to do is help the other person without seeking personal gain. Some examples of this include: providing a contract lead to a client, turning your timesheets in on-time (for an overextended accountant), and providing timely information to others in the industry. The goal is to proactively work to make their life easier.

Why it Works
If someone helps you once you would appreciate it; if they helped you 10 times, you would develop a healthy desire to return the favor; if they helped you 30 times you would do every you could to help them in return. This is the foundation of a mutually beneficial relationship, a relationship where two people are consistently looking for ways to help one another.

Building a relationship that builds business starts when you selflessly help others.  Who on your list do you need to help today?

The Perfect Client Relationship Management System

PostItNotesThere comes a day in the life of every rainmaker when they realize that they need a better system to track relationships. John was there. He was failing to return phone calls, several clients were unhappy with his responsiveness, and he was no longer being proactive with his current and future clients. He was falling behind. For John it was simple: he needed a system that was easy to use and easy to implement.  He needed something that made his life easier and reminded him when he needed to reconnect with someone he hadn’t been in contact with for awhile.

You already have a CRM (Client Relationship Management) System

What most people fail to realize when considering the purchase of a CRM is that they are already using one. Be it post it notes on your desk or Microsoft Outlook, you inevitably already have a system in place to track relationships. The question is how effective is your system?

Most people looking for a CRM system are very similar to John. We know that our life would be much easier if we could simply capture and retrieve data in an efficient and effective way. The problem with most corporate CRM systems is that they are complicated because of the need for multiple employees to be on the same system. This has made many CRM systems cumbersome, eliminating one of the foundational reasons CRM systems are needed in the first place: to make us more effective. The result is that many CRM systems sit unused as employees take the path of least resistance and track relationships individually through outlook or other personal systems, eliminating the benefit of crosspollination inside the company.

The Perfect CRM

The future of CRM will be based around the capture of always-up-to-date data streams that can integrate that data into shared workspaces. For example, LinkedIn and Facebook already have data that is always up to date because individuals are always updating their own information. Now, take that data and attach a CRM system that allows you to privately add notes from your last conversation, e-mails, or proposals. The end result would be client contact that is always up to date not just with the information you added, but also with personal information such as where they graduated college, there previous employers, photos, etc… The perfect CRM rests in the capture of public data and information, and its integration with private workspaces that allow you to track the personal conversations.

What You Need to do Today

Today most CRM solutions don’t have the option for integrated data from online environments. However, Outlook, the tool that the majority of people use to manage contacts, does. You can start integrating your contacts with online data today by downloading LinkedIn’s Outlook Toolbar. It continually updates your contacts with up to date LinkedIn profile information, notifies you when your contacts change their LinkedIn profile, and provides you with mini-profiles and photos whenever someone emails you.

Remember, regardless of whether you are a CRM user or you are responsible for establishing a corporate CRM system, the key to its success is making it simple and easy to use and understand. Once you experience the benefits of a great CRM you’ll never do business any other way again.

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About the Perfect CRM Discussion

This post was written as part of the Perfect CRM discussion posted by some of the industries best known marketers and authors. It is a series of essays on the topic of client relationship management tools. Each expert drew upon years of experience to outline their vision of the perfect CRM system. This exercise will provide you with new insights into what works, what doesn’t work, and what you should consider when implementing a CRM system.

The experts include:

Visit these sites to read each expert’s take on the perfect CRM.

The makings of a different type of company

whiteduckI sat in my office this morning writing down a list of what makes our company different from our competitors.  After a couple of minutes writing things like “quality, rapid response, and expertise in…” I quickly realized that I wasn’t writing down anything that truly differentiated us from our competition… or Visa, AOL, or HP for that matter.

After thinking about what really sets a company apart I started a second list focusing on what differentiates several successful individuals in our company from others in the industry.  This time I came up with a much different list that noted such things as: honesty, integrity, openness, understanding, humility, and a desire to help others. 

We often use the phrase “what goes around comes around” when we see good things happen to good people (or bad things happen to bad people); what we don’t often make note of is that this same rule applies to business and to companies. Successful companies in virtually every industry are building corporate cultures that embrace a moral centered workplace and values driven marketing. 

The Result

What goes around comes around: Businesses thrive when they provide solutions to problems with honesty and integrity rather than serving the ‘almighty’ dollar.