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The Action Principle September 28, 2007

Posted by rickbron in Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg Getting results! Sometimes when we ask someone to take an action, it is difficult to get them to do what we want. The Big Dogz have a secret principle they use to get others to do what the Big Dogz want. I call it the principle of getting action and here it is:  

If you want someone to take an action, you must show them the benefit to them personally before they will do what you ask. 


Here’s an example:

June is consistently late in turning in her status reports to you.

  • You have sent her a number of emails telling her she needs to get her status report in on time. You have told her that you need her report so you can get your report done.
  • You tell her how important it is to the team for her to get this report to you on time.
  • You have assigned her the responsibility to gather all the status reports and consolidate them for you — this was a special disaster!

You are searching for new ways to get her to submit her report on time. She continues to be late.

Here is what you could say to June:

June, I am rolling up all the status reports to Betty by 12:00 on Friday. If your report is done and to me by 11:00, then I can let Betty know about the positive results you are achieving. 

June, I am rolling up all the status reports to Betty by 12:00 on Friday. If your report is done and to me by 11:00, then I can show Betty that we need that training you have been asking for. 

June, I am rolling up all the status reports to Betty by 12:00 on Friday. If your report is done and to me by 11:00, then I can show Betty how important your project is to the success of our team. 

By framing your request around how this is important to June, you can get her to see the value of doing what you ask. The Big Dogz know that people will take action that has a benefit for them personally. Experiment with your requests and see how it can work for you.

Driving Traffic to Create More Sales September 27, 2007

Posted by David Dirks in Building Foot Traffic, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Tactics.
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I recently received a letter in the mail from our local Fashion Bug store. It was a simple, no-nonsense flyer that spelled it out: Friends and Family Private Sale. In other words, you’re invited to a special after-hours event and can save money.

They did what I’ve said in the blog many times before: if you want to create traffic, you’ve got to create ‘special events’ that are dynamic and, to some point, exclusive.

A simple, cleanly-designed invitation via first class mail. Surely they asked my wife to fill out a card with our address on it for special events just like this. They took the time to get our information and then they executed on it and create a special event. It didn’t cost much to print or mail.

The sale offered generous discounts off of both regular priced and clearance items. And you had to bring the invitation in with you in order to get the discount. That makes it even more exclusive and special.

I’m not sure how successful the event was but that isn’t my point. It’s the fact that they captured customer data and then thought enough to actually use it to help drive traffic and potentially increase revenues and to whatever degree, profits.

When was the last time you received an invitation to any retailer, vendor, or service provider you know? Probably not that often, if at all.

I give these folks an “A” for both effort and execution. What are you doing to increase your foot traffic or get your customers excited about your services?

Group Process Feedback September 18, 2007

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Feedback.
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p5130012.jpg  Wasted time! How much time is wasted in meetings by people engaging in non-productive behavior? Have you seen people on your team interrupt each other, be critical when an idea is proposed, belittle others in the group or engage in side conversations? These actions drain the energy and effectiveness from teams. Unfortunately most leaders do not know how to reduce these non-productive behaviors. The Big Dogz know how to address this issue. They use a technique called Group Process Feedback. Group Process Feedback is effective because it provides feedback about a behavior, not a person.  Most people who are engaged in hindering behavior are not aware that their behavior is having a deleterious effect on the performance of the group. Sometimes this behavior is defensive or it may even be a behavior that the person feels is needed to move the team forward. Here is an example: Jim is constantly interrupting people. Sometimes, he finishes their sentences for them. You feel this behavior is keeping the team from being more effective. Let’s take a look at how we might handle this outside of Group Process Feedback. You approach Jim and inform him that his behavior is not very professional and you think he should stop it. Imagine the response you would get from Jim with that approach. Next, you might consider discussing Jim’s behavior with another team member to see if they feel it is irritating as well. Together, you decide that Jim’s behavior is not effective and you wish he would stoop. Ahhh, you both feel good about this exchange. Unfortunately, Jim does not know that his behavior is adversely affecting the team. The probability that Jim will change this behavior is slim or none. Now, let’s use Group Process Feedback. It is my turn to speak and I say “I observed someone interrupting others and it hindered.” Jim may or may not know I am talking about him. But, for sure he knows someone is doing it and it is hindering the team. Sooner or later, Jim will realize it is him interrupting others; and since he does not want to hinder his team, he will attempt to reduce this behavior. No one wants to hinder their team from being successful. In addition, others on the team will realize this behavior is hindering and will avoid it or reduce it. You will see a reduction in this particular behavior from everyone in the team. Group Process feedback is not just for identifying hindering behavior. It is a useful tool for highlighting behaviors that help make the team more effective. Whenever someone says “I observed someone keeping track of the time and it helped.” you will see more people volunteering to perform that function. It is a form of group recognition. Helping behaviors will increase. With this increase in helping behaviors and a decrease in hindering behaviors, you can expect your team meetings to be more productive.  Here is how you can do a Group Process Feedback:

  1. Announce you will be using a tool for team effectiveness you learned from Running with the Big Dogz; this process will take 5 minutes.
  2. Announce you will ask each person to identify specific actions or behaviors they observed that either helped or hindered the team. No names permitted; just the action and whether it helped or hindered.
  3. During the last 5 minutes of your meeting, give them 2 minutes to write down actions they observed during the meeting. This is done independently.
  4. When the 2 minutes are up, stop them and ask them to share their observations using the construct “I observed someone action and it (helped or hindered).” There is no discussion about the statement made. Others may say “Check” if they had the same behavior. They are observations about behaviors. Limit the making of observations to 3 minutes. This way you will get the most important behaviors since each person may get to make only one or two observations. Each person compiles a list of all the actions that were stated.
  5. Ask each person to bring their list of the results to the next meeting.
  6. At the beginning of the next meeting, ask people to take out the list of actions from the last meeting. Spend 30 seconds silently reviewing the list — no discussion. You may want to have a copy for each person since people may forget their lists.
  7. Repeat this process every meeting until you see a significant change in effectiveness. Then you can use Group Process Feedback whenever there is a change in effectiveness.

 A key to the success of using Group Process Feedback is that the feedback is about the behavior, not the person. As the leader of the team, you are responsible to ensure that this feedback stays focused on the behavior. Group Process feedback is a powerful tool used by the Big Dogz to facilitate productive team meetings. Experiment with Group Process Feedback and see if it doesn’t improve your team dynamics.

Selling Like Harry and David September 13, 2007

Posted by David Dirks in Sales Copy that Sells, Small Business Advertising.
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dirksphoto.jpgA few posts back I was talking about using Ebay for selling excess inventory and doing that on a regular basis to improve cashflow.  Writing good copy for an ad, brochure, flyer, catalog, etc. is a combination of art and science.  If you want a good series of lessons (because we know that good copywriting can be learned), you needn’t go much farther than your mailbox.

Everyday, you receive mail offers to buy something.  Direct mail pieces galore bulge from your mailbox all the time.  Some of the best examples of highly effective copywriting are in some of the catalogs you get for free.

Take the Harry and David catalog.  Here’s how they describe one item:

Grand Fruit Basket

Demonstrate your flair for the fabulous. (We make it easy and fun!)

The day turns festive when this gorgeous basket arrives.  The deep, rich luster of this dark, stitched willow basket is attractive and immensely appealing.  We fill it with our famous Pears and Apples, three Cheeses, Fruit Preserves, Mixed Nuts and Mint Chocolates.  Fact:  It’s America’s best basket value, easy  to send and a real joy to receive. 

As you read the copy for other items, you’ll see that they don’t say the same things.  They creatively and tastefully weave a mental picture of what you are seeing…better than the picture of the product itself!  Now that’s great copy.

Of course, the copy that Harry and David provide in the catalog is matched to the type of product (food gift baskets).  If you sell automotive parts, or service heavy equipment, or provide financial consulting services, you need to use desciptors that are tuned to your business and customers.

Outside of hiring a good copywriter (which I would encourage if you can do it), make sure you write copy that does justice to your product or service offerings.  The Big Dogz, like Harry and David, know how to make it work to the tune of millions of dollars of sales volume.

Trust me, your local competition is not paying attention to the copy they write.  I see what they write in their ads, brochures, and…well, it hurts my eyes to read it.  It’s just another marketing and sales edge.

Bring Your Expertise to Expert Village September 12, 2007

Posted by David Dirks in Buzz Marketing: Lowest Cost/Highest Payoff, Sales Tactics, Small Business Advertising.
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How can I expand my business brand and showcase my expertise to the world for little expense?

A great question which deserves a solid answer. ExpertVillage (www.expertvillage.com) is one way you might consider doing it if you have a little time and some filmmaking ability (or know someone who does!). With the cost of higher quality video cameras coming down rapidly and software like Apple’s Final Cut Express, you can do this.

First, let’s talk about ExpertVillage. If you go onto the site, you’ll immediately see what it’s all about: an online warehouse full of ‘how-to’ video footage on almost any topic you can think of (with some notable exceptions like no ‘adult’ stuff or that distasteful slapstick you find on YouTube). They provide you with a written package of production guidelines that will keep you on track.

expertvillage.jpgAnyone with a decent video camera, basic sound equipment, and some inexpensive and easy to use software (like Final Cut Express) can record, edit and showcase their talent via ExpertVillage.

Did I mention that ExpertVillage pays you for your efforts too? Yes, it’s true. After you shoot and edit your ‘how-to’ project for them, and if they accept it (they do have basic standards you know), ExpertVillage posts your footage on their site. They own the footage and you get to share with the world your knowledge.

If you don’t see a topic that covers your expertise, you can suggest the topic to them and they might just offer it.

When you sign up, take the site tutorial to learn how this all works. ExpertVillage makes it’s money when it matches up your topic with potential advertisers. It’s a great idea.

The key point is that you can get additional (and very valuable) online media exposure and get paid for it at the same time. They post your bio on the site and will list your business website as well. After you completed one, you could send out a press release to all of your local media, noting that ExpertVillage has now made your expertise available for all to see online. It’s a great thing.

Just take a minute and find a topic and you’ll see some very astute small business folks who understand how to make this work for them. And they pay YOU for the effort! Only in America.