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Public speaking basics October 26, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Confidence.
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p5130012.jpg Public speaking means speaking in front of groups — small, medium and large sizes. Most first line managers will need to speak effectively in front of small groups; usually 5-20 people. Even with a group this small, there can be intense fear and nervousness. The Big Dogz know how to overcome the fear of public speaking. They use a two-step process; prepare and practice with feedback.


Here are some tips to help you prepare:

  1. Know your audience. What do they know about your topic? What do they need to know? Be careful that you do not make assumptions about what they need to know.
  2. Determine your approach. Is this presentation to inform, persuade, or maybe to deliver some news that is not welcome?
  3. Generate content. What do you know about the subject? What do they want to know? What are the facts? What is opinion?
  4.  Organize the content so that it flows naturally for the audience. You may want to build your case logically or you may want to generate excitement that results in a commitment to your objective. It is an effective technique to draw the flow on paper or use software to portray the flow. Run through the flow several times to make sure it accomplishes your objective.
  5. Using examples and models to illustrate your key points helps the listener understand your presentation.
  6. Select the presentation medium you will use. Some choices are:
    1. PowerPoint
    2. Flip charts
    3. White board
    4. Prepared handouts
    5. Just you, talking.
  7. Create the material you will use to help you make your presentation. Follow established content guideline relative to the information displayed.


Now you have a presentation. It is time to practice. Those of you who have read my entries before know that I am a firm believer that practice makes permanent, feedback makes perfect. The most effective way to practice is to arrange a feedback session with a trusted colleague. Ask them to focus on how you can make your presentation more effective. Keep practicing until you are confident it will work.


If you are not able to arrange for a colleague to provide feedback, do it yourself. Self-feedback in front of a mirror is one of the most effective techniques for improving your presentation. You can see how others will see you. This technique has saved me many times. If this is an especially important presentation and you have a video recorder, then by all means use the technology to help you become more effective.


Practice your presentation until you are comfortable.


There is always a sense of nervousness at the beginning of a presentation. Standing in front of a group, knowing what you will say, how you will say it and when you will punctuate your talk with examples will fill you with confidence.  As you connect with the audience and see the signs they are engaged with you, your fears will diminish.


The Big Dogz know that taking the time to prepare and the time to practice with feedback are the keys to being successful in front of groups. Before that next presentation, take a little time to prepare and get some feedback driven practice. I am positive you will get results that are more effective.


Send me an email at rbronder@gmail.com to let me know how your presentation was a success!

Driving Retail Sales: Layaway Plans October 23, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Building Foot Traffic, Recession: How to Beat It!, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Strategy/Tactics, Sales Tactics.
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It seems like a hundred years ago but there was a time when credit cards were not the ‘cash’ of the day.  When your or my mother wanted to buy something that was an larger purchase than usual, they did it on the layaway plan.  Layaway?  I’m sure if you ask some high school or college students what a layaway plan is you’d get some blank stares.  Better yet, try finding a retailer who bothers with offering a layaway plan.  Therein lies your opportunity.

In the economic climate we’re in now, people are rethinking how they make purchases.  You can help by offering a layaway plan (assuming you don’t already have one!) to your customers.  You simply allow them to make an initial deposit on the total purchase and then weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly ‘payments’ in cash until the merchandise is paid.  No interest and you can determine the standard amount that is needed to start the plan…say 20% of the total purchase price.  Then you can determine just how long you’ll stretch the payment.  Maybe you stretch it from as little as 3 months to 6 months and let your customer choose which payment plan they want. Once the plan is paid in full, they get the merchandise.

The layaway plan is great for larger purchases, especially those made before the holidays kick in.  Considering how few retailers actually offer layaway plans, this is an opportunity to promote and give customers and prospects a chance to make purchases that won’t put them on the plastic.

This is a great way to help you sell in a season were people are wondering how they can afford to buy.  It’s also a great way to differentiate yourself from your competition who doesn’t want the ‘bother’ of offering a layaway plan.

Driving Retail Sales: Groo’s Shoes October 22, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Building Foot Traffic, Local Brand Development, Marketing Buzz, Recession: How to Beat It!, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Strategy/Tactics, Small Business Advertising.
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If you read this blog long enough, you’ll get the hint that creating a growing and profitable business comes down to creating a business that can differentiate itself from the competition.  If I had one key word to describe the process of marketing and selling, ‘differentiate’ would be all the word I’d need.  The Big Dogz know how imperative it is to keep creating and refining the ways you can differentiate your business from the crowd.  The only crowd you want is the one that will beat a path to your door.

I make it a habit to scan my local paper, The Times Herald-Record (www.recordonline.com) to see what kinds of advertising creative and marketing campaigns are out there.  Just today, I found a local shoe retailer who’s been in the business for many, many years with their latest ad.  When I saw it, I immediately said to myself, “That’s the kind of event that helps to position a local store like Groo’s Shoes in a different light with its customers.”  And create new ones.

Like many local hometown stores, Groo’s has to compete successfully against giants like Kohl’s and Target.  Groo’s probably knows that it cannot compete soley on price against the giant chains.  What the ad below shows is clearly an effort to create the kind of shopping experience that you can’t find in the big boxes.

Groo's Creates an unique event designed to attract female shoppers

Groo's creates a unique event designed to pull the female shoppers in!

So here is a local store that gets it.  As I scanned the pages of the newspaper, this ad just naturally popped out.  It was located in a sea of similar sized ads but stood out and looks to be a great event that might just create traffic to their store.  The point is, they are making the right effort to create differentiation in a tough retail market.

While that is all good, there are a few things missing here.  The website doesn’t promote the event!  To get the most mileage from your advertising, you’ve got to integrate all of your marketing together.  Your ads promote not only the event, but should push customers and prospects to the website for more information.  Maybe a special offer only available on the website but connected to the “Girl’s Night Out” would have been a great way to leverage the marketing tools that Groo’s already has available.

Other than that, this is a classic example of creating unique events to drive store traffic.  The enticement of free High School Musical 3 movie tickets is a great tie-in.  If they keep on track and continue to create events like these (not like the usual ‘sales days’ crap you see most often), they will continue to build their local brand.  Good stuff.

Free resources!! October 17, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Achieving goals, Bronder On People, business strategy, Changing behavior, Coaching, Increasing Your Profitability, Management, Performance issues.
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Thought that might get your attention! The Big Dogz know how to get additional resources for free. They do it by focusing on the resources they already have. Most people in the workplace are doing the best they can. They are giving you their concentration and commitment to producing at a high level. Sometimes it is the work that gets in the way of the work getting done. Here is how to get more for less in your team.


Convene a meeting with your team members and tell them you want them to answer two questions for you.


  1. What can we do to be more efficient?
  2. What can we do to be more effective?


Notice that the question is “What can we do..”, not “What can be done…”. This is an important distinction. The Big Dogz know that if you ask the latter, you will get suggestions on what others could do. The focus is on us, and what is in our control.


Let me define efficient and effective. I borrow the distinction from Tom Peters in his book, In Search of Excellence.


Efficient — doing things right

Effective — doing the right things


So you ask your people to focus on those two questions and then you leave the meeting. Tell them you will return in 45 minutes to review their suggestions. I can hear some of you saying, “Yeah, right, they will have nothing to say!’ Well, you are probably right. The first time you ask them to do this activity; they will usually produce nothing. They provided suggestions in the past. And, they have been ignored! It is no wonder that they will be reluctant to give you ideas.


Thank them for their time and concentration. Schedule another meeting within 30 days to address the same two questions. This will get them to thinking you are serious about being more efficient and effective. Keep having the meetings until they actually come up with a suggestion. Now do your secret management stuff and get that thing done! If you don’t, you can save time by not having these meetings once a month!


The people who know how to be more efficient and more effective are the people who do the work. Too often managers come up with brainstorm ideas of their own on how the department can be more efficient or effective. Most of the time these ideas could work. People like to have their own ideas. They are more likely to implement a suggestion they came up with rather than one you came up with.


The Big Dogz know that patience pays off. Keep asking your people how to do more with less and they will respond. If you have five people and they improve productivity by 20%, you have gotten another full person for free!


So, now in the next 30 days, you schedule a productivity improvement meeting with your folks. Send me an email at rbronder@gmail.com.  I want to know how it works for you.



Recession Sales Strategy -1 October 16, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Recession: How to Beat It!, Sales Strategy/Tactics.
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This posting might be titled ‘Recession Sales Strategy’ in order to get your attention but it’s really about the fundamentals of sales strategy.  Regardless of the economy, the fundamentals never change.  The Big Dogz who make it through years, if not decades of up and down markets are always focusing on the fundamentals.  It’s when they take their eye off of ball that they get into trouble.

Let’s start this posting series with some fundamental questions that you should be asking yourself right now (and on a consistent basis thereafter!).  We’ll explore & discuss each of these fundamental questions in future postings.  Please feel free to add your own comments as well!!

  • What is our sales strategy?  What did it start as?  Where is it now? A good economy can mask many mistakes.  When the profits are good, it’s very easy to miss or overlook a sales strategy that has flaws.  When the economy goes south, along with sales, all the warts start to show.  Or, maybe our sales strategy doesn’t really exist at all?  It’s possible.  You’d be surprised at how many businesses have only a tactical perspective of their sales process.  They can hire people, show them the ropes, create an incentive plan, and shove them out the door.  Then they wonder why their sales are in the tank or heading quickly into the tank!  A sales strategy should clearly speak to 1) what the directional themes are for achieving both market and sales goals; 2) the values that are embedded into the overall sales process; 3) the key  measurements that will always be used to determine performance.
  • Are our sales tactics in line with our sales strategy? Tactics are those pieces of execution that are conducted on a daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly basis in order to further the sales strategy.  If you want to meet your established sales and revenue goals, both sales strategy and tactics have to be aligned.  Where there is no alignment you find a dead end.
  • Do we have the right people? Another potential danger area is hiring people who cannot further your sales strategy.  If you have a clear sales strategy and a well-defined sales tactical plan, it’s much easier to determine the skills and experiences that your optimal sales hires will need to perform at the standards you need.
  • Are we measuring the right sales data? Measuring performance is not as easy as it looks.  The question really is: what metrics are the ones that are key to focusing and motivating our sales force, keep us on strategy, and making our sales and revenue goals?  Measuring sales performance is more than creating monthly unit & revenue goals.  The metrics used to measure a relationship-based sales process will be different than one that is transactionally-based.  Sales performance measurement goes beyond just sales compensation.  To do this right, you need to peel back every layer of the sales process and determine if there are opportunities to create metrics that help sales teams understand what they really have to do to be successful.
  • Is our sales compensation plan aligned and integrated into the entire sales structure? Is there a way for sales teams to ‘game’ the incentive plan you now have?  Much has been written (yawn) about designing sales compensation plans.  To be entirely integrated into your sales, revenue, and profitability goals, sales compensation plans need to provide a strong incentive for higher performance against the key metrics that drive sales, revenues, and profits.
  • Are we managing our sales talent for optimal impact?  What are we doing to insure we have the best trained and prepared sales force in the field EVERY DAY? Sales management consists of insuring that we hire the people that best match our sales strategy and process.  It means insuring we provide our sales talent with all the tools that are specifically designed to support key performance metrics.

So much to do and so little time to do it in.  The process of beating back a recession starts with asking these key questions.  There are more questions, but these are the ones that count the most right now.  More on this in upcoming posts.  Stay tuned.

Developing managers October 10, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Coaching, Management.
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p5130012.jpg All organizations need managers. The Big Dogz know that having effective managers is no magic act; it takes effort to spot and develop managers that will lead your organization. Three levels of management need to be identified and developed. The three levels are first level, middle and executive management. Here is a look at an approach to spot and develop these managers.


Potential first level manager


What to look for:

1.      Ability to manage themselves

2.      Strong analytical skills related to problem solving

3.      Ability to learn and teach others

4.      Motivation to become a leader

5.      Concern for others

6.      Self awareness


How to develop:

1.      Give them team leader assignments to accomplish a goal without giving them authority. If they can get this done, then you can give them position power.

2.      Have them chair a task force to investigate a business opportunity within your area of responsibility.

3.      Provide them a person to mentor. Set specific learning objectives for the mentee to validate that the candidate can teach others.

4.      Ask them to provide feedback on their own performance. Pay attention to insure that they give you balanced, honest feedback. Watch to see if they apply the lessons learned.

5.      Ask their opinion about a key organizational issue. How would they handle it? Ask them to justify their answers.


Potential middle manager


What to look for:

  1. Demonstrated management skill, not just talent
  2. Demonstrated leadership
  3. Strong problem solving
  4. Effective decision maker
  5. Thinks strategically
  6. Results that are above average
  7. Has built strong networks
  8. Enjoys working through others
  9. Motivated to advance


How to develop:

  1. Provide training on higher-level management functions like budgeting, strategic planning, forecasting etc.
  2. Give them assignments that push skill limits
  3. Chair a task force that addresses a broad business issue
  4. Get them in front of higher management to present their team’s results
  5. Have them sponsor a cross functional team
  6. Let them manage your budget
  7. Let them represent you on a major project
  8. Delegate one of your major responsibilities
  9. Involve them in your decision making process


Potential executive manager


What to look for:

  1. Constructively challenges how we do business
  2. Understands the business, not just their area
  3. Makes an effort to be informed
  4. Articulates a vision and strategy
  5. Volunteers to work across business units
  6. Focuses on results
  7. Bases decisions on data
  8. Surrounds themselves with competent people


How to develop:

  1. Fund or encourage formal education, especially elements of an MBA
  2. Sponsor attendance at executive level conferences
  3. Have them present a business problem with alternative solutions and a recommendation to the executive committee
  4. Point out cross business unit opportunities
  5. Get them an executive level mentor
  6. Encourage them to join outside associations
  7. Give them an assignment to represent the company in the community
  8. Have them participate in a public speaking program


The Big Dogz know that these ideas are just the beginning. You will need to be proactive in seeking out development opportunities. Once you start to focus on finding development activities, you will see that it gets easier. The key is to find opportunities that will help the person grow while helping your business grow.


Take a few minutes right now and identify people who you can help move into management.

Supporting strategic plans October 3, 2008

Posted by rickbron in business strategy, Management.
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p5130012.jpg Want to show that you are a team player? The Big Dogz know that supporting your manager’s strategic plan is one of the ways you can be perceived as a key resource on the management team.  Here is how they do it.


Find out the elements of the strategic plan. Too often, the details of the strategic plan are shared only at the senior manager level. It is not that these managers want to keep the plan secret; they do not want to burden others with too much information. So, if you want to run with the Big Dogz, then you must do some research. Getting a copy of the strategic plan is usually as simple as just asking for it. If the plan is not documented, then you may have to do some interviewing with your manager to find out the focus of the strategic plan. However you do it, find out what direction the senior management team wants to take your organization.


Once you have the plan, review your department goals. Are they aligned with the strategic goals? Are there other contributions your group can make to help accomplish the strategy? If you find that your group does not support the strategy, initiate a discussion with your manager on how your group can contribute.  Working with your manager, establish a clear set of goals that support the strategy. Next, prioritize those goals.


Look at how you can accomplish your aligned goals with the resources in your group.  Write the goal using the SMART model. That is — Specific result, Measureable, Aligned, Realistic and Time based. Assign goals to specific people or groups of people. Ask them to create action plans that will deliver the results you have articulated. Use effective project management techniques to ensure the success of your goals.


If you need additional resources outside your control, identify how you will get those resources. Do not assume that because you need input from another group that it will be in their plan. Make sure all external dependencies are aligned with your plans. You may need to enlist the help of your manager to get this task accomplished.


Taking the time to align your team goals with the strategic goals will pay huge dividends to you in the long run. The Big Dogz know that supporting strategic goals is an important element in getting the resources you and your people need to be successful.


Over the next thirty days, look at your department’s goals and verify they are aligned with the senior manager strategy. If they are not, take action to get your goals aligned.


Social Media & Networking for Business: Podcast October 2, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Big Dogz Podcasts.
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What is this thing called ‘social media’ and ‘social networking’?  How do they relate to business?  How can they help your business grow and remain competitive?  In this , we asked Catherine Brown from Dotster.com to walk us through it all.  Dotster.com is one of the leading internet hosting, web, and domain management firms in the world, so no better place to start than there.

Social Media for Business

Beating a Recession – 5 October 1, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Recession: How to Beat It!.
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Every person who owns and/or runs a small business should take a marketing/public relations course.  Why?  Quite frankly, most just can’t or don’t take advantage of a multitude of marketing pr opportunities to help promote and grow their businesses.

Let me pick on one group in particular here:  Sport shops.  You know, the kind that sell fishing supplies, hunting rifles, ammo, and other outdoor equipment you need.  Most are the first to complain about how the ‘big box’ shops have hurt their business, blah, blah.  Or they complain about the economy or how state regulations have hurt their business and on and on.  It’s enough to make your ears bleed.

You know what the truth is ?  They don’t do anything to really promote their shops.  They don’t hold any educational seminars at the shop or elsewhere.  They don’t create public events that would promote their shop and drive traffic.  They just sit there waiting for the angler or hunter to drive up and hopefully buy something.  If they do hold public events, they fail to tell anyone.  It’s quite pathetic.

What the ‘big boxes’ have learned to do is to create events that educate and draw the public into the store.  They hold a multitude of educational seminars and bring in expert speakers to do so.  The ‘big boxes’ know the value of marketing public relations events.  They seek to create something so that not a week goes by that there isn’t something going on that appeals to one outdoor group or another.

How do I know these small sport shops, which are scattered all around the landscape of this great country, stink at creating these kinds of opportunities?  Well, I write an weekly outdoor column (I turned a hobby into a business and another marketing opportunity!) and I can count on my hands how many times I’ve been approached by a shop with an idea.  Or how many times I’ve received a press release or flyer from a local sports shop.  How many times?  I only need one finger on one hand to count them and I’ve been writing this column since 1999.

Let me give you an example.  Not long ago, a gun shop changed hands with a new owner.  I only knew that because one day I noticed the sign had changed from “Bob’s Gun Exchange” to “Rix Gun Exchange”.   Bob decided to retire and sell the business which he had run for many years.  Now, here I am, the outdoor writer of a weekly outdoor column…do you think the new owner would reach out and let me know that he’s the new owner?  Nope.  Not a call or an email.  Like duh (as my teenagers will say)?  How can you be in an outdoor sports business…selling guns in this case…and not call or email the outdoor writer?  How about telling the outdoor writer you are hosting an event?  I don’t know if he has hosted an event.  I just don’t get it.  Are they waiting for me to come into the store?  I doubt it.  Perhaps business is so good that they don’t need any promotion.  Possible.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that I haven’t heard from them since they took over two years ago.  Like duh.

The ‘big box’ stores send me updates on events they are hosting every month.  Those get into my column each week.

I don’t mean to pick on sports shops only.  You could substitute just about any other small business and still make the same point.  If you’re in business, who should you be talking to that can help promote your business?  What kinds of events can your create every month to promote your business?  Don’t just sit there, do something!!!!


PS:  My outdoor column is published weekly in the Times Herald-Record or you can view it online at http://www.recordonline.com and go to the Sports section and find me there.