What Gardening Teaches Us About Success

LisaGardener

1. Pulling weeds.  A weed has a stronger and more tenacious root than any plant I intended on being there. If ignored they take over.  Be careful not to let negative thoughts enter your fertile mind. Sometimes those weeds are negative people in your life.  Be careful. They will squelch ideas. Create self-doubt. Strangle your optimism.

2. Reap what you sow. Before the fruits of your labor can be enjoyed, much hard work must precede it.  Last spring I skipped the annoying and backbreaking step of tilling the soil to plant my vegetable garden.  My shovel could barely break the surface to plant my seeds.  Because I didn’t take that extra time and put in the work, my plants lacked room to grow and nutrients necessary for delicious fruit.  In much the same way, many calls must be made to enjoy the reward of a face-to-face meeting with the client.  That meeting may not lead to a sale, just as, despite my best efforts, many seedlings wither and die. But sure enough if I do enough of the hard work I'll have a bounty to enjoy.

3. Don't procrastinate.  I peer out my window on a sunny morning and think I really ought to get out there and feed those chickens now...ah, I'll do it after work.  After work, an unexpected thunderstorm hits and I'm running to the chicken coop drenched in chilly rain trudging through mud and muck.

4. Victory is sweet.  Pluck a tomato straight from the vine. Take a juicy bite. Savor a crisp cucumber the day it's harvested.  Crack a farm fresh egg for breakfast. Share a slice of fresh baked zucchini bread straight from the oven.  Snip a few fresh mint leaves for an icy cool refreshing Mojito. Somehow my harvest tastes better than anything store bought.  Those easy wins in my professional life aren't nearly as fulfilling as the ones that required blood sweat and tears before victory was finally realized.  Failures and setbacks are merely temporary states.  Remember, into every garden a little rain must fall.

This little backyard garden somehow brings me great joy. It doesn't feel like work. It's relaxing, dare I say, even therapeutic. I know the payoff is worth it.  I haven't gone so far as to talking to my plants.  But, hey, a little positive self-talk in life can't hurt anyone.

 “The mind is what the mind is fed.” –David J. Schwartz, The Magic of Thinking Big.

Contributed by Heather Craaybeek.

Heather

By Golly George! Who Built That Fence For You?!

 

My favorite clients all say, "We grow mainly by word-of-mouth."

Excellent!  That must mean you do your job well. You deliver on promises made. And best of all, your customers like you!  A word of warning however -- word of mouth is not what it once was.  Gone are the neighborly over-the-fence chats of the 1950’s.  Families don't set roots in small hometowns for generations like they once did. College, career changes and snowbird retirements are spreading families out across the nation.  Clientele age and naturally drop out of your prospect pool.

Don't count on referrals as the only source for qualified leads or risk losing the lifeblood of your business.

Good news!  You can capitalize on your strong word-of-mouth and satisfied clients by turning them into a direct mail advertising message that works.

We have proven formula to help you achieve remarkable results.  The success of your direct mail campaign will be influenced by three things: the list, the offer, and the design.

 The List

Be laser focused and target prospects who look and act like your clients.  What makes referrals great is that people generally befriend folks who are similar to them. Their sameness makes your job of closing the lead that much easier.  Understand your customer and mail to those just like them.  You need consumers who are able, ready and willing to buy. One of the most desirable demographics today is the mass affluent, the 21% of homes that are responsible for 60% of spending. They are the 98% of homeowners that are twice as likely to buy, and when they do, spend 3.2 times more.**

 The Offer

What offer can you make the conveys real value to the reader? We often get asked “How much should my offer be worth?”  We advise: Without giving away the house, what is the most unbelievable offer you can make?  If your ideal customer received your postcard today, what offer would motivate them to take action today?  Remember the stronger the offer, the greater the response.  What is trending in your industry now?  Can you entice the reader with that?   Follow the lead of marketing giants and use BOGO (buy one, get one) deals or percent off sales or cash back offers.  By now, everyone recognizes the trademark blue and white Bed Bath & Beyond 20% off direct mail offer.  Consumers want to feel like they are special and getting a deal.

 The Design 

While the artwork is important, the headline and message are more critical.  What can you tell me that will captivate my attention immediately?  What problem can you solve? According to John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing, "Tell stories. People love stories. Often even complicated ideas can be made simple through the use of a story. Talk about how your clients use your products or services."  Avoid platitudes and generalizations like ..."World's best cabinets" or "Quality service, affordable prices." Boring!

287 is the average number of meaningful branding and advertising messages seen daily. People are tired and bored of the everyday, the mundane, and the expected. If your message doesn't resonate or impinge with the consumer, will they even notice it?*

This simple three-step formula can begin to fill your marketing funnel with new and interested prospects.  Once you turn your new leads into clients don't forget to keep your referral train rolling. Make asking for them a part of your selling process.  Jantsch shares "One of the best ways to leverage the power of referral marketing is to make the providing of referrals an expectation of every client relationship."

Still concerned about your message? Download the free white paper: 8 critical mistakes to avoid when marketing your product or service.

Contributed by Heather Craaybeek.

Heather

 

 

 

 

 

 

*source: Jay Walker-Smith, president of the Marketing Firm Yankelovuch

**source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey

Perspective from “the New Guy”

new guy

Being a recent graduate of Centerville High School has been an accomplishment and success.  I decided that I wanted to pursue a degree in marketing at The University of Cincinnati.  I felt that the co-op program at Cincinnati offered me the best chance for success in the “real world.”  Having completed my freshman year at The University of Cincinnati, I feel as if I learned a good amount of information about not only marketing, but business in general.

I have just recently started working at RSVP this summer.  Working at RSVP will be a great opportunity to contribute to this business, develop practical real-world experience, further myself in my long-term job search and enhance my resume this summer.  It has been my first real job in the career path that I have chosen.  As I started working at RSVP, I felt as if I needed to prove myself to my fellow employees and demonstrate that just because I am the boss’ son, I can “bust it” and earn their respect in the office.  I have started working part-time, with my first of several assignments being converting hundreds of businesses paper files to our new paperless database.

While I am converting files, I feel that being the new intern with a fresh set of eyes in the business, I can offer new ideas to the company, and more efficient ways to do daily tasks.  Even though I lack experience in the workplace, I feel that I can make up for it in creative and new ideas, and energy and passion for life.

Being “the new guy” allows me to be in a position where I can challenge and inspire myself and others to excel, while simultaneously generating new ideas and process improvements for the RSVP business.  That is a perspective that I have now, and hope to maintain throughout my career.

Contributed by:
Anthony J. Sucato
University of Cincinnati
Carl H. Lindner College of Business

 

AnthonyWeb

Being Responsible When It’s Not Your Responsibility

Responsibility

 

Recently a client shared a story with me. They had ran an ad with another company and the other company accidentally inverted some digits in their phone number. The client signed off on the proof without realizing it. They didn't think it was something they needed to worry about because they had ran the ad before. When the mistake was discovered later the company told my client they weren't liable because the client approved the ad.

While that is technically right, it is also so wrong.

Clients should feel that their vendors are looking out for them, proactively working to not make mistakes and fixing any if they do. They need to feel their vendors have their backs.

Before we run an ad for a client we check every single phone number and website, every single time we run the ad for them, even if it is the same ad we have always run for them. Some might ask “why would you waste your time doing that when your clients have already approved their ads?” We don’t view it as a waste of time. We are in business to help our clients grow. We help do that by looking out for them, even though we don’t technically need to. We’re responsible when we don’t need to be because it’s the best thing to do for our client and because it’s right thing to do.

 

Contributed by Jodie Hook.

Jodie

More is not better, but too little is worse!

A Lesson from Goldilocks and the Three Bears…

GL&3Bears

As I have talked to business owners over the last 14 years who have adopted a do-it-yourself mentality to marketing their business, I have often heard, "My mailing campaign didn't work!"  What I often find from them is that they have done their own mailing campaign of 100 or 200 mailers of some type, to a list of prospective homeowners that they've narrowly targeted, based on the direction of a friend, family member, or "marketing expert" at their networking group.  They're surprised that they get no response, or one or two lukewarm prospects.

The reality is that zero, one or two responses from a mailing of say 200 homeowners, is not actually bad at all, it’s just not enough.  How does that make any sense?  In fact it's quite excellent for a cold campaign at 1% response rate.  The problem is expectations.  One or two lead calls for a home improvement company is not enough to keep a sales staff gainfully employed, and cash flow healthy.  10 or 20 leads would be more like it - right?  50 qualified leads even better!

Most direct response fails I believe, because business owners find the least expensive Cost per Thousand Impressions (CPM) advertising vehicles and blast their message out to mailboxes attached to dwellings of all types.  The result is lots of "activity" and a disproportionately low level of sales for the activity expended.

Worse yet, with all the sophisticated demographic, psychographic, and geographic targeting techniques – some businesses take the extreme opposite approach by disqualifying too many good prospects and focusing too narrowly on a list that has no chance of being successful, based on too many assumptions.

Well what if there was a way to target your entire population of qualified and select prospective homeowners (The Mass Affluent) and received full service marketing consulting and design based on years of experience and proven track record… and laser-focus that message into the home for one-tenth the cost of a postage stamp?

What I have found is that if we mail 1000 times the circulation of the earlier example, at one-tenth the cost, but mail that to the Mass Affluent Homeowners, we get the desired result our business owners are looking for.  They get qualified leads, enough to be impressed, that close at a high percentage, and have a strong ticket average.  The result is a strong Return on Investment (ROI) for the advertiser, with laser-focused effort, and a fraction of the sales staff!

More is not better, but too little is worse!

 

Contributed by Anthony R. Sucato,

Retired Engineer

President RSVP Publications of Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio

“Direct Marketing to the Affluent”

Tony

Sales People: Learn More About Your Product Than Your Company Taught You

WD-40

When you were being educated about the value and benefits of the product that you would be selling, did you learn everything there is to know about the product?  Most likely, no.  It’s not that your company withheld information about your product, it’s just that even they probably don’t know all of the uses, benefits, or value of their own product.  So how do you find out this information?  Ask your customers.

Your customers can tell you things about your product (good and bad) that will help you in the sales process and make you more prepared to overcome the challenges of selling your product.  But you have to ask them.  They’re not likely to volunteer this information just because you sell the product, but they would be happy to share their experiences with you.  It gives them a feeling of authority with your brand.

Here’s an example:  WD-40 was developed as a lubricant (water displacement) for machinery parts.  It solved a common problem for many industries.  It was later revealed  in Reader’s Digest that there are many additional uses for WD-40 beyond lubrication.   Their customers were the ones that figured out these uses, most likely out of necessity to solve unforeseen problems, and applied WD-40 to solve the issue.  One of those uses was for roach extermination.  I highly doubt that the inventors of WD-40 knew, or invented WD-40 with roach extermination in mind.  But, they never would have known this without the feedback from their customers.

What can your product do that you’re not aware of?  You don’t have to brainstorm new solutions for your product to solve, just ask your customers.  Use the feedback provided by your customers in your discussions with new prospects.  You’ll find that it will make those prospects more engaged and receptive to your product helping solve their issues too.  It’s worked for me.

Actively ask your customers how they use your product and you might be surprised what they tell you.   The other thing that might surprise you is that you might get invited to lunch with the CEO more often, too.

Contributed by Jeff Vice.

Jeff

Thoughts from a graphic designer….

WhatTheFont

 

What is a font?

A font is the collection of characters.

 

What is a typeface?

The design for a set of characters.

 

A typeface is not font. A font is not a typeface.

 

Confused yet?

 

The term font is often used as a synonym for typefaces, which is not technically correct. For most people who are not in the design world, they only think of about fonts when choosing one in Microsoft Word. The two terms frequently cause some confusion to those unfamiliar with the difference.

 

Typeface = a type family’s design

Think of a typeface as a set of characters of the same design. A typeface is the ‘design’ of the design of the alphabet, the shape of the letters that make up the typestyle. Typefaces describe the overall look of the characters.

 

Font = one member of a type family

A font, on the other hand, is traditionally defined as a complete character set within a typeface, often of a particular size and style. Fonts are also specific computer files that contain all the characters and glyphs within a typeface.

 

A typeface is like a jukebox while font is the tunes inside.

 

ITC Bodoni

 

Contributed by Caitlin Tuohy.
Caitlin

Goal Setting for Home, Life & Work

What impact can goal setting have on your business and your life this year?

A year ago we tasked our staff with not only setting business goals but also share something at our first staff meeting of the year that they're shooting for in their personal life.  We followed the SMART formula:  SMARTgoals

The goals were varied - some focused on weight loss, financial success, household projects, getting your first place, and even making and honoring time commitments with family. The experience of sharing weekly updates on progress has been eye-opening.  To speak that goal out loud each week and be accountable to taking one step closer to that goal led many to accomplishing their mission.

For 2014 we introduced our “personal best boards.”  It’s a simple two-sided acrylic picture frame.  On the front are our business benchmarks and stretch goals.  On the back is visual representation of our individual goals – usually a collage of related or motivational pictures.

I'm so proud on the progress of our team!!! Just four months into the year many have accomplished their first goal and had to create a new goal for 2014.  We have a fitter, happier success focused staff.  They encourage and praise one another, and even look for opportunities to help them accomplish their personal goals.

"If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes." --Andrew Carnegie

Experts will tell you to speak your goal out loud like a mantra.  Visualize yourself completing your goal and how you will feel.  Walking a mile begins with putting 1 foot in front of the other…

Reaching the goal is a combination of small but important steps.  Be honest with yourself.  Are your goals written down? Are they just dreams or do they have deadlines? What actions are you taking today to make this your best year yet?

Contributed by Heather Craaybeek.

Heather

March Madness in the Workplace

 

Teamwork is one of the most underrated skills in the business world. If you have a staff where everyone plays a specific role without jealousy or spite, your business is much more likely to be successful.

The importance of teamwork came to the front of my mind recently as I watched our hometown Dayton Flyers make a Cinderella run to Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament. Dayton, an 11 seed from a mid-major conference, utilized excellent teamwork to upset more talented teams like Ohio State and Syracuse.

It was clear to me that everyone on that team had accepted his role in order to achieve amazing team goals. This can be easily translated to the business world.

If everyone from your administrative staff to your CEO have the same team goals in mind, your business is more likely to be a success. Selflessness is required to be a good team member. Do your job, no matter the level of the corporate ladder, and it will pay off tenfold.

T.E.A.M. = Together Each Achieves More

For a funny demonstration of teamwork, I encourage you to see the video below:

Mirror Neurons, Glossophobia and A Thousand Paper Cuts

Spotlight

You are standing up on a stage bathed in the blue-white light of a spotlight. You know there is a crowd before you, but you can’t see past the very stage you stand on. Tremors buzz through your chest that turn your stomach into a hollow knot. The feeling works its way to your limbs as your heart begins to race and your mouth goes dry. You try not to breathe too hard, but surely they can see you practically panting up here. Your hands begin to tremble as you take hold of the microphone. You begin your speech, praying that this time your voice doesn't shake.

Good grief – I’m stressed out just reading that. Glossophobia: the fear of public speaking. 74% of Americans in 2013 suffered from speech anxiety. Interestingly, the feelings we create for ourselves in public speech situations do not really change even when presented with a similar smaller-scale situation. I recently spoke with a friend who said she panics when speaking in front of a handful of her colleagues at regular meetings. It doesn’t matter if we’re standing up to give a presentation in front of 5 people or 500 – we still feel the glare of that spotlight.

I realize public speaking for most may be akin to death by a thousand paper cuts: slow and painful. You may never be a world champion Toastmaster, but you can still be an effective and engaging speaker. There are a few things I’ve learned over time that have helped me with addressing a room full of people: boost your confidence – talk yourself up before you begin. No one can do a better job than you right now. There is always someone in your audience who is a worse speaker than you are. Just strive to be better than them. Regardless if it’s true, the confidence you give yourself will make all the difference in your presentation.

Be mindful of your body. How we move says more than our words ever could. Video tape yourself – even just the first couple minutes of your speech. You’ll be critical of yourself, but be sure not to overdo it. Just identify the nervous habits that are distracting, and change them. We all have mirror neurons in our brain which help us to mirror how another person is feeling. If you are passionate about what you are talking about, even if I typically don’t care, at that moment I’m engaged and passionate with you. If you are nervous, I am just as uncomfortable as you are.

So the next time you sit down with a potential client, a roomful of co workers, or the whole world, sit up straight with your shoulders back, raise your chin and smile. You are a fabulous speaker, if only for the moment.

Contributed by Ashley Hudson.

Ashley