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Marketing and other voodoo

June 13, 2011 3 comments

“I just don’t know what is working and what isn’t working.”  Have you ever thought or said that about your business marketing strategy?  Do you have a strategy?  Is it the radio ads that are working?  Is it the Google ads?  Is it organic search?  Is it word of mouth and referrals?  I don’t know.  Even when a customer says “We found you on the internet” what does that even mean?  You’re probably listed on sites you didn’t even know you were listed on.

Lost at sea or headed toward land?

What do you do if you can’t put your finger on it?  I’m a bit of a stickler for details and the details are eluding me.  The good thing, is that something seems to be working.  Are your customers still coming in?    Mine are.  I’m just not sure exactly why.  I’ve blogged about this very issue before and yet I’m still unable to collect the data in a fashion that tells me what is working.

I’ve been told that a potential customer who actually needs your service needs to see your advertising between seven and twelve times just to “maybe” think about using your service.  Maybe.  So maybe, just maybe (that’s a lot of maybes) the equations is the sum of all parts equals one customer.  I really don’t know just yet but you can be sure I’m going to find out.

Here’s what I know so far.  Marketing that does not give direct feedback is sort of like magic to me.  Radio for example, I have no idea who is hearing my message.  I only get a report saying that the ad played.  Whoopee.  I knew that going in.  I even have a specific phone number to track calls but that is not even a fool proof method.  What does work is talking to people directly.  I like that.  I like the feedback.

So I am paddling in the lake of marketing uncertainty only really knowing that I’m exerting effort but the tide seems to be sloshing me all around without a discernible course.

What’s worked for you?

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To the class of 2011, Three helpful tips Part One

June 7, 2011 1 comment

To the class of 2011,

Congratulations! You just graduated from high school. Just a few weeks ago you were the King/Queen of the castle. You were at the top of your game and today amid all of the fanfare and pageantry you’ve flipped your tassel and guess what, now you’re one of us.

Welcome to adulthood. More or less…

Most of you will fit into two very general scenarios.

You can't afford premium coffee anymore

Scenario A; Go away to College

Scenario B; Don’t go away to college and/or work a skill or trade

I’m not here debate the merits of either path. I’m here to offer some advice on how to go down your own path as safely as possible.

You need to learn about money, quick. You spent twelve years in school and probably never really learned how to balance your check book or write a personal budget. Go the library, get on the internet or ask someone you trust to show you how. It’s better to learn this lesson before you start dealing with real money otherwise life is going to give you a big fat F in personal finance. Here are a few tips in no particular order.

  1. Pay with cash. That means if you don’t have the cash you can’t afford it. If you put it on a credit card you get an automatic F for this lesson. It might feel good to be able to buy something but the interest will kill you in the long run with this sort of thinking. Repeat credit card use over the years will not lead to wealth.
  1. Start saving and start saving now because life isn’t fair. Gas was about $1 a gallon when I graduated from high school. It was $4.04 this morning. Life isn’t fair. Life also doesn’t care if you drive over a nail and get a flat tire. Get the term “fair” right out of your head. Nothing is fair. It’s just life.
  1. Have a plan. Plan for what you say? A plan for your life. If you don’t have one life will just happen to you. Need a car? Have a plan to pay cash. Need an apartment? Have a plan to pay for it and utilities. Need an oil change? Have a plan. Need to pay for next semester plus books? Have a plan that doesn’t include a loan.

I have a crystal ball. I really do. Here’s the difference between a well thought out life and one where life just happens when you make the second largest purchase of your life at the age of 18. That purchase being; a four/five year college degree. The costs are massive.

Tomorrow I’ll use my crystal ball to tell you what happens in Scenario A and B.

Our new normal

June 6, 2011 12 comments

Ahh the good ole days!  They were great.  Just about everyone drove shiny new car, had a job that paid very well with benefits, stocks and other investments normally grew at a reasonable pace and life was easy and predictable. 

The good ole days aren’t coming back folks.  Now is the time of Our New Normal.  Brace yourself.  

Will work for silver.

For those that will wallow and be victims of the new normal, this blog is not for you.  You can’t go back in time, you probably can’t even re-create it because the conditions surrounding the good ole days are gone. 

So what’s the new normal?  The USA isn’t the THE superpower in the world anymore.  The dollar in your pocket is on par with our Canadian neighbors to the north and unemployment is going to stay about 9% for the foreseeable future just has it has for the recent past.  Also your house isn’t worth squat.  This is the new normal. 

What else is new?  College degrees are over priced and carry less and less value.  For the college graduate, what awaits them isn’t much different from what they left five years earlier, their bedroom at Mom and Pops.  But now they are burdened by a heavy debt load that they were ill prepared to handle and currently unable to afford.  You can’t sell your degree either.  That paper your degree is printed on isn’t worth the $40 to $75 grand that you financed.  Bummer.  The new normal.

For those that don’t go to college high paying manufacturing jobs are not around like they were 20 years ago.  Getting an entry-level job at the big three in Detroit pays about $14 an hour these days.  I hope you know something about computers or the internet.

So what do you do with this information?  The new normal doesn’t sound so good does it?  Ahh but all these facts I’ve laid out are just random bits of information.  People are living their dream outside of the doom and gloom news reports because when it boils right down to it we are not statistics.  We are hopes and dreams wrapped up in these terrestrial bodies and yet our energy to create is limitless and cannot be contained.  Now is the time to embrace the dreams you hold in your heart.  It’ll never be cheaper to create, hire and build your dreams as it is today.

Behold the power of the new normal.  The new normal is the internet, smart phones, twitter, interconnectedness, opportunity, low costs, low risk and the ability to build your own dreams all with just a spark of inspiration from your brain.

Activity doesn’t always equal productivity

March 16, 2011 1 comment

People often say things like, “She’s such a hard worker”.  And yet that person is deeply in debt and miserable.  Working hard is overrated.  

Gotta work smart to move these

Work smarter, be more focused with your energy and time and that will pay off. Plenty of people work hard and plenty of hard-working people are broke.  

What’s so great about hard work if it doesn’t get you to where you want to be?

A tale of two neighbors

Both neighbors were at the age where high school was almost over.  Both were very good students and active in several school and community groups.  Both were eager to move on to college and explore new horizons. 

But before they left for school they had a choice to make.  The choice wasn’t really about where they would attend but by what means they would they pay for it?  This is a critical life choice that has implications far beyond the choice of dorm or meal plans.  It has to do with limiting your future self to a smaller and smaller set of future options. 

Choose your path

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How do you view opportunities?

February 24, 2011 5 comments

We are buried in snow here in Michigan.  The initial prediction was that we were going to get up to six inches of snow.  I have ten inches in my driveway.  It is heavy and hard to shovel.  If only I had a snow blower, I think I could have made a few quick bucks.  Which got me to thinking about my kids…

Millionaire at work

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Security, stability and safety don’t exist.

February 23, 2011 5 comments

“Security, stability and safety don’t exist.  You think they do but they do not.  It’s something made up in your mind or it was a story, a fairytale, someone told you.  Probably someone you trust implicitly.  And you chose to believe them because it felt good.”  (here’s the full post)

 

I wrote this a couple of months ago.  It was part of my first blog.  I’ve written a blog every weekday since that first one.  I wanted to bring up this section of that blog post because I believe this theme should be discussed a little bit more.

What if these guys walk away?

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