A New Beginning

I know I haven’t updated in a very long time. That’s because I have decided to kill this blog. My new blog can be found here.

If anybody still cares.


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Marketing Makeover #2 – Meet the people

OK, So the Lavish Llama is officially in business. You have come up with your niche market, and a unique selling proposition. Now you need to let people know you exist!

Sure, you could start by buying a lot of expensive ads, but even better would be to go where llama owners tend to congregate. If there is a llama owners club, join that. If there is an exotic pets consumer show, get a booth at that. In the beginning especially, you need your marketing to be highly targeted, and highly personal.

Let’s take a second to break away from the Lavish Llama and discuss YOUR business. In this blog, I used the example of a llama owners club, or other place where your potential customers congregate. For many businesses (especially those that do business to business transactions), this place would be a Chamber of Commerce. If you do B2B, you must be in a Chamber. Otherwise, you are missing a great networking opportunity.

I am working on a new report about getting the most out of Chamber Membership. It isn’t available yet, but stay tuned.

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Marketing Makeover #1 – Standing out from the crowd

OK, so in the last installment of Marketing Makeover, we identified our fictional company for grooming pet llamas, and gave it a name “The Lavish Llama.” Of course, llama grooming services are a dime a dozen. We need to figure out a way to stand out from the others, how to be unique. This is where our USP, or Unique Selling Proposition, comes into play.

A USP is simply a way that we can communicate to our customers one or two significant benefit that our company offers the rest. What if we converted our old van into a mobile grooming station, and then could take our service to the customer, rather than them bringing their llama to us?

That is definitely a benefit to the customer, not having to load their llama up into the little “llama carrier” and trundle it down to our place. It is easy, it is convenient, and they get top quality.

“Because having a well-groomed llama should be easy.” This tells them that a) their llama will be well-groomed (quality), and b) it will be easy for them to have this convenience.

Notice we make no mention of being cheap or anything about price. In fact, we are going to be rather expensive. But anyone who owns a pet llama is going to have the money to pay for convenience. They certainly don’t want to groom the llama for themselves, and putting it in the Mercedes gets hair all over the upholstery.

So now we have our USP, which will be a key ingredient in all of our marketing materials.

That’s all for today, folks. Tune in next time for the next installment . . .

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Marketing Makeover #0 – It begins

In an effort to continuously offer real value to my readers, I am beginning a series that will continue over the next several weeks and beyond, that I am calling “Marketing Makeover.” In this series, I will create a fictional company and develop a comprehensive marketing plan, going over the how and why of each element of the marketing mix. This will allow you to follow along and hopefully will stimulate some ideas for you to market your own business.

My new entrepreneurship is going to be a niche service for a highly eclectic market. I am creating a grooming service for pet llamas. Such a niche service is sure to have very little competition, and should make me a boatload of money, right? RIGHT?

We’ll see about that . . .

Today, all I want is a catchy name. Hmmm . . . let’s see. It has to suggest quality, and only the highest of standards for your pet llama. How about “The Lavish Llama?” That will be a good name for now. I may change it later. We’ll see.

That’s it for today. Tune in next time for the exciting continuation of this groundbreaking series . . .

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What can small businesses do to stay alive during a recession?

With all of the mortgage disasters happening around us, the housing market being in shambles, and the presidency facing a change, people have begun to murmur that dreaded R-word. Recession. It strikes terror into the hearts of business owners as they lie awake at night, haunted by visions of their business drying up because people aren’t spending money anymore.

First off, let’s address the truth of the situation. A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of decline in the GDP (Gross Domestic Product.) Considering we showed growth in our GDP in the last TWO quarters of 2007 (source: Bureau of Economic Analysis – http://www.bea.org), the simple fact is, we are NOT in a recession. The media, however, is trumpeting about a recession, and so people are believing it, and growing afraid to spend money. Knock it off! Face facts! Don’t believe everything the media tells you!!

So, as a small business marketer, what can we do about this?

First off, when the economy gets tight, a small business will often cut the marketing budget first. BUZZZZ! Wrong answer! Your marketing is what attracts people to you, gets them to spend money with you. By cutting your marketing budget, you are crippling your ability to make money.

Over the next few weeks, I will be focusing on specific marketing methods and techniques to help you grow your business by tweaking some of the things you may already be doing, and NOT spending a lot of money. My goal is to help you realize the MAXIMUM Return on Investment (ROI) for every marketing dollar you spend.

Until next time.

Helping you WIN this war we call BUSINESS.

Brent Allan C.S.H., C.C.S.


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The Top-Secret, 100% Sure-Fire Method to LOSE customers!

I wanted to share with you an experience I had today of a long-time business relationship going sour.

I have been having an issue with one of my ears, so I made an appointment with my doctor, who I have been seeing for over 5 years. They said the only time slot they had available was 12:15 PM. Sadly, this conflicted with another appointment I had for a conference call. Thus, I had to cancel my conference call, which was at 12:00.

I got to my doctor’s office at 12:05, to make sure I was on time.

12:15 – still waiting

12:30 – still waiting

12:50 – I finally get called. By now, I am slightly annoyed, since I could have made my conference call if I had known they would be late.

The end result was that the doctor saw me, diagnosed the issue (kind of), but it was not something that she could simply write a prescription for. She then told me that I could see a specialist tomorrow (and pay for another appointment), or wait another 30 minutes, because she didnt have time to help me right then.

After another 30 minutes wait, she tried to fix my issue. She couldn’t, and referred me to a specialist anyway.

The end result is that I wasted over an hour of my time simply waiting for her. She spent a grand total of about 25 minutes with me, but could not fix my problem. She charged me $150 to NOT solve my problem, and I still have to pay a specialist tomorrow.

Needless to say, I will be seeking a new doctor.

For any doctors who may be reading this, I have a suggestion. If you were to market your practice as beingĀ  the doctor that sees patients ON TIME, you will be FLOODED with patients.

Until next time.

Helping you in this war we call BUSINESS.

Brent Allan C.S.H., C.C.S.


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Do you tell your customers that you hate them?

OK, I know this title is going to sound a bit weird.

Basically, what I am asking is, what message are you conveying to your customers?

In the past month, I have had several bad experiences at stores. The first was at Best Buy. I went, I bought something. Two days later, the item goes on sale, and they have that “best price guarantee” thing. So, I go back to get the refund. The customer service guy actually gave me a hard time, and essentially acted like I was wasting his time and was an inconvenience to him. In fact, what he did after the transaction shocked me. I had brought a printout of their website so I had proof of the sale. After the transaction was done, he swept the sheaf of papers off the counter towards a garbage can, but did it so violently that they flew over the garbage can and scattered everywhere. I just walked away.

Fast forward a few more days. I have to go back to Best Buy to buy something new. I could not find what I was looking for, so I used my secret technique for getting help. I put on my best “lost and confused” face, which usually brings a salesperson running at any store. I wandered up and down the aisles, looking hopeless. Nothing. Nobody.

I did run across two of their floor associates, but as I approached them, I could tell they were deeply engrossed in a conversation over a video game, so I left them alone. I was on my way to the door when someone finally approached me and helped me out. Whew.

Now, to0 contrast all of this cynicism, let me tell you a story of excellent service I just received tonight. I was strolling through the mall and wandered into a little shop of eclectic oddities from Morocco and other far-off lands. I had walked in, taken about 10 steps, and the person working there greeted me and asked if I had visited before. When I told him I hadn’t, he proceeded to welcome me and thank me for stopping in. He told em a bit about the store and their products, and left me to browse with the instructions that he would be nearby if I required anything.

The people at Best Buy made me feel like a nuisance. The guy at the Moroccan store made me feel important and valuable.

So, what do your actions and attitude say to your prospects and customers? When you answer the phone, are you warm and friendly? Do you thank them for their business?

On another note, if you have not yet signed up for my FREE small business marketing newsletter, I strongly suggest you do so. C’mon, it’s FREE. What have you got to lose?

Helping you in this war we call BUSINESS.

Brent Allan C.S.H., C.C.S.


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