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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Relationship Marketing - Pruning and Training

Relationship Marketing And Pruning For Harvest

By Terry L. Brock

“Pruning is the practice of removing diseased, non-productive, or otherwise unwanted portions from a plant.” – Wikipedia definition of Pruning

Relationship Marketing is very much like farming. That is one reason why I like to refer to it as “Relationship Farming” as you cultivate, nourish and plan for your harvest. Just as in farming, you have to continually apply the right techniques and principles to grow your harvest.

One of these necessary techniques is pruning. A fruit tree needs to be pruned on a regular basis to yield the best fruit at harvest. This means cutting back on those areas that are not productive.

Your business is like that. As you examine what you’re doing to nourish your “crops” (called customers, clients---those wonderful people who pay your bills), you have to prune. It is vital to eliminate or correct those relationships which are not productive.

I used to think that business would be constantly growing with new people added all the time and it would be one big happy family. Reality is not that way. Life and business are in a constant state of flux, all while we long for stability. As one gets older it is common to reminisce and long for “the good old days” when we hallucinate that everything was better in some past moment. Reality is that even back in those “good old days” there were problems. As we age, we tend to forget the problems and remember the good times.

In business we have to take account of clients and customers on a regular basis to determine which are the most profitable and which are most likely to generate profitable business in the future. This requires hard thinking.

You can’t eliminate those that might bring good business for the future. You also can’t afford to spend a lot of time, money and effort (TME) in areas which sap your energy. The amount of TME you expend in one area necessarily means that you are not focusing on other areas which could be more productive.

You also want to employ the farming technique of Training. I was reading from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service’s website where they defined training, as it relates to fruit tree farming, in the following way:

“Training is a relatively new practice in which tree growth is directed into a desired shape and form. Training young fruit trees is essential for proper tree development. It is better to direct tree growth with training than to correct it with pruning.”

When I read this I realized how that is much like those clients you have in business that could come through in the future but need some “direction” just like training a fruit tree. Don’t throw away clients who might take a little longer to “yield a harvest.” Instead, have systems in place in your business to nurture them and help answer their questions. Autoresponders, regular phone call follow-ups and those occasional visits can pay rich dividends. Low-cost but “pleasantly persistent” is the phrase that pays here.

Some potential prospects need a little more nourishing and nurturing before they come on board as paying customers or clients. Have an automated system in place to service them and keep them close as you “train” them.

Recently I was speaking with Jay Ownby from the Manufacturers Agents National Assocaiton (MANA) in Lake Forest, California. He is in charge of a division that caters to those manufacturers representatives who work with companies making large capital purchases. The life cycle on such products can take years to develop. Jay told me those in that field have to have patience and the ability to stay with it for the long run.

This is training at its best. You help customers learn about you and what you do. You are there with beneficial information and your continually nurture and build the relationships with them. Not all come to fruition and this is heart-breaking for the dedicated sales rep. But, in the long run, if the rep is doing the right activities in the right way it will pay off with a rich and bountiful harvest.

Think about your crops, your customers. What pruning and training do you need on those that aren’t going to produce? What crops need a bit of training? As a good Relationship Farmer, you want to prune and train your crops on a regular basis.

By the way, this applies to your personal as well as business life. What activities are you involved with which no longer serve you? Eliminate non-productive activities which might have been good in the past but no longer serve you. Yes, this is difficult but it is what yields the best harvest both in business and in your personal life. With this strategy you will enjoy the benefits of a bountiful harvest later in season.

Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and columnist who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using time-honored rules and practical technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at or through his website at

Copyright © 2007, Terry Brock, All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used without prior written permission..

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Relationship Marketing - Standing Out From the Crowd

Relationship Marketing And

Getting Attention In Today’s Cluttered Marketplace

by Terry L. Brock

How can you stand out from the crowd?

Today we’re swamped with way too much information. I’m not talking about the junk mail ( we can filter that out), but the good stuff that we want is in the way. It is like going to your favorite restaurant, ordering your absolute, lust-after favorite food---and they bring you WAY too much of it. Imagine tables and tables full of your favorite food, cooked better than you’ve ever had it and it smells irresistible. The only catch is, there is about 100 tables full of it! Yikes!

That is where we are today with all the information coming at us. Think about it---if you’re that swamped with too much email, how do you think that your new Blog, Ezine, Podcast, VideoCast (pick your favorite combination of cool, new stuff) is going to stand out? I see it all the time with people in my audiences. They think they are going to produce a Blog and suddenly the world will beat a path to their URL. Yet, these same people who want to foist their new, clever idea onto others jump into a completely different mindset when someone encourages them to read a particular book, visit a few Blogs and listen to a few Podcasts or more.

So, how can you and I, as eager-to-serve marketers break through a cluttered marketplace? How can we reach new prospects? Well, here are some ideas that can help as you grow.

Think of yourself as a Relationship Farmer. I like the term “Relationship Farming” as it beautifully describes the way to build a business successfully. The metaphor of farming is very applicable to business. You have to study the soil. You have to plant the right seeds. Those seeds need to be nourished, nurtured and cared for with gentle sunshine, water, the right amount of fertilizer and weeding. All of these aspects of growth relate to building your business.

As a Relationship Farmer, you cultivate a relationship with a prospect, turn them into customers (clients, members---whatever term you use to describe those wonderful people who pay our bills!) and develop the relationship. You don’t expect a harvest on day one in most cases. It takes time, patience and doing the right thing consistently over time.

If you think of yourself as a Relationship Farmer, you’re more ready to put in the time, money and effort to make those relationships work.

Think in terms of how you can help the seeds grow. Your customers are like the seeds. You have to focus on them and their growth---not your own. Find ways to help your customers achieve their goals. It is the irony of the human experience that only when we help others achieve their goals that are we able to achieve our own.

Finding the need of your customers is how you’ll get their attention. If you study the soil (study what is important to them) you’ll get some ideas on what you can offer the Marketplace. Offer products and services that a significant market segment wants. Test this by writing some Blogs and watch the number of people who read it. Produce a Podcast or Video and watch the number of people who are interested in seeing it. This is a great way to discover what the marketplace wants.

Remember those plants (your customers) are outside and need attention and care. Harsh weather, dangerous animals and even weeds can do them harm. You have to be ever vigilant to care for those growing plants so that they are not ruined prematurely. Stay in touch in a favorable way with customers. Find their needs and help them to achieve their goals.

Relationship Farming, like real-world farming, requires constant study, care and more. This is what develops good business. It is what companies who are doing it right practice. This will help you stand out from the crowd in a favorable way.

By providing for their care and need, you’ll have their undivided attention.


Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and columnist who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using time-honored rules and practical technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at or through his website at

Copyright © 2007, Terry Brock, All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used without prior written permission..

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Switching from Windows to Mac---My Story

Making The Switch:

Why (And How) I Switched Over To Mac From Windows

By Terry L. Brock

Well, I did it. Yep! This long-time Windows user made the move to “The Dark Side of the Force” yesterday when I cracked open the relatively small box which arrived at my condo. It was packed with my new baby---weighing in at 5.4 pounds---- my new MacBook Pro.

As I share my story with you, think about what has happened in the industry and the major shift that is going on now. This story is not about me, but about what a company, Microsoft has done and what another company, Apple has done. One was once considered all-too-powerful and was derided throughout not only the computer industry, but elsewhere. Even the US Government waged a war against Microsoft for being “too competitive.”

The Free Market always wins in the long run.

But I digress. Here’s what has happened to me and these two companies. You can benefit from this in your own experience and looking at business in general.

For years I have used Windows machines. I make my living speaking about marketing and technology. Windows has been my system of choice since we had to deal with DOS. Hey, I even used CP/M machines at one point (yes, I know that is dating me). I even had a bad experience with Mac several years ago. The service I received from Apple was terrible. The product didn’t work for me and I got completely frustrated losing over$8,000.

I was a contented, happy Windows user for a long time. Even as I type this article I’m using my wonderful Dell XPS Gen 2 system. I would have purchased the new Dell M1330 but too many bad things are involved. Things have changed with computers. What happened? A series of things pushed me over the edge. Here’s my story.

Vista hits the market. I was looking forward to Microsoft’s new OS, Vista. I had a nice tour of the yet-to-be-released Vista from Microsoft almost a year ago. The MS rep demonstrated some nice features for large companies and Enterprise Computing (you hear this term with large corporations a lot). However, I didn’t see the benefit for my small business.

I read numerous articles and had personal experience with several really smart tech people who complained about Vista. “If they couldn’t figure it out, who am I as a mere mortal, to venture into Vista?” I thought to myself. “Perhaps Microsoft will fix it with a new release soon,” I hoped.

However, even as of this writing---about a year into Vista--- it still hasn’t generated a lot of enthusiastic support. Microsoft seems to have stumbled and is not providing the quality that it once did. A recent inquiry into Microsoft’s help desk gave hours of frustration talking to several people in India who didn’t understand what I did. They could only reference a manual and repeat what was in the manual---not think for themselves to solve the problem. Apple, on the other hand, is coming out with innovative, new and even (here’s an important term) fun stuff to use.

Leopard from Apple was released recently. I read report after article after Blog entry about how good it is. The features that are packed into it sound very good.

I do a lot of video and audio work. Mac is known for being a leader in video and audio software. Just go into most professional studios and you’ll see lots of Macs. In some, if you raise the issue of Windows you’ll receive a tongue-lashing about the evils of Microsoft from a group of loyal Mac enthusiasts. These people didn’t get this way using an Operating System they hated.

The clincher for me was the vast number of people who said they “love” their Mac (yes, that is the word they use). Over and over I’d hear Mac users talk about how they “love” their Mac, how it is easy (they use that word a lot also) and how much they enjoy it. I have yet to hear one person say that he or she “loves” Vista. At best, their response, even if slightly positive, is subdued and polite.

However, it is not over. I have to get more familiar with my new Mac. I was fiddling with my new baby last night and noticed I didn’t know how to get two programs running at the same time (for instace, Pages and Final Cut). I’m sure there is a way but this is one of many little questions I’ll have. I know I’ll figure it out eventually.

Microsoft seems to have stumbled. Apple continues to do a lot of things right. As I see where I am and how Apple has now broken through the 11% market share (and rising) position in PC Sales I have to smile thinking of people who said Microsoft would always be a monopoly. The Free Market has a way of moving participants in and out. No one is secure forever. Standard Oil was displaced by others. The Philco Radio doesn’t exist (most don’t even remember it today). General Motors is on the ropes and in no way dominating the market. The ill-informed feel that government needs to stop these so-called monopolies. Instead, the Free Market and better products vanquish the all-too-big who often get all-too-complacent.

The moral of the story? If you are a small business fighting a seemingly-entrenched competitor, remember that no one has a lock forever on the market. You can find and serve a niche that your big competitor is ignoring. You can outserve your customers when Big Competitor tries to stop you. You can out-innovate Big Competitor as they get too involved in corporate politics, too many committees and all the “stuff” of being so big. You and I are small, nimble and fast. We can turn on a dime. We can enjoy a better lifestyle. We can also make more money!

Well, enough of my sharing for now. I’m going back to play with my new baby. He looks so cute in those fonts….


Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and columnist who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using time-honored rules and practical technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at or through his website at

Copyright © 2007, Terry Brock, All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used without prior written permission..