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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Napoleon Hill's Advice on Thriving

The economy is going through some challenges. Yet in the midst of these challenges we have enormous opportunities. Watch this video I just shot here in London, England---in the snow!

Napoleon Hill taught us a very important principle to bear in mind in any challenge or difficulty. I talk about that and current opportunities in this short video.

As always, comments are welcome. I look forward to hearing from you. Now, sit back, click and enjoy the video:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Relationship Marketing and Customer Service

By Terry L. Brock

The other day I was talking with a friend who was sharing a sad tale in her buying experience. She told me about a particular vendor she had worked with for several years. This vendor started as a friend and a colleague but has sadly moved into a category of not only disgust but their friendship has been damaged.

It seems that the vendor was a sole operator helping with technology. The man she worked with--- we’ll call him Brian --- is a nice guy who provided a service on the Net and knew a lot about technology. My friend had Brian set up several items on her website and work with her in several technical areas.

Most relationships in business start very well. You like someone. They seem not only affable but also technically competent. If you have a need in their area of competence, it can be a good match. Everything seems just right in the beginning. This is the way relationships often work initially.

Later, my friend had problems with her website and needed Brian to help. Problems are a normal part of business and life. Don’t run from them. Embrace them and use them as a chance to dazzle customers with how you care and your ability to produce results.

Brian got really busy. It seems that he was very good and a lot of people wanted his services. However, Brian was more of a technician than a businessperson. He didn’t plan for expansion and that all-important customer service when he was exceptionally busy.

My friend sent numerous email messages and left voice mail messages with Brian. Finally Brian sent an email apologizing for not returning the calls and said he would rectify the problem. However, nothing was done.

We all get busy. That is the nature of our work and life today. However, a good Relationship Marketer continues to do what is right and what is necessary even when things are tough. I’m sure that Brian meant well. He really is a nice guy from what I’ve seen. He just seems to be deficient in customer service and following up on those important little things.

Harvey Mackay has told us often that little things don’t mean a lot. They mean everything. Little things matter most in Relationship Marketing and maintaining relationships with customers once they have said yes and need assistance.

Brian meant well. However, meaning well is not enough. Too often today people think that if they “really care” that settles it. Caring is important. I think it is critical for a healthy relationship in business and in our personal lives. However, you have to couple caring with competence. You must have both to succeed.

Part of competence is to have systems in place to deal with the unexpected. Since unexpected problems are normal, they really shouldn’t be a surprise. Plan for them. Build in systems to take care of the unknown. Have a system that is elastic enough to deal with common problems. Build in enough legroom for your system to handle unforeseen circumstances.

My friend shared the story of Brian and I could see the sadness in her eyes. She not only had lost a vendor that she wanted and needed----she had lost a friend. Yes, she will be friendly to Brian when she sees him again, but the damage is done. It will take a lot of time, money and effort for Brian to recover, if he ever does.

Relationship Marketing means we think like farmers. A farmer can work for months with a crop and watch it grow. However, one storm or ravaging herd of animals can destroy all the work done very quickly. A good relationship farmer is ever vigilant for potential problems and has solutions ready to go if they ever happen.

As I’m writing this, the world is going through some difficult financial times. Some are saying it is the worst since WWII. In the midst of this, many vendors will try to focus on generating new business to the neglect of taking care of current customers. Successful relationship farmers know that they not only plant new seeds, but also need to care for existing crops. That gives them an advantage in the midst of tough economic times.

I hope Brian corrects the damage and can move on. Relationship Marketing is a lot more than just smiling and handshakes. It is about producing results for important people who pay the bills. That means good, old-fashioned customer service and technical competence. This is simple--- but not easy. However, in any economy, it is worth paying the price to keep valued customers.

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 © 2008, Terry Brock, Achievement Systems, Inc. All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used without prior written permission.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

YouTube - Marketing in the Age of Now and WOW!

By Terry L. Brock

Bam! Wham! Kersplat! Did you hear that cacophony of noise? It is the shotgun fire and the falling of the old way of marketing. That old way of marketing is dead---or on the resuscitator and gasping for its last breaths.

Relationship Marketing is what rules today. If you still think you can win the hearts and minds of people by shoving a bunch of stuff on them, you belong back in the 1950’s with black & white TV. Welcome to the new way of marketing where Consumer Generated Marketing (CGM) is the way to do it. YouTube is an example of how social networking and connecting with people work today. It is a social networking style where people from around the planet put videos online. Sure, a lot of it is boring and even amateurish, but there is a lot of good, relevant information that every enterprising entrepreneur needs to watch.

YouTube is a great way to test your ideas. In the past you had to pay lots of money for expensive testing systems. You had to do fancy A-B splits and a bunch of other things. Not that these are wrong. Today you can do those types of tests more quickly and much cheaper on a medium like YouTube than ever before. YouTube needs to be an integral part of any small business marketing.

How To Use YouTube For Marketing

Here are some ways you can use YouTube to attract new customers. This is one of the best ways to build Relationship Marketing for your company. I’ve been using it seriously for over a year now and have seen solid business results (read, more sales!). I’ve also gained some ideas that can help you in your marketing.

1. Talk About Relevant Topics To Your Market. This could be something highly specific to an important group of people---your customers. Make sure you provide something they don’t already know. Don’t just give a book report of stuff everyone has heard. Make it unique. Tell your stories. Be creative and innovative in your approach.

2. Make It Fun---Even Funny. We like to laugh. The best communicators are those that weave their message in with fun and laughter where appropriate. This will retain eyeballs and loyal followers of your YouTube channel.

3. Use Good Production Quality In Your Video. A poorly shot video can distract from a powerful message. You don’t have to compete with Steven Spielberg in your video production, but make it professional. The biggest area to focus on is your audio. Use a camcorder with an external microphone. That will raise the quality of sound and the quality of your video in the most important area.

4. Target Key Words For Your Audience. When you send your video to YouTube, focus on the natural, key words that are part of your video message. Focus on those terms which will help people search to address their needs.

5. Check Comments To See What People Are Saying. This is good feedback. However, don’t rely on it extensively. Sometimes the remarks are of zero relevance and posted by some anonymous hack who isn’t and never will be your customer. Focus on those who are likely to be your customers and make relevant comments (pros and cons).

YouTube is a marketers dream for low cost production, vast information dissemination and fast, relevant feedback. It is a powerful tool for Relationship Marketing and building a loyal list of customers. As you work with it and explore the possibilities, you’ll discover more ways to make it work for you. The old way of “push” marketing is not as effective. Use the power of “pull” marketing to attract the right kind of buyers to your site.

Bonus Tip: Use videos in your Blog to blend the power of both text and video. Written text is good for clarity and in-depth explanation. Video is great for communicating rich visuals, sound and emotion. Put these two together for your Relationship Marketing and see the difference!

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 © 2008, Terry Brock, Achievement Systems, Inc. All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used without prior written permission.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Develop A Sustainable Competitive Advantage

By Terry L. Brock

“Life is tough. Life is tougher when you’re stupid.” John Wayne

Well, the Duke said it right, even if it is a bit rough. Life can be very tough. It’s not that “they” are out to get you. Frankly, “they” don’t care about you. Others are interested in their own problems and life. However, if you get in their way, they will do whatever is necessary to see that they succeed.

Relationship Marketing encompasses key principles for success that work. These principles embody helping others meet their needs. That is how true success happens. When you can help others in ways that matter to them, you stand out from the crowd. Relationship Marketing, when practiced properly, provides you with a sustainable competitive advantage.

This works for an organization. It also works for you and me on an individual basis. In tough economic times, this is particularly important. Now is the time to take an assessment of your skills, your competitive advantage and become more of the best person you can be.

Ray Stata, the Chairman of Analog Devices, a semiconductor company said very wisely, “the rate at which individuals and organizations learn may become the only sustainable competitive advantage, especially in knowledge-intensive industries.” Think about it. Your competition can take any product or service, reverse engineer it and duplicate it. They can even duplicate the way you do things and the systems you have in place. However, they cannot duplicate the rate at which you uniquely learn and add marketplace-useful knowledge to your personal and corporate database.

Here are some key principles to build your own sustainable competitive advantage.

1. Put Systems In Place To Practice Rapid Response. Rapid response for customer requests, prospect requests, learning and more can give you a competitive advantage. Your customers are used to instant access to the Net, instant responses from many vendors (though not all) and the instant news of cable. They want and demand that from your systems. This type of system is on-going and living. You don’t do it once and then sit back with fingers laced behind your head and feet propped up on desk. You have to continually practice.

2. Tolerate Mistakes. Let people know they won’t terminate a relationship because they made a mistake. Have strict accountability and rewards in place to learn from mistakes. People take risks only when they believe in two highly probably outcomes: 1) they will receive a much greater reward from success than the penalty from failure, and 2) They are not going to jeopardize their future. This toleration for mistakes applies particularly to yourself. Let yourself try and fail. Just learn from each of those times when you fall down. Relationship Marketing tolerates mistakes but learns from each one to be better next time.

3. Think of it Like Training And Exercise. Developing a sustainable competitive advantage is analogous to exercise. Yes, you can do a bunch of sit-ups, push-ups and aerobic work. Good for you. However, you have to do it again. What you did in the past is nice. What you have done lately is what matters. Learning is like building strength in your body. It requires a combination of efforts and doing things the right way (nutrition, exercise, rest, attitude and more). It is imperative to get assistance from professionals by hiring them and studying what is available (magazines, on the Net, seminars, etc.).

4. Study The Soil. Michael Porter, the Harvard professor noted for his expertise in competitive advantages, stresses the importance of creating something that cannot be easily duplicated. I often consult with people who want to start a company or new product. Often they haven’t done their research. They are essentially duplicating what is already available in many other places. It is easy to come up with an idea that you think is great. However, if you haven’t done your research to find out what already exists, you’re likely to duplicate the errors that others have already made! Instead, study what others have done right and wrong. Study what your unique competitive advantage will be in this new venture. Then go forward as you test what the market wants.

5. Get The Right Tools For Learning Rapidly. I’ve been amazed at the results with tools like PhotoReading from Learning Strategies for digesting massive amounts of reading material. I’ve also been very impressed with QuickTime (Mac platform) and Windows Media Player (Windows platform) to learn audio and video material rapidly. We don’t have time here to go into the details but these tools are free and allow you to listen to audio at increased speed and enhanced learning. Check with the manufacturer for how to do this. Get tools like this and learn how to learn rapidly. Do this for yourself and your organization.

John Wayne might have been a bit rough in his quote at the beginning of this article. However, with the right principles and tools in place, you can overcome any toughness in life. Become physically and mentally tough. Learn how to learn rapidly. Build Relationship Marketing principles into your life and business. Get the resources you need to create and maintain a sustainable competitive advantage for yourself and your organization. It is the best way to insure success in any economy!

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 © 2008, Terry Brock, Achievement Systems, Inc. All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used without prior written permission.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Why I Divorced My Cell Phone Company

By Terry L. Brock

I have an ex. It is an ex-cell phone company to be exact. You might have experienced something like the problem I had. My story is a good lesson in what Relationship Marketing is supposed to be---and what it is not.

I used to be in love with this cellular company. I really was. Their service was consistently good. Their prices were good. I even had good service at their local stores each time I went to see them. However, an incident occurred that drove me from being a loyal customer to utter contempt for them.

Recently I visited Vancouver, British Columbia and needed to check my email. I have often used an Air card to go on the Net. The air card I have worked reasonably well on my laptop. When I went to Canada I noticed that it worked just fine After about 20 minutes of checking email, everything seemed fine.

It wasn’t.

I was shocked when I returned to the States and got a call from my ex cell phone company. They told me that I was to incur a charge of about $453.00 for usage. There was no message given that I would have additional charges. They have some very smart people at this company. It would not be difficult to put a screen on the computer saying something like, “ We notice you are accessing your wireless card. Thank you for your business. If you use it here in Canada, you will have an additional expense of X cents per kilobyte charged. To continue, press the “Accept” button. Otherwise, press “Decline” and you’ll be disconnected. Thank you for using our service.”

Something like that would have been perfect. Instead, I was hit with stealth charges. Yes, I’ll have to plead guilty that I didn’t’ devour the legal contract and memorize it! However, the employees I spoke with insisted I should have known about it because it was in the contract I signed years ago. Sorry. The real world doesn’t work that way. Letting someone know that they are going to incur additional, unusual charges is only reasonable.

What Went Wrong – And Could Have Been Different

They could have let me know that I would incur additional fees. A contract, which was signed years ago, is not sufficient. The representatives with whom I spoke kept saying that the contract stated certain terms about additional charges. Well, I could be the only one who hasn’t memorized their cell phone contract but I don’t remember the agreement I signed several years ago. Somehow I don’t think I’m the only one who hasn’t memorized their cell agreement and knows every nook and cranny of it. Yes, they could legally say they were right. However, the bigger issue is that they turned a loyal, die-hard customer into someone who is utterly disgusted with and infuriated with their company. It is obvious they are more interested in a legal contract than in building positive, long-term relationships with their customers.

They eventually credited some of the fee but I still ended up paying about $270. It was fine that they credited this but still it doesn’t resolve the issue in my mind. Even from an accounting perspective (not marketing and customer care), they were able to wrestle an additional $270 from me. Contrast that with the $60 that I spent every month. A quick calculation shows me that in about 4.5 months I would have paid at least $270.00 to my ex-cell phone company. Now they will get nothing in the future.

You might not experience this same problem directly but if the company did this and follows this type of attitude towards those who pay their salaries, what could they do to you in the future? And the cell phone companies wonder why customers desert them so quickly!

All we are asking is that companies behave like human beings and demonstrate something that doesn’t appear in their legal contracts ---- care. An old saying still is valid, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It is obvious to me that this cellular company ranks zero in the care department. Relationship Marketing is about hearing the customer and helping everyone involved. It is about Relationships---not legal contracts.

So, what is the lesson for you and me in our business? First, be aware that these hidden charges that can occur. Second, vow to be more human and see things from a caring perspective in our own business. Third, do the math! Don’t lose a customer at $60/month forever over a one-time $270 charge. This is particularly true if that customer has been with you for several years never missing a payment.

Relationship Marketing is all about relating to customers as people first, and then doing business in a mutually agreeable way that benefits both parties. My ex-cellular company could have said, “Mr. Brock, we see what happened and we could legally charge you the full amount. Instead, because you’ve been with us for so long and have never had a late payment, we are going to dismiss it this one time. Please continue to use us and thank you for being such a great customer.” If they had said something like that, I would be raving about them. They would also make a lot more money from a die-hard, loyal customer.

Instead they have a sorely disappointed and frustrated customer who not only will not use their service but also will be quite vocal to others to avoid it. They will lose a lot more than the $270.00 they are getting from me this one time through the loss of my business and those I can influence.

Relationship Marketing is about caring. If caring is not there, a painful divorce can occur. Don’t let this happen to you and your company.

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 © 2008, Terry Brock, Achievement Systems, Inc. All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used without prior written permission.