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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Social Networking For Business Profit

By Terry L. Brock

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve heard about social networking as it applies to technology. This has been a subject hat caught my interest early-on as I’m focused on Relationship Marketing and how to build communities.

Much of what has been done with many networks has emphasized the signing up part with little, practical business value. Everyone wants everyone else to sign up and “friend” each them. However, nothing much happens in most cases after you’ve signed up and been “friended.” It reminds me of an offline model going to a Chamber of Commerce meeting where everyone is swapping cards hoping to get business. Touting how many “friends” you have in many of these networks would be like bragging about how many business cards you’ve accumulated over the years! Unless serious business comes from it, your activity is a waste of time.

Relationship Marketing is serious about profitable business. It is not about getting a bunch of business cards and claiming to be “friends” with a large number of people whom you have merely met and exchanged business cards. It is more like farming. I like to use the phrase “Relationship Farming” to describe the work, effort and persistence that is required to yield a good “harvest” in business.

Social Networking With Substance

Business management needs to be treated as a profession. That is the premise of the Association of Professionals in Business Management (APBM). This organization provides the training for a CBM (Certified Business Manager) and CABM (Certified Associate Business Manager to individuals who complete a prescribed series of modules. Much like getting a business degree this provides time-honored training.

A benefit of the CBM is the comprehensive and integrated approach they take. Rather than specializing in one distinct area, a recipient of their CBM gets training in accounting, management, marketing and more. It is based on what one often earns in a traditional MBA program.

The benefits of such a program from a social networking concept are that you gain contact with others based on a level of expertise, not presence at a particular meeting. Think of needless “networking” events you’ve been to in the past.

I spoke with Ms. Devi Vallabhaneni, the President and CEO of APBM about the benefits of earning such a credential. She cited the benefits of having a comprehensive exposure to many fields. In today’s fast-changing environment this is critical for success.

Social networking is not just about swapping business cards. As APBM stresses and practices, it is about connecting with others and gaining competent, credible skills and knowledge in highly business-relevant areas.

If you want to enhance general business knowledge, this is a credential and an association you’ll want to investigate. Go to for more information. The combination of skill building and networking can enhance your career and future.

Zoho – Complete Business Management On The Net

This is a great service for managing contacts, documents, slide shows, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and more. This promise of this system is to have everything you need in one easy-to-reach place.

When I signed up for Zoho I was quite impressed with the simplicity of it and ease of use. However, there was a show-stopper that hurt. When I tried to import my contacts through the standard format (CSV) it only allowed the entry of a first or last name. You could not bring in both. Ouch!

A quick call to tech support was answered rapidly (a very good sign). The person I spoke with didn’t have the answer and transferred me to another department. After about 60 seconds wait (not too shabby!), I spoke with a very kind person who told me a new version is on the way and should be out in about a month to handle first and last names. I figured that since most people I know have at least a first and last name, this would be a good thing!

Bottom Line On Zoho: This is a great concept and product for small businesses. As I browsed through the various modules I was dazzled by what is offered. For most small businesses, this tool alone would provide functionality for running your business and staying in touch with customers. Pricing for 1-3 people is free. That is worth trying on its own! Wait about a month and make sure you can bring in the full names of people you have on your existing database. Other features will be added as they proceed but this is a tool that is getting started, is addressing a huge need and is the most reasonably priced tool for addressing this critical function. Go to for more information.

Social networking is critical today, as it has been always in business. Smart businesspeople focus not just on the networking and the “getting to know you” part but on the skill-building and Relationship Management. Find out how you can help the other person and inevitably you benefit.

Relationship Marketing is about building strong, profitable relationships with people who believe in value for value. These tools can help to enhance your pursuit of that.

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

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Boring Marketers Have Skinny Kids

By Terry L. Brock

Today’s marketplace calls for innovative approaches to reaching buyers. I remember the legendary Zig Ziglar producing an audio cassette (this was a while back!) program entitled, “Timid salespeople have skinny kids.” That humorous title vividly let salespeople know that you can’t be shy about what you’re doing in sales. If you do, you won’t have many sales. You won’t have much money. Your kids will go hungry (be skinny). Good advice. Thank you, Zig!

Today that has altered some. I still agree that we can’t face life with timidity. Boldness and courage are virtues that will always be important. However, today, you can’t just barrel your way into a buyer’s mind. Buyers are confronted with so many choices that a filtering system has emerged that didn’t exist before.

When Zig told us this --- I think it was in the 70’s --- we weren’t inundated with email messages, YouTube, MySpace, 100 billion cable channels (seems like that many anyway!) and more. Today we have to break through the clutter and it won’t be done with lung power, shouting and an obnoxious attitude.

To gain the attention of buyers today, you need to be entertaining. This means you have to provide value in the form of “worth paying attention to” before buyers consider it worth buying what you have.

That doesn’t mean telling a bunch of jokes. For most of us, we’re not good at telling the old “A priest, a minister and a rabbi walked into a bar…” type of jokes. Telling a joke in a bad way diminishes your status in the mind of many.

However something is never boring if it relates to what your buyer is interested in knowing.

It requires work on the part of the good marketer to figure out what it is that the potential buyer (the all-important person in a business relationship) wants. Find out about their top 3 problems. Then direct your message and what you say, print, record, etc. etc. to their benefit. What you might think is nifty and groovy doesn’t matter. Last time I checked YOU were not the one buying YOUR products! Focus on the customer, the buyer, who is putting down hard-earned money in exchange for what you’re selling.

For many buyers today, we want to know that the person is really interested in us before we do business with them or their company. If a person or company is only interested in me while I can buy from them, I quickly lose interest in that person or company and their product. Successful relationship marketers today get to know their potential buyers. They learn about them and what it is that matters to them. They learn about the pain they are experiencing. Successful Relationship Marketers really care about their customers and what they are going through.

Before anyone will engage in a financial transaction with another, trust has to be there. This is where Relationship Marketing sparkles. Even in a quick transaction at a convenience store, the buyer has to trust that the quality of the merchandise is not harmful, provides for the need and is reasonably priced. If any of those variables are violated or there is a doubt, it will cause hesitancy or kill the sale. A confused buyer always says no.

Establish trust in the mind of buyers. Let them see you as an expert who cares. You need to be an expert at what you’re selling. Have the quantum competence necessary to earn their respect. Then take your Relationship Marketing to the next level by showing you care for them. Listen to their needs and relate to their needs where your product or service meets those needs.

As you are entertaining and providing value, you will have an abundant supply of customers, buyers. If you’re boring, you are going to be as hungry as that timid salesperson that Zig Ziglar warned us about years ago.

To see some examples of how you can spice up your presentation in the form of video check out what I have now on my Blog. Go to and click on the “Terry’s Blog, Latest Update” on the left side. You’ll get a chance to see some videos that you can use as an example in your marketing. The principles of Relationship Marketing in those videos can help you to blend that into your own products and services.

Using these principles of Relationship Marketing as demonstrated in the videos can build your bottom line---and keep your kids from being skinny!


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

Monday, April 21, 2008

MaryEllen Tribby of Early To Rise on Marketing

You are in for a treat. The following video was shot at the recent Early To Rise conference called "Profits in Paradise." It was packed with great information on marketing and thriving in any economy.

During that conference I was able to get a quick interview with the Editor of, MaryEllen Tribby. You've GOT to watch this! The information she gives on marketing can help any business.

After you've seen the video, treat yourself to visiting their website and signing up for the daily motivational and information-rich resource.



Thursday, April 17, 2008

Relationship Marketing In Difficult Times

By Terry L. Brock

Tough times demand a pruning of anything unnecessary. It is a time to get rid of superfluous activities. It is also a time to eliminate those relationships that are not serving you properly. This requires mental toughness to get what is best. Be ruthless with yourself.

Here are some steps that can help as you enhance your Relationship Marketing:

1. Make Yourself Better. Focus your TME (Time, Money, Effort) on those areas with the biggest bang for the buck. Be ruthless with yourself and how you spend your time, money and effort. Only invest in those activities, projects and people who are in line with your overall business and life goals. This requires learning how to say that difficult, two-letter word, NO!

Often I’ve talked about the similarities between Relationship Marketing and farming. I call it Relationship Farming. Think of what a successful farmer has to do when crops are not growing properly. Pruning is a big part of helping the crops to grow properly.

For you and me this means focusing on those people, activities and projects which are going to yield the most benefits. Are there some customers who drain you and your resources? What about those prospects who are never likely to convert to customers but are draining your resources (TME)? It is time for pruning. This doesn’t mean to cease all contact. Who knows which prospects might be unable to buy now but could in the future?

Have different “silos” (good metaphor for Relationship Farming) where you can help them grow. Keep them on an automated list of information but carefully allocate your time away from those who will never become customers.

Joe Hernandez in his work, Networking Formula for Success, talks about using database marketing to put new contacts into A, B, C, or D categories. The A category is for those ready to buy right away. Those in the D category need to pruned from your database. They are out of business, have died or are just not likely to ever buy.

During difficult times you have to be ruthless with the activities you pursue. You can’t afford to waste your valuable TME on those areas that drain you. Busy is not necessarily profitable. Cull out those things that don’t contribute to your overall success plan.

2. Reach Out To Others To Find Their Need And Help Them
. Hey, you’re not the only one going through tough times! Your prospects and customers are going through some difficult times as well. What are you doing to help them? How much of their pain have you explored so you can help? This is good any time to build Relationship Marketing. It becomes even more important now. Difficult times provide a wonderful opportunity to help others in substantial ways. You don’t get business by bothering people into submission. Instead you study what is hurting them and provide a solution. Reach out to prospects and customers to get the things they need and help them.

3. Plan For Lots Of Variables. It all starts with what you have deemed is important for you in your life. You can’t sit back and wait for things to happen. Winners do not speak the phrase “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” If you don’t have a plan ---- or should I say, multiple plans in place to handle a variety of possible outcomes --- you’ll be toast. You won’t have time to react when a major crisis hits. You have to prepare before the crisis to handle it.

Sure, you don’t know what is going to happen. Hey, my crystal ball is pretty foggy. However, I know that by preparing physically, I can withstand the vagaries of the physical world that will hit my body. This means bringing into my life things like good exercise, good nutrition, good rest, good health care and advice from trained professionals, good training and education in important areas of life and good spiritual connectivity to what matters most.

4. Become Excellent At What You Do. Don’t give up when the going gets tough. Come on! You know you could have done it if you would have stayed with it. Toughen up! You need to be mentally tough, physically tough, spiritually tough and socially tough. This is all about Relationship Marketing in the real world. It is not about lighting a bunch of candles, holding hands and all singing “Kumbaya.”

Difficult times have a way of separating the “tryers” from the winners. Welcome these times and resolve to become a better person in business and in life. Pruning the unnecessary activities and projects helps you to focus on those that are most profitable. Difficult times present the perfect time to help others and thereby become excellent at what you do.

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

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Marketing Lessons From Politics

By Terry L. Brock

It is political season here in the USA as I type this. Personally, I find much of the political process annoying, even disgusting at best. Yet, in the midst of the nauseating, repulsive and abysmal morass (and I mean that in the nicest sort of way!) you and I can learn a lot to grow our businesses.

Politicians have to win votes to survive. You and I have to win the hearts and minds of our customers to win their votes (dollars) every day. This is where Relationship Marketing is so important.

Here are some areas where I see similarities between the current political campaign and what you and I do in our businesses. The principles of Relationship Marketing apply to both.

It Is Not About Just Using The Web--- It Is About Embracing Web 2.0. You have to engage the customer. Merely shoving a bunch of information at them (think 1960’s television, radio, newspaper, etc.) doesn’t cut it anymore. Politicians actively embrace the Net and raise funds. They allow supporters (and detractors) to comment on Blogs, websites, etc. YouTube is an active part of the political process. Embrace these tools for your own business and reap the benefits.

Learn What Is Important To The Customer And Play To Their Needs. Politicians will stress the economy in economically-challenged Ohio. They address issues, like NAFTA, outsourcing and unemployment, which are of concern to unions in Michigan, Ohio and other states. They address immigration in states like Florida, Arizona, Texas, and California. Are they only pandering to those in that particular area? Well, a case could be made for that. It is important to address the issues that are relevant to people in each geographic area.

Build Relationships On 2 Levels: Retail and Wholesale. Politicians build relationships at the retail level. They know specific people and call them directly. They make it a point to meet in person with specific people. They also embrace the masses at the wholesale level through rallies, fund-raising dinners, the media and more. We have to do it as well. Have some relationships that are built to be very close. Other relationships are made through the media. This is what any TV or movie star does. They have a TV-persona, a public persona. They also have a more intimate personal side.

On the retail level it means pressing the flesh. This means you have to be there. Yes, email is great. Yes, telephone calls are great. And yes, Skype video over the Net is fabulous. However, none of that takes the place of sitting down with someone and sharing one-on-one over some drinks. Breaking bread with someone has been a time-honored tradition through the centuries to bond with people. Think of how you could use this same principle to get to know your audience. This is Relationship Marketing at its best.

Have A Compelling Message. You have to stand out from the crowd. Without offending, you must have a unique message your customers can’t get elsewhere. A politician who sounds too radical or too much like everyone else is doomed. Yes, it is a difficult tightrope to walk. Find a niche and serve that niche well in business. Any successful politician (i.e. the one who wins races) has a clear, compelling message. Those rascally politicians can teach you and me a lot in this!

Public Speaking Is Critical. Barack Obama is a good example today of a great public speaker. He is not alone on the political stage. Think of Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, John Kennedy, Winston Churchill and yes, even Adolph Hitler. Good public speaking skills are amoral. It is up to the person to use them ethically. If you’re in a professional service, see public speaking as a vital tool for extending your brand and building trust. When people see you speak in public they either want to embrace you and your message or will discard you. In most cases, audiences want to support the speaker. People like saying they heard a particular person live and direct. However, if you come across as unsure and violate some of their core beliefs, you alienate them.

Build Your Base. Build your base of solid supporters who carry on your message for you. All of the candidates stress the message that it is not about them alone. It is about a bigger mission. “I can’t do it alone” you’ll hear them say. You and I are in the same position. Find a way that others can be involved in a bigger mission than just your sale today. Realistically, every candidate wants to be President for the thrill of the power. If they say otherwise, they would lie about other things too. However, they have to communicate the impression that they are doing it to serve others (at least convey that message to the voters).

Pollsters (And Tracking) Are Vital. Watch what the pollsters say are the issues which matter. You can do this in your business by using tools like Google Analytics, WebTrends and other excellent tools. Know who is coming to your website. Know what they are looking for. It is vital to be aware of what is happening with the vital numbers in your business. Identify those key metrics and ratios and monitor them closely for your business. Blogging and YouTube are two excellent tools for this.

Make Sure They Vote. It is one thing for people to say they support a candidate. It is quite another for them to take the effort to actually vote and let their voice be heard. You want to make it easy for people to buy from you. Make your website easy to navigate. Make your retail store a joy to visit. Make it easy for clients to purchase your services. Words alone and good wishes won’t do it. You want to get their support and stay with them. This is where your Relationship Marketing pays off.

These principles apply from the world of politics to what you and I do in our own businesses. However, there is one very big difference. You and I have “Election Day” every day. Then the campaign cycle starts all over again the next day for the next race. By making a strong commitment to get continually better and improve your campaign, you will win the race(s). It might not be a political race but a much more important one ---- the life of your own business. With these principles in mind you and I can survive any political 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