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There is No Business Like Your Business!

Can I tell you a story?

A few years ago I received a call from the owner of a local nursery. He was teetering on the brink of disaster and the bank, which held a note on the business, decided it was time to get involved.

They nursery sold flowers and vegetable plants; shrubs and trees as well as the equipment to go with it. His grand father founded the business at the tail end of The Great Depression. They had a great location, right next to a busy mall. He was a local celebrity of sorts. He had a weekly radio show where he dispensed wisdom on all things plants and shrubs. He had a five acre series of green houses a few miles from the nursery.

Everything went well until……….

(((Dramatic pause here.)))

Until a big box store opened about a half of mile away. You know, one of those places that sold in volume. Business went from booming, to slow to almost non existent. If I can buy three trays of flowers for the same price you sell one tray for, where do you think I am going to shop?

That’s when the bank decided to get involved. Banks do not care about how long we’ve been in business or all of our past successes. Banks care about getting the money they lent us repaid and they don’t care about “how.” They care about the “when.” There is one universal truth I can share confidently with you: You don’t want your banker running your business!

The bank hired a consultant to analyze the business and create a recovery plan. The consultant knew a lot about consulting. You might say they were famous. They knew very little about the nuances of a family run business and all the challenges that go with managing it. They analyzed, interviewed, and analyzed some more. They poked, prodded and nodded. They gathered everyone in the small conference area. With solemn faces they pronounced that while the business was in critical condition it could be saved.With their help.

By now the owner felt like he’d been hit up along side of the head with a four by four. He nodded his head pulled out his check book in ascent and the consultant told them that he would be back.

I am going to fast forward.

All of the information the consultant shared was valuable. Valuable in a “thirty thousand foot view” sorta way. You couldn’t argue with any of it. But none of it solved the problem of how the nursery was going to compete with the big box store down the road. No one asked:

What makes your nursery unique and special and how are you going to leverage that quality to stand out in your market?

What no one understood was there is no business like his (yours, our) business and that while it’s easy to throw a few MBA type solutions at an issue; situations, circumstances and markets are like the micro climates in southern California. They often vary from street to street and business to business.

No one asked the owner.

The owner was equally as culpable. He was searching for a magic elixir that didn’t exist. He wanted a quick fix. If it got the bank off of his back he’d have done just about anything.

A year later the shop stood empty. The bank eventually foreclosed and the property was sold. Today it’s a convenience store with a gas station.

It’s true. There is no business like your business.

Mine either.

The New Normal

I wanna tell you a story.

You know the area on your web page where in big bold letters it says CONTACT ME?

Someone contacted me.

Someone I didn’t know. They wanted to set up a face to face meeting with me. They’d heard about the work I was doing with fledgling entrepreneurs and wanted to discuss some coaching.

Cool beans.

I stalked them looked them up on Facebook and saw that a client of mine was a connection of hers. I do this with just about everyone I meet for the first time that has a social media presence which is just about everybody. It helps remove the awkward, who says what and who goes first and all that other nonsense

Lo and behold one of her connections was a client of mine. Someone I’d coached a few years earlier.

After we shook hands and exchanged business cards with her, I said.

I understand you and I have a mutual connection.

Her face lit up.

OMG!!! We were best friends growing up. We  went to school together! 

For the next ten minutes I listened to her talk about her friend. She told me they’d lost touch because she’d moved to another state for a few years.

I have a daughter-in-law that grew up in that state. It’s beautiful there!

About that time the alarm went off on her phone.

John, I have another appointment in five minutes. Are you busy on Friday? I’d like to talk to you more and set up another meeting.

When I left her office I sat in the parking lot for a few minutes opened up my phone and messaged my client. I wanted to let her know who I’d met. She’d lost touch as well.

Here is my take away and how it relates to the new normal we some of us are creating. 

Stow the sales pitch! (Even if you have to sit on your hands.) It’s about realtionships! Did you notice that nowhere in the narrative above did I share what her purpose was in reaching out to me. Right now it’s irrelevant. I could have sailed into her office, free gift guns blazing, social media links showering from the ceiling and all the testimonials about the lives careers and businesses I’ve saved from the scrap heap. I could have, but what would have been the point?

She’s heard it all before. So have you. It’s why she set the timer on her phone. If I’d have been the lounge lizard of sales she could have done a quick exit with her dignity intact.

He’s gonna come in here and try to sell me something I don’t even need! Why do I do these things? I’ll give him a bottle of water and send him on his way. He’s probably used to it.

We never did get around to why she reached out. She will check me out, mostly with her BFF, and if things resonate with her we’ll move on too the second meeting. If not…. If not I made a new connection that may be a potential referral partner down the line.

True story: I developed a relationship over a one year period with someone I’d met at a networking event. We had lunch or coffee once a month or so. I’d never use her services and she’d never use mine but……………… One evening she met with two people who were looking to start a new business and in their own words Didn’t have a clue what to do first! My networking buddy said I know someone that could help you.

That referral and that relationship netted me a new client who in turn down the road netted me two other clients. All because we got to know and most importantly trust each other.

Can I repeat that?

All because we got to know and most importantly trust each other.

The people who will pay you the value of your service are the people who get it. They are the people who resonate with your message.

A relationship that shouts “equality.” Back in the old days people hired folks like me because there was the belief we drank a magic elixir every morning and it allowed us to gaze into the past, present and future. We knew everything. You, the poor client knew nothing. I am here to save you.

Will that be cash check or charge?

Sure you don’t wanna cash in your 401K to have me lead you to the promised land?

You don’t? Have a nice day. (By the way: There’s something intrinsically wrong with you if my message doesn’t resonate with you. You REALLY do need me)

I am going to give you one final chance. I’ll even let you send me twelve equal payments.

The poo-ru’s said I am supposed to ask you three times to give in and pay me. It doesn’t matter that you’re not sure if you need me or not. Just pay me!

I’m just going to make one point and move on:

Who knows more about your life, your career or your business than you?

Exactly

We, you and I, can see if we want to travel together on a portion of your journey. Can I help you as a coach or mentor? You steer the ship. I point out potential harbors of opportunity and a careful exhortation about the hidden ice bergs you may encounter.

We both walk away wiser.

That’s the new normal to me. (And I like it!)

What “New Marketing” Really Means

Can we talk?

I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts on the “new” marketing for some time.

Why?

I know some really honest people, chock full of integrity, not so much concerned about earning seven figures as they are getting paid for the value of what they share with the rest of us and as importantly making a contribution. Remember that passion and enthusiasm that got you started?

Then, there are the others.

I thought they’d largely vanished. They are the folks who still poke and prod, get up in our faces and suggest that we never really belonged at the cool kids lunch table anyway. They’ve located our pain and they have the answer.

I had an experience the other day that caused me to write this post.

YouTube videos are my friends. Any time I’m stuck I’ll do a search and viola, there are a host of experts willing to share their thoughts with me. Some of them have made me look like I knew what I was doing , especially when it came to fixing things around the house

The other day I was interested in learning how people were using YouTube videos as a way to build their email list. After a few abortive tries I found one that looked pretty interesting. I hit pause, went for a cup of tea, settled in and punched “resume.”

The content was exactly what I was looking for and I even registered to receive the free gift the presenter offered if I’d share my email address.

I did. I know the drill. To get something you have to give something. No problem.

I knew what was coming next. It’s called the squeeze. You have my attention, you’ve plied me with all sorts of free stuff, now it’s time to reach into my pocket……….. Again, I do not have a problem with this.

It’s called sales and it is not a dirty word.

I read the landing page I was sent to. Again, good stuff. But………….Not anything I needed right now. I book marked it for future reference. Just in case.

Now, people respond to rejection one of two ways:

When I get notice through my provider that someone didn’t click though or left in the middle of reading something I’ll respond by telling them I’m sorry they aren’t interested and one last time in an appropriate way, share the benefits of what I am offering. I close by telling them I hope they enjoy my newsletter or blog or whatever it is they gave me access to their email for.

See, that email address is gold. They may not need the program I am currently offering but down the road something may be of interest to them and they may investigate further.

(Did I tell you one of my motto’s is “Measure progress with a calendar not with a stop watch!”)

The second way of responding to rejection was how I was treated. I received an email that suggested I’d never reach my life or business goals as long as I made the choice not to enroll. As a matter of fact, I was told I was now part of the 99% who didn’t want to work hard and make commitments. It was my loss.

The cool kids lunch table was getting father and farther away.

But ya know what? That’s how they wanted me to feel. They wanted me to feel hurt. They wanted me to lift my tear stained eyes and admit I had it all wrong.

They were my hope and salvation.

There was still time to act.

Let me ask you something?

How do you want to be treated?

Do you want a thank you, see you later, hope we can connect down the road and if not no worries.

Or

Do you want to be told you’re a quivering mass of failure who’ll never amount to anything.

The old way of marketing suggests I find your pain and exploit it. The new way of marketing suggests I find your strengths and passions and celebrate them.

There might even be a happy dance involved.

New Career Creations blends the disciplines of business, career and life coaching to assure their clients have the best opportunity to be successful in all areas of their lives and careers. We partner with you to create those possibilities. A Heroes Journey is published on Tuesday at 7:30 AM CST. You can contact us at John@NewCareerCreations.com