Well, Duh?

28 03 2011

Few blogs offer much more than regurgitation of information we already readily have available. It is immaterial if the writer is left-wing, right-wing, or a centrist (or just freaking insane). Many blogs convey the writer’s attitude – good, bad, annoying, or otherwise. Rarely do we read anything thought provoking. There are many exceptions of course (subscribe to Redhead Writing for an example of great), but most seem fairly lame.

I recently reviewed my own blogs over the past year – with a mild disclaimer that (as I have claimed before) I am definitely ADD. My meanderings are all over the place. Unfortunately, this is what the inside of my head looks like – kind of a train wreck – it is just not wired correctly. But mostly my response to reading my own blogs was the same reaction I have to reading most other blogs, and that was “Well, Duh?”

I then wanted to write a few paragraphs to ramble about other things I don’t understand, but there is too much stuff out there. I hoped to make a little sense out of my own thought processes, but to little avail.

For instance, the first thing that came to mind was the Kardashian trend. I have seen them interviewed and cannot find a reason why anybody wanted to talk to them in the first place. From what little I understand, one of the Kardashians is famous for licking a wrapper; not sure why that is important or how the other very eloquent Kardashian girls became popular.

Following Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, Snookie or many of the other celebrities getting press has always intrigued me because I can’t see any reason to read about them anytime – drunk, sober, stupid, or otherwise. I have to admit I have been a big fan of Robert Downey, Jr. for a long time – always wanted to see him succeed because I believe he is very talented. I felt the same way about River Phoenix, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, and many others – so I guess it all depends who you like or dislike – certainly many people feel that Snookie has many redeeming qualities and I am just missing the point somehow. That is how it usually works – well duh?


Lasting Relationships and Technology

21 03 2011

I have been married for 32 years, and I believed that the challenge of remaining in a relationship (not to mention raising two beautiful daughters) would be the hardest thing I would probably ever have to face.

And then along came the new technologies. First learning to hook up the VCR to the television. Then adding the Nintendo system. Then hooking up the PlayStation without interrupting the television/nintendo/vcr set up. Then came the WII system – with the cable box included, our entertainment area began to look like Mission Control at NASA.

By now of course, we are long overdue to upgrade our television. Now we have moved everything with gaming to a family room which obviously needed to be upgraded immediately to HD, Blu-Ray, and the ability to control our devices from our telephones, work stations, or tablet devices.

I always envisioned myself becoming Ward Cleaver, but I appear to be evolving more towards George Jetson. I was moderately prepared to have children and a wonderful marriage, but the rest of this crap – not so much. As it turns out, no one would ever describe me as Ward Cleaver-like, and George Jetson makes me look technology-wise like the Neanderthal guys in the Geico commercials.

In retrospect, working with new devices and struggling to learn how to interface/operate – especially regarding expectations with both devices and relationships – are fairly similar. You must learn what buttons are probably not going to do anything and which ones can cause harm. Decide which features you need and are important, and let the rest go. Prioritize – there is nothing wrong with learning new systems – but you had better be prepared because back up systems usually suck. And from what I have witnessed, 32 years of relationships are virtually impossible to reinstall. The rest of the stuff can blow the hell up for all I care. Best of luck trying to keep up with either one!


15 03 2011

Prospecting is selling. You should never stop looking for new business. When the economy is great and people are beating down your doors to use your products or a service that is the time to find a few hours each week to prospect.

Too often when things are going well, business is flourishing and revenues are up, prospecting becomes an afterthought, and the team’s momentum and desire to look for new business is lost. At some time, the pipeline will either slow down or run dry, and you will wonder what has happened.

Usually this is when everybody on the team rushes in offering lower margin programs to recover lost revenues. The value of your product or services has not diminished a bit, you have just set yourself up to undersell. If you view prospecting as a necessary part of your selling strategy, and every day there is a concerted effort towards this most important function of the sales process, you might not find yourself in this untenable position.

Some say 25% of the day should be devoted to prospecting, some say 50% or higher (I personally think it depends on what your industry demands, and how your selling cycle operates). Entering a prospect in to your sales pipeline is the number one most important thing a sales or service person can do, and the only way to find new customers is to look for them.

Much like the old prospectors mining for gold, the excitement and challenge is in finding that nugget. Most prospectors who found that first nugget of gold found that they were in the right place to collect even more – they were the successful miners.

Many things prevent sales or service people from prospecting for new customers. Most times it is a lack of measureable accountabilities from the leadership of the company, and a deep rooted complacency that results from years of relative success. The fallacy of continuing to “hope” that business trends will continue to grow has forced many companies to collapse. Regardless of your successful past in business, you always need to be out there asking for that business, and thanking your clients for their support.

When you look at prospecting as a selling tool, and instill a clear understanding of this important element of the sales process, you should be on the road to continued success. Leadership should never discourage their team from getting out of the office frequently to prospect. You should never allow your team to become a victim of their own success by limiting their ability to prospect.

Be vigilant in your efforts to be the best at what you do, and win the battle for customer acquisition and retention by employing a sales process that includes a strong a detailed commitment to prospecting. You can be assured your competitors are employing the same techniques to assure they receive the business that you deserve. And if they are doing a better job at prospecting than you are, perhaps they deserve that business more than you.

Sponsorship Conundrums – The Second Dilemma

11 03 2011

OK, OK, OK – enough about the “bad” economy. It is no secret that many companies are using the economy as a reason for whatever convenient unpopular decision they might have to confront. This is affecting corporate sponsorships on an enormous level. The same old excuses apply – “our budget is already spent”; “we are not able to support any causes this year”; “perhaps next year” (we hear this from the same companies every year – they could just as easily record it as part of their company answering machine message).

The truth is that many of these organizations are in a position to greatly serve the community, but have the chance to excuse themselves from participating because it is so much easier to blame economic conditions and just say no.

I am certainly not implying that giving sponsorship funding to needy organizations is remotely more important than providing jobs to the thousands in need of work. My entire point is that both issues are very important, and many of our greatest contributers supporting the Greater Kansas City area are doing neither.

It is time for Kansas City’s corporate leaders to mandate changes in their businesses to allow more support for community activities. What ever happened to Spiritfest? Whatever happened to Oktoberfest? People came from everywhere to attend those events. Rhythm & Ribs, as well as KCRiverfest are hanging on by a thread. None of these festivals are funded by the City of Kansas City – they have all relied (and still rely) on support from corporate generosity. These events help define our city, as well as generate real revenues for our economic base.

This is a major shout-out to our great corporate community – we need you – all of Kansas City needs you!

Sponsorship Conundrums – The First Dilemma

5 03 2011

At a time when marketing departments obsess over delivering their messages digitally and anachronistically attempting to calculate the return on every dollar spent, many businesses are pursuing a more low-tech strategy — hosting really memorable events. North American businesses are expected to spend nearly 18 billion sponsoring events in 2011-charity galas, athletic contests, festivals, and other community activities. IEG Sponsorship Report, a trade publication, anticipates 2011 to show a 5.9% increase in sponsorships over 2010. 2009 was one of the worst years for corporate giving in many year’s, yet 2010 proved to slightly exceed expectations. Why the change of attitude? Experiential Marketing and Cause Branding. Not new ideas but the concepts are based on the belief that the best way to deepen the emotional brand between a company and its customers is by offering a unique experience. Splashing your logo and brand on every available surface is not effective – it is all about how clients interact with your brand. There is a great deal of data on the internet to support this information – one really good site for more info is at Antler Agency.

But sponsoring events is not for the faint of heart. Success can depend on an array of variables, such as weather, catering, and the number of attendees. There are endless options from which to choose, and prices range widely based on your reasons for sponsoring (community involvement, new product placement, employee appreciation, etc.) Industry data are scant when it comes to local and regional sponsorship deals, which means that measuring an event’s impact can be virtually impossible.

To get the most out of a sponsorship, decide at the outset what your goal is. If it’s brand awareness you’re after, select an event that draws a large crowd, offers great product placement, and make sure your product is readily available if possible. If you want to drum up sales leads, focus on an event heavy on attendance and make sure you have an area where people will gather and share their information with your representatives – samples, raffle opportunities, or giveaways can be very helpful in this scenario.

Choose your sponsorship opportunities wisely – people pay closer attention than you can imagine who is supporting their events

Whatever you want, there is an event out there that is perfect for you.

Cigar Thoughts 4

4 03 2011

How the Master Blender Determines Flavor

Based on popular demand, as well as a few threats, this will likely be my final Cigar based blog. I may drop in a few comments at a later date on extraordinary sticks that I have stumbled upon, but this information has been Basic Training for afficionados, and boring as hell for people who could care less about anything cigar related. Without further ado, here are my final meanderings on the subject.

The flavor and strength of tobacco grown in different soil will gain its characteristics from the genetic signature of the soil. A master blender will use their knowledge of the different tobaccos at their disposal and will set out to create a cigar masterpiece by blending several different tobaccos. The master blender will usually start out with an idea of the type of cigar they want to blend. Perhaps they want a full-bodied cigar with more spice and less sweetness. Or maybe they want a medium-bodied blend that has a lot of sweetness and shows more complexity. Whatever the case, they will choose from their stores of tobacco to achieve their goal.

As the master blender works with the different tobaccos, he or she may end up using 3-5 different tobacco types (and sometimes more) in the filler blend. The strength, body and flavor characteristics of these different tobaccos will determine the extent to which the wrapper tobacco will contribute to the flavor of the cigar. The filler blend must be matched with the wrapper and binder leaves and the talented master blender can control the contribution of the wrapper and filler to the overall flavor of the finished cigar.

If a cigar maker wants more strength in a cigar, their recipe will favor fuller-bodied, stronger, and more flavorful tobacco varietals and will favor higher priming leaves. To create a lighter bodied blend, the master blender will favor lighter tobacco types and will use a higher percentage of lower priming leaves.
A filler blend with more body, strength and/or flavor will compete with the wrapper in terms of its contribution to the overall flavor of the cigar. On the other hand, a mild filler blend will compete less with the wrapper tobacco. A wrapper that is stronger and fuller in body and flavor will assert its flavor characteristics over a light to medium bodied filler blend.

I am going to enjoy a “God of Fire” cigar now – I am tired of trying to convert neophytes. Experiment at your own leisure and time – it is much more fun than trying to write something remotely interesting every week. From here on, if you have an interest in anything “cigar” oriented, please just call Tom at Fidel’s. He has forgotten more in the last two hours than I will know in a lifetime of cigar smoking.