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Lisbiz Strategies: Add email marketing to your digital strategy

October 9/16, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 9

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

Lisbeth CalandrinoDigital marketing uses online channels and methods that allow you to analyze what is and isn’t working. Because we’re talking about electronic media, this analysis can be done immediately. You can make changes on the spot if something isn’t working, which is not always possible with every marketing channel.

When I was in the retail business, I used weekly newspaper campaigns and never knew whether the customer had actually seen my advertisement. We would ask if they had seen our ads and most could not remember. Oftentimes they would tell us about a competitor’s advertisement thinking it was ours. This was just more money sent down the drain. However, this doesn’t have to happen if you plan your campaigns and stay on top of the statistics.

You’re probably incorporating Facebook, YouTube and Twitter into your digital strategy, but when and how often do you post? Do you check your statistics? Do you only post when you have a sale?

You must be consistent to get results, regardless of the methods you use. You have to determine how often you want to post and then schedule it. You need a long-term campaign to determine what to send and when. All of these digital channels have a way for you to check how you’re doing.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 10.02.05 AMMany think email marketing is old. However, it is very sophisticated if done right. What’s more, email marketing ensures your content is going directly to a known customer who wants to hear from you. You just need to have good subject lines and interesting emails.

According to Wordstream, 80% of retail professionals indicate email marketing is their greatest driver of customer retention. Another statistic, according to MarketingSherpa, states 91% of people actually enjoy receiving promotional emails, with 61% stating they would like to receive them weekly and 15% wanting them daily.

Following is what you need to do to make your email marketing work:

Have good subject lines. The subject line is the first thing your customer will see when she checks her emails. Make sure your subject lines catch her attention and spark curiosity.

Segment your customers. Don’t send the same emails to all your customers. Different customers have different needs so when you put customers in your database, choose the appropriate category. I know you’re saying, “Do I have to do all this work?” Using a technique called data mining will help you determine buying and pricing for a specific group of customers. This is what the supermarket does with the information from your special discount card. They find out who you are and what you buy. Then they target you with special offers.

Check your open and click- through rates. If your emails aren’t getting opened, you need different subjects. There’s no reason for a click through unless there’s something to read. Always have some type of offer for the reader.

Keep the focus of the email on the customer, not yourself. All customers want information to help them solve a problem, even if it’s five ways to cook tomatoes. You need to know your customers and their angst. You know, what keeps them up at night? Be personal, be yourself, be trustworthy.

Keep trying. Not everything you write will be a hit. But every time someone says, “I love those articles I get,” you’ll know you’re on the right track.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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Lisbiz Strategies: Add email marketing to your digital strategy

October 9/16, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 9

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

Lisbeth CalandrinoDigital marketing uses online channels and methods that allow you to analyze what is and isn’t working. Because we’re talking about electronic media, this analysis can be done immediately. You can make changes on the spot if something isn’t working, which is not always possible with every marketing channel.

When I was in the retail business, I used weekly newspaper campaigns and never knew whether the customer had actually seen my advertisement. We would ask if they had seen our ads and most could not remember. Oftentimes they would tell us about a competitor’s advertisement thinking it was ours. This was just more money sent down the drain. However, this doesn’t have to happen if you plan your campaigns and stay on top of the statistics.

You’re probably incorporating Facebook, YouTube and Twitter into your digital strategy, but when and how often do you post? Do you check your statistics? Do you only post when you have a sale?

You must be consistent to get results, regardless of the methods you use. You have to determine how often you want to post and then schedule it. You need a long-term campaign to determine what to send and when. All of these digital channels have a way for you to check how you’re doing.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 10.02.05 AMMany think email marketing is old. However, it is very sophisticated if done right. What’s more, email marketing ensures your content is going directly to a known customer who wants to hear from you. You just need to have good subject lines and interesting emails.

According to Wordstream, 80% of retail professionals indicate email marketing is their greatest driver of customer retention. Another statistic, according to MarketingSherpa, states 91% of people actually enjoy receiving promotional emails, with 61% stating they would like to receive them weekly and 15% wanting them daily.

Following is what you need to do to make your email marketing work:

Have good subject lines. The subject line is the first thing your customer will see when she checks her emails. Make sure your subject lines catch her attention and spark curiosity.

Segment your customers. Don’t send the same emails to all your customers. Different customers have different needs so when you put customers in your database, choose the appropriate category. I know you’re saying, “Do I have to do all this work?” Using a technique called data mining will help you determine buying and pricing for a specific group of customers. This is what the supermarket does with the information from your special discount card. They find out who you are and what you buy. Then they target you with special offers.

Check your open and click- through rates. If your emails aren’t getting opened, you need different subjects. There’s no reason for a click through unless there’s something to read. Always have some type of offer for the reader.

Keep the focus of the email on the customer, not yourself. All customers want information to help them solve a problem, even if it’s five ways to cook tomatoes. You need to know your customers and their angst. You know, what keeps them up at night? Be personal, be yourself, be trustworthy.

Keep trying. Not everything you write will be a hit. But every time someone says, “I love those articles I get,” you’ll know you’re on the right track.

 

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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Lisbiz Strategies: The holiday season is a great time for promos

September 11/18, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 7

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

Lisbeth CalandrinoHas the summer been slow? Are you and your employees enjoying a lazy time? Would you rather not think about the upcoming winter season? If so, you’re not the only one. Retailers seem to wake up at the end of November when their opportunities are gone or slim.

If you haven’t noticed, the box stores are already showing Christmas trees and other holiday items. If you’re pushing against the upcoming seasons (“Nobody buys flooring for the holidays”), you might want to stop. Now is the time to take advantage of the holidays. Put a plan in place not only for your customers, but also for your employees.

Why not make this time of year your season? The experience is alive and well; it’s up to you to decide what to do with it. It’s time to get your creative juices going. It’s important for you to create a fun holiday for your employees and the customers. Just because it’s not your season doesn’t mean the party is over.

Following are some suggestions to energize your store during the holiday season.

  1. ’Tis the season for parties. Don’t forget “Movember”—men’s health month—which happens in November. Research the occasion online and have a contest with your customers and your employees. You’ll have to get invitations out fast if you want to get on your customers’ calendars.
  2. This is also the season for buying presents. Find another retailer who does business this time of the year (a florist or party store) and join forces. One good partner would be a jeweler; she probably has a huge mailing list and this is her season. Become the new gathering place in your area. Look for unusual and local-made designs. If there’s a local trade show with holiday items, why not attend to get ideas or buy things you can resell?
  3. Unusual vinegars, olive oil and spices are in this year. Personally I would look for someone selling holiday wreaths and trees and set them up outside my store. Don’t forget to order a Santa costume.
  4. This is the season for getting dressed up. How about a fancy party? What organizations do you belong to that are looking for a place to hold their holiday party? Can you hold a Chamber of Commerce event or your networking group at your store? Have a professional designer come in and decorate your store for the holidays. Take a hint from NYC stores; Macy’s still goes all out.
  5. Host your own happy hour. Everyone loves a good drink. Combine it with a unique shopping experience and you’ll have people lining up. Show some special products and a special drink named after your store. Sell tickets for the event or let a customer in for free as long as they bring a non-customer friend. Be sure to post your event online.
  6. How about a learning experience? People want to learn how to arrange flowers or cook a special dinner. Can you find a local chef to come in and teach how to make a special entre or dessert?
  7. An art and photography show will bring in people, especially if the artists have a following and things are for sale.
  8. What about a block party or festival? This is the season to bring people together so why not be the catalyst? You may need to get permits for your events so you have to get started.

Take photos for your social media presence, testimonials about your super parties and hot items for sale. This will guarantee an overflowing crowd for your next event. (The best event will be your anti-Valentine’s networking party.)

 

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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Lisbiz Strategies: Put Surfaces on your must-attend list

August 28/September 4: Volume 32, Issue 6

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

Lisbeth CalandrinoThis year I was invited to be part of the educational committee to determine the seminars to be offered at TISE 2018. I have always wondered how the seminars were decided. This year I would not only participate in the process but would learn more about the industry.

Weeks before our arrival, Carol Wilkins, educational director of TISE, sent participants the evaluations of the presentations from the last year as well as the new submittals. We were asked to rate the new ones prior to arriving in Dallas. I must admit at first the task looked overwhelming, so I decided I needed to get right to it. The submittals encompassed all aspects of the industry, including installation, sales, marketing and showroom design—to name a few. This year there was also a submittal for a design competition to celebrate Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150-year anniversary.

It was great to see all facets of the industry represented as well as experts whom I rarely get to see. After our welcoming dinner the first night, I realized the process was going to be very enlightening. Since there were no “shrinking violets,” there was bound to be plenty of energy and opinions in the room. We all have our area of expertise, but I quickly realized I’m not informed on everything in the industry.

Most impressive was the passion expressed by everyone in the room. I started to wonder, How would we ever get this task done in one and half days? Better yet, How would we know what to use and what to eliminate? There were several newcomers to the industry who came with a different slant. There were a couple of storeowners who gave us firsthand views on what they are experiencing in the industry.

The process went smoothly and the conversation was exciting. The depth of the 2018 seminars is amazing. So what does this mean to retailers?

  1. Stop making excuses for not attending. This is your opportunity to learn from experts in our industry. Look at the seminars and decide which ones are relevant for your business.
  2. Share the education seminars with your staff before you go. You will probably get some useful information from your staff about what they think would be useful for your business.
  3. Bring a store manager, salesperson or trusted advisor. Have them attend as many seminars as possible and share the information when they get back to the store.
  4. Attend seminars with your suppliers. Many retailers depend on their suppliers to help them make decisions. Why not bring one of them to a seminar on trends or redesigning your showroom? You need to know what is going on outside of your trading area.
  5. Choose education over partying. I don’t mean to sound like your mean mother, but you won’t have an opportunity like this for another year. Sure, you like being romanced by your suppliers but if you don’t know how to maximize the products you buy, what good are they?
  6. Learn from other retailers. Many of the seminars include a question-and-answer section, which will allow you to get good information from other retailers.
  7. Attend at least one technology and design seminar. Technology is always changing and some technology is very pertinent to our industry. You can learn what’s working for other retailers as well as how color plays an important part for our consumers.

 

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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Lisbiz Strategies: Your brand reflects you and your values

August 14/21: Volume 32, Issue 5

By Lisbeth Calandrino

Brands have been around forever, but the theory of branding has changed.

Lisbeth CalandrinoIt used to be that bigger was better and the louder you shouted the more attention you got. Remember when Coca Cola owned the soft drink market? Sure, they still have a huge market share but have big and new competitors. They’ve been sharing the market for a while with Pepsi and the Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group. One of the newest entrants, Red Bull, created a whole new product category called energy drinks.

As the product markets continue to crowd, so does the difficulty in getting brand recognition. “In the old days,” you were in command of your message, and since there was much less competition, the consumer listened. Another big change is the way information is now disseminated. The Internet has changed everything and leveled the playing field. The consumer has become the product marketer and gained control of your brand. If you’re not using the tools available, you will get lost to the sea of sameness.

Businesses are used to starting with their product and telling consumers why theirs is the important in the marketplace. Today’s products are everywhere and by the time your consumer gets to your business, they already know everything about your products.

What they might not know is who you are and what you stand for. Today’s consumers are more interested in your core beliefs and why you do what you do. This can differentiate your product and business from others in the overcrowded marketplace.

Instead of starting with the product it’s more important to begin with core beliefs of the business and why you do what you do. The new branding, as pointed out by Samuel Sinek in his book, “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action,” motivates consumers to bond to the company because of what they stand for.

There are other examples. Consider Wegman’s Food Market and their value statements. “Caring, High Standards Make a Difference, Respect and Empowerment.” Panera Bread continues to shout about its 100% clean message after eliminating artificial items from their food. “To Panera, a salad is more than a salad.”

One of my personal favorites is the Farmers Insurance commercial, “We’ve seen a thing or two.” Their commercials depict ridiculous things that have happened to their customers. Instead of talking about prices they dialogue about their core values. “Farmers not only prides itself on helping you plan wisely for the unexpected, but also on helping restore order when it occurs so you can keep moving along the road of your life’s plans.”

So what are your values? Do your employees talk about what you stand for and what matters to your company? What do you do that inspires your customers to want to be on “your team?”

To find the answers, ask yourself the following questions:

What do your customers think about you and how much do they share online? What are your customers saying about you? (Be sure to respond quickly to negative reviews.)

How are you educating your customers? Do your blogs explain to customers how to buy your products or what makes a good salesperson? Do you quote your customers in your blogs?

Remember, to your customers, you are just as important as the products you sell.

 

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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Lisbiz strategies: Lessons learned from my focus group

July 31/Aug. 7: Volume 31, Issue 4

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

Lisbeth CalandrinoWhen it comes to selling flooring we keep hearing the big box is clobbering the independent retailer. I find this hard to believe, so I decided to hold my own mini-focus group to get a clearer understanding of the issues. I recently convened a panel of 21 women—ages 25 to 65—at a small restaurant near my house. I asked the participants to provide thoughts on their shopping experiences relative to home centers vs. independent retailers. I asked a friend of mine to take notes so I could collect my own data.

Following are some takeaways based on the comments of the participants.

Lesson No. 1: With customer service, perception is reality. “Customer service in retail today is worse than ever.” This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this sentiment. If you have a problem with a product or service, according to my focus group, the independent store is the worst place to get satisfaction. This seems to be due to a couple of things. The big boxes have more money, so they are more likely to solve a consumer’s problem quicker. The more a consumer presses them, the faster her problem will get resolved. Furthermore, it’s hard to find anyone in charge in the independent business. The big boxes often have a customer service department to handle problems, while associates in the independent stores have very little power to solve problems.

For many who have closely followed this industry, this flies in the face of conventional wisdom. It is a long-held belief that home centers and big discount merchandisers lack the skilled work force to provide personal, specialized attention—the hallmarks of the independent specialty retailer. Furthermore, there are countless stories of specialty flooring retailers who operate in the shadow of large home centers and still have managed to not only survive but thrive. And now with the big boxes dramatically scaling back the pace of new store openings, there’s an opportunity for specialty retailers to recoup some share.

My advice: Invest in a customer service department with a different phone number and have the calls go directly to the owner.

Lesson No. 2: Installation is critical. My focus group experiment proved consumers are indeed interested in the installation process and believe certified installers are the way to go. (Another plus in the column for specialty retailers.) They all seem to be aware the big boxes sub-contract their installation and feel that is a bad policy. It signifies that the home center has little control over the process and the warranty is confusing. Furthermore, many home centers continue to de-value the importance of professional services by promoting “free” installation, which is often misleading.

Thankfully, specialty retailers understand the importance of installation, as installers often have the last word when it comes to warranties.

My advice: Look for opportunities to get your installers certified. This will bring credibility to your business and instill greater confidence in the consumer.

Lesson No. 3: More consumers are utilizing technology. In working with my focus group, I learned people utilize technology in different ways. When it comes to ordering online, most prefer to use their computers rather than their phones. In addition, many enjoyed using YouTube to get information on how things work.

My advice: Create a YouTube channel to show your customers how to choose flooring and explain the installation process.

 

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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Lisbiz strategies: Drive more traffic by creating a destination

May 22/29, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 25

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

Lisbeth CalandrinoRecently, my friend Barb introduced me to her new friend, Alexa. Alexa is the kind of friend we’d all like to have. She knows your favorite music, can tell time and predict the weather, and she can even automatically turn the lights in your house on and off. She’s like Siri, only smarter and comes with better connections.

Once Alexa gets to know your favorite music, she will create a personalized playlist. I was familiar with Siri but Alexa was new to me, so I did some research. Eventually, Alexa will even be able to call 911 for you. There are endless security possibilities.

It’s likely that Alexa will be used to automatically order things. Suppose you asked Alexa to call the drug store for you and order paper towels. All you have to do is ask Alexa to order the same ones you did the previous time and it’s done. The more things you program into Alexa, the less you will have to do.

For retailers or manufacturers, getting programmed into Alexa is the next big thing. Will retailers be vying for “Alexa space” similar to “shelf space” in supermarkets? The more things programmed into Alexa the less there is to think about. It remains to be seen how this will affect retailers, but the implications for manufacturers have already started. Ford Motor Co. recently announced that its Sync 3 infotainment systems will enable in-vehicle applications.

We’ve already seen the effects disruptive trends have had on store closings. Let’s face it, shopping just isn’t the national pastime it used to be. Shopping malls are changing because buyers have changed. Malls are being transformed into destinations for possible buyers.

As the population ages, living closer to conveniences such as grocery stores, the gym and doctors becomes ever more important. In 2014, José de Jesús Legaspi, a Mexican-American commercial developer, bought several defunct malls and turned them into destinations for the Latino community. “I try to create a sense of community, a sense of culture,” Legaspi said. These malls are now thriving.

The malls that are successful are those with mixed occupancy, including health clubs and travel agencies. Why are some malls having such a hard time? A big problem is lack of differentiation. If you’ve been in one Macy’s, you’ve seen everything there is to see and probably know its sales discount cycle. No one wants to pay full price and then find the same items on sale two weeks later.

In today’s marketplace, it’s all about experiences for the customers. What does this mean for your store?

Start thinking about your customers and their lifestyles. Bloomingdales shows yoga movies and invites customers to yoga classes; afterwards shoppers are invited to pick up a pair of leggings. Why not do something similar in your store?

What about this? “Monica Bill Barnes & Co. has reimagined the museum tour, creating a physical way for audiences to relate to the finest art in the world.” Tours are booked through December, with a price tag of $75.

Can you see your store as a destination? Is your parking lot big enough to host a farmer’s market this summer? Can you co-market with a plant nursery? What about having cooking classes, music classes or even a cigar night?

How can you make your store or buying more convenient for the customer? Can customers book appointments with your staff? How about offering design workshops and color classes for your customers?

Remember, it’s all about convenience, entertainment and making your store a destination.

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Lisbiz strategies: Taking shortcuts can hurt your business

May 8/15, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 24

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

Lisbeth CalandrinoWhen you first opened your business you most likely did everything by the book. You took your time completing tasks to make sure everything ran properly. Fast forward a year or two and the corners of that book were probably cut to save time and money.

Why do we take risky shortcuts in business, and where do these shortcuts usually happen? Do we only “fess up” when we are caught?

Here are five areas where we should stop taking shortcuts:

1. We pretend that social media doesn’t matter. I recently spoke at the Chicago Floorcovering Association’s product show. Most of the attendees were aware of social media and looking to learn new tips that would improve their relationships with their customers. For the “smart” businesses, there is no more pretending that putting up a social media site is all you have to do to have a successful site. You need a social media marketing strategy so you know what you want to achieve.

At the show, the audience shared some great experiences they had with social media and their customers. Social media matters if you are interested in building important connections with your customers.

2. Do you show a customer a cheaper product because you think she can’t afford the one she wants? How many times have we prejudged a customer because she didn’t look like she had enough money? The more experience we have, the more likely we are to prejudge.

Prejudging gives us a shortcut. Sometimes we are right and other times we’re wrong. For example, you are in the supermarket and there are four lines to the cashier. You decide to take the shorter one because you think it’s the quicker line. All of a sudden you notice the customer in front of you has about $500 worth of groceries. In this instance you assumed wrong; you’re now in the longer line.

3. We don’t believe in warranties so we don’t explain them to the customer. I cannot tell you how many times sales people have said, “Warranties don’t really matter, and they’re all lies.” As a certified carpet inspector, when we look at a complaint we look at the manufacturer’s warranty to see if the customer has followed the specified guidelines. If she hasn’t, the claim can be denied.

4. How many things do you put off until tomorrow? This is something we’ve all done. Putting things off only makes them worse, especially if we think it is going to make the other person unhappy or angry. While we’re antagonizing, our blood pressure soars and our stomach rumbles. Over the years, procrastinating only escalates the problem. When we put something unpleasant off we’re saying, “I can’t do it or I don’t want to do it.” This doesn’t raise your self-esteem—it just makes you feel more helpless. How about making a list and tackling those tough problems? In fact, make a list for the year and get at it. If you’re like most people, you probably have a list a mile long with things left over from last year.

5. Do you spend your time preserving the status quo? Nietzsche called this “amour fati”—loving one’s fate. In his final book Nietzche wrote, “One wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity.”

Taking shortcuts might seem like a quick fix, but it can ultimately hurt your business. Avoid the pitfalls and prosper.

 

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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Lisbiz Strategies: Stop breaking promises, disappointing customers

April 24/May 1, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 23

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

Lisbeth CalandrinoEmployees make promises to customers they can’t keep. When they do this it kills their relationship with the customer.

I recently read a story about a man who refused to break a promise to his wife to buy a bigger house within 10 years. When the time was up, he just didn’t have the money. To avoid disappointing her, he put his business in a precarious position to obtain the needed financing. After all, a promise is a promise.

Life happens, we can’t always do what we intend. We promise our children that when they’re ready to go to college we’ll be there to pay the fare. But sometimes we can’t follow through. Maybe we wouldn’t have made the promise, if we had thought it out.

Sounds a bit like a plot to a crime movie, doesn’t it? (“I just had to steal the money to buy the car I promised.”)

Instead of the promise being just a promise, it often reflects the relationship. You can just hear someone in the background wailing, “But you promised. Why can’t you?”

Do you remember how you felt when you were a child? When I was a kid, my mom promised to take me to New York City to visit my cousins. Unfortunately, the morning we were supposed to leave I woke up covered with the measles rash. I cried and screamed, “You promised we could go.” Mom said it didn’t matter what she promised, the measles was a deal breaker.

No matter what she said, I couldn’t understand why the measles had anything to do with why we weren’t going. I believed a promise is a promise, which meant promises were not to be broken.

In reality, breaking a promise can damage our integrity and ultimately determines whether people will continue to trust us. Customer service is about keeping your word.

Here are five ways to stop breaking promises.

Stop making promises. Simply put, just learn to say no. We often promise because we’re worrying about what others will think of us. It seemed like a good idea when the promise was made, but now we’re over extended and can’t keep all of the promises we’ve made. Sometimes you have to say no; it’s better than promising what you can’t deliver.

Don’t agree to everything. Be very clear to what you’ve agreed to and how the promise will be kept. It’s likely your customer will only hear the part about how you’re going to fix the problem. When it comes to the conditions, it’s doubtful they will listen.

Put it in writing. When dealing with an unhappy customer, are you writing down what you intend to do and ask the customer to sign it?

If things aren’t going to work out, call early. When we have to deliver bad news, we often wait until the last minute. Unfortunately, this is when it’s the most painful for everyone involved. It’s just as hard to deliver bad news as it is to listen to it. Get bad news out of the way.

The best thing to do is turn our promises into goals. Goals are promises with accountability. A promise can make a goal even stronger, but without accountability it’s not likely to happen. If you can’t figure out how to keep your promises you will be in big trouble with yourself and the customer. Turning promises into goals will help you find the way to make them happen. Once you turn your promises into goals, you can define the steps to reach your destination. This will make it clearer for you and the customer.

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Lisbiz strategies: If you have to fall, it’s better to fall forward

March 13/20, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 20

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

Lisbeth CalandrinoNelson Mandela said, “There’s no passion to be found playing it small—in settling for a life that’s less than you’re capable of living.” Social media gives us an opportunity to play large. We used to talk about “word of mouth” but it’s now “world of mouth.” So how far are you willing to go? Are you afraid to step out of your comfort zone, afraid you will make some terrible mistake? I doubt it.

What happens if you fall? You might as well fall forward. What’s the point of holding on to the past and things that no longer work?

Casey Affleck is someone who is trying to live it large and is willing to fall. I was watching the Oscars recently and was a bit surprised when Casey Affleck won Best Actor for “Manchester by the Sea.” I had seen the movie and found it to be very dark, but I thought Affleck was outstanding. It was as though the part was made just for him.

After researching his background, I really do think it was made for him. His past has been somewhat checkered but he continues to move forward.

But who is Casey Affleck? He is Ben Affleck’s brother. My sister and I both suffered from that designation—the one of having a sister who everyone knew.

According to Casey Affleck, that’s what everyone says. Sometimes it works in his favor and other times it does not. Both brothers are quite different with different skill sets. But how does anyone know who you really are when your brother is larger than life and your biggest fear is you’re not up for it?

Casey Affleck has been in a lot of movies, including the “Ocean’s Eleven” series. It appears he has had several opportunities but just hasn’t had the right part until now. Interestingly, “Manchester by the Sea” almost wasn’t that part for him. John Krasinski was the first choice, but he didn’t have room in his schedule. Second in line was Matt Damon, but he also turned out to be too busy. Affleck was the third string.

Even though he was not the first choice for “Manchester,” he was willing to go for it anyway. Affleck decided if he fell he would still learn something.

Boy, do I get this. There were also two of us in my family—my sister, Sonna, and myself. We both had the same last name, high ambitions and were very different. My sister was larger than life and was even inducted into the WFCA Hall of Fame. Everyone knew Sonna. I was known but not as well, and then my turn came. My sister had a very prominent speaking gig and the last minute fell ill. She asked if I would fill in for her. At first I worried people wouldn’t want me. Not only do they not know me, but I also don’t do what she does. What if I failed?

I decided I wasn’t going to flop and said I would do it. Sonna called and they said they did know me and were happy to have me. As the story goes, my sister became very ill and was unable to speak at future gigs. It was then that I took over. These gigs introduced me to another part of the industry, gave me new connections and helped me grow.

How are you willing to fall? Do you want to continue to play it small or are you willing to play large and fall wherever? It’s up to you.