8 questions, millions of answers

Ken Blanchard, co-author of “The One-Minute Manager,” “Raving Fans” and other books, has a challenge for us.
As business owners and community leaders, we need to spend time developing a personal mission statement by answering these 4 short questions:
• Why am I in the world?
• What is my overarching purpose?
• What would I like people to say about me after I’m gone?
• What difference will it make that I was here after all?
Our next step is to identify our personal values by answering these questions:
• What is really important to me?
• What do I stand for?
• What 3 values do I want to live by?
• Which values are most important?
This takes soul searching and quiet, thoughtful time. We can’t rush it.
Why is it worth the time and effort?
When we really know who we are, we operate more efficiently and calmly while making often tough decisions.
Even better, we’ll also be able to bring out the magnificence in others. Isn’t that the most important role of a leader?
We share such ideas in “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.”
For a $20 personally autographed copy, contact us at 803-359-7633 or email JerryBellune@yahoo.com . Get an electronic copy by visiting Amazon.

Marketing lesson: Can Absolut vodka teach us anything?

Marketing lesson: Have your products and services become commodities? Are you forced to compete on price, discounts and other concessions?
Take a lesson from a former dish washer and French master marketer, Michel Roux.
He made Absolut an iconic vodka with snob appeal in the booze market.
As head of the firm importing Absolut from Sweden, he engineered a wildly successful marketing campaign. It lifted Absolut from obscurity to No. 1 imported vodka.

For more winning ideas. Visit the Lexington Chronicle Business page.

I’ll bet you that you cannot tell a difference in the taste of any expensive vodkas.
What made Absolut desirable was not its taste but its snob appeal.
Roux’s ads started simple. An early version depicted a bottle of Absolut under a halo with the slogan “Absolut Perfection.” Artists and other celebrities including Andy
Warhol were paid to promote the brand.

More strategies @ the Lexington Chronicle Business page.

To reach trendsetters, Roux advertised in magazines aimed at wealthy people and those who wanted to emulate them.
You should explore Roux’s strategies in promoting other top brands and think of applying them to your own products.
You can only escape the commodity trap by using similar strategies.
We share such ideas in “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.”
For a $20 personally autographed copy, contact us at 803-359-7633 or email JerryBellune@yahoo.com.

How to win the war with your rivals

Remember what Sun Tzu taught us in his “Art of War” – know your strengths and weaknesses and your competitors’, too.
Our competitors are in print, online, on the air, on cable, you name it. We never under-estimate them. They are savvy rivals.
We watch their every move. We not only need to know what they’re doing but to steal their best ideas as our own.
We read their publications, listen to them on radio, watch them on cable or TV, see who is doing business with them and how their customers invest their precious advertising dollars with them. What are their advertisers offering that our readers, online and in print, might be interested in?
If they offer products or services our people need and want, we would be remiss to fail to give our rivals’ advertisers an opportunity to make offers to our readers, too.
Does that make sense? Your rivals are fishing the same pond for the same fish.
Test their products and services. Check how they treat customers. Even hire a Secret Shopper to check them out.
This is fair, legal … and smart. You won’t be blind-sided ever again. And you’ll never be ashamed that you failed to do this.
We share such ideas in “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.”
For a $20 personally autographed copy, contact us at 803-359-7633 or email JerryBellune@yahoo.com .

See more great content on this blog or by visiting https://www.lexingtonchronicle.com/business.

Copyright 2019, The Bellune Co., Inc.

Anecdotal lede: Watch for mushroom clouds

I confess to being an advocate of storytelling.
I also favor the anecdotal lede – with caution.
I once taught this to my Seton Hall students, tongue in cheek.
The story is about a Russian nuclear attack:

Mary Jones went to retrieve the morning paper and guess what?
A giant mushroom cloud hung over her neighborhood.
She wondered if it was going to rain.

You may have to overlook my warped sense of humor.

Our friend Denny Hatch is an ace copywriter.
He cautions us to use this technique with grace and style. 
He certainly doesn’t want us to beat it into chopped liver.

“Your 1st 10 words are more important than the next 10,000,” he writes.
“All writers are in the business of selling. 
“Your single objective is to sell the reader in going on to the next sentence, next paragraph, all the way to the end.” 
This is true of every literary form – letter, article or advertisement. 

“The place to start selling is the lede
“What’s a lede
“The introduction to a news article, the first sentence. 
“The ‘lede’ is a deliberate misspelling of ‘lead.’ 
When printing was done with lead type, it prevented confusion.
The lede not only tells what the story is about.
It invites the reader to read further.

Denny believes many of us start by:
• Clearing our throats.
• Rolling up our sleeves.
• Rubbing our hands together.
By then our poor readers have already gone on to Page 2. 
Create a lousy lede and chances are the reader will go no further.

In “Capitol Weekly,” Will Shuck wrote:
“I am sick to death of the anecdotal lede, that annoying habit of news writers to start a straightforward story by painting a quaint little picture.
“If the story is about a bill requiring pet owners to spay or neuter their dogs (just to pick an imaginary example), the anecdotal lead first tells us how much Janey Johnson loves Missy, her cocker spaniel.
“No doubt Janey and Missy are a lovely pair, but a lot of us have jobs and kids and commutes and precious little time to muse about Missy’s reproductive potential.”

My humble advice is to use the anecdotal lede when it makes sense.
Have an exceptionally good one to open your story.
Take a hint from that fabled novelist Snoopy.
He always opened with “It was a dark and stormy night …”
Mine might open with an early morning mushroom cloud.
Pick your own poison.

Advance orders for my $19.99 “Little Red Book of Compelling Writing” are going at a $10 discount – only $9.99.
Get your order in for the eBook today. It will be out in July.
Call Katie at 803-359-7633 or email me at JerryBellune@yahoo.com

Make it fun to do business with you

Dian and Gerald Harmon worked hard to make their concrete business successful and sold it for a bundle long before they were ready to retire. They started a “fun” business – a Christmas tree farm with hay rides, spooky Halloween rides and other events for kids. It was fun and profitable, too.
No matter what kind of business you’re in, find ways to make it fun, too.
Bill and Vickie Shanahan own a collegiate summer baseball team but know they are in the fun and entertainment business.
Last week they unveiled 2 “Fair Food” specials – donut burgers and chocolate covered bananas with sprinkles.
The burger (cheeseburger, too) comes on a sliced glazed donut. The frozen, chocolate covered banana with sprinkles comes on a stick. When their new baseball season opens today, they will also offer corn dogs on a stick, funnel fries and other fair food.
Now ask yourself this:

  1. What can I offer my customers, clients or patients that would be fun but not out of character with my core business?
  2. Ask your best customers, contractors, vendors and employees that question.
    You’ll be delighted by their answers.
    We share such ideas in “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.”
    For a $20 personally autographed copy, contact us at 803-359-7633 or email JerryBellune@yahoo.com .

Copyright 2019, The Bellune Co., Inc.

To see this and other great business content you can also check out the Lexington County Chronicle Business Section. Our E-edition has even more content.

Do you have enough cash to avoid disaster? Do you want profits or wealth?

Do you want profits or wealth?
As a business owner, you need both.
You cannot have wealth without profits, says our friend Ruth King of ProfitabilityRevolution.com .
Many business owners focus only on the Profit & Loss statement and totally ignore their Balance Sheet. They focus solely on profits rather than building wealth.
You can go out of business ignoring wealth to focus solely on profits.
Ruth tells of a contractor who, in a single week, lost 3 major clients to bankruptcy and more than $1 million in uncollected receivables. He needed cash to survive.
Had he focused on building cash (i.e. wealth) in addition to profits, he might have struggled but his business survived.
Here are 2 steps you can take.

  1. Check your Balance Sheet the last day of each month. Is your checking account growing this month over a month a year ago? By how much? Should you transfer any of that to an interest-bearing account?
  2. Ask yourself how you might grow your cash faster. What expenses might you trim or eliminate? What can you do to grow your gross sales and net profits?

We share such ideas in “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.”
For a $20 personally autographed copy, contact us at 803-359-7633 or email JerryBellune@yahoo.com . Purchase an electronic copy by visiting Amazon.

Copyright 2019, The Bellune Co., Inc.

How to get prospects to open your emails

How can you get prospects to open your emails?
Want to write subject lines that work?
Subject lines that prospects will open?
You are competing with the 121 other emails most of us receive each day.
The only way to attract traffic, conversions and sales is to stand out.
These subject lines are backed by 20 studies. Your goal should be to use the best-performing email subject lines.
Put these 10 subject line templates in your “swipe file”and post by your computer.
• 3 steps to a {desirable outcome}
• What a new {idea, product or service}can means for {prospects’ life or career}
• Stop {undesirable emotion} now
• What {credible influencers} say about {topic, idea or strategy}
• {Someone prospects look up to} can afford any {product} but she uses this…
• You’re missing out on {something prospects desire}
• Tonight Only: A {prospect’s role, goal or career}’s dream
• Want 587% more {sales or results}?
• If you’re sick and tired of {whatever}
• {Name}, gain {something desirable} today only
Use these in ads and sales letters, too.
We share such ideas in “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.”
For a $20 personally autographed copy, contact us at 803-359-7633 or email JerryBellune@yahoo.com. You can purchase an electronic version on Amazon by clicking here.

Copyright 2019, The Bellune Co., Inc.

Productivity: How to double your productivity

Our friend Andrea Nierenberg shared with us these ways she makes her 24 hours each day more productive:

• Awaken 10 minutes early and you’ll be surprised to discover how much time you have created through those extra minutes.
You can start a project, connect online, write a note to people in your network, catch up on important reading or exercise.
Squeeze extra productivity out of your day.

  • Ask yourself these 5 questions:
  1. How much of my time is spent with clients or people in my network?
  2. Do I confirm appointments?
  3. Is my paperwork done completely?
  4. Am I willing to meet with people at their convenience instead of mine?
  5. Do I frequently have productive coffee and lunch meetings with my network?
  • To help yourself list.
  1. All the ways you waste time and how you will stop doing them.
  2. How you can be more productive.

Time can be your best friend and worst enemy. It keeps moving, so use it wisely.
Don’t multi-task. You’ll make mistakes.
When someone meets with you, give them your undivided attention. Always ask, “How much time do we need right now?”
We share such ideas in “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.”
For a $20 personally autographed copy, contact us at 803-359-7633 or email JerryBellune@yahoo.com
Copyright 2019, The Bellune Co., Inc.

Secrets of storytelling

Have you heard someone drone on and on?
They love their story and tell it again and again.
All of us want to be good storytellers, orally and in print.
If you retell a story, give it a fresh slant.
Share new lessons the experience taught you.
Make the lessons ones that will benefit your audience.

Here are tips from experts, courtesy of Elizabeth Bernstein.
Elizabeth writes for the Wall Street Journal.

  1. Make a point.
    This why you tell stories.
    You don’t have to state it but keep it in mind.
    I tell the story of how we started our 1st newspaper.
    The facts are the same but the way I tell it differs.
    And I draw different points in each telling.

2. Open dramatically.
You need a “James Bond opening.”
One of my favorites is one Charlie Farrell tells.
Charlie was a Marine fighter pilot.
His story is about his 1st landing on a carrier at sea.
The carrier deck looked like a postage stamp from above.
It is a white knuckle run.
Charlie makes you feel what he felt.

Paul Zak, who studies the neurobiology of storytelling, says:
• You must have reasons for us to want to read or listen.
• An exciting opening produces dopamine in our brains.
That helps to focus our readers’ attention.

3. Put flesh on your characters.
What are the people in your story like?
How did they act, feel and look?
Make readers care about your characters
Their brains will produce oxytocin, the bonding hormone.

4. Build tension.
Deepen your story. Create cliffhangers and surprise.
These give a reason to care about your characters.
It will engage them with your story.
When they are emotionally engaged, they bond with you.

5. Make personal disclosures.
Research shows that self-disclosure helps people bond.
But don’t exaggerate. It kills credibility.
You can make yourself the butt of the story.
Readers love those of us willing to show our vulnerability.

Final tip: If you’re retelling a story, admit it.
Research shows repetition makes you look inauthentic.
But if you admit it, it seems to make it all right.
Write or say, “One of my favorite stories is…”

Is someone secretly stealing from you?

How do you know your bookkeeper, employees or vendors aren’t helping themselves to your hard-earned revenue?
After working with business owners for 38 years, our friend Ruth King can almost smell when the books are not right.
Often it is a bookkeeper, employee or vendors. Ruth hates telling owners, “Someone is embezzling and here’s the proof.”
All leave tell-tale signs. Sadly, most could have been caught quickly by owners doing one simple thing – having their bank statements sent to their homes.
If you aren’t getting your bank statements sent home, stop reading this and get your bank to send your statements home.
Check them carefully. The microfiche’s show signatures, who the checks were written to and the numerical sequences. If something doesn’t make sense, ask questions. This is your first line of defense!
Ruth has caught vendors changing the amounts on checks before depositing them. A $40 auto repair invoice became $400 when the vendor deposited the check.
You have to watch your vendors, too.
Get Ruth’s helpful newsletter by writing her at rking@profitabilityrevolution.com
We share such ideas in “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.”
For a $20 personally autographed copy, contact us at 803-359-7633 or email JerryBellune@yahoo.com.
Copyright 2019, The Bellune Co., Inc.