Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How Important Is The Pickle?

It's the middle of the day, I'm hard at work emptying my email box, making great progress and my son, Ben, sends me a text.

"How important is the pickle"

I text back, "lol... I give. How important is the pickle?"

In three seconds that phone rings. It's Ben - he's laughing.

He asks me, "Do you know how important the pickle is?"

He can't see that I'm shaking my head at this nonsense, "So, tell me."

Ben precedes with a story. Apparently he has a favorite deli that he's been going to for years. He always orders the same sandwich, a club sandwich with mayo. And, according to Ben, it came with a big cold crisp - tart Claussen pickle.

Then, unbeknownst to Ben, the deli sold. So, Ben goes to the deli and he orders his favorite sandwich.

"Mom," he said. "It wasn't that they put mustard on the club instead of mayo and I can even live with the reduced meat, but it was the pickle. The pickle was warm, mushy and a darker color."

Ben asked the employee what happened to the pickle? The employee said, "Yeah, I don't like it either. The new owners are cutting costs."

"Don't they know how important the pickle IS!" Ben exclaimed.

I'm laughing at Ben's story as he continues.

"Then, I went back a few weeks later, thinking I'd give them another shot and what do you know, there was my big cold crisp Claussen pickle back. Sometimes the pickle makes the difference."

I love Ben's stories, they make my day. This one, about the pickle though, it really got me thinking.

Do I have something, a feature perhaps, that to clients could signify the "pickle" of my business? How important is this pickle? Do I even know what it is?

I might not own a deli, but like most businesses, there are unique features to our services. I would think that most businesses and industries have something that they offer that might be their equivalent of "the pickle."

As business owners, I think we need to be aware that everything counts. Before we make hasty changes to our "pickle", (whatever that might be), we should make sure that our customers won't leave because of it. How do we do that? A customer survey would certainly be a good idea or a beta test group before permanent changes are made.

Which leaves me with the question... yes, you know it's coming... How important is YOUR pickle?

You Never Know Who They Know

I walked into the office and Teresa, our office manager said, "Todd has big news."

I heard Todd's big DJ voice say, "Hey Babe! Come back to my office." (Babe was my nickname growing up.)

I walked into his office. He was grinning from ear to ear.

"I just heard from Jay and he got one of the biggest referrals ever. It could mean big bucks for him and his company. And you know what? It came from Terry, who sells Mary Kay. You just never know who they know, do you?"

The reason he said that is that sometimes you will meet a business networker with,  (How do I put this?) - an elitist attitude. That is the business person who walks into a business networking event and before they are ten feet in, they've mentally separated folks into groups. One group being worthy of giving attention to and the other not. They're only interested in relationships that, on the service, look profitable.

Perhaps you know someone who does that. And I can understand their logic. It only seems to make sense that the big-wigs, the CEOs, the decision-makers and the owners are the best people to talk to.

BUT, if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times. You never know who they know.

One of the things that I love about having a Go-Giver attitude is that the reward starts with the giving. (Read The Go-Giver, co-authored by Bob Burg and John David Mann. It's a game-changer.)

Jay, who got the huge referral for more business, determined early on that his influence within the room was determined by how abundantly he placed the interests of others first. He comes across as a quiet and humble person with an easy smile. He enjoys visiting with everyone, not just the "movers and shakers."

As a result, it was very easy for Terry, the sweet homemaker, Mom and Mary Kay representative, to give him a referral... a very profitable referral. A huge one - on the scale of 1-10, for Jay, this is a 12.

Years ago, we had a business woman visit one of our networking groups and she sat next to a young woman that was new in her business, After the meeting, the business woman told me that she wouldn't be back because it was a waste of her time. She said that she really needed to get in front of the CEOs and decision-makers, not just small business owners.

I didn't say it, but I thought, "That is too funny."  You see, the young woman that she sat next to - her daddy was in the upper management of one of the largest and most influential corporations in Tulsa.

You just never know. It pays to give. In Jay's case, it paid to give equal time, attention and respect.

Referring back to my favorite book, The Go-Giver, the most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself. And then, sometimes out of left field, comes the most wonderful - and profitable - blessings.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Where's The Beef in Your Tagline?

According to Eric Swartz, president of Tagline Guru, “Advertising slogans have a glorious history and have exercised a profound influence on what we think and how we speak. For better or worse, taglines and jingles have  become some of the most well-known and oft-quoted sound bites of our culture.”

There is a great way to help your fellow Gold Star Club members or business networking friends remember to refer you. A tagline makes you stand apart from your competition.

Taglines are memory hooks that help us, not only remember you but they also give us quick insight about you and your product or service.

Years and years ago, my husband Todd and I were a real estate agents. Our tagline was "Large or Small, we sell them all." Our dog groomer stole the idea (with permission) and changed it to "Large or Small, I groom them all."

A friend of mine owns a Heat & Air company and his tagline is "If your wife is HOT, call me." (Of course, he's referring to fixing the air conditioner.)

One of the home cleaning services in Gold Star uses this tagline, "Don't move - clean your house."

Swartz continues:  “If a slogan is repeated, imitated, or parodied often enough, it  eventually becomes part of our collective consciousness and takes on a  life of its own,” 

Swartz says. Slogans that achieve this level of notoriety typically have broken new ground, whether it’s in their use of :

· grammar (Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee),
· rhythm (The quicker picker-upper)
· rhyme (Don’t get mad, get GLAD),
· inflection (They’re gr-r-r-eat!)
· attitude (The few, the proud, the Marines),
· ulterior meaning  (Nothing comes between me and my Calvins
· metaphor (This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?),  
· positioning (The uncola)

 So, where’s the beef in YOUR 60 Second Presentation? has a list of the Most Influential Taglines and Jingles in the TV and Internet Era. They might inspire you to create a tagline that is unique for your business and your business presentations.

(Much of this information on taglines was taken from

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Phases of a Business Networking Group

Networking groups go through growth phases.  Here are four growth phases that we see in Gold Star Referral Clubs.

Identify where YOUR business networking group is at.

1. New - Under 15 Growth Stage:  In this phase, the group is adding new members and learning how to network. Everyone is inviting guests. Members are upbeat, positive and excited. The group is in start-up mode.  It is extremely important for ALL the members to invite and to get the attendee numbers up to at least fifteen or twenty as fast as possible.

2. The Coasting Stage:  This phase can creep up on a group over time. It's when complacency sets in.  The group may have any number of members, it may be large or small, but for some reason, the enthusiasm is down. Some referrals are being passed, but each week, it's less and less. Without realizing it, the group could be coasting on past energy. The danger is that they may stray from the agenda, members start to nitpick about the food or the time of the meeting, and members are not inviting guests as much.  A few problems like absenteeism may show up, which frustrates the members who always attend. 

In the Coasting Stage, the group will lose members, and could even fold, if they don’t take charge. Many times, in this stage, it can be hard to get anyone to lead the group because everyone wants to sit on the sidelines. The way out of this dangerous stage is to get all the members behind a new goal and invite guests. I suggest a new "kick-butt" leader and a big Visitor's Day event.

3. Back to Growth or The "Take Charge" Stage:  In this phase, the group has chosen to take charge and do whatever it takes to have a great experience and to keep growing. Fully engaged membership energizes the group, increases referrals, and attracts visitors. Strong leadership inspires the members and everyone steps up to the responsibility of inviting guests. Visitors easily convert into members and are the first to invite more guests.

4. "We Own This!" A Healthy and Mature Group:  When the members have taken responsibility for their group, they have taken ownership of it’s success. With time, deep relationships and business alliances will form between the members. They will go above and beyond for each other, giving exceptional value. Weekly referrals can be impressive and it's easy to see that this group will be around for years and years to come. Some of the members will even boast that 90% of their business comes from referrals. 

Not every group matures in the same way and some phases may be entirely skipped. The Coasting Stage is the most dangerous.  However, once a Club takes ownership and it’s members form deep relationships, the success of the business networking group is easily seen with increased business and referrals.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Trick or Treat - Your Business Costume

“Just like film costumes, well-chosen clothes can conceal figure flaws, elevate your mood, and affect how you stand, sit, and walk.”   - by Patricia Fripp - National Speaker Association

When Halloween comes around , we look forward to seeing children in imaginative costumes pretending to be unique characters for fun and “trick or treats”.

As business networkers and professionals, you could say that we also have our costumes. Our dress reflects how we want to be perceived by our peers and our clients.

In a article written by Patricia Fripp, she said:

Before you open your mouth, your appearance speaks for you. How you dress affects how others perceive you and how you perceive yourself. Once people get to know you, they may change their opinion of you despite how you look, but why risk it? Make it easy for them.

In Gold Star Referral Clubs, you learn that a part of your strategy is to be seen as a person that others can know, like and trust. We want to be able to proudly refer you to others, without worrying about how you will look when you meet the referred customer.

Should everyone dress in a suit or wear a tie? No, that’s not necessary or even realistic.

Here are some basic tips for good networking dress:

1. Clean and modest attire
2. Slacks, not shorts
3. Clothing that is free of stains, holes and wrinkles.
4. Your clothing should fit, not too big or too small.
5. Men should wear a shirt with a collar.
6. Shoes are better than sandals or flip flops.
7. Well-groomed hair and nails.

“Dress as if you’re about to be referred to your next client.”
                                                        Todd Davis, Co-founder of Gold Star

Parts of this blog was adapted from an article by Patricia Fripp, Author, keynote speaker and coach.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Referrals Have No Boundaries

Recently, I was reminded by one of our Gold Star Referral Club members that referrals have no boundaries.

That's a pretty simple philosophy but not as simple to grasp as you may think.

For instance, I have a cousin in El Paso, Texas and when we were visiting during a family reunion, I realized that there are many businesses within Gold Star that can serve a national or even worldwide customer.

Here are some great examples of industries and services without boundaries:

1. Professional Speakers who travel to speak
2. Website designers
3. Direct sales distributors and representatives who represent companies like; Mary Kay, Legal Services, LifeAdvantage, Send Out Cards etc.
4. Logo designers
5. Business Consultants
6. Copy Writers
7. Some attorneys
8. Financial Consultants
9. Mortgage lenders
10. Some banks

Those are just a few businesses that are happy to receive out of town referrals. Isn't this fun!