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Covid-19 opens doors to new opportunities

Stephanie Hall is a genius at diversifying her business strategies in this pandemic.

Before covid-19 halted her event rental business, she launched a luxury brand of hand-blown colored glass cake stands and stemware. The vintage-style pieces are original designs made at a 100-year-old glass-making company in Poland. 

She marketed her new products on social media to influencers, sending them samples. With more people at home and surfing social media, her colored glass got a boost.

She had a 2nd surge of business in June thanks to social media bringing attention to black-owned businesses. In 2 weeks, her Instagram account doubled from 23,400 to 51,500 followers. She turned off her Instagram advertising and has been working round the clock to respond to retailers interested in selling her products.

The boost in business allowed her to keep her employees working at packaging and shipping orders for colored glass.

Hall, a former corporate tax attorney, is looking for her next business opportunity –renting lush, silk flowers to brides. Being able to pivot quickly with a diversified business portfolio is a sound business strategy,.

We share such field-tested ideas in “Million Dollar Strategies of Maverick Entrepreneurs.” For an autographed copy of the $20 book, email JerryBellune@yahoo.com.

Next: How to build your self-confidence

Copyright 2020, The Bellune Co., Inc.

Unshackle yourself from bad customers

You know who we’re talking about. The sourpusses who make life miserable. They complain and are never satisfied,

Our friend Ruth King says you need to know who your best customers are and why they do business with you.

1. Your company is only profitable with the right customers. You don’t need customers who drain you and are not profitable. 

2. It gives your business a purpose. It’s the reason you get up in the morning and that your customers pay you.

3. It builds your business culture. This is the reason you are in business. Every employee should know why your customers do business with you. If you can’t tell them, they haven’t a clue. Remind them often. 

4. You know what your marketing messages should be. “Here’s what our customers say about us” or “Here’s why our customers do business with us” should be in your marketing messages. Testimonials from customers are powerful.

Ask your customers why they do business with you. Ask your employees why they think your customers do business with you. You may be shocked at the answers. 

If you agree with the answers, you’re doing well. If you don’t like the answers, find out what’s wrong and change it. 

We share such field-tested strategies in our 3-CD “Make Yourself a STAR (Someone They Always Remember).” For details, you can email JerryBellune@yahoo.com.

Next: Pivot for new opportunities.

Copyright 2020, The Bellune Co., Inc.

How to insult your best customers

You can call them micro-insults – the tiny things that most annoy your customers.

Sadly, unless you ask, you will never be able to correct them. You and your people will continue to do or neglect them.

Rick Houcek, who writes a weekly inspirational column (rick@SoarWithEagles.com), told his country club clients:

“You’re all customers, too. When you’re a patron of a hospitality establishment – restaurant, hotel, night club – what little things annoy, irritate, and drive you crazy?”

Putting it in the 1st person changed their perspective. Problems were easy to identify.

The country club employees quickly generated a long list of micro insults: No separate checks, no menu substitutions, crumbs left on table, water glasses not refilled, no table candles lit, wait staff not smiling at initial greeting, up-charges for extra items on a hamburger, table linens with holes. 

The country club employees recognized they did some of these things that were easy and inexpensive to fix.

Ask your employees the same thing. When they are customers, what micro insults annoy, irritate and drive them crazy?

How do they apply to your customers? Fix them to keep your customers happy.

We share such strategies in our “Uncover Your Inner Sales Genius.”  For a complimentary copy join the mailing list at the top of the page.

Next: What motivates your customers?

Magical stories

Good morning, fellow toiler in the writing vineyard,
We want to talk today about magic in reporting and writing.
Do you remember the old Polaroid cameras?
How magical it was to watch the images emerge?
You may be old enough to recall photo darkrooms.
The thrill of images emerging in the developing tray.
That’s the way some stories happen. They emerge.

I recall covering a worship service at a small rural church.
The congregation was celebrating a victory over evil.
Vandals had wreaked havoc on their sanctuary,
With unpaid volunteers, they repaired the damage.

On the 30-minute drive, I imagined what the story might be.
I started writing it in my head. But that wasn’t the story.
From my vantage in a pew, the real story began to emerge.
I could see where it really began and where it really ended.
The story I had written mentally landed in the middle.

Anne Lamott had a similar experience.
She wrote about it in Bird by Bird, a book you should read.
At the Special Olympics, she met a self-described “cool man.”
He had Down’s syndrome yet starred in the basketball game.
She saw a girl on crutches inching toward the finish line.
Her story began to emerge but not about disability’s tragedy.
It emerged as a story about the joy of participation.

My point is this: It’s OK to think about what a story may be.
But be open to the experience. Let the real story emerge.
It will be magical. It will almost write itself.

Have you experienced such magic in reporting and writing?
What are your own thoughts about this?
Please write to me at JerryBellune@yahoo.com
I would love to share your experience with others.

What a rubber duck can do for you

What is the craziest thing you’d expect to find in a hotel? Our friend Ruth King found a rubber duck in the bathtub at a Hampton Inn in Joliet, Il. It made her laugh. 

What did this Hampton Inn do that no other hotel, even fancy resort hotels do?

They made her feel better after a long day. They were extremely creative with something that probably cost less than a dollar. And they could use it over and over again to delight and surprise guests. 

Delighted guests tell their friends. Their friends become guests, too. 

What can we do to delight and surprise our customers? What will get them talking about our companies? It doesn’t have to cost much. The rubber duck didn’t.

Here are 3 ideas:

  • Customers rarely get thank you notes for doing business with companies. Would they be delighted if they got one from you?
  • Plumbers could send a rubber duck with a note: We keep the water running so you can have “fun in the tub.” 
  • Although more expensive, Ruth has a client who always sends flowers to employees’ wives before the busy summer season to say: Thank you! We know that (name) will be working long hours helping our customers. We want you to know we appreciate your understanding and support.

We share such strategies in “Uncover our Inner Sales Genius. For a free copy join the mailing list and join the e-mail list.

Next: Attract more of the right prospects.

Your best covid-19 business strategy

I’ll never forget the salesman who ended his presentation by asking for the names of 3 people who might use his products. 

I told him he should be ashamed of such tactics. I wouldn’t buy nor refer anyone.

Referrals are always vital, particularly during covid-19. Think about the last time you referred someone to a company whose products you used. 

  • Was it an active referral? 
  • Were you thanked for the referral? 
  • What did you receive for the referral? 
  • Did you feel appreciated? 
  • Have you provided multiple referrals? 

Our friend Ruth King defines active referrals as those you make because you were encouraged to do it – but only after it is clear that you are a loyal customer who sees their offers would benefit your friends. 

Ruth says active referrals:

  • Build a loyal customer base at lower acquisition costs.
  • Referrals are open to buying from you and are less price sensitive.
  • Customers who refer show they trust you for taking care of them.

Do business with your customers and make referrals to them. That gives them reason to reciprocate.

We share such ideas in “Uncover Your Inner Sales Genius.” For a complimentary copy go to JerryBellune.net

Next: The Rubber Duck Strategy

Copyright 2020, The Bellune Co., Inc.

How you can survive covid-19 nonsense

Some of us are starting to suspect there was more to the lockdowns and non-essential business shuttering than science and epidemiologist caution. Could this have been a conspiracy to wreck the economy in a presidential election year?

Conspiracy or not, the effect on the economy was the same – probably in your industry and ours. We publish newspapers.

A friend sent us news of a metropolitan daily newspaper publisher deciding to give up print and take his chances publishing online only, we wish him well.

This is sad but you will see more of this in daily newspapers. They are burdened with overhead and debt. Their publishers can’t give up their club memberships, 2nd homes at the beach and limousine lifestyle.

The small newspaper owners like us are different. Most of us own everything debt-free, run lean operations with a few skilled people and have loyal advertisers and readers who believe in us. We are truly blessed.

Like us, we hope you are debt-free, watch your payables and receivables closely, collect what your customers owe you, pay your bills to protect your credit rating and sleep soundly, knowing your top and bottom lines are in great shape.

 We share such strategies in “Uncover Your Inner Sales Genius.” For a free copy email JerryBellune@yahoo.com.

Next: Your best new business strategy

Copyright 2020, The Bellune Co., Inc.

Use covid-19 to strengthen your team

Retired university professor Preston Hardy wrote us the other day with the story of a boy in rural Ohio who became the first human survivor of rabies. 

His doctor lacked the training to deal with such a devastating infection where everyone else had failed. Instead of treating his young patient for rabies, which he did not know how to do, the country doctor treated each symptom as it appeared. 

He knew how to treat a patient with high fever, or one experiencing kidney failure or one who had swollen limbs. 

The tireless doctor treated each symptom that arose. Finally there were no more symptoms. You don’t actually have to “cure rabies,” to cure rabies.

A crisis like we’re experiencing is a great time to use the doctor’s example for team building. A series of short-range goals can help unite your employees while demonstrating to all of them that an overwhelming catastrophe does not have to be overcome all at once. It is more effectively dealt with in small steps. An added advantage of team building is enhanced productivity.

We share such field-tested ideas in “Million Dollar Strategies of Maverick Entrepreneurs.” For a $10 copy of the $20 book, email JerryBellune@yahoo.com.

Next: How to survive covid-19 nonsense.

Copyright 2020, The Bellune Co., Inc.

Build greater loyalty in a pandemic

Churches, civic and networking groups, book and garden clubs share a secret many business owners ignore at their peril.

Which of these 2 customer groups would you prefer: Transitionals who only buy when you offer steep discounts or relationals who come back to you no matter what?

You’re right. Relationals mean success.

And what more can you do to build greater relational loyalty? How about creating an exclusive club membership for them.

The clothing company, Evereve, has an exclusive membership option: 

If you order $100 or more worth of products while the store is closed, you’ll be automatically enrolled in its exclusive club, whose members get a 10% discount card.

This option is different than offering a basic gift card and encourages customer loyalty. If the customer decides to buy now, they’ll get a long-term reward. 

It helps you because customers are more likely to buy now and then keep coming back to enjoy that 10% discount.

Additionally, send club members a regular newsletter. In it provide valuable, useful information and teach them what more you can do for them.

We share such ideas in “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.”  For a $20 personally autographed copy, contact us at 803-331-6695. 

Next: Team building in a pandemic.

Copyright 2020, The Bellune Co., Inc.

How to make more money in a pandemic

The real question is not should you but what should you advertise. 

Take Kentucky Fried Chicken. Even after covid-19 became a pandemic, they ran ads of people licking their fingers in public. Finger-lickin-good. Ugh! After hundreds complained, KFC “paused” the campaign.

Corona Beer and Hershey chocolates made similar brainless ad goofs.

The virus has changed our world. That doesn’t mean you don’t advertise, advises Success Magazine Publisher Darren Hardy.

Stopping your ads will not help your prospects with the solutions you provide.

Ad volume is down. That means less competition for your prospects’ attention, needs, wants, problems and dollars.

Prices are down. That means lower cost for the same results – prospects’ business.

Online and social media usage is up. That means you can reach more of the people who need what you offer.

It’s the perfect trifecta, Darren says.

During the last recession, 600 companies’ advertising was tracked. The 1st group decreased or cut their advertising. The 2nd group maintained or increased ads.

The growth and revenue of the 2nd group was 256% higher overall.

You can read more such strategies in “Uncover Your Inner Sales Genius.” For a free copy fill out the form at the top of this page.

Next: Build greater customer loyalty

Copyright 2020, The Bellune Co., Inc.