Solve clients’ problems without cash

Have you ever had great clients who became unhappy with you or one of your people? Did you lose them? Did you have to cut your prices or refund their money?
Our friend John Carlton says that any problem that can be solved with money can be solved without money.
That simply means that using cash to solve problems shows that you’ve stumbled upon a value level where unhappy customers can be coaxed back into the fold.
But value doesn’t always equal greenbacks. Once you’ve established that the unhappy client WILL come back, for the right value … then you’re free to experiment with things other than cash.
Like free stuff that’s valuable to them.
Too many biz owners get caught up in a black-and-white world of cash or no cash.
To savvy entrepreneurs this means creating value with an hour of your time over lunch, free membership in master mind groups, gifts, golf outings, theater or sports tickets or other incentives you can provide.
Think what they would find valuable that’s as good or better than cash.
Does this make sense? Throwing money around cuts into your bottom line.
We discuss such solutions in “Maverick Entrepreneur’s Million Dollar Strategies,” a book that can change your life and business.
For a $20 personally autographed copy, call Jewel or Katie at 803-359-7633.
Copyright 2019, The Bellune Co., Inc.

Show rather than tell

Good morning,
Here we are again, thinking about improving our writing.
Today’s topic is geared to feature writing although it will work in news stories, too.

We talk a lot about storytelling in writing.
What we really mean is “Show your readers – don’t just tell them.”

Most of us are aware that it is more convincing to show something through action, behavior or dialogue than it is just to tell it.
Our ability and effort to show may determine if our readers think our story is realistic and that we are credible as storytellers.

This applies more to feature writing than traditional news reporting.
Yet it can be useful in both.

Here are 3 hints:

  1. Describe scenes with real people taking action or talking with each other.
    Let your readers hear what you hear and how you heard it – not only what they said but how they said it. Let them hear the noise of cities and the quiet of mountains and forests, the music of surf and wind.
  2. Let the reader experience what took place and how it made you feel.
    Take them inside the scene and inside yourself.
  3. Use concrete detail.
    Describe what happened as you saw it.

Relate strange places and people to places and people you and your readers both may know.
For example, show them an elderly man who “looked like Winston Churchill.”
Describe sunrise over a peak “like the Blue Ridge mountains.”

Bring your readers into the scene with you.
Think and write as if you were setting a scene in a work of fiction.

A fine reporter, Roger Beirne, was troubled after interviewing the mother of her son killed in combat.
His account told simply what he saw, the neighborhood where the family lived, the look of the house where the boy grewn up, how his mother appeared when she came to the door, what she told him about her son. It was a moving account.
Roger did not need to hype it up. He simply showed what took place.

During the Nazi bombing of London in 1940, war correspondent Ernie Pyle wrote:
They came just after dark, and somehow you could sense from the quick, bitter firing of the guns that there was to be no monkey business this night. Shortly after the sirens wailed you could hear the Germans grinding overhead.
In my room, with its black curtains drawn across the windows, you could feel the shake from the guns. You could hear the boom, crump, crump, crump, of heavy bombs at their work of tearing buildings apart. They were not too far away.

Australian journalist Helen Garner opens her account of a murder-suicide:
It happened in broad daylight one April afternoon in 2015, while the ciitizens of Melbourne were peaceably going about their business.
A chef on her way to get a tattoo, was driving past Lake Gladman, a reedy, rock-edged wetland, when the blue Toyota SUV in front of her suddenly pulled off and stopped. As the chef drove by, she caught a glimpse of an African woman sitting huddled over the steering wheel with her face in her hands. Kids behind her were rioting. A little one was thrashing in his booster, a bigger one dangling off the back of the driver’s seat.
Minutes later, a passing teacher saw the Toyota “drive full bolt straight into the water.”

These highly dramatic examples show what is possible.
Your story may not be as dramatic as these.
Yet similar human energy is there in most stories.

Here is an example from our newspaper:
It all began with a phone call Chapin Town Councilman Al Koon made on Monday, June 25, to his friend Paul Kirby.
Kirby is editor and publisher of the online Lexington Ledger and a former firefighter and correspondent for the Chronicle.
“Al called me about noon to chat as we often do,” Paul said. “It was unusual for him to call me mid-day as we normally talk in the morning or when I am driving home.
“When Al’s speech changed as we talked, it did so quickly and dramatically. He was completely unintelligible and it was clear that something was very wrong.”

Try it in your next story,
Make us see, hear, even smell and feel what you are experiencing.

The 5 languages you must learn

How many generations work with you?
How many languages do they speak?
Consultant Alysia Kehoe says the quick answer to both is 5 generations, 5 languages:
Millennials, Generation Xers, Baby Boomers, Traditionalists and now Generation Z came to work for the first time.
Each generation’s birth years are: Traditionalists (1920 – 1946); Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964); Generation X (1965 – 1980); Millennials (1981 – 2000); Generation Z (2001 – 2020).
Each generation has different values and technology. Each has its own character shaping events and leadership styles.
• Traditionalists have a passion to be helpful to anyone. There are 57 million of them – 7% of the U.S. workforce.
• Boomers have wisdom from their leadership experience. There are 76 million – 38% of the U.S. workforce.
• Gen X has 46 million, 30% of us. They want balance and perspective.
• Millennials are the most technologically proficient with 75 million – 25% of us.
• Gen Z (aka Cloud Generation) is totally plugged into each other and the world.
Alysia shows how to communicate with them in “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.” This new book will help you run your business profitably.
To place your order for a $20 autographed copy, call 803-359-7633. To pre-order your own electronic copy from Amazon, click here.
Copyright 2018, The Bellune Co., Inc.

When all else fails, try a little magic

Those of us who have bought a business will relate to what Geoff Ellinwood went through. Geoff bought a company nobody had heard of for $10,000. It had no client list and the clients were not happy.
The previous owner he apprenticed under gave no support, help or strategy – unless you consider flyers in neighborhoods a strategy – and had moved out of state.
In addition, he was so inexperienced in business, marketing and sales, he didn’t know what business owners should know.
Those first couple of years at the school of hard knocks were tough. Geoff felt like the kid whose lunch money was taken and his head flushed in the toilet.
When the phone rarely rang, a long conversation ended with; “Let me talk it over with ….. and I’ll get back to you”.
If he got a client they were difficult to work with except for their dog, The dog was the easiest part.
He asked local veterinarians, groomers and pet stores if he could leave brochures. Many of them wouldn’t even look up.
Then Geoff discovered almost as if by magic a solution that turned his business around. He reveals it in “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Secrets.” This new book can help your business, too.
To place your order for a $20 autographed copy, call 803-35907633.
Copyright 2018, The Bellune Co., Inc.

What’s your Thanksgiving strategy?

Jerry Bellune’s November 2018 Leadership Letter

When our kids were young we took them to Disney World.
It was an experience for our kids. It became an investment in my own leadership education.
I saw how the Disney “cast members” treated us … and their respect and affection for each other.
Bruce Jones of the Disney Institute recommends the Golden Rule as your team’s gold standard,
Jones says, “At Disney, we believe the extent to which you genuinely care for your employees is the same extent to which they will care for your customers and one another. We are walking billboards for caring for all our customers, those who pay us and those we pay.
Leaders who learn about their team members’ cares and concerns, interests and goals can better show recognition and appreciation in ways that will count with each one. That goes for our customers, too.
Employees who feel personally cared for are more likely to care for our customers and colleagues.
Jones says that at Disney they have created a “caring” strategy to:
1. Find as many ways as practical to show genuine care for their people. This doesn’t cost lots of money. Their cast members don’t expect elaborate gestures. They want to know the boss cares about them individually.
2. Practice intentional listening. When your team members know you will listen to them, they feel a tremendous sense of worth. It builds their self-esteem and confidence in you. Ask them what they think about problems that arise or new opportunities that present themselves. Listen and respond to what they say.
3. Make daily work as hassle-free as possible. Find out what holds them back or makes their jobs more difficult. Resolving even minor annoyances can have a major impact on their morale.
4. Encourage member-to-member caring. Team members can support each other. Team members who show their genuine care to one another create a strong sense of community.
For example, our bookkeeper and subscription manager work side by side. They back each other in answering phones, waiting on walk-in customers, proofing pages and other tasks. They look out for each other.
Team building isn’t achieved overnight or easily maintained. We have to work at it consistently.
Practicing the Golden Rule helps keep us alert to what others want and how they feel. Showing our “love” is one of our best investments and will pay great dividends.
Make this Thanksgiving your reminder to give thanks for your teammates each and every day.

Your Leadership Challenge

1. Make a list for each of your team members of 3 ways you can show each that you care for them.
2. List what they can do to qualify for each of these rewards or recognitions.
3. List ways you can show your own member-to-member caring as a role model for them.

November Takeaway.

Great leaders are entrepreneurs at heart. If you aspire to be one, order “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.” In it 11 entrepreneurs share their strategies. Be among the first to receive the book in December. Advance orders for $20 autographed copies are available at 803-359-7633 or email JerryBellune@yahoo.com

Writing tip – Talk with your readers

Good morning, fellow scribblers.

Your relationship with your readers can be as fragile as friendship.
Think of your readers as friends.
Get to know them, their joys and sorrows.

How do you do that?
They are your neighbors.
People you meet standing in line.
Listen to them wherever you meet them.

My bride sometimes gets frustrated with me.
I will stop and talk with anyone.
I interview servers, clerks, cashiers.
I ask about what they do and if they like doing it.
I ask why they do it.
What they else they might do in their busy lives.

Almost everyone you talk with feels complimented.
Here is someone who even cares to ask about them.
So few people receive appreciation or recognition in life.
Then you come along and show an interest in them.
Of course, they are pleased.

When we started publishing small newspapers, I sold advertising.
My journalistic experience came in handy.
I was used to interviewing people.
I started interviewing advertising prospects.
“How did you get into this business?” I would ask.
They were good for at least 20 minutes on this.
The next question was, “What do you love about it?”

Small town editors sit on the cutting edge.
Anyone can walk into their office or call them.
If they are smart, they are receptive to this.
That’s how you find out what’s on their minds.
It’s how you find out what people are talking about.
What matters to them. Plus the latest gossip.

Big city editors are protected by security guards and assistants.
They live in gated suburban communities far from readers.
They send their kids to private schools.
They associate with others like themselves.
They have become elites with little notion of their readers’ lives.

Living in a small town is like living in a fishbowl.
As an editor, people watch what I do.
It keeps me honest.
It also tells me what no pollster could ever know.
My readers are in my mind when I write.
What will each story mean to them?
How I can tell it to be clear to them, relate to them.
Storytelling and journalism come together.

Talk with, not at, your readers.
Help them see what you see.
Help them hear what you hear.
Help them feel what you feel.

Here is an example of what I mean:

Imagine you are a long-haul trucker hundreds of miles from home.
Bleary-eyed, you pull into a truck stop.
You need a break, coffee and something to eat.
Rested you return to your rig.
An attractive young woman walks up and makes you an offer.
Chances are she didn’t do it because you’re a hunk.
She’s being human trafficked by a pimp sitting in a nearby car.
He lives on the illegal dollars she brings him.

You get the idea. Try it yourself.

Have a writing problem you struggle with?
Please let me know. We’ll solve it together.

The iceberg approach to marketing

Much of effective marketing is like the submerged part of an iceberg — invisible but powerful and important. For example:
Business strategist Ann Elliott took a successful business leader’s advice to write a newsletter for her clients and prospects. He said it would provide value for them and establish her as an authority and someone worth listening to.
Ann dragged her feet for months.
At an association conference presentation, she stepped out on a limb and offered to send her new electronic newsletter to the audience. To become a subscriber, all they had to do was give her their name and email address.
As the clipboards moved through the audience, she promised to send them the inaugural issue. In 2006, she published the first issue of “The Leadership Strategist.” It was a concise commentary on leadership with strategies, insights and tips for running a business on purpose.
A subscription is available at www.berkanacompany.com with a complimentary diagnostic tool, “Find 10 Surprising Reasons Your Business Has Profit Leaks.”
Ann shows other strategies in a new book, “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies” coming next month.
For advance orders, call 803-359-7633

What kind of business owner are you?

Some business owners think and act like mavericks – independent and willing to take educated risks.
Others are saddle horses like our competitors who refuse to adapt as technology and other advances give us new ways to compete.
Saddle horses depend on their owners to house them, feed them and tell them when to go out to pasture, come back to the barn and sleep. They occasionally get to run when someone climbs on their backs.
What restrains them is the expectation that they will be cared for.
Maverick owners and entrepreneurs are restrained only by experience and common sense. Like maverick horses, they roam far and wide.
They work in an open market where every day is different and opportunity waits around every corner.
Mavericks remain alert for opportunities and challenges. They don’t need anyone to feed or care for them.
Tell them they can’t do something — that it’s stupid, impractical or impossible — and watch out. They will do it.
If they get knocked down, they get back up and keep going for their goals. They aren’t guaranteed success or happiness.
If you aspire to be a maverick, order “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.” In it 11 entrepreneurs share their strategies. You can be among the first to receive the book in December. Advance orders for $20 autographed copies are available at 803-359-7633 or email JerryBellune@yahoo.com

Do you dare do this kind of advertising?

Outrageous ads gain outrageous results

Some time ago we offered a 10-year newspaper subscription. We were delighted when a 93-year-old optimist took it.

This week we are casting caution to the winds and offering a “lifetime” subscription. It is expensive and we really don’t expect many will take us up on it. You never know, though, until you try it.

A friend of ours thought we had lost our minds with this offer. He may be right. The full page color ad will attract attention that we want. In a PS at the bottom of the ad, we offer a somewhat more modest and less expensive 20-year subscription. That’s what we’re really selling.

One of the major problems we see in advertising today is that it is boring. It does not address the target audience. They need and want what you have to offer.

Boring ads tell no intriguing stories. Make no outrageous offers. Neglect to tell you what’s in it for you. Make no irresistible calls for action. Do not give you multiple ways to respond and place your order.

Our outrageous message is going to more than 30,000 people who can afford what we’re offering. We aren’t courting the universe – just a few affluent readers.

Think about your own advertising. Is it outrageous enough to attract attention?

To place an advance order for our new “Maverick Entrepreneur’s Million Dollar Strategies” email JerryBellune@yahoo.com. Bulk orders are available, too.

Your Unique Selling Proposition’s value

What is unique about your Ideal Customers’ needs and wants? What do you have that will take care of them?
Former Avis CEO Bob Townsend revealed in his book “Up the Organization” how his company’s famous “We Try Harder” campaign was born. Townsend knew something dramatic was needed if Avis was to close the gap on Hertz, its biggest competitor.
What’s more, he had faith in Bill Bernbach at the Doyle Dane Bernbach agency.
“If you promise to run what we recommend,” Bernbach said, “everyone in my shop will want to work on your account.”
Townsend’s framed memo was posted in all offices at Avis and DDB. It read:
“Avis will never know as much about advertising as DDB and DDB will never know as much about the rent-a-car business as Avis.” Townsend promised that Avis would not approve, disapprove or try to improve ads and insisted that DDB submit only those as it truly recommended. “They will not ‘see what Avis thinks of that one’.”
Finding a USP was tough. The Avis fleet was not newer than Hertz’s. It did not have more locations or cheaper rates.
Copywriter Paula Green came up with an idea that went completely against the prevailing philosophy that ads must never acknowledge a brand weakness.
Her line – “We try harder” – became one of the most famous in advertising history.
In a year, Avis turned a $3.2m loss into a $1.2m profit – its first in 13 years.
You may not be cheaper, faster, etc. than your competitors. But there has to be one thing you offer that is better. Find it and you have the idea for a great ad campaign.
For a complimentary digital copy of “Uncover Your Inner Sales Genius,” email JerryBellune@yahoo.com