Who can you help today?

A local banker and his wife were among the most successful couples in our town.

Each morning, they prayed for guidance about who they might help that day.

It was a selfless appeal for someone in need and how to help them.

They took a tough-minded approach. They didn’t just want to give a hungry man a fish. They wanted to teach him to fish and get the equipment he would need.

When we bought a newspaper in their town, he and his bank manager were in our office 30 minutes after we closed the sale.

They had that kind of local intelligence network and they asked how they could help us. It was a welcome gesture since the newspaper was financially in trouble.

The banker introduced us to people he thought we should know and who could help us salvage a business that was deep in debt to get it into the black.

He and his wife became our role models.

They were two of the best loved people in our town because they genuinely cared.

If you don’t have role models like them, find one – or become one yourself.

We share such field-tested secrets in “Maverick Entrepreneur’s Million Dollar Strategies.” For a personally autographed copy, email JerryBellune@yahoo.com.

Next: How to make difficult decisions

Copyright 2021, The Bellune Co., Inc.

Gain new customers without costs

Russell Brunson started his 1st business while in college. Now he owns 3 online businesses and probably will start several more. That’s what entrepreneurs do.

Russell told MaryEllen Tribby he calls his businesses “funnels,” as in sales funnels. 

That makes sense. You make your offer and prospects either buy or they don’t. 

If they buy, you’re in business. If they don’t, you try something else.

His goal in creating funnels is to break even. If he spends $1 and make $1 from the other end of the funnel, he’s won. 

A funnel that breaks even on cold traffic – not his existing list – means he gained new customers at no cost. Anything else they buy from him is pure profit.

When we started publishing, it took us 11 months to break even. Most new companies take longer. After that, it was profit.

Russell’s mentor, Mike Litman, told him that “Amateurs focus on the front end.” That didn’t make sense until he grasped the concept of a “break even funnel.”

Rarely is Russell profitable on his initial front end funnels. In fact, a lot of them lose money on the front end. But as he attracts more customers and they buy more from him, the profits begin to arrive.

That’s why you need sound research and a strong business plan. Before you’re through, knock 10% off your projected sales and add 10% to your projected costs. You will come closer to becoming profitable.

We share such field-tested strategies in “Killer Secrets of Successful Entrepreneurs.”  For details, email JerryBellune@yahoo.com

Next: Concentrate on ideal customers

Copyright 2021, The Bellune Co., Inc.

What we can learn from Walt Disney

When you think of being visionary, compare your vision with Walt Disney’s vision for Disneyland 65 years ago:

“Physically, Disneyland is to be a small world in itself. Encompassing the things that were good and true in American life… dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America.

“I don’t want the public to think about the world they live in when they are inside our world created for them. Beyond physical places, we want to bring people along into an entirely different world, with our philosophies and ideas, our characters, our stories, our past, present and future, so they are a part of it and never want to leave.

“At age 12 or at age 62, we want them to feel curiosity, wonder, awe, fascination, joy, and attachment. Within this world, we want them to experience discovery and adventure, fun and entertainment, education, participation, and recognition. They will not just come to visit our places or to the theater to see our films. They will bring us into their homes and into their hearts. We will never settle for having customers or fans — they will be Disney people. This world will never be completed. It will always be under construction, expanding, diversifying, playing more and more roles in peoples’ lives.”

Our thanks to Rick Houcek for sharing this visionary document.

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

Next: With vision, you flourish

Leave no money on the table

Whatever happened to Joyce who used to do business with us? No, she didn’t die. She just quit doing business with us.

Why? Did we do something wrong?

No. Joyce decided she could afford to advertise on TV based on the business our advertising had brought her.

We need to reactivate Joyce and other of our lost or inactive customers.

Go through your customer list. Highlight the people who have not bought in the past 3 years. Send them a postcard. Text them. Email them. Send them your weekly blog. Call them. Find out how they are doing.

Our friend Ruth King recommends you write or call with a message that says:

“Thank you for your past business. I was concerned because we haven’t taken care of your _____ in the past few years. What can we do to help you in you again?”

Be prepared to find out that they thought you went out of business because they haven’t heard from you. And they will tell you what it will take to help them again.

One of Ruth King’s clients sent 100 “we want you back” postcards. Cost: $50. Got back 3 clients and a $10,000 job. The postcard paid for itself many times over.

The cheapest way to grow your business is to reactivate your lost customers. Set aside a single hour a week to call them.

We share such field-tested strategies in our “Killer Secrets of Successful Entrepreneurs.” For a $20 personally autographed copy, email JerryBellune@yahoo.com.

Next: Your vision for your business

Copyright 2020, The Bellune Co., Inc.

Writing Tip: Tune up your senses

Good afternoon, fellow ink-stained wretches.
Here’s a little New Year’s gift for you.

Daily life rends to dull our senses.
It should tune them up.

How often have you driven a familiar route on auto-pilot?
You go this way so often you barely pay attention.
Even veteran reporters and writers occasionally tune out.

Bob Greene makes us look at daily life differently.
Bob is a Chicago journalist and bestselling author
He was sitting in a doctor’s waiting room.
That’s a good place to read old magazines or take naps.

While waiting, Bob turned on his Big Eyes and Big Ears.
He saw a woman and her aging father sitting together.
She showed an old magazine to her father.

“Do you know who this is, Dad?” she asked.
Her father studied the cover and said, “He’s an actor.”
“That’s right,” she said with unmistakable relief.

Her tone will be familiar to those who care for aged parents.
They worry about what years do to those who raised them.

“Do you know which actor?” she asked, hope in her voice.
He did not reply though the name was on the cover.
“Brad Pitt,” the daughter said. “They’re getting divorced.”
The cover story was about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
The magazine reported their marriage was on the rocks.

The magazine was old.
The couple separated in 2016.
“That’s right,” the father said. “Brad Pitt. I know him.”

His daughter was checking on her dad’s memory.
It was a delicate way to check his recall.
Brad Pitt had no idea how his likeness was used.
Yet he was part of something precious and profound.
His face helped a daughter check up on her dad.
She had improvised a mental diagnostic tool.

She smiled at her father and took his hand.
Then they rose and went in to see his doctor.

Had Bob Green been napping, he would have missed this.
He watched an intimate moment between two people.
He knew neither of them and may never see them again
But he wrote to share with us a profound moment.

That’s what keen observation can give us.
I hope Bob’s story touched you as it did me.
You can witness such magic, too.
Just open your eyes and stay tuned in.

Want more of such clear writing tips.
Order An Editor’s Guide to Compelling Writing.
It’s $9.99 by writing JerryBellune@yahoo.com

3 success strategies for 2021

Business owners and managers who survived and thrived in 2020, says our friend Ruth King, used these 3 simple strategies:

1. They paid close attention to their customers….even when they didn’t want to sell them anything. They reminded their customers that they were there for them. These messages helped keep customers aware they were thinking of them. We send these Business Blogs to our customers weekly.

We  also call to check with them for news for our business pages. This way we remind them that we care abut their successes and want to let our readers know about them.

2. They reactivated inactive customers. They looked for customers who had bought in the past but not recently. They found reasons to activate their inactive customers with a new product or service offer.

We look back at this time last year for who advertised what and contact dormant accounts to find out how we might help them increase sales and revenue.

3. They reviewed past quotes and proposals. Some of these quotes/proposals turned into sales a year later. The comment from many customers, “No one followed up with me. You’re the first.”

We share such field-tested strategies in our 3-CD “Make Yourself a Super Star” self-study course. For details, email JerryBellune@yahoo.com.

Next: Leave no money on the table

Copyright 2021, The Bellune Co., Inc.

Take care of your dollars in 2021

A business broker friend congratulated us on our financial management during the 2020 pandemic. He said we did not lose near as much money as many other small businesses. We appreciate his compliment but it was OUR money we were losing.

What we did was not brain surgery.

We looked at what we were doing that was profitable and asked how we could use it to maintain or increase revenues.

We looked at what we were doing that cost us money and decided which we could cut back on or cut out.

We did it in two stages.

We cut what did not produce enough revenue to at least pay for itself. 

For example, with so many locked down businesses where we distributed our newspapers, we cut out delivering to those locations to cut printing and delivery costs.

As they began to reopen, we began delivering to them again. That increased costs but was offset by sales revenue.

We’ve since asked many of our writers to take a break for a few months to save space and cut printing and delivery costs.

With far higher web site traffic, we invite business owners to advertise online. 

Take care of your dollars in 2021.

We share such ideas in “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.” 

For a $20 personally autographed copy, contact us at 803-359-7633.

Copyright 2020, The Bellune Co., Inc.

Early Christmas gift – make it their idea

When our friend Mac Toole was serving as a SC lawmaker, he had a wise strategy.
He would set out to convince one of the top leaders to introduce a bill his constituents wanted. It was easier to convince one leader than 123 other legislators. 
The leader would get the credit, Mac’s constituents would get what they wanted and everyone was happy. You can get a lot done in life if you don’t hog the credit.
I learned that early in peddling Watkins Products door to door in college to keep gas in my car. My best selling product was a lemon pie filling that was out of this world. My mother used it all the time. 
She said it cut a half hour off the time it took her to make lemon pie – and it tasted like she made it from scratch.
When I called on the ladies of the houses in my territory, I would ask if their families liked lemon pie. 99% said yes.
I would tell them how fast and easy it was for my mother to make lemon pie. 
I would offer them a bottle with the guarantee that if they didn’t like it, they would get their money back. It then became their idea that the lemon pie recipe was theirs. I used it to open doors and sell them other household products.
Always let your prospects think that whatever they buy was their idea.
PS. All of us at our little newspapers wish you and yours the happiest of holidays and the best in the new year.

Next: Take care of the pennies in 2021.

A writing Christmas gift

Good morning, fellow ink-stained wretches.
Here’s a little early Christmas gift for you.

I love periods. They win my vote for the  greatest piece of punctuation ever invented.  They are the sliced bread of writing.

William Zinsser tells us in On Writing Well that most writers don’t reach the period soon enough.  “If you find yourself hopelessly mired in a long sentence,”  he writes, “it is probably because you are trying to make the sentence do more than it can reasonably do.”

One of my goals in everything I write is to use only periods. No other punctuation.  My readers like it. Your readers may not praise you but they will understand you.

Edit your own work ruthlessly.  Look for commas and other pieces of punctuation.  These tend to clutter your writing. Banish them from your sentences.  Turn dependent clauses into their own sentences.

Here’s an example of what I mean:
The world’s big oil producers, flush and powerful just months ago, said they would cut crude supplies by a record amount but found even that couldn’t stop prices from sliding to their lowest level in four years.

Count the words in that sentence.  Hint: There are 37. 

It is not a bad sentence.  Yet the commas set off a dependent clause that injects a separate thought and adds six more words and another idea for the readers to juggle in their minds. 

Here’s a way to solve that:
The world’s big oil producers were flush and powerful just months ago. They said they would cut crude supplies by a record amount. But they found even that couldn’t stop prices from sliding to their lowest level in four years.

Here’s another way to do it:
The world’s big oil producers cut crude supplies but found that didn’t stop a price slide to the lowest in four years.

Now you give it a try.  Pick a long sentence from one of your own stories. Be ruthless. Take a knife to it.

Here’s another exercise for you. Take a long sentence from a book, newspaper or magazine. Simplify and shorten it by removing commas. 

You can break long sentences into shorter ones  as we did in our first example.  Or simply take all the clutter out and streamline the sentence  as we did in the second example.

Want more clear writing tips? Order An Editor’s Guide to Compelling Writing. Email me for details at jerrybellune@yahoo.com

An early Christmas gift parable

Here’s another early Christmas gift to help you end a dark year on a bright note.
The great physicist Albert Einstein spent most of his life solving the secrets of the universe. He finally concluded the greatest force of all was compound interest.
Now he may have been joking but his point  is clear: Compound interest can make you wealthy. But if you let your cash manage you instead of you managing it, there won’t be any left for interest to compound.
Our friend Dr. Tracey Jones interprets the meaning of Jesus parable of the 3 servants in her book “Beyond Tremendous.”
You may recall the story of the wealthy man who left money to 3 servants to care for in his absence. When he returned, he called each of them in to account.
2 had worked hard and doubled their master’s money. The 3rd, out of fear or laziness, had buried the money and returned it saying here is all you gave me.
His employer fired him.Tracey says that Jesus’ point is that we should make the most of the opportunities God gives. We should help ourselves and others, not act like the 3rd servant.
Opportunities are gifts but they come with hard work and certain risks. Tracey’s new book, SPARK: 5 Essentials to Ignite the Greatness Within is available at tremendousleadership.com.
We share such field-tested strategies in our 3-CD “Make Yourself a STAR (Someone They Always Remember).” 

For details, email JerryBellune@yahoo.com.

Next: Early Christmas gift