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Monthly Archives: August 2014

Killer Momentum

So here we are, finding ourselves about to begin a beautiful Waukesha County fall…

Isn’t it amazing how quickly time has flown by in 2014? Soon we’ll be halfway through this century’s second decade. And I still remember holding my breath at Y2K! Crazy.

There’s a reason for my mini-meditation, today, on time and its passage. You see, it’s SO easy to let it all flow by … and to not take a good hard look at doing things differently in your business.

Every week, I do my best to give you a quick “shot in the arm” for your business, and break you out of the routine. Honestly, I have such a great time putting together these notes for business owners, because I love thinking about my friends and clients putting good advice into practice to actuallygrow their business.

But sometimes momentum is a killer.

I share a little story for you which demonstrates my point, for this week’s blog post, and a few comments to pull it all together.

Read on, and send me your feedback.

Killer Momentum
“The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.” – Peter F Drucker

When I meet with business owner clients or friends in the Waukesha County area, I discover that many of them have a method of how they run their business … and they haven’t deviated from it for years.

Well, I remember an exchange from a plane, which got me to thinking about this phenomenon … and what it means for your business.

As the plane was being boarded, the flight attendant was passing through the cabin asking passengers what they wanted to drink before takeoff. “I’ll have a Diet Pepsi,” said one person. “A double vodka for me, please,” said another passenger … and it wasn’t even lunch time yet.

When the flight attendant reached a kind-looking matron, she asked for an iced tea. An interesting exchange followed:

Flight Attendant: I’m sorry, we don’t have any iced tea.
Passenger: Do you have hot tea?
Flight Attendant: Yes…
Passenger: Do you have ice?
Flight Attendant: Yes…
Passenger: Do you have sugar and lemon?
Flight Attendant: Uh, yes…
Passenger: Then forget the iced tea; just give me a cup of hot tea and add some ice, sugar, and lemon, please.

At that point, everyone who had heard the conversation, including the flight attendant, began to laugh. Everyone’s concept of iced tea was of a drink already prepared and packaged in a can or bottle. Only the passenger (who had obviously had this conversation many times before), had the concept of iced tea as a mixture of ingredients which were all readily available on the plane.

How many times, when faced with difficult or challenging situations, do we focus on the reasons we can’t do something instead of identifying ways in which we can?

Many business owners get stuck in auto-pilot, closing their minds to new ways of doing things because they simply don’t have the context.

So, here’s my suggestion for you this week: take a fresh look at your 1) marketing, 2) management procedures, and 3) sales steps. Try to see new ways of accomplishing similar goals, test them out … and perhaps watch your profits soar once more.

Feel very free forward this article to a Waukesha County business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, at Hammernik & Associates we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Waukesha County families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly (and until next week),

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890

Hammernik & Associates 

Dale Hammernik Reveals 3 Significant Marketing Mistakes (Part 3 of 3)

An honest question for you: how’s business, as we wrap up the summer?

Is there anything I can do to help you this week? I obviously take pleasure in helping my clients and business owner friends thrive during this craziness in our culture and economy, and my weekly Notes are just one way I’m happy to help.

But I hope you know that there’s probably other ways in which we could come alongside you and your business. From cash control analysis, to taking financial tracking off your plate, to tax planning and other consultations — Hammernik & Associates is here for you.

Give me a call ((414) 545-1890), or send me an email … we are in your corner.

So, in this week’s Strategy Note, I’m wrapping up my three-part series on sales and advertising blunders to avoid. From the many notes I’ve received, I know this has been useful. I’m truly glad to be of service.

Read on, and send me your feedback.

Dale Hammernik Reveals 3 Significant Marketing Mistakes (Part 3 of 3)
“One thing is sure. We have to do something. We have to do the best we know how at the moment… If it doesn’t turn out right, we can modify it as we go along.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

The last two weeks, I’ve written about how many small businesses in the Waukesha County area shoot themselves in the foot by failing to improve their advertising and sales processes. So far, I’ve given you FIVE blunders to avoid:

1. Failure to tell your story.
2. Right product, wrong market?
3. Right market, wrong problem?
4. Right problem, wrong pitch or promise?
5. Right pitch, wrong timing?

So, let’s keep plugging those holes for you, shall we? Here’s the final installment.

6. No urgency.
In most cases, of course, it’s just common courtesy not to rush people. But that’s a courtesy you can’t afford when you’re trying to close a sale. Why? Because of the salesperson and marketer’s greatest enemy… inertia.

If you can’t give your prospect a push to “act now,” you’re only inviting him to shelve the offer until later. Translation: never. It’s not a question of politeness, it’s a question of sales and marketing survival.

Go back and look more closely at your sales piece or script. Start with the offer and work backward. Is there a deadline for any special deal you’re offering? Is there a bonus for a speedy reply?

If you can work it into the deal, do so. But then move back through your piece and find places you can repeat or highlight the deadline date. Make it as specific as possible. Midnight on a certain date, just weeks from your mailing. Or maybe a website countdown. Or limited number of orders allowed.

If there’s one thing that drives people more than the promise of getting something, it’s the fear of missing out. In short, if there’s no urgency, find some. And make sure you build that tension, the closer you take your prospect to the point of the sale itself.

7. Failure to offer proof
As much as we may consider ourselves thoroughly rational creatures (and I say this as a “numbers person”!), no sale is ever made based on logic alone. The way to get attention and action is with emotion.

(Some people shy away from using emotion, and that’s quite understandable – because it’s often perceived as “manipulative”. My simple contention here is that if we don’t speak in the language of emotion, then we’re not truly speaking the real language of life.)

That said, once you’ve engaged a prospect emotionally, you’ve got to give him or her a reason to believe. You’ll want to work into your script or sales piece a way for your prospective client to go back and rationalize the smart decision they made to use your product or service.

Credibility-building charts and statistics, relevant stories, strong testimonials, track record, expert testimony, reassuring credentials … they all add up to support the prospect’s original emotional commitment.

If you are already using these elements, I suggest you go back and make sure your proofs are clear and easy to read. If you’ve got testimonials, make sure they’re as naturally presented as possible. Don’t use stock photos. Use pictures of the real customer. If you can use full names, do. If you’ve got experts who recommend your product, mention them.

If you’re reading third-party sources that support your claims, name them. And use quotes just long enough to show that the credible experts agree. Don’t just say your results are great. Show what happens when you get great results. Thinner customers. A nicer car. A bank statement. A healthy, happy couple. And so on.

Anything to put an image into the imaginations of your future customers.

8. Failure to close
This is the last one, and it’s a biggie.

Zig Ziglar famously said, “Timid salespeople have skinny kids.” And once you’ve gone through your sales process, written a fantastic sales piece or advertisement, you MUST seal the deal with an actual “ask” and a clear call to action–stating *exactly* what your prospective customer should do right now.

Without this final step, all your good efforts go to waste!

Again, I don’t pretend to be a “guru” … I just see what works, and I pass it on.

Feel very free forward this article to a Waukesha County business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, at Hammernik & Associates we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Waukesha County families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly (and until next week),

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890

Hammernik & Associates 

Dale Hammernik Reveals 2 More Advertising Mistakes

I’ve come to realize that WE are our own worst enemy, when it comes to running our businesses … not external factors, not market forces. It comes down to looking in the mirror, and taking responsibility for the results we’re currently experiencing.

So, if things are down right now: don’t blame anyone but yourself. This doesn’t mean self-flagellation, but instead that seeing things in this light really is the first step to getting OUT of it — because you finally begin to focus on things WITHIN your control, instead of outside of it. And it’s really quite liberating.

Conversely, if things are GOOD: don’t abandon what got you there in the first place and coast, as if just by showing up, the magic happens. That just isn’t the case, and you know it.

Last week, I wrote about some common advertising mistakes I see … and, well, I think it touched some familiar nerves. But allow me to remind you — being challenged in your thinking is a GOOD thing!

(And, of course, if you want a guide for walking you through this murky tax landscape, I have just a few open tax-planning sessions remaining. 

But I urge you to move quickly, as I’ve opened these sessions to my non-business clients as well, and they’re going quickly. Send me a quick email, or call: (414) 545-1890 to grab one.)

On to your better marketing …

Dale Hammernik Reveals 2 More Advertising Mistakes
“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.” – Beverly Sills

Whether you create most of your sales through referrals, through direct marketing, or with a dedicated sales force–there’s some quite common mistakes I’ve seen which are destined to suck the life out of your sales process.

Last week, I posted the first three. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, or deleted it by mistake, send me a note, and we’ll get it to you.

Here they were:

1. Failure To Tell Your Story
2. Right product, wrong market?
3. Right market, wrong problem?

As we head into summer (a typically “slow” season for many businesses), it’s the perfect time to evaluate your marketing processes…and plug the holes.

So, here’s the next installment.

4. Right problem, wrong pitch or promise?
Emotionally, you’re right in line with your target audience. Yet still they don’t call your office, act on your sales pitch or otherwise respond. Not to worry, because knowing how your customers think is already half the battle. But now you need to work out the other half of the proposition — the solution they’ll respond to.

The first thing you know is that it has to be somehow better, stronger, or entirely different than whatever solution everyone else is offering. How do you figure that out?

It starts with studying the competition. What’s working for them? Further, what has worked for you in the past, which you haven’t since returned to?

Because these pitches are already tested and proven effective.

In both cases, you’re getting a feel for the solutions that hit the prospect closest to the core. Good sales processes or advertising solves problems. It offers hope. That much is proven over ages. And it works.

5. Right pitch, wrong timing?
Bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell called it the “tipping point.” One of the things so many businesses fail to take into consideration is how well timed their promotional campaigns and sales presentations are with what’s currently happening in the marketplace.

The bottom line is that markets move fast, and armies of prospective customers march on. What worked yesterday or even this morning may not work tomorrow. That’s why you SHOULD be plugged into what’s happening in the world, and in the marketplace. Subscribe to the magazines your customers read. Use blog-tracking services online to see what the most passionate customers for your product or service are talking about. Set up a Google news alert related to what you’re selling (you can do so at this page: https://www.google.com/alerts ).

Again, I don’t pretend to be a “guru” … I just see what works, and I pass it on.

Feel very free forward this article to a Waukesha County business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, at Hammernik & Associates we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Waukesha County families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly (and until next week),

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890

Hammernik & Associates 

Dale Hammernik Reveals 3 Common Advertising Mistakes

With all of the chaos swirling around — Israel/Palestine, Russia/Ukraine, the border mess, EBOLA, etc. — it’s tempting to just throw your hands up and drown yourself in work … or drown yourself in the chaos, and rut there for a while.

So how are you feeling about your business this week?

I’ve got some marketing and sales advice to lift your vision (very attainable, btw) and I wanted to offer you these important reminders, during a storm:

Hammernik’s Key Reminder #1: What you choose to “ingest” over these next few days will greatly impact your state-of-mind. Garbage in, garbage out, as they say. And, of course, the opposite is true — when you surround yourself with excellence and clear-eyed determination, you find that your heart and mind carry much greater strength.

Temper your media intake this week, as most of those outlets are (quite literally) merchants of fear.

Oh, and as I write this, it’s no surprise that the stock market is “reacting” a bit. (The Dow Jones is down about 500 points since Tuesday, 7/29.) So, this leads to my second reminder:

Hammernik’s Key Reminder #2: The only thing certain about the stock market is that it’s volatile.So those of you with many assets resting there, don’t make moves out of panic. Sit down to discuss a tax-advantaged strategy … not a knee-jerk fear response.

Hammernik’s Key Reminder #3: The only thing you can truly control is yourself. You can’t control the market, you can’t control our foreign affairs (unless, of course, Messrs. Kerry or Hagel are somehow reading this — perhaps you guys can!), and there’s a real sense in which you can’t even, really, control your salary and income.

And don’t believe that you can fully control your business, or your client behavior — that’s a clear path towards irrelevance and bankruptcy. But you CAN affect your business through effective sales and marketing. 

But so much of what people do with their existing advertising doesn’t work. So I’ve put together some clear-eyed advice about what DOES work (and I’m speaking from personal experience here).

Oh, and if you’d really like to talk this week (and I don’t blame you) I have EIGHT open tax-planning sessions. But I urge you to move quickly, as they’re going quickly. Send me a quick email, or call: (414) 545-1890 to grab one.

On to making your advertising better…

Dale Hammernik Reveals 3 Common Advertising Mistakes
“The great accomplishments of man have resulted from the transmission of ideas of enthusiasm.” – Thomas J Watson

Whether you create most of your sales through referrals, through direct marketing, or with a dedicated sales force–there’s some common mistakes I’ve seen which are destined to suck the life out of your sales process.

Starting this week, I’ll be sharing a series of them so that you can FIX them, if you discover you’re making them. As we move through summer (a typically “slow” season for many businesses), it’s the perfect time to evaluate your marketing processes…and plug the holes.

So, here’s a start…

1. Failure To Tell Your Story
One of the simplest mistakes many marketers or sales professionals make happens long before they set out to make a sale: they don’t settle into the clear, *unique* story behind their service or product.

I’m not referring to an “origins” story (though that’s often pertinent), but rather–what’s the MAIN message nobody else is telling? Or just as good–what’s the story that sets you apart from your competitors?

This is often called the “Unique Selling Proposition” (USP), and it’s essentially: “Why you?”

Ask yourself…if you had five seconds to sum it all up, and you had to close the deal on the spot…what would you say?

When the answer to that little thought experiment is enough to complete a sale, you’re good.

2. Right Product, Wrong Market?
This one isn’t always something you can control, but every business owner should get feedback from their customers/clients about this.

Is your proposed customer base actually interested in the item or service you’re wanting to provide? You could be selling the best darn carpet cleaning service in Waukesha County…but what if everyone’s got hardwood floors?

So…before you launch that new service or product, do some *basic* research: Are there other businesses in the Waukesha County area successfully selling a similar product or service? Despite your fears–that’s a GOOD sign, because it means you won’t have to carve out some kind of unique niche.

It seems, though, that many business owners pursue the “holy grail” of a totally unique offering…and forgetting that it’s probably unique for a reason.

Similarly, many business owners come to the market with what THEY want to sell…and don’t give any serious thought or research into whether it’s something which folks want badly enough to fork over their wallets for it.

3. Right Market, Wrong Problem?
Let’s assume, at this step, you’ve got the right target market. And you’ve got enough of them in one place that you’ll be able to sell something effectively.

But still, the product or service fails. What happened?

The next thing you have to ask is if you’ve really got your finger on the DESIRES of your targets…not just their NEEDS.

Are you really speaking to the element they care about most? Or are you just pitching to the things you *think* the prospect should care about? Surprisingly, those two factors may not be the same thing.

If you think this might be a trouble spot, the next step is to go where those prospects congregate and listen. Ask questions. Take notes. What online forums do they read, and what do they write about within them? What other products do your prospects use, and in response to what sales pitches?

What grabs their attention in the headlines? What do they whisper about at cocktail parties and around the cooler? When they lie awake at night, what do they worry about?

Get the answers to THESE questions, and your sales pitch is practically written for you.

Again, I don’t pretend to be a “guru” … I just see what works, and I pass it on.

Feel very free forward this article to a Waukesha County business associate or client you know who could benefit from our assistance — or simply send them our way? While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, at Hammernik & Associates we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Waukesha County families and business owners. And we always make room for referrals from trusted sources like you.

Warmly (and until next week),

Dale Hammernik
(414) 545-1890

Hammernik & Associates