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Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties Small Business Accounting Expert On Refocusing Right-Thinking For You and Your Team

Last week we talked about small business owners (perhaps like you) forgetting to “sell”.

You see, what I’ve found when working with my business owner clients in Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties and beyond is that when you focus on something enough, it becomes “big” and crowds out room for the truly big issues.

The client service coordinator focuses on moving the paper, getting the phone answered … and maybe focusing just as much on the person in the next room she doesn’t like, the chair that squeaks … and on and on.

We all need to be brought back to what’s important in business. Over and over.

It adds purpose to what we do. It’s also the magic ingredient that separates the good from the great.

And I’m here today to remind you (and perhaps your staff, now!) of it…

Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties Small Business Accounting Expert On Refocusing Right-Thinking For You and Your Team
“Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character.” – Norman Schwarzkopf

What are the most important tasks in your business? Taking care of customers and growing revenue.

Add any trendy business philosophy you want on top of that, and it still gets down the same thing.

So … EVERYONE on your team should either be adding revenue or helping to control expenses. I suggest you (constantly) ask your staff — and yourself — what they can do to help:

1. Get more customers
2. Keep customers longer
3. Increase the amount of each transaction
4. Control expenses
5. Get more referrals
6. Get testimonials
7. Make operations more efficient

So, in that vein, here’s a discussion you can have at your next staff meeting:

* Review and discuss these 7 issues
* Ask everyone to write down the things that would help them do their job better (or obstacles that are in their way)
* Ask everyone to write down ideas for each of the 7 issues between now and the next staff meeting
* Review everyone’s first draft privately or as a group in your next staff meeting

Everyone in your business must be involved in growing revenue or controlling expenses. They must see their role in that part of the business. And YOU — the business owner — must keep that discussion alive and dynamic.

Good luck!

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 Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties 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, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties 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

Dale Hammernik’s Advice to Business Owners: Don’t Forget This!

There do seem to be some signs that our country’s economy is shaking off at least SOME of the doldrums. Despite all of the foreign policy chaos we’re seeing, domestically speaking stocks are high, confidence is steady, and though there are still plenty of reasons for concern, things could be improving in the Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area, as well.

But even with various items of good news, we’ve all still gotta plug the holes in our own houses.

And this economy is certainly revealing some “holes” in some of my friends’ and clients businesses, here in the Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area and beyond. Others are doing well, thriving even … but I want to say that discovering sales problems can be a healthy process, however painful — and certainly always worth it.

So I thought I would take this week’s Business Strategy Note to highlight some issues I’ve been seeing as I occasionally talk with friends and clients about their businesses…

Dale Hammernik’s Advice to Business Owners: Don’t Forget This!
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Thoreau

It’s always been hard-scrapping for small business owners. We’ve all heard the old adage: At least 85% and maybe as high as 98% of new small businesses fail before they hit the five year mark.

That rate may even have been higher over the past half-decade.

(So, by the way — not a bad reason to be proud; that you’re still riding this economy and haven’t given up yet. Don’t quit.)

Usually the “conventional wisdom”, especially among many accountants or service professionals in the financial arena, will tell you that the reason for that failure is “under-capitalization” and “poor fiscal management”.

But see, as a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties accounting professional, I can point you to businesses that have failed with enough money to do everything they needed to do ten times over. And yet still, some management consultant will tell you it’s “poor management ability”.

I suggest to you that what it is in most cases is that the business owner decided that once he or she was in business they were done needing to sell.

It’s amazing, but many people in many types of businesses believe they don’t have to sell. For example, most doctors believe that they don’t have to sell. There are a lot of restaurant owners who believe that. Incredibly, there’s a lot of retail store owners who believe that “we open the doors and the customers come to us,” and “we don’t have to ‘sell’ anyone.”

I think you see how dangerous that thinking is. It may not be “classic” cold-calling or prospecting … but can you really believe that the patient consultations with doctors aren’t a sales process?

You obviously have some method you use to promote your business or you wouldn’t even be in existence. But you probably only have one method or two methods or three methods that you use consistently. So a good way to add a boost to your bottom line is to increase the number of methods you use.

The more methods, the more business. As marketing legend Dan Kennedy says, “Diversity is the creative opposite of laziness.” So you need to think, “How can I use more methods to attract the right kind of people to do business with me — more than any other competitor will use?”

The more methods, the more business.

Hopefully that thinking process has begun to take place for you today. 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 Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties 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, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties 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

Dale Hammernik’s Advice: Meet Less, Be More Productive

Are you like me? Because occasionally I find myself loathing “meetings”.

Working in business accounting, I know as well as anyone that they are absolutely necessary at times — and a business that NEVER has them probably won’t get on the same page with the frequency or alacrity that succeeding in 2014 (and beyond) now requires. It’s a fast-moving marketplace, folks.

But exactly because it’s so fast-moving out there, we simply must not allow the corporate culture of meetings and memos to rule over the advantage we carry as a smaller, more nimble Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties organization or business.

And even in the corporate culture, there is growing literature and advice about cutting down the wasteful environment of relentless meeting.

So here are a few guidelines I’ve put into place … let’s free ourselves from those additional, mindless obligations.

Dale Hammernik’s Advice: Meet Less, Be More Productive
“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

In the spirit of what I’m writing about, this will be a quickie…

Three essential guidelines for taking control of meetings — and your time.

1) Determine whether you really are necessary to the meeting. Look at the agenda, or find out what the meeting is intended to accomplish. Ask yourself, “Do I actually get anything out of the meeting?” and “Do I actually contribute anything to the meeting?” If your answers are “no,” let meeting organizers know and find a way to avoid attending. Just do it.

2) Try to attend only part of the meeting. If the first part of a meeting is relevant to you, but the other half isn’t, find a way to skip the second half. Just do it, and let the chips fall.

3) Arrive on time–leave on time. Let meeting organizers know that you’ll be happy to attend the meeting but will only stay until the time stated. Then get there on time–and leave on schedule.

These may seem harsh, but your time is valuable. Respect yourself enough to treat it that way.

I’m grateful for our partnership, and dedicated to your success.

Feel very free forward this article to a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties 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, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties 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

Dale Hammernik’s Advice: Work Less, Be More Productive

I was inspired by all this talk of independence. I thought about my work here in the Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area, and the work of our business clients — and, well, I’m here to offer you a “Dale Hammernik” personal challenge, of sorts:

Take a day off this week.

One day more than you normally would. No email. No work texting. Heck, even turn the smart phone off completely — and see what happens.

Here’s why I’m issuing this challenge…

Dale Hammernik’s Advice: Work Less, Be More Productive
“To succeed in business it is necessary to make others see things as you see them.” – John H Patterson

In his book The 80/20 Manager, Richard Koch cites a fascinating experiment on the subject of “forced time off”:

“…(Boston Consulting Group) consultants were obliged to take one day and one evening off, during which time they were not allowed to use email or voice mail…I’m sure you can guess the results. The teams who were forced to take days and evenings off rated higher not just on work-life balance but on job satisfaction, learning, personal development and open communication within the teams. Moreover, their clients reported greater value delivery than the clients of the control groups. Empirical proofs that less really is more.

“I’m waiting for someone to have the courage to test what would happen if a team is forced to take off two days… then three, then four. Let’s see what happens when they work just one day and one evening each week. (page 174)

The Perlow & Porter experiment cited above hints at why this is so profoundly true for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties businesses. Faced with the constraint of having to take time off, the consultants at BCG suddenly found themselves having way more discussions about HOW work was being done and fewer conversations about WHAT work was being done.

“People were initially skeptical about spending so much time looking at work processes. But in the end, most teams found it helpful. The check-ins not only allowed teams to engage in explicit conversations about achieving their time-off goals, but they also sparked valuable discussions–involving the whole team–about priorities, expectations, and problems people were facing.

By contrast, in typical nonexperiment teams, consultants generally start talking about problems only when they are already overstressed and less able to think rationally or do much about them.”

Re-read that last sentence. The zero-constraint, always-on, smartphone-addicted lifestyle of the average Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area entrepreneur makes it LESS likely that you will think rationally about the strategic decisions you need to make in your business.

But forcing yourself to take time off, one evening a week, then one day a week and, yes, as Mr. Koch recommends, even 4 days a week, will force you to make clearer, more strategic decisions.

Working less = earning more.

It’s an equation that seems to violate everything we’ve been told about work … we’ve been told that you work your tail off, lay aside a bunch of cash and then SOMEDAY you’ll be able to work less.

FALSE. Does not compute.

Working less = earning more is an equation that I believe we all must embrace in the Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area if we want to take our businesses to the next level.

So, take one day off next week as a test. I wonder what would happen?

I’m grateful for our partnership and dedicated to your success.

Would you forward this article to a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties 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, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties 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

Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties Accountant On: The Making of Long-Term Customers

How are you and your Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area small business feeling about 2014 so far?

Now that we’re just about halfway through, it’s a nice time to take stock.

So, really, I’d be interested: How are things going for you so far? Send me a quick email here at Team Dale Hammernik so I can get a feel for it.

Running a small business can be lonely … and I, perhaps obviously, like to be able to offer encouragement along the way, for you, my Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties-area tax accounting clients.

This week’s Note is a simple method to keep your best customers doing more and more business with you throughout the year. As with the above, I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts.

Here we go…

Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties Accountant On: The Making of Long-Term Customers
“The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed.” – Henry Ford

Customers for life are MADE — you don’t just “happen upon” them, in my opinion.

But the fact is, most Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area small businesses pay too much in chasing new customers and too little in building repeat business with their existing customers.

Which is unfortunate because the satisfied customer will likely purchase again. And they will probably purchase more and purchase something different.

This matters because it definitely costs less to motivate a known customer to purchase again than to acquire a new customer.

In fact, it’s probably most often the case that your (and my) customers are only fickle because a new Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties based competitor is paying more attention to them than you are.

In business-to-business marketing it seems that many companies make the huge mistake of having all their contact with their customers go through the sales representative. This leaves the customers vulnerable to theft if the representative jumps to another employer. It also leaves too much opportunity for negligence on the sales rep’s part.

Regardless of the layers of distribution between you and your customer, it’s a good idea to establish some direct link as an owner or president. The owner of a restaurant can do that by coming around and chatting personally with the customers. The chief executive officer of a large company can do it with a newsletter and maybe a hotline telephone number.

Direct mail is perfect for cutting through these layers (in addition, and on top of email). Here are some of the ways that direct mail can be used to communicate with established customers.

* Introduce new products or services.
* Give advance notice of and explain price or fee increases.
* Offer special discounts or premiums.
* Provide useful information.
* Give recognition to top customers.
* Announce seasonal sales.

And more.

I’ve rarely seen a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business that could not increase and improve through increased direct marketing to current customers.

Do not make the mistake of assuming knowledge on the part of the customer.

Do not take shortcuts with existing customers and do not feel that you are boring them by telling the same story repetitively.

If you have quality, service, guarantee, price or other advantages, point them out each and every time you deliver a presentation.

Even as a humble, “non-guru” Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties accountant, I submit to you that American business desperately needs to place a new, higher value on the customer in this economy. Communicate with your customers and you’ll do more business.

I’m grateful for our partnership, and dedicated to your success,

Would you forward this article to a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties 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, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties 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

Dale Hammernik’s 27 Reasons To Purchase Your Own Building

We probably advise our Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties accountant firm’s clients every week on how to handle their businesses, and their finances.

It’s a big part of what we do around here at Team Dale Hammernik, and many clients don’t even realize how much we’re willing and able to help. (And that’s fine, because we are plenty busy — but always willing to talk.)

We can help your Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties small business with tax planning, financial advice, expense analysis, management input — it truly runs the gamut.

One of the conversations we’ve often had over the years revolves around real estate, specifically in the commercial realm. So, I thought I’d put together a little list of reasons why your business might should buy its own building…

Dale Hammernik’s 27 Reasons To Purchase Your Own Building
“The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

1.  You won’t have to move unless you really want to.
2.  When your clients associate you with a location, you can keep the location.
3.  You can install anything you think is helpful.
4.  You can decide what maintenance is important and when it is important.
5.  You can set your own temperature controls.
6.  You can finish the interior exactly the way you want.
7.  Some expenses are only justified when you know you have a long-term lease.
8.  You get stable rent.
9.  Your business can pay rent (which is a business expense).
10. You can own the building in a separate LLC, providing limited liability and separate tax accounting.
11. Your LLC can depreciate the building which gives you a tax advantage to offset the rental income.
12. If you hold the building until your heirs inherit it — they will get a step up in cost basis erasing the depreciation.
13. Any interest payment is a deductible expense to the entity owning the building.
14. You can sell the building and reinvest in property without paying capital gains through a 1031 exchange.
15. Owning real estate allows you to profit in any combination of cash flow, appreciation, and reduction of debt.
16. You can get a relatively long-term commercial lease at a reasonable rate.
17. Office buildings are relatively inexpensive right now, making it a good time to buy.
18. There are a number of empty office buildings, making it a good time to buy.
19. A mortgage at today’s rates is the best hedge against inflation.
20. Rents are relatively low now and will rise as interest rates rise.
21. The rental income offers a diversification to your business.
22. Even if you decide to sell or move your business you can keep the rental income.
23. You are not thinking of retiring in the near future.
24. You are not thinking of selling the business in the near future.
25. You can carefully select any other tenants to enhance the neighborhood of your business.
26. You now have an appreciating asset for a fraction of the down payment leveraging your investment.
27. You have sufficient assets or cash flow to make leveraging your investments a risk you can afford.

All that said, there are certain reasons that it may NOT be in your best interests to purchase:

* You do not want to leverage your investments by adding a mortgage to the mix.
* You don’t have the cash flow or capital to purchase the building.
* You are expanding and will likely need a different building in the future.
* You need the money it would take to purchase the property for living expenses.
* You are thinking of retiring soon.

If anything on this list catches your eye, let’s have a strategy session together.

Email or call: (414) 545-1890

Would you forward this article to a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties 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, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties 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

Dale Hammernik Shares Another Big Mistake: No Client Tracking

In this week’s Business Strategy note, I am continuing my little war on bad business, this time about one of the key differentiators I see among my most successful Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business owner friends.

I hate to say it, but it is an almost obsessive attention to the finer points of sales — frequency, cost-per-sale, “upsells”, etc. Even in “regular” Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area businesses, these factors can make the difference between ugly red and beautiful black on the P/L reports.

Dale Hammernik Shares Another Big Mistake: No Client Tracking
“One worthwhile task carried to a successful conclusion is worth half-a-hundred half-finished tasks.” – Malcolm Forbes

I’ve written before about the most important pieces of information you should know about your target prospects, but did you know that this same approach is actually even more important for your own customers?

Why? Well, for the simple reason that they’ve already signaled their interest in your products or services by giving you their business. And, that makes this list the most valuable list you can maintain in your Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area business.

It’s even better, if you’ve got a bead on the following 6 pieces of information, on top of their names …

1. What They’ve Purchased
If you know what your customers purchased in the past, you have a good idea of what they will buy again. (And you won’t waste your time promoting products of little to no interest to them, or to others.)

2. How Often They Purchase
Individuals who buy rarely from you may need additional encouragement — i.e. more marketing. Whereas, consistent customers may not need extra sales pitches, but might benefit from a newsletter or coupon.

3. How Much They Spend (on average)
Why spend precious time pitching products to customers which they can’t afford? It might embarrass your customer, shows your lack of personal interest, and may cause customers to lose interest.

4. The Last Time They Purchased
Have you lost a customer without even knowing it? Who’s still loyal? Who has strayed (and needs to be brought back)?

5. Each Interaction You’ve Had With Them
Documentation is important for obvious reasons. But being able to “recall” previous conversations will make your customer feel important and appreciated.

6. How They Feel About Your Business
Feedback from your customers is the best way to improve your products/services, meet your customers’ needs, and attract more customers.

Obviously, just “remembering” this information is well nigh impossible. Which is why you should seriously consider investing in a “CRM” (Customer Relationship Manager) program. There’s plenty of good ones out there.

I can recommend this one for most Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties small businesses: (Infusionsoft) https://crm.infusionsoft.com/go/20140604emdaff/nfh?utm_content=nfh, but again — the point isn’t *which* one, but that you HAVE one!

Look, I’ll say again: I don’t pretend to be a “guru” … but I see what works for my most successful business owner friends, and I love seeing their numbers grow!

Would you forward this article to a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties 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, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties 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

Dale Hammernik Reveals Another Big Mistake: Ignoring Negative Feedback

I’ve been hitting some common notes the past couple of weeks on behalf of my Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties small business accounting clients:

Grumbling about the economy (and how it never helps us).
Bad advertising.
Bad measurement.

Well, let’s add another to the mix, shall we? Seems like an appropriate way, staring, as we are, down the barrel of the sultry Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties summer, and the hot (and occasionally grumpy) clients that come with it!

Dale Hammernik Reveals Another Big Mistake: Ignoring Negative Feedback
“The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” – Kenneth Blanchard

Here’s a certain truth: Every Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business, no matter how well-managed, will mess up.

You WILL have to deal with dissatisfied, even angry customers from time to time. Sometimes the customer is justified in his complaints … other times he is not, so what are you going to do about it?

Here’s the way many businesses handle it: ignore the problem, and blame the customer.Sure, during the fat 90’s and from 2003-early 2008, this might have been fine (plenty of other business out there, after all) … but in 2014 — in the age of social media, blogs, Yelp, etc., you MUST respond to the feedback you receive.

Shoot, I predict that you’ll find that what you thought was a disaster can be converted to an opportunity.

In fact, there’s oft-cited American Management Association (AMA) research into consumer behavior which indicates that the average satisfied customer tells three people about his experience but the average dissatisfied customer gripes to eleven other people. Negative word-of-mouth advertising is a problem few businesses can afford.

And with Facebook and Twitter (and Instagram, and Yelp and … you get the point), you could probably safely multiply that by a few tens.

So how will you respond to the customer with a complaint? I’ve already spoken about what NOT to do (ignore the customer, ignore the problem).
So, here are some trenches-tested steps. Feel free to post this around your biz:

1) Acknowledge that the person is upset. 
“I can see that you are mad” / “I could see that you’re upset with us.”

2) Make a positive reassuring statement. 
“I want you to know I will get something done about your problem.”

3) Make a sad/glad statement. 
“I’m sorry you had a problem but I’m glad that you called it to my attention.”

4) Ask the magic question: “What will make you happy?” 
You’ll often be quite surprised — in many cases, the dissatisfied customer will ask for something less in settlement than you would freely offer.

5) Make the settlement.
“Mr. Smith I’m truly sorry that you encountered this problem and I’m going to do exactly what you have requested. We want to keep you as a valuable customer!”

Simple as that!

But the sad fact is that by avoiding this simple process (and not training your employees to follow it, or not giving them the proper authority to do so), many Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area businesses set themselves up for aggravating their most important asset: their clients.

Would you forward this article to a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties 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, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties 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

Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties Accountant Reveals A Big Mistake: Set Advertising Goals; Don’t Measure

Goal setting? Really?

Honestly, this whole ritual of “goal-making” can be very cliche, but look — all of us Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties small business owners still do need little “nudges” to help us actually make changes in our lives.

I see it as my role in your life to not only provide authoritative and actionable advice for your Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business financial situation, but also to play the role as a friendly “coach”. I get to be someone in your life who says: You can do this. You’re not alone.

I *do* have goals here at Team Dale Hammernik, but I like to think I do them right (don’t we all!).

The difference being that I seek to attach measurable results to these goals — making them a bit more specific to my business and my life. I’ll keep the particulars to myself, but for my own Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties tax and accounting business they fall into some broad categories:

1) Profitability
2) Foundational Financial Growth
3) Marketing Effectiveness

As you set your specific goals for your Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business, I’d love to be a resource to you. It’s my great hope that our relationship will continue to grow into this summer and beyond. And not just for “business purposes”. We love our referral sources and business owner clients … you’re a family to us!

And now for more specifics about the “measurement” issue I alluded to… after all, as an accountant, I’m a bit of a measurement nut.

Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties Accountant Reveals A Big Mistake: Set Advertising Goals; Don’t Measure
“Right is right, even if everyone is against it; and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.” – William Penn

Many Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties businesses have a wide variety of measurement tools in place for a host of variables, from payroll efficiency to profit margins, to inventory controls. But there’s usually a huge “missed base”, and that’s advertising ROI.

You see, many business owners look at their advertising in terms of “response rates” or “raising awareness”. But it’s hard to measure “awareness”.

And while you *can* measure response rates, it’s actually the wrong way to think about your advertising. A better way to look at small business advertising results is actual Return on Investment (ROI).

Now, this necessitates a couple things:

1) A measurement mechanism.
This can be a coupon/gift certificate with a tracking code. It can be a dedicated phone line or a cookied web address to quantify leads. It almost doesn’t matter HOW you do it … just that you do it.

2) Advertising which incentivizes for a specific response.
This rules out certain forms of “image-building” marketing, unless you’ve got a bunch of dumb money to spend. (Do you? I’ve got some beachfront property to sell you in that case.) Rather, you should focus on “response-oriented” marketing which will help you know if the advertising you’re paying for works.

And I want you to remember this: any Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties media sales person, any ad agency person, any consultant, anyone in your own firm who is anti-direct-response does not have your best interest at heart. The person who opposes having the results measured accurately already knows that the results are inadequate.

Unfortunately, the agency business can be very much a smoke screen and sleight-of-hand business. You’ll be presented with demographic statistics from a given media that are just great. Unfortunately the listeners or readers all lied when they responded to the survey in order to look good and feel good. They inflated their incomes for example.

Print media loves to snow you with its pass-along figures. They’ll talk 100,000 readerships with 20,000 subscribers.

When you have to write out the payroll checks, pay the other bills, pay for all the advertising, pay the taxes and then see what might be left for you, you cannot deposit pass-along statistics or image in the bank account. You can only deposit dollars, which come from real results.

So keep this in mind as you formulate your marketing and RESULTS goals for 2014!

Look, I’ll say again: I don’t pretend to be a “guru”… but I see what works for my Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties clients, and I want you to have the best year you’ve ever had.

Would you forward this article to a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties 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, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties 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

 

Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties Accountant Reveals A Big Mistake: “Treat All Prospects the Same”

There’s always a ton of doom and gloom out there, with unemployment figures, continual media drip of bad news, and just general bleakness about the prospects for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties small businesses. Grumbling about the ACA, inflation, mounting national debts … blah, blah, blah.

Not that these aren’t serious problems, but we don’t have to join the grumblers, do we?

I’d much rather that I, Dale Hammernik, be counted among those who are forsaking grumbling for the purposes of pursuing growth.

But it starts with getting serious about sharpening our sales and marketing strategy in 2014. Things that were “easy” in the past just aren’t as easy as they used to be.

It’s time to make sure you’re squeezing all the value you can out of your advertising and your selling. And to do that, you’ve got to avoid the big mistake I write about this week.

Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties Accountant Reveals A Big Mistake: “Treat All Prospects the Same”
“The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage” – Peter Senge

When I sit down with a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business owner friend, and we’re talking biz, I enjoy the back and forth of different strategies. One of the main things we like to do for each other is help identify new streams of revenue in one another’s business.

And, here’s something which I’ve seen in healthy, growing businesses … and which is absent in stagnant, failing small businesses: knowing their target prospect.

You see, in EVERY kind of Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties business (even a non-profit), you want to do business, accept donations, serve clients, etc. who meet a particular profile. And, if you can identify this profile, you can save a bunch of advertising money, and keep your sales force from wasting their time.

Sometimes, small business owners think their market is simply “the local Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties area.” Or, even worse, “anyone with money to spend”. I hope you see how wasteful this approach can be.

No, you’ve got to zero in on what groups will provide the best ROI possible when you’re putting together your marketing plan.

So, you’ll need some detailed information about your BEST target clients. In fact, I’ve written about this previously, but then only in general terms. Here’s more specifics for you…

I put together a list of 7 things you absolutely MUST know about your prospects.

(And, in case you’re wondering, if you’re a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties B2B business, this is just as pertinent. You’re still selling to people not companies. Remember that!)

1. Age- Everything you say and write, including slang, allusions, word difficulty, and topics should be adjusted to meet age appropriateness.

2. Gender- Despite the dual roles men and women tend to fill, most individuals can be segmented (and sold to) based on gender-specific interests or needs.

3. Location- Values and culture tend to vary based on demographics. Having a clear understanding of regional difference will improve your targeted messages.

4. Education Level- Similar to age appropriateness, education levels should determine how you address your prospects and what benefits they will find in your product or service.

5. Income- The needs and wants from one social class to another should be a guide to the types of products and services you should be selling them.

6. Marital Status- The values, needs, and desires of married persons greatly differ from those that are single. Marketing family messages to single persons (and vice versa) can lose the deal for you.

7. What Keeps Them Up At Night- This is the most important one. You’ve got to know your prospect’s fears, worries, concerns, excitements, hopes and dreams. When you know the conversation inside your prospect’s head, you can enter it, speak to it, and build a relationship that leads to a customer.

So, take the time this week to really nail down these profiles.

And in the meantime, feel free to forward this to your sales force or anyone dealing with your prospects, and make sure they understand how to speak to them effectively!

Again, I don’t pretend to be a “guru” … but I see what works for my Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties small business owner friends, and I want you to have the best year you’ve ever had, in 2014.

Would you forward this article to a Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties 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, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for Milwaukee & Waukesha Counties 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