All For HIM Marketing Solutions Inc.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What Is It About 15 Minutes?

I was talking with a friend yesterday when the subject came up of how people measure time.  I'm not talking about how long a second or minute is.  What I mean is how perception correlates with certain incremental time values.  We came to the conclusion that 15 minutes is a major time value.  What is it about 15 Minutes?
  • Waiting in the doctor's exam room. - A 5 or 10 minute wait is fine but once 15 minutes is reached, your temperature boils and you feel devalued and mistreated as a patient.
  • Showing up for a doctor's appointment. -  Less than 15 minutes late and nobody cares.  Once you've surpassed the 15 minute mark, you must reschedule your appointment.
  • Business Meeting. - Show up 10 minutes late and your counterpart will likely say something like "I just arrived too".  Let the minute hand strike 15 and you'll receive a phone call wondering where you're at.  
  • Meeting a Client - Show up 5 minutes early and the person you're meeting with will begin to prepare for your appointment.  Show up 15 min early and your client will feel rushed and as if you're pressuring.  They'll also likely stall you until after your scheduled meeting time.
Just an observation here.  I also believe this time buffer is shrinking due to the instant real time world that the net has given us.  

My general rule of thumb is to never be late to a meeting and to never arrive more than five minutes early.  This generally means arriving in plenty of time to allow for any unexpected slow downs.  But then sitting in the parking lot until the 5 minutes prior mark is reached.

Your thoughts on the subject?


Monday, April 27, 2009

Jesus And the Internet

What do Jesus and the Internet have in common?

Let me explain this way...  My mother always told me that Jesus could see everything you did.  Now she could say that Jesus and the Internet see everything you do.  You can find just about anything in a person's history on the web.  There are eyes and ears attached to fingers clicking away on keyboards everywhere.  They provide a great commentary about your every decision that you or your organization make.  Chances are that someone somewhere will record your moves.  Unfortunately, they're much more likely to record the mistakes you'd rather get past than the successes you'd like to define you.  

I recently received a resume from a local college student that will be graduating soon and is ready to enter the world of marketing.  After reviewing his resume, what was my next step?  Google.  I decided to see what I could find on this guy from the web.  Hey, if web search is what we do, I need to be sure my team doesn't embarrass AFH Marketing on the web.

So, what did I find on the young job seeker?  Well we got quite a laugh out of a pretty silly mishap he had with the police and a college party a few years ago but he's since been quiet as far as police scanners go and has been working on more promising press for himself.

My goal is that when someone searches for JC Riley or AFH Marketing, they find plenty of things that would assure them of how our organization is able to aide them in their growth venture.  I'd rather not spend my energy explaining the crazy story of what happened with the cops.

How do you and your organization stack up?  Search yourself before someone else does.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Don't Do Nothing

I'll take today to refer you to some words from Seth Godin about what companies should do in the tough economic times.  It may seem safe to do nothing in slow economic times but the organizations that grow will try something new and triumph over those who do nothing.  Making their seemingly safe stall cause them to lose in the end.

Do something.  Anything.  But don't just try to wait it out and do nothing!


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Don't Be A Gas Pump

Have you ever wondered why pre paying for gas slows the pump?  Not the entire time but it seems to take just as long to pump the last 25 cents as the rest of the pre paid amount because the pump slows as it nears the end of my purchase.  

  • I wonder how many people say forget it and leave with 10 cents of paid for gas left on the meter.
  • I also wonder how much extra revenue this brings to a gas station over the course of a year (10 cents at a time).
  • More importantly I wonder how many customers are frustrated with the process like I am.
  • Businesses should give their customers the same great service at the end of a transaction as they do at the beginning.
  • Too many businesses are ran like gas pumps.
Don't be a gas pump.  


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Know Your Role

Many businesses struggle with this.  Does yours?

Wal Mart and 7-11 know they provide terrible customer experiences.  Picture yourself standing in the endless line at Wally World while the under trained employee struggles to scan and bag the basket full of goods 5 people in front of you.  Meanwhile you notice that only six of the fifty available registers are manned.  Or, you swing in to buy gas and need to wait in a huge line at the 7-11 to pre-pay for your gas, all the while knowing you'll need to wait in that same line again to receive your change when done filling up.  Does it bother you to see the 3 or 4 employees roaming the "convenience" store while only one is serving customers?  I can't name one person that loves these experiences.

So why do you and I continue to use these venues?  They know their role in the market place.  They have convenient locations and generally low prices.  The clientele they're after are willing to trade some customer service for better prices.  

Now, shop at the Buckle.  You will have an employee dedicated to helping you find what you need and rarely wait to be served.  However, you'll pay around $75 for an entry level pair of jeans and $30 for a t-shirt.  Their customers are willing to pay a premium price for the experience they gain by shopping there.

Do you know your role?  What trade are you asking your clients to make?  If you require a premium price, you should provide a premium experience for your customers.  If your customers will receive anything less than a premium experience, they will expect to be compensated for that in form of a lower than competitive price.  Most industries have a hard time providing both the best experience and the lowest prices around.  If you can't you should pick one and exploit your choice.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Down Goes Starbucks 2

I've had a ton of people contacting me about last weeks post, Down Goes Starbucks.  So, I thought I'd expand a bit on some of the conversation I've been having with people about it.

Starbucks has lost site of what they are selling.  People do not show up to buy a $5 cup of coffee.  They became loyal to a $1.50 cup of coffee in a value pack with a $20 experience for the low price of $5.  When they buy the pack, they just associate it with the cup of coffee.  The coffee is great but not the real reason the company took off so fast.  There are other places that make great coffee.  Starbucks thought people loved the coffee so found a more efficient way to focus on getting more coffee into more hands when in the very process they eliminated the reason people bought it.  This is a mistake that's easy to make in any organization. 

For instance take many of the large churches that have sprung up in around the country in the last 15 years or so.  They coupled an awesome, eye and attention grabbing worship service with a great spoken message and a plethora of activities members could get involved in.  They grow and ad other locations or worship times.  Next thing you know, they have members that are extremely diversified and the only thing they absolutely have in common is the spoken message they hear.  So, that becomes the only common ground it's members are sure to share.  The speaker is the coffee.  Great but not the only great speaker out there.  Next thing you know, though, the organization is finding a more efficient way to get that speaker into the hands of as many people as possible.  This means cutting some of the intangible things that created the community that really drew the people in the first place.  

The organization begins to plateau as the arrival of newcomers slows and only the nostalgic remain to fantasize about the days past.  They are lucky enough to have made relationships when community was a huge focus.  Whereas those newcomers rarely stick due to lack of programs and activities to help them plug in.

What are your customers really buying?  Is it your product, service, relationship, atmosphere, memories created, or some other intangible.  Focus on that, even if it's not what they talk about, it may be that which can't be measured that's truly bringing them in.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Go Home - That's An Order

Why do so many people choose to work so many hours rather than head home to be with the ones they love?  Even if someones answer has something to do with how much they love their job or how honorable their profession is, it began with an insecurity one day.  The insecurity that I am talking about is the one created when an employee is loaded consistently with more than can be completed without robbing precious time from their family.  

I lived in that world once.  I was working for a great organization with a chance to directly impact lives every day with the work I was doing.  I believe there is a scene in the movie that describes how I felt about that job.  It's the one in the movie Major League where the big dumb catcher stops his team mates in the middle of an argument and complaining about the team and says something to the effect of how lucky they are to get to play a game for a living.  They were getting payed to play ball and that should be a dream come true.  Well, that's how I felt.  I was getting paid to play ball and it was a dream come true.  That dream soon became a nightmare due to one thing...  TIME.  

I was consistently required to be at events in the evenings and was unable to make up the time during the day due to other work responsibilities needing to be done.  I found myself working a full week and rarely able to take Friday (my day off) solely as family time.  I put in every Saturday afternoon and evening as well as Sunday morning thru mid afternoon.  Don't forget Wednesday nights and those were just the every week things.  Ad in the "special occasions" that seemed to come up every week, and I was spending way too much time at work.  Leadership with the organization would say things like "go home, make sure you spend time with your family".  However, what was communicated or heard by employees was - go home and work late when your family is in bed so you'll be exhausted tomorrow because if you don't hit that deadline, it's not OK even though it's impossible to hit that deadline without robbing your family of that time.  Oh and, for the record... I did say it was OK to go home and not worry about it.  Weather I meant it or not.

This is where it is my goal to be different.  I believe it is my job, as an employer, to make sure my team knows it's not only OK to go home and finish work later, but it's an order.  Just let me know if you can't keep caught up in the agreed upon work time and we're good.  This will never be a problem if you're here working hard when you're supposed to be at work.  If you're working when supposed to be at home... you might hear me say.  Go home - that's an order.

I believe that this will allow my team to have stronger relationships with friends and family and thus  increasing their joy, loyalty, and productivity at work.  It IS the responsibility of the employer.  Regardless of what's said verbally, if your team feels pressure to steal time from their family to work... their leader is communicating the wrong thing some how.

Does your team feel that pressure?  Or do they feel it's OK to let something at work wait until tomorrow?  Really.  Be honest with yourself.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I'll Call You Back Tomorrow

I've got a friend who is a very successful real estate agent in the Edmond OK area.  His name is Ryan Hukill and he sends a statement to everyone who calls on him.  If you were to call Ryan and he was unable to answer your call on one of the first couple of rings, you would hear what seems to be a very standard voicemail message with his voice.  However, finishing off his message he mentions out of respect for his family, any calls after 7pm will not be returned until the following day.

Ryan is a great guy and very humble.  I'm sure he would tell you he's not perfect and has his struggles with balancing his family with his professional responsibilities.  Ryan making a bold statement to everyone around him most importantly his wife and kids.  When Ryan's phone rings, there's no doubt in their mind where they stand in relation to dad's work.  He spends time working for them rather than spending time with instead of them.  

Sure there may be hurried client that is inconvenienced by his decision, but Ryan has decided that is much better than cheating more time out of his wife and children that loan him to his clients enough as it is.  

Ryan, you are an inspiration and I applaud your making this statement.  I'm sure your family appreciates it too.

BTW... I'm changing my voicemail message today.  Will you?


Monday, April 13, 2009


I'm smack dab in the middle of a great book.  Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley.  This book is really making me look at the way I spend my time.  You see, the book is based on the principle that all of us cheat.  We have to.  There are not enough hours in the day or enough energy drinks in the world to allow us to give all that our work needs, as well as all that our families need.  So, we cheat.  We cheat one out of that time and focus to complete the other.  Most of us end up cheating our families to give more to our employers.  I know I have.  

Many times I've come home physically exhausted or mentally drained and give a sighing "not today" to my girls when they come and excitedly ask me to bounce them high on the trampoline, to do a puzzle with them, or their favorite - to have fight night where we wrestle and my girls rain down elbows, Thai kicks, and elbows to my sore body.  My wife has also shared her heart in a spirit of love, not complaining, about wishing I could "turn off" my work when the day is done.  She worries about my stressing over things left undone or sleepless nights spent improving job related strategies for a client.

I think the first step changing this scenario is this.  Think of your kids getting ready for school this morning.  What things were done or said that got their day off on the right foot?  Did you make memories with them this morning?  Now, think of your spouse and the conversation you had before going your separate ways today.  What things are they doing today?  Do they know without a doubt that you value them more than the accolades or rewards you will receive from your work today? 

Now for step two.  If the first step struck you, it's time to make a decision today.  Right now you need to decide if tomorrow will resemble this morning.  Will your spouse feel that he/she is taking a back seat to the "attaboys" or promotion possibilities?  If not, I need you to take the rest of today and notice the times your family is made to feel inferior.  See the wind fall out of your daughter's sails when you tell her you don't have time to do a puzzle with her.  Let it make you mad.  Absolutely become furious and vow to do something about it.  

Coming up this week, I'd like to share about someone I've found who is doing it right and some things for employers to remember and where they fall into this scenario. 

What are the ways you've seen yourself cheating your family for your career?  What have you done about it?


Friday, April 10, 2009

Down Goes Starbucks

I met a friend at a nearby Starbucks yesterday and found some interesting things.  Here are the reasons I believe they are struggling still struggling right now as a company.  I know they've made moves to save the brand but it seems to be backfiring due to making the wrong moves.  This is my take and I'd love to hear yours.

  • Locations Closing - I know this was to shrink overhead, but seems to have created a list of other probems.
  1. Crowding - It was a slightly chilly morning in Oklahoma City and we were forced to sit outside due to absolutely zero free seats in the place.  When there was a neighborhood location on every corner, this wasn't a problem.  Once many of the city-wide locations closed, overcrowding occurred.  The locations left should have had a remodeling project to take in more clients.  Individual places crowded but companywide locations slowing.
  2. Atmosphere - Let's face it.  People didn't fall in love with SB because they couldn't get their product elsewhere.  It was because they provided an experience of a laid back, upscale environment for $5.  That has turned into a loud bustling crowded chaos cooker.
  3. Convenience - Having a neighborhood SB was convenient but now many people must pass several SB competitors to find a SB.
  • wifi - Why ask clients to pay for this?  It's too cheap and I can get it anyplace else in town for free.  I consistently meet clients at other locations who fall in love with their locally owned jewels.
  • Local Coffee Cafe's - Individually owned local brands are popping up in the neighborhoods vacated by SB that are offering all of the things SB no longer does.
Where do you get your brew?


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

While We Wait

So, yesterday we learned that God has plans for us to have a great future.  Today, I'd like to make sure we're all reminded in our role while waiting on this future to play out.  Sometimes, it's tempting to just hang out and wait, saying things like "God will work it out" or "I'm just waiting to see what God's plan for me is".  Bad choice.  We should always be looking and listening for God and His direction.  Ready to leap at His call, even if it's leading us toward a different future than we'd imagine.  But, that's not a license to be lazy.  

Take these words from the book of Proverbs.
Proverbs 6:6-11  Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones.  Learn from their ways and become wise!  Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.  But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep?  A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest - then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.  -NLT

Wow!  These words don't hold anything back.  If we just sit around waiting on God to deliver us from our troubles, we are the lazybones this passage speaks of.  What can you do to help while you anticipate the plans for a hope and a future we talked about yesterday in Jeremiah 29:11?  Did you post a resume and leave it?  Do you contact job openings in the Sunday paper?  Or, are you calling businesses and walking in their doors to let them know you are available and willing to do what it takes?  Meanwhile, how about flipping burgers, or mowing a lawn or two (it's not just for 14yr old boys but for adults responsible enough to do what it takes).  

Things I'm doing while (keyword while as in at the same time as) I wait for my business to grow to goal size include substitute teaching, working part time doing kids programs for Mad Science of OKC, tile installation (pulling from an old trade of mine).  And any other thing someone needs help with that will aide my family in paying the bills.

What are you doing to make it through the tough economic stretch?  Got any ideas?


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Plans for a Future

With the economic situation seeming to loom over us like a huge dark cloud, it's understandable how so many people can wonder what God could possibly have in store for them.  I know if you're someone who has lost his/her job, or who's business is struggling to hang on, you may feel like giving up.  You May feel like things will not get better and you were left out of whatever "plan" everyone is telling you that God has.  

Take comfort in this.  God's very own words.
Jeremiah 29:11-14     "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord.  "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.  I will be found by you," says the Lord.  "I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes"... -NLT

I made a move to begin my own business as a marketing coach and web marketing specialist at the beginning of this year.  I was previously making a good income working as a New Media Specialist for a large yellow page publisher.  I know some may say it was a crazy move, however, I'm confident that God can and will honor my faith in Him as well as my business practices.  I won't say that I don't get nervous (I'm human), and I can tell you that some days seem brighter than others.  However, I know that once the curve that is and always has been our economic culture turns back up, it will be good to be moving and surviving already rather than trying to get in the game.  I have a great future ahead of me.  God says so.

So, now that we know that God loves us and has a plan for us.  We also know we're not alone, we are all impacted by our economic climate in some way or another.  So, do we just sit patiently and let His plan play out?  Not a chance!  God gives us specific instruction not to just sit waiting for Him to bail us out of our financial situation.  What should you do?  I'll give you a hint.  Proverbs chapter 6.  We'll discuss that in depth tomorrow.

What are you dealing with?  


Monday, April 6, 2009

Speed vs. Quickness

Speed is how fast or how much momentum you and your team or organization can gain in a certain direction or project.  The higher your top speed, the harder it is for your competition to get in your way and slow you down.

Quickness is the ability of you or your organization to change direction and get to top speed of a different angle or on a project.

Too many times will I meet people who've confused the two as being the same thing.  Many people and their organizations will focus on the speed of where they are heading and can't change direction when the market or their environment calls for it.  Or, the person may be so over focused on being able to change things and react quickly, that they have great quickness but their top speed is so weak that they can't stay ahead of the curve for long.

The key is to have both.  Give both things equal attention.  You need both specialties on your team.  You should have certain team members who have a top speed that is unrivaled and others who can help change direction with quickness that makes those changes in a heart beat.  When you're team has both, you'll be able to gain and hold the lead in your field, no matter what changes your market throws at you.

Do you have both?


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

5 Keys To An Effective Networking Group

  1. Charge a Fee :  When people have some "skin in the game" they will take the group and it's purpose more seriously.
  2. Have Structure :  Having clear leadership structure as well as a clear structure for your periodic meetings will ensure your meetings maintain their purpose.  You can have coffee with friends any time but networking groups are for passing referrals and making money.
  3. Don't Let Everyone In :  Being selective of  who may join your group will allow it's members to have more confidence in referring to other members as well as present somewhat of a "premier" image to the public of the group and it's members.
  4. Market To The Public :  Marketing to the public will get the word out to potential members but more importantly, will help the group as a whole become more of a recognized name and find clients outside the group who are loyal users of your network and it's members.
  5. Reward Both Giving And Receiving :  Rewarding the giving of referrals recognizes those who send their contacts to others in the group.  Rewarding the receiving of referrals recognizes those doing the work to become trusted providers within the group.  Those receiving the most referrals are often the people who are doing what it takes to know other group members and who are actively networking.
What would you ad to this list?