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Celebrity Branding You™ – How Failure in My Kitchen Can Give You Success In Your Business!

Let me tell you how my kitchen reminded me of one of the most important business lessons you can learn. You see, my wife and I recently threw a birthday party for our youngest son, Bowen, for his first birthday. Call me crazy, but we had 80 people over to our new house – one that we just moved into about two months ago. But the even crazier part was that the sink in the kitchen was somebody’s idea of a cruel joke.

It seemed like the sink was about two inches deep at its deepest point. No matter what we did, it was useless for everything you would want to use a sink for. And of course, as we looked at the sink problem, we decided that there was also a counter top problem. The counter top was the wrong color and was keeping us from having the “warm” kitchen that we really wanted. So we decided we were going to fix the sink problem and the counter top problem at the same time. And it just so happened, that the very moment when neither of us could take this problem anymore, was the Sunday before the party, and the small army of 80 people were set to arrive in T-6 days. Panic set in.

I can do a lot of things, but plumbing and granite installation would certainly not be within my skill set, so I had to find a solution -- QUICKLY. I can tell you that the only thing that calmed my boiling blood pressure was a few simple words from my good friend Brian. He said, “Don’t worry. I’ve got a friend in the business.”

So I called his friend first thing Monday morning and explained my dilemma. He laughed at my “compact” timeline, but with a little cajoling, I had him out at my house within an hour. He left with his head in his hands, but he agreed that he would do his best to help us solve our dilemma by Friday of that same week.

I use the story to illustrate the fact that when consumers have a point of pain, they go looking for a solution. And there is no greater solution than having or being referred to “a friend in the business.” These five simple words break down barriers that are normally in play when selecting a vendor, and ultimately lead the vendor to a point of less price resistance and less time closing the sale.

The ultimate goal should be to get your clients and prospects to feel like you are their friend in the business. The only way to do this is by constantly delivering quality solutions, on time, at the right price (notice I didn’t say the cheapest price) and by building a relationship. Without the second step, building the relationship, you’re not a “friend” in the business, you’re just another vendor and that isn’t nearly as valuable or profitable.

So how do you develop a relationship and become a friend in the business? You have to consistently keep in touch with your clients and prospects. Now, I know what you’re thinking -- “I can hardly keep up with my own friends and family, how do you expect me to keep up with hundreds or even thousands of clients and prospects?” The solution is through a systematic approach to keeping in touch. While there are many ways to do this, here are a few of my favorites that you can start using immediately:

1. Develop a “snail mail” newsletter: Most businesses think that this is too expensive, or takes too much time and effort. But I can tell you from first-hand experience that the direct business and the referral business we get from delivering our message to the mail boxes of our clients and prospects each and every month, far outweighs the time, the effort or the expense. Think about it this way: would you rather have to pick up the phone and call every client and prospect on your list and repeat yourself over and over again or would you rather write your message one time, as concisely as possible, and be able to illustrate it in pictures or diagrams, without interruptions? Exactly. The newsletter allows you to carry on a one-way conversation with your clients that will take far less time and yield greater results, as long as you deliver it on a consistent basis, and craft your message in a way that feels like you are letting your clients into your world; allowing them to get to know you as a “friend.” A newsletter doesn’t have to be complicated or overly long, it could even be as simple as a letter that you write, but the point is that it consistently allows you to build the relationship.

2. Send out an Ezine: While ezines (also known as e-mail newsletters) aren’t quite as effective as snail mail newsletters because they are often seen as an interruption and get deleted, or end up in the spam folder, they are still a great way to communicate with your audience. They are another point of contact with your clients that will allow you to tell your story and keep in touch. We send out an ezine that is very nice looking and it has pictures and graphics in it, and these are nice. But I will definitely say that my preference is for another type of ezine that we use. This second type is written like a personal email, with just text, that tells a short story about what’s happening in my life or business, and then allows me to relate it back to a business lesson that is valuable for my readers, along with an offer to contact me if I can be of any help. It’s modeled after a personal email and gets read as such, rather than lumped in the pile of emails that don’t need to be responded to, and therefore are first to get deleted. I find that the response from this type of ezine is much higher. There are many programs that will allow you to insert the name of your prospects into your emails so it looks personalized when it arrives in your prospects’ inboxes. My favorite, and the one we use is www.CelebrityBrandingCart.com

3. Develop Greeting Card Campaigns: We are always on the lookout for strategies that will allow us to stand out from the crowd, and not get us lumped in with every other business that is vying for our prospects’ attention. One of the ways we do this is by sending out greeting cards. As you might imagine, writing out thousands of greeting cards would be very time-consuming, if not impossible, to do in a timely fashion, so we use a very cool service that allows us to send greeting cards with any image we want on them, with a message that is personalized and written in our handwriting; but we only have to type the message once and it gets personalized and sent. They have digitized my handwriting and they insert the names we give them and then they print the cards one by one, stuff them in envelopes and then also use my handwriting font to print the address on the front of the envelope. They have thousands of designs and messages to choose from, or you can create your own. You can check out this service at www.CelebrityBrandingCards.com

There you have it: three simple ways that you can continue to establish rapport with your clients and prospects that will only take you a few hours each month. The key is to create a system that allows you to spend just a couple of hours creating one message that can be leveraged and personalized to keep in touch with your clients and prospects on a regular basis; so that you can spend your time delivering great quality products and services, on time, and continue to be a good “friend in the business.”

…Oh, yeah, and yes we did get our new sink and granite installed before the party. Everyone had a wonderful time, and as you can imagine, we now need a bigger house due to all of the presents Bowen got!