Thursday, April 28

Share your MORON stories... please!!! 

I'm working on two new book projects, both with the themes of MORONS. Yup, we've got Dummies books, Idiot's books, and now... ta-da! The first two titles in a new series:

Moron Management
Moron Marketing

both written by yours truly. These two writing projects should last me until the end of 2005, but I NEED YOUR HELP.

Please (PRETTY please?!!) share with me your stories, comments, thoughts, or straight-up forwarded examples of moronic management or marketing communication. This could be in the form of your original firsthand experiences (you'll get full credit and a mention in the book - or NOT - your choice!) or simply forward me emails, ads, memos, sales letters, actual packaging, postcards, or anything else that demonstrates the dumb, ineffective, or counterproductive things that both managers and marketers do DAILY to degrade the quality of the universe we all live in.

Here are some of the submissions of actual comments, notices, and statements coming out of different companies (some names omitted by request):

As of tomorrow, employees will only be able to access the
building using individual security cards. Pictures will be taken
next Wednesday and employees will receive their cards in two
weeks. (This is my favorite so far from Fred Dales at Microsoft)

What I need is a list of specific unknown problems we will
encounter. (Lykes Lines Shipping)

How long is this Beta guy going to keep testing our stuff?
(Programming intern, Microsoft IIS Development team)

E-mail is not to be used to pass on information or data. It
should be used only for company business. (Accounting Mgr.,
Electric Boat Company)

This project is so important, we can't let things that are more
important interfere with it. (Advertising/Mktg. Mgr., UPS)

Doing it right is no excuse for not meeting the schedule. No
one will believe you solved this problem in one day! We've
been working on it for months. Now, go act busy for a few
weeks and I'll let you know when it's time to tell them.(R&D
Supervisor, 3M Corp.)

My boss spent the entire weekend retyping a 25-page proposal
that only needed corrections. She claims the disk I gave her
was damaged and she couldn't edit it. The disk I gave her was
write-protected. (CIO of Dell Computer)

Quote from the boss: "Teamwork is a lot of people doing what
I say." (Mktg. executive, Citrix Corporation)

My sister passed away and her funeral was scheduled for
Monday. When I told my boss, he said she died so that I
would have to miss work on the busiest day of the year. He
then asked if we could change her burial to Friday. He said,
"That would be better for me." (Shipping Executive, FTD

We know that communication is a problem, but the company
is not going to discuss it with the employees. (Telecomm executive)

We recently received a memo from senior management saying,
"This is to inform you that a memo will be issued today regarding
the subject mentioned above." (Technology company, Legal Affairs

One day my boss asked me to submit a status report to him
concerning a project I was working on. I asked him if tomorrow
would be soon enough. He said, "If I wanted it tomorrow,
I would have waited until tomorrow to ask for it!" (New
Business Mgr., Greeting card company)

As director of communications, I was asked to prepare a memo
reviewing our company's training programs and materials. In
the body of the memo one of the sentences mentioned the
"pedagogical approach" used by one of the training manuals.
The day after I routed the memo to the executive committee, I
was called into the HR Director's office, and was told that the
executive VP wanted me out of the building by lunch. When I
asked why, I was told that she wouldn't stand for "perverts"
(pedophiles?) working in her company. Finally he showed me
her copy of the memo, with her demand that I be fired, with
the word "pedagogical" circled in red. The HR Manager was
fairly reasonable, and once he looked the word up in his
dictionary and made a copy of the definition to send to my
boss, he told me not to worry. He would take care of it. Two
days later a memo to the entire staff came out, directing us
that no words which could not be found in the local Sunday
newspaper could be used in company memos. A month later, I
resigned. In accordance with company policy, I created my
resignation letter by pasting words together from the Sunday
paper. (Taco Bell Corporation)

I can't make stuff like this up - so please HELP ME with your stories, anecdotes, letters, emails, and anything else that you feel qualifies for inclusion in the upcoming "Moron Management" and "Moron Marketing" books. Thanks!!

Tuesday, April 26

Small business and the Web 

This is from an email exchange I had recently with a reporter doing a story on "Small business and the Web." It's my 2 cents on the matter:

I'm a small business owner (and marketing consultant to other small business owners) and I use (and recommend) blogs and value-laden websites to my clients.

It's critical, especially for service business owners, to demonstrate your expertise and give prospective customers a taste of what working with you would feel like, what your professional opinions and strengths are, and how your ideas can make them money. The best ways to demonstrate this through your website include:

1. Blogs - your professional opinions, musings, anecdotes, success stories, examples, and theories in action. What do you think? What would you do? What's your advice? Make sure your blog entries are YOU-centric, not ME-centric.

2. Downloadable articles (preferably ones that have been published elsewhere) - these demonstrate that you're more than a legend in your own mind and that someone else values your opinions and advice enough to put them in print.

3. E-courses and online audio or video - truly, the next best thing to being there. People put a name to a voice and/or face, and get a feel for the way you look, sound, and think in 3-D.

How to Write a Killer Proposal 

Here's a 12-pack of great ideas from Michael W. McLaughlin, publisher of Management Consulting News (www.managementconsultingnews.com):

The consulting proposal is a necessary evil. A great proposal can be decisive in winning a project; a poor one can cause you to lose a project, even if everything else in the sales process has gone flawlessly. Use these guidelines to a write a killer proposal every time.

  1. Create a powerful, but concise executive summary.

  2. Focus on results, which matter more than methods and processes. Clients buy methods and approaches only when they know you can deliver results.

  3. Be generous with your ideas; don't hoard them. Show clients how innovatively you think.

  4. The length of the proposal doesn't win, but quality does. Projects are not awarded because proposals pass a weight test.

  5. The proposal content must be about the client, not the consultant. Take a back seat and focus on how you will solve problems.

  6. Your liberal use of "best practices" will label you as uncreative. Find the blend of outstanding practices and innovative solutions that fit your client's needs, not answers that worked for someone else.

  7. Accuracy is essential. Validate all data and double-check to make sure it's right before you present it.

  8. Sweat every small proposal detail, watch for typos, use high-quality materials and make sure the right people receive the proposal on time.

  9. Rewrite your resume for every proposal. Highlight the skills in your resume that demonstrate your qualifications. Your boilerplate resume is rarely up to the task.

  10. Let your proposal sit for a day and then reread it completely before sending it out.

  11. Let your personality shine through your proposals. Give clients a sense of the firm and your style of working.

  12. Don't let your proposal claims outdistance your true capabilities. Write an honest proposal, or you'll pay dearly in the future with blown budgets and unhappy clients.

Friday, April 22

Blogs Will Change Your Business 

From BusinessWeek:

Go ahead and bellyache about blogs. But you cannot afford to close your eyes to them, because they're simply the most explosive outbreak in the information world since the Internet itself. And they're going to shake up just about every business -- including yours. It doesn't matter whether you're shipping paper clips, pork bellies, or videos of Britney in a bikini, blogs are a phenomenon that you cannot ignore, postpone, or delegate. Given the changes barreling down upon us, blogs are not a business elective. They're a prerequisite. (And yes, that goes for us, too.)

Read the full story here.

Thursday, April 21

Avoid the 'Giving Trap' 

From Aussie consultant Robert Gerrish, on a common mistake made by consultants, coaches, and other entrepreneurs/business owners - the 'Giving Trap':

Good, strategic giving is when you add value without being asked. The giving trap is when you discount your services or weaken the perception of your value by going too far.

Scenario 1:
You give a free one-hour consultation as part of your business development strategy. You’re so keen to hook a client that you let one-hour turn into 90 minutes. You say nothing.

Scenario 2:
You give a free one-hour consultation as part of your business development strategy. At around 50 minutes you realise it’s likely to run over the hour. Assuming you’ve determined it’s beneficial to continue, you pause, make clear you are about to complete the hour and offer your client an extension of 30 minutes. You take the opportunity to fully explain your motivation for this action.

Spot the difference? In the first scenario you’re signaling a lack of respect for time AND creating a potentially damaging precedent in the eyes of a potential client.

In the second, you’re highlighting the value of your time AND adding value by giving more.

Saturday, April 16

Shifting it up for the CEO 

When you are suddenly faced with a CEO meeting rather than the one-on-one seller/purchaser meeting you were expecting, this means that things are going well - or have the potential to!

4 strategies to shift your sales game:
1. Talk a lot less. Listen a lot more. CEOs do not like to listen. They love to talk. While they are talking, you are collecting vital information from which you will develop the first few bullets of your proposal or follow-up communication! Listen, take notes, and ask great questions.

2. Shift the quality and depth of your questions. Can you hear the difference between these two questions - the first is appropriate for your frontline buyer and the second would be more for her CEO:
a. What are the company's overall goals for this year?
b. Why are these goals so important right now? Once achieved, what's next?

3. Balance the power in the room. All successful sales relationships are peer relationships. Use stories and examples of other CEO interactions you've had; selectively (and honestly) drop a few names; show exactly how you've made other CEOs look brilliant, successful, and improved their company's condition.

4. Move from the tactical to the strategic. Zoom out to the big picture. That's where CEOs live. Drop the details (unless they're asked for.) Forget features; forget benefits; talk in outcomes, in dollars, in percentages, in profit, in margin, in market position.

Rules of Life 

These have a direct and relevant link to sales, marketing, and consulting... (but I'll leave the connecting to you!)

1. Never give yourself a haircut after three alcoholic beverages of any kind.

2. You need only two tools: WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn't move and it should, use the WD-40. If it moves and it shouldn't, use the duct tape.

3. The five most essential words for a healthy, vital relationship are 'I apologize' and 'You are right.'

4. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

5. When you make a mistake, make amends immediately. It's easier to eat crow while it's still warm.

6. The only really good advice that your mother ever gave you was: 'Go! You might meet somebody!'

7. If he/she says that you are too good for him/her - believe them.

8. Learn to pick your battles. Ask yourself, 'Will this matter one year from now? How about one month? One week? One day?'

9. Never pass up an opportunity to go to the bathroom.

10. If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You have another chance!

11. Living well really is the best revenge. Being miserable because of a bad or former relationship just might mean that the other person was right about you.

12. Work is good, but it's not that important.

13. And finally, be really nice to your friends and family. You never know when you are going to need them to empty your bedpan.

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