Posts

Marketing in Tough Times: Part 2

marketing2 Today on The Bigg Success Show, we continue our conversation with John Jantsch, the Duct Tape Marketer. Last time, John talked about the importance of getting closer to customers and strategic partnerships to build business. Let’s get back to the conversation …

___

___

___

georgeJohn, one of the businesses I used to own was a plumbing company. In that business, I learned that many times there are ways to work with competitors – especially if they aren’t direct competition. Even within an industry, people may have specialties and you may find people that you can partner with that are better at something than you are.

___

___

johnThe way to really look at that is, “How can you become more valuable to your customer?” Look at it that way as opposed to, “Who can I go to who will refer business me to me?” That’s the mistake that a lot of people make. They reach out to people and say, “Hey, why don’t you send me some business?” And even though they may be capable of doing so, what’s the motivation in that? If the motivation can be, “How can I help you grow your business? How can I provide more value to my customers?” Building a strong network around everything that your customers might need, with you being the go-to person to recommend other people to them, is a great marketing and business strategy. Your customers will become much more loyal if they can see you as somebody who cares about their success as opposed to somebody who is just there to sell them something.

___

marylynnIt’s all about being real – now more than ever. Going back to what’s been going on in 2008, some of the big guys have fallen and so has trust. People want to feel like they can rely on you.

___

___

johnRight. In fact, my book starts out with my definition of marketing for the small business: finding someone who has a need and getting them to know, like, and trust you. That’s the real business that every small business is in. Well, frankly any business, but certainly the small business who can’t “buy” know, like and trust. If you keep that as the focus, it becomes the filter for every decision that you make that has a customer impact in your business.

___

___

georgeIt seems to me, John, that you’re saying we need to focus on the relationships and not so much on the revenue. The revenue will come.

___

___

johnI certainly believe that. I’m the first to acknowledge that sometimes you have to put food on the table. There is a lot of pressure to actually make the sale. But long-term, the companies that will survive this economic storm will focus on adding value, differentiating, and building a brand that can be trusted. In some cases, these companies won’t experience any downturn and may even find it to be an opportunity. Because people who haven’t been doing things right – not treating people very well, not doing good work, but the phone keeps ringing because people need stuff done – will be the first to go. If you’re in there doing things right in good times and bad, a shakeout in your industry may be an opportunity.

___

Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

___

We’re so grateful that you took time to read our post today. Join us next time when we wrap up our conversation with John. You’ll hear about the one thing you have to embrace to keep your business from being left behind. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00309-011509.mp3

Related posts

Marketing in Tough Times: Part 1

Marketing in Tough Times: Part 3

Get Free Publicity for Your Business as a Radio Expert

Seth Godin on Tribes: Part I

(Image in today's post by duchessa)

Marketing in Tough Times: Part 1

marketing1 Today on The Bigg Success Show, we begin a discussion with John Jantsch. John is the author of the great book, Duct Tape Marketing – The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide. Forbes chose his Duct Tape Marketing blog as one of their favorites and Harvard features it on their marketing site. He also writes a monthly column and does a podcast for Entrepreneur magazine.

___

___

___

marylynn
That’s a long intro and it’s not even everything!

___

___

john
That’s good … we wouldn’t want to bore people right off the bat!

___

___

marylynnJohn, I have to tell you. You’re the guy we wanted to come to because with everything going on with the economy, small businesses are struggling right now. A lot of the money that they might have had for advertising and marketing just isn’t there right now. So we want to talk with you about how to promote yourself on a shoestring budget.

___

___

johnA lot of small business owners have done that. The headlines are that the Dow is down. Big companies are cutting back all kinds of jobs. The newspaper industry is in turmoil because of losing advertisers. But the typical small business owner is not putting out hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising. In many cases, they have gotten to where they’ve gotten because they worked on a shoestring anyway. I wrote a column this week for a publication and talked about the natural competitive advantages of small business. I think that we can have this tendency to get in this “the sky is falling” mode and quite frankly, my experience at least is, that it’s not falling on the small business owner. The small business owner is now finding that the market momentum, sheer momentum, is perhaps not carrying them and that they have to get better at doing some of the things that maybe they should have been doing anyway. But my current soap box right now is to say, “Hey, everything is okay. Let’s just buckle in and do some things right.” So that was my long-winded intro to answer your question. Right now is the best time ever to get closer to your customer.

___

___

george
So what are some customer-building strategies that don’t require spending a lot of money?

___

___

johnYour customer, whether it’s a business or an individual, is feeling some of this economic pressure as well. This is a great time to huddle up and say, “What more can we be doing with you, for you? How can we get together and help each other?” Strategic partnerships have always been a great way to go for folks who are strapped for making the phone ring. Go out and find other people that have your ideal customer in mind. Find ways to co-brand some of your marketing materials, put workshops on together, or maybe just literally pass out each other’s materials. One of the greatest partnerships I ever put together was a plumbing contractor. They were going into people’s house every day. So we said to them, “Let’s find an electrical contractor, a roofing contractor, and three or four other people who treat their customers the way you like. Why don’t you all start going in and recommending each other?” You know how that happens – once you develop trust with a customer, they’ll ask you for every resource you can give them! So doing things like that – things people should be doing, good times and bad. It really does put the spotlight on them now if you haven’t been doing them.

___

Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

___

Thanks for reading today’s post. Next time, we’ll continue our conversation with John. He discusses ways to add value for customer loyalty. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00308-011409.mp3

Related posts

Marketing in Tough Times: Part 2

Marketing in Tough Times: Part 3

Get Free Publicity for Your Business as a Radio Expert

Seth Godin on Tribes: Part I

(Image in today's post by duchessa)

Should I Stick with Stocks?

mattress Last time, we talked about a new trend – people stuffing their mattresses the 21st century way. Baby boomers seem to be the main group behind this trend. They are buying treasury bills and gold coins as safe harbors from the volatile stock market.

___

___

It’s understandable that baby boomers are looking for alternatives because many of them are so close to retirement.

But what if you’re not about to retire … should you stick with stocks?
We’ve heard a lot about how the recent decline in stock prices has wiped out all of the last ten years worth of gains. So it’s a really good question. We decided to do some analysis of our own.

Before we start, allow us to make one disclaimer: We’re going to provide an example to help you understand how the market works. Your decisions about your portfolio should be based on your specific situation. We recommend that you talk with a certified financial advisor to help you with that.

Stocks and Certificates of Deposit

To keep it simple, we looked at just two assets – stocks, represented by the S&P 500 (Source: Yahoo! Finance) and risk-free investments, represented by one-month CDs (Source: Federal Reserve) in FDIC-insured institutions.

There may be better assets to invest in (e.g. a broader stock market index), but we still felt that these represented risky assets and risk-free assets relatively well. We were curious about what has happened in the past, looking at various scenarios, with these two assets. This is a good place to insert a couple of caveats:

  • We are looking at historical numbers. We’re not psychic nor do we possess any other ability to project the future.
  • We used nominal pre-tax rates of return, so inflation and taxes have not been factored in to the returns we’ll discuss.

The last ten years
When we look at the last ten years (going back from December 31, 2008), we see that the stock market underperformed its historical average through almost the entire decade.

The best mix of these two assets for the last ten years would have been no mix at all. Investing 100 percent in CDs provided the best return. Even then, the return was not that great: 3.62% per year by our calculations. The worst return, as you might guess, was being 100 percent invested in stocks over the last ten years. They lost about one percent per year.

What about prior ten-year periods?
One ten-year period isn’t all that instructive. So we went back ten more years (January 1, 1989 to December 31, 1998) and looked at those returns. The highest returns in that period came from a portfolio of 100% stocks, which returned 17.28% annually.

So stocks are one for two. Let’s break the tie and go back another ten years. Can you hear the disco music playing?

A portfolio that was fully invested in stocks delivered the best return in that period (January 1, 1979 to December 31, 1988) as well. They earned a return of 14.36% per year.

Is ten years long enough?
Financial advisors have said for years that stocks perform best over longer periods of time. They used to tell us that we should have at least five years before we needed the money or we shouldn’t invest in stocks. Now we’re hearing more and more that ten years is the magic number.

But here’s the thing … we really shouldn’t even count on that as we’ve learned the last ten years.

How long until you retire?
Let’s think about this … if you’re 40-years old, you might have twenty years before you want to retire. At 30, let’s say you have 30 years. How have the returns looked over that period?

Looking back twenty years, even with the most recent decade, our best bet would have been to be fully invested in stocks. Our return would have been 8.14% annually. It’s ditto for the most recent thirty years. An all-stock portfolio returned 10.21% per annum, about its historical average.

So, our research shows that history shows that you should stick with stocks over the long term. But is there a way to lower your risk without sacrificing returns unjustly?

The price of a higher return
There is a price to pay to get a higher return. That price is more volatility and volatility equals risk. Riskier investments should pay more to compensate you for the risk you’re taking. Stocks are riskier than CDs; therefore, they should pay more.

The price of less risk
We just said that riskier investments generally offer higher returns as compensation for the risk. So why not just invest in CDs and other risk-free assets? Because they may not return enough to get you where you need to go. There is a better answer.

Diversification smoothes it out
When you diversify your assets – investing part of your portfolio in risky assets like stocks and a portion in risk-free assets like CDs, you smooth out the volatility, relative to just investing in stocks, while still getting a higher return than if you invested all your money in just CDs.

Example: A 50/50 Mix

As we discussed earlier, had you just invested in stocks over the last thirty years, you would have made about 10 percent per year on your investment. However, you would have lost about one percent a year in the most recent decade.

What if you can’t stomach losses like that?

Obviously, any money invested in stocks is at risk. However, if we had invested 50 percent in stocks and 50 percent in CDs over the last thirty years:

  • We wouldn’t have lost money over the last decade. In fact, we would have made 1.31% per year.
  • The thirty-year return on our portfolio would have been 8.32% a year. While it’s less than the 10 percent we could have earned by just investing in stocks, it’s not that much less. Looks pretty good right now, doesn’t it?

We want to emphasize again that we’re not saying a 50/50 mix is right for you. Consult your financial planner. We just picked 50/50 to see what would have happened with an even mix of these two assets.

Long on stocks
As you can see from the returns we quoted earlier, the experts are right – stocks are good long term investments. If you need the money ten years from now, you need to be careful. If you’re a 30- or 40-year old funding your retirement, a good basket of stocks as part of a well-diversified portfolio is a great place to stick your money.

Short on dollars
Going back to where we started, more people are investing very conservatively in treasuries right now. The problem is, if you invest too conservatively, you have to make a choice. Will you be short on dollars now or at retirement?

If you choose to fully fund your retirement, it means you’ll have to invest more now to reach your goal, which means you’ll have to sacrifice more now than is probably necessary.

We still don’t know if we’ve hit bottom on the stock market. But here’s what we do know – most market timers get it wrong most of the time. That’s why we won’t try!

If you have time until you need the money, invest in a well-diversified portfolio. You won’t be quite as happy in the good times, but you won’t be nearly as upset during the bad. 

We really appreciate you spending some time with us today. Join us next time when we interview John Jantsch, The Duct Tape Marketer, about how to make customers stick without busting the bank. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00265-111408.mp3

Related posts

Mania in the Market and Rising Above the Crowd

When It Comes to Investing, Time is on Your Side

Squirrels, Nuts and Business Cycles

(Image in today's post by woodsy)

Where Should I Stuff My Money?

mattress In days gone by, mattress stuffers hid all their money somewhere in or around their home – in the backyard, in cans, between the pages of books, in the walls, in a cookie jar, and even under a removable section of floorboards.

___

___

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal talked about the new generation of mattress stuffers. People increasingly don’t trust anyone or anything, a response to falling home prices, crashing stock prices, bank troubles, and government ineptitude.

It’s something we don’t talk about much, but an increasing number of people are taking matters into their own hands to prepare for the next crash. Needless to say, these people aren’t optimists!

They’re pulling their money out of the stock market and stuffing their mattresses the 21st century way.

Stuffing money in treasuries

Instead of actually stuffing cash into their mattresses, they’re buying treasury bills, the safest of all investments. Most financial experts refer to these and other treasury securities as risk-free investments.

Stuffing money in gold

New generation mattress stuffers are also buying gold coins in record amounts. You may have noticed an increase in the number of ads on TV about gold. This flight to safety has been evident after just about every financial crisis, as people return to the gold standard.

Who is primarily driving this trend?

Many baby boomers have taken a huge hit to their portfolios just as they near retirement. They are the driving force behind this trend because they don’t have time to recover from the recent stock market losses before they retire.

___

Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

___

What if you’re not ready to retire?

If you’re not close to retiring, it’s crucial to think clearly about this new mattress stuffing strategy. There are definitely some pros and cons.

Pro: We should own a well-diversified portfolio.
Experts tell us to diversify, diversify, diversify. Typically, the more diversified we are, the better. A diversified portfolio might include stocks, bonds including treasuries, real estate, and perhaps some commodities like gold. Diversification generally delivers the best return given the overall risk.

Pro: Treasuries should be part of most diversified portfolios.
Until recently, a lot of people found treasuries kind of boring because they didn’t deliver enough return. That’s because they aren’t considered risky at all, which is also why they are an essential component of a fully diversified portfolio.

Pro: Gold may also be a wise investment as a small part of a diversified portfolio.
Gold and other tangible assets usually perform best in times of high inflation. So gold can serve as “insurance” against such times. The reason that people often flock to gold in times like these is that, historically, it has been an acceptable way to pay for things.

Con: If you put all of your assets in treasuries, your returns will be much lower.
This lower return is not unjustified. After all, you’re investing in an asset that’s considered to be risk-free. The problem with this strategy is that you may not end up with as much money as you need for your retirement.

Con: It’s dangerous to put a significant percentage of your assets into gold coins.
If experts recommend gold at all (and many more are these days) as part of your portfolio, most suggest keeping it to around five percent of your total assets. Unlike treasuries, gold carries risk – its price goes up and down. One other tidbit – gold has underperformed most other assets historically.

Con: There’s no cash flow with gold.
Treasuries pay interest at regular intervals. You don’t earn any money on a gold bar or a gold coin. The only way to make money by holding gold is to sell it at a price higher than what you paid for it.

Next time, we’ll take this discussion a step further. We’ll apply some real world numbers to help you with your diversification decisions.

We are so thankful that you took the time to read our post today. Until next time, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00306-011209.mp3

Related posts

Mania in the Market and Rising Above the Crowd

When It Comes to Investing, Time is on Your Side

Squirrels, Nuts and Business Cycles

(Image in today's post by jillmbatt)

What's Hot in 2009: Fun Trends

hot_2009 This week on The Bigg Success Show, we’ve been taking a look at opportunities and threats in 2009. Today, we wrap up the five-part series by looking at fun trends.

___

___

Let’s start with fitness. Is that fun? One of the biggest trends is dance. Zumba, which combines South American rhythms with cardiovascular exercise, is expected to be one of the biggest crazes.

___

___

marylynnI tried that once with some friends. I wasn’t very good at it. My instructor sure was – she could really shake it. I ended up going back to the treadmill.

___

The young and the restless

But dance isn’t just for fitness; dance halls are making a come back. People are looking for ways to feel good and have fun in these tough times. That applies to all of us, but this trend is particularly expected to capture the under forty and single crowd.

___

georgeSo young people will be going out, having fun, socializing, and dancing to upbeat and swinging music while us old folks are dancing at the fitness center to stay in shape!

___

Home, sweet home

And staying home more. Cocooning is expected to be all the rage again for those of us who aren’t going out dancing. When we’re home, we’ll enjoy more video-on-demand, not just from things we’ve recorded or TIVOed. We’ll sit down to a whole array of movies and shows that will be available as new technologies come online.

We’ll also be playing more video games. A lot of people have already invested in the biggest part of a good home entertainment system. Experts expect video games to do well.

___

georgeI’m amazed at the percentage of adults who now play video games on a regular basis. I’m further amazed to count myself in that group!

___

___

marylynn We like the Sony Wii, which is great for entertainment but also hit the list of hot trends in fitness with Wii Fit.

___

Plain Jane (and John)

We mentioned the do-it-yourself trend on a previous show this week. DIY fashion – from jewelry to clothes – is expected is be very popular, not only among hobbyists, but as a cottage industry. Sites like etsy make it easier than ever to sell your homemade goods.

There’s an old adage that stocks follow hemlines. As hemlines go up, stocks rise. Hemlines go down, you know what happens. So we wondered what would be hot in fashion in 2009.

The look is dowdy, a successor to the grunge look. Faded colors and plain styles will be in vogue. As if the economy isn’t dismal enough, now we have to dress that way! It seems to us like we should do the opposite – dress boldly. Maybe that would get our stocks excited!

Cruisin’

All inclusive vacations are expected to be hot again because we know what we’re going to spend before we go. That certainty is appealing right now. One beneficiary of this is expected to be cruise lines.

Never second best

Another travel trend is people visiting the “second city.” Rather than London, go to Birmingham. Instead of New York City, think Chicago. The Windy City is also expected to do well because it’s the hometown of our incoming President.

Park place

The most popular destinations this year will be national parks. Seventy-three percent of the respondents in a recent survey by TripAdvisor said they plan to visit one. Parks and other attractions close to home keep budgets in line because we don’t have the expense of flying.

And in case you’re wondering, people are planning to spend around $1,500 for domestic trips and about $4,000 when traveling abroad.

It’s important to have fun, in good times and bad. The good news is that, in these bad times, you can get some great deals. Plan ahead. Shop around. And save bigg money!

___

Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success when you
subscribe to the Bigg
Success Weekly
– it’s FREE

___

Thanks for joining us today. Check in next time when we’ll discuss the mattress stuffers of the 21st century. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00305-010909.mp3

Related posts

What’s Hot in 2009: Careers

What’s Hot in 2009: Businesses

What’s Hot in 2009: Threats

What’s Hot in 2009: Questions

(Image in today's post by MISHA)