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2 Important Things to Know About Your Customers

customerIt was a beautiful day in our area on Sunday so we decided to go for a drive. There’s an outlet mall about thirty minutes from us. So we stopped and shopped!

We like to combine work and play. While we were playing, we got a couple of ideas for post, including this one today.

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Where are your customers from?

As we made a purchase, the clerk asked us for our phone number. She said, “We like to know where our customers are from.”

Isn’t that an important thing to know about your customers? 

Geographic area
This is what the store we were at wanted to know. This may or may not be important to your business. It may be useful for targeting areas for your marketing.

Marketing activity
Unlike large companies, small businesses can’t afford to invest a lot of money on building their brand. When we spend money as small business owners, we need to see a return in the short-term while also building our brand long-term.

So discover what marketing activity is driving people to your business. While this is an inexact science, you want to determine as closely as you can if the time and money you’re spending on various activities are paying off.

Consumers often segment the research and the purchase. They may do some research on you as a result of one marketing activity. Then they may respond to another one to make a purchase.

The first activity may be important to the process but doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

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georgePrior to Bigg Success, my businesses relied on inbound telemarketing. In other words, our customers called us to schedule projects. Our Customer Service Reps might ask this question, “How did you hear about us?” Later in the process, we might also have them ask, “How did you get our phone number today?” We often got a different answer from the same caller!

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marylynnIsn’t that amazing? You don’t want to annoy your customers with too many questions. You do want to get as much information as you can as a natural part of the conversation you’re having.

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Demographics
There are a number of factors that may be important to understand about your customers. What is their level of education? How much money do they make? What is their occupation?

Obviously, you may not directly ask them some of these questions. You may survey them anonymously.

This information helps you target your products and services better. It’s also highly likely that your future customers will be a lot like your current customers. So it helps you qualify prospects.

Where are your customers going?

It’s arguably more important to know this one. What are your customers trying to accomplish? What problems are they having trying to do that? How can you help them?

Retailers
The type of business you have will dictate how you find this out. Let’s say you’re a retailer serving lots of customers with relatively small purchases. While they’re checking out, you may ask them if there was anything that they didn’t find.

You may want to keep a list of their requests. When you start seeing something over and over, you may want to add that item to your inventory.

Consumer services
For a consumer service business, the question is very similar. “Is there anything else that I can help you with today?” 

We used a version of this in my service businesses and it was amazing the projects we would uncover. For instance, we often learned that they were considering a remodel from this simple question.

Business services

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marylynnIf your business serves other businesses, the best way to find this out is the hard way – talk with them! This is what we do. It takes a lot of legwork to keep in touch with your customers at this level. But it’s the best way to find opportunities.

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Nobody likes to be sold. People like to buy.
Discover what your customers are trying to accomplish.
Uncover the problems they’re having getting there.
Then show them the solution you can provide and you’ll be a bigg success!

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Thanks so much for reading our post today. Please join us next time when we’ll celebrate a bigg milestone. Until then, here’s to your bigg success.

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00519-111109.mp3

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Coaching Kids to be Clever Consumers

word_money.jpgBigg success is life on your own terms. The five elements of bigg success are money, time, growth, work and play. Today we want to focus on money.

Here’s a bigg challenge faced by a lot of people – you’re trying to save money. You’ve done everything you know to do. You may even have your spouse on board, but what about the kids?

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Smart savers

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georgeMy mom was a dedicated saver. She taught me about saving when I was young. I had this fun little coin machine where you could watch the money going down into the appropriate slot. I just loved to watch the coins pile up!

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marylynnMy mom took my sister and me to the bank so we could open our own savings accounts. I just loved watching the money accumulate in that account! And to earn interest – I thought that was the greatest thing in the world!

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Play money

If you have kids in grades K – 8, check out the money section of kids.gov. They have some fun games, virtual tours and all kinds of other ways to help your kids understand money better. We wish they would have had it when we were kids!

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

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Clever consumers

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marylynnWhen I was a teenager, I had my own job so I had my own money. The popular jeans at that time were Guess jeans. All the cool kids had them and I wanted a pair. My mom wasn’t too thrilled that I was buying designer jeans. They cost a lot more than the regular old jeans. I did buy one pair but Mom’s reaction made me think twice the next time.

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georgeI can remember the day when I learned the difference between real money and play money. I was in the fourth grade. My teacher was one of the best teachers I ever had. He was always talking about the Guinness Book of World Records. I was with my Mom … shopping. She told me that, if I was good, I could pick out a toy. I found this air-powered toy gun. When we got up to the check-out counter, I noticed they had the Guinness Book of World Records on sale. I wanted it too! Mom said I couldn’t have both; I had to choose. It was a hard decision, but I finally chose the book. I never regretted it!

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We both benefited from our parents forcing us into making spending choices early in life. With the right coaching, kids can learn to be clever consumers and smart savers. It’s one of the best gifts any child could ever receive.

What did your parents do to teach you about money? Or what have you done with your kids to teach them? Share that with us by leaving a comment below, calling us at 888.455.BIGG (2444) or e-mailing us at bigginfo@biggsuccess.com.

Thanks for reading our post today.

Please join us next time when we’ll look at quirks that cost us time. 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/00396-051809.mp3

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3 Tips for Buying Health Insurance

memories.jpgToday we want to talk about insurance … just for the health of it!

Health insurance is a significant expense. If you’re fortunate enough to be part of a group, your company is probably paying a good portion of the cost. However, companies are increasingly asking their employees to bear a bigger share of the total cost.

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Of course, if you’re self-employed, you have to pay it all. This really hits your budget in either case and, as we look to the future, it appears it will occupy an ever larger share.

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georgeI used to sell insurance years ago so I’m familiar with that side of it. I also approved our group plans when I was in business before Bigg Success.

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marylynnWhen we started Bigg Success, it was an eye opener for me. I went from being an employee with group insurance to being self-employed buying individual coverage. I saw the full cost, not just my share of it. I was amazed at the array of choices. And I couldn’t get some of the coverage I really liked under my group plan.

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Obviously, your age and your health are two major factors in the cost. The other key factors are:

Your deductible. This is the first money that will be paid out. You pay it up to the deductible you choose.

Your co-pay percentage. Once the deductible is satisfied, you begin sharing the cost with your insurance provider. You may split it down the middle or some other arrangement.

Your stop loss. You don’t have to share costs forever. At a certain point, your insurance company will pay 100% of the covered costs.

Your maximum coverage. It will look like a large number (e.g. $2 million) but it can be used up fairly quickly if there’s a serious health problem.

Your maximum out-of-pocket. This compiles the first three factors. Your maximum out-of-pocket equals your deductible plus your maximum co-pay amount. It only considers covered costs so just be aware that your actual out-of-pocket could be higher.

So now we want to talk about three mistakes that people often make when buying health insurance.

Pushing too much risk onto the insurance company. Being too conservative is very costly. For example, the higher your deductible, the less you’ll pay.

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marylynnBut George, I know when I’ve been light on money, it’s scary to think about a large hospital bill. Even a doctor’s bill of $300 – $500 can be a burden when you’re really strapped for cash.

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georgeI understand that, Mary-Lynn. But I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about. A couple we know has over $50,000 in the bank, yet they insist on having a deductible of $500. They could save a lot of money by being a little less risk averse.

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Not shopping around. As we’ve said, this is a major expense. Like most major expenses, it’s worth your time to try to save some money. So get two, or even better three, quotes.

Make sure you’re comparing apples-to-apples. The plans from two different insurance companies probably won’t be exactly alike.

Settling in. Shop carriers at least every other year. You may be surprised at how much you can save by switching plans.

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georgeThis is something I learned the hard way. I liked my insurance company, but when I finally shopped coverage, I was astounded at how much I could save.

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marylynnThis really boils down to personal preferences. It’s nice to only pay a small amount of money when you go to the doctor. But make sure you’re weighing that convenience against the actual cost.

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The key question to ask yourself is, “How much risk can I afford?

The general rule, in a financial sense, is to assume risks that are small, frequent, and inexpensive. You cover large, infrequent and expensive costs.

But also consider the emotional costs. If it’s going to keep you up at night knowing that you’re bearing a larger share of the burden, then push more risk off on the insurance company.

Think about the impact on your finances and your personal preferences to help you make this bigg decision.

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

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Please join us next time when we talk about bright, shiny objects.

Thanks so much for reading 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/00386-050409.mp3

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Money Tips if You Do Not Have a Steady Income

life on your own termsBigg success is life on your own terms. We talked all about that last week in a series of five posts where we painted the bigg picture.

Now we want to get into the nitty-gritty. What keeps us from living our lives on our own terms?

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The challenge of irregular inflows

One of those things is not having enough money – one of the five elements of bigg success – when we need it. It’s one thing if you have a regular salary. However, a lot of people don’t have a steady income. It fluctuates from month-to-month.

What if you’re a salesperson working on straight commission?

What if you own your own business and don’t draw a regular paycheck? You may be a freelancer or a solo entrepreneur. You may be in business and have employees. You not only feel responsible for putting food on your table, you also have a group of people to whom you feel responsible.

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georgeI certainly can relate to this subject, having been a business owner for pretty much all of my adult life. Come to think of it, before I went into business for myself, I worked on commission as a sales person so I’ve seen both sides of it.

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marylynn
Of course, with George, I now am a business owner too.

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george
Welcome to the club, Mary-Lynn!

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marylynnWe have a couple of businesses in their early stages. I left a job in the corporate world with a regular paycheck, but I sure understand now what it’s like not to have that. I know I’m not alone. A number of people in our community have mentioned this as a major challenge to living their lives on their own terms.

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So what can you do if your income fluctuates from month-to-month?

Understand your cycles

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georgeOne thing that I found is that I had to understand my cycles. I’ve struggled with this one. When I wasn’t busy, I’d spend time and money promoting and prospecting. Then I would get too busy – I don’t have time to promote and prospect. So I stopped doing it. The thing I knew, I wasn’t busy again and the cycle would start over!

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If you can be consistent with your most important activities – those things that generate the most income for you – you may be able to smooth out your inflows.

You might even find that you can hire an assistant to perform some of these activities for you. You spend a little money now to save you time and make you money a little later.

What if you can’t afford to hire someone to help you? Then you’ll have to invest the time yourself. When you find yourself in your next “up” cycle – you’re too busy to spend time on crucial prospecting and promotional activities – take a look at it again to see if it makes sense.

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marylynnAnother thing I’ve found is that I can be more consistent if I carve up my activities into smaller chunks. For example, I may send out five e-mails every day of the week instead of thinking that I need to send out 25 e-mails. If you don’t have the time to do that, start with three e-mails a day.

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Stabilize your outflows

Risk is often measured by volatility. So by definition, if we have irregular inflows, we are taking more risk. Because of that, we should strive for less risk in our outflows.

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marylynnWe do this by keeping our standard of living relatively low. Our businesses are in their early stages. So we watch what we spend and live very frugally. For example, we watch how much we shop and go out to eat less than we did when our incomes were more regular.

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One of our newsletter subscribers, Randy, says “rowing his own boat” by working for himself are his terms for his life. He’s been on his own for about 25 years now. He’s put his two sons through college while remaining debt free. He says he did it by having a plan when his boys were just babies. That plan paid off. He just turned 50 and plans on living the way he wants from here on out.

Congratulations Randy and thanks for sharing your story with us!

Randy’s story also helps us understand a second part of stabilizing our inflows:

Be very, very careful with debt.

We have to resist the urge to pile onto our outflows by adding principal and interest payments. It puts even more pressure on our inflows and more stress on us because we have to earn even more.

What do you suggest?

Share that with us by leaving a comment below, calling us at 888.455.BIGG or sending us an e-mail at bigginfo@biggsuccess.com.

Thanks so much for checking in on us today.

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Would you like more tips and tools to live your life on your own terms?
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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One of our listeners just accepted a new management job. Join us next time when we help him with bigg challenge.

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/00361-033009.mp3

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The Deal of Your Lifetime

sale We have an idea for your personal finances. Now if you’re one of our regulars, we may surprise you a little with what we’re about to say …

Go out and spend some money!

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Markets go through cycles. Sometimes it’s a seller’s market. But right now, we’re in a buyer’s market for almost everything!

Now, before you take our advice and rush out the door on a quest for that perfect item, consider these four questions:

  • Do you feel relatively secure in your job or your business?
  • Are you debt-free except for your low-cost mortgage on which you’re current?
  • Are you funding your long-term obligations (e.g. the kids’ college, your retirement)?
  • Do you have a nice stash of cash set aside for emergencies?

If you clear those four hurdles, you’re good to go … to go get the deal of your lifetime.

Spend, baby, spend!

It’s good for the economy, but even more important, it’s good for you. Because we’re seeing deals right now that we will probably never see again in our lifetimes.

Like the car dealer who is offering a two-for-one sale – buy a car and he’ll throw in a second car of equal or lesser value for free! That’s right … free! Did you ever think you’d see anything like that?

Many contractors are starving for work. It’s a great time to remodel your home – get those improvements done you’ve been putting off, add that room, remodel that bathroom or kitchen.

While we normally don’t suggest building a new home, for financial reasons as well as the emotional strain it can put on a relationship, it’s a fantastic time to think about having that dream house built.

And let’s not leave out businesses. Vendors in so many product lines just want some business. It’s a great time to expand or upgrade your business.

The paradox

Here’s the irony in our current situation – spenders are faced with great deals, but they often can’t clear the hurdles above. So they can’t spend!

Many savers have seen the value of their investments fall back ten years. So perhaps the lesson – live a little now, too! It will go against your grain to go out and shop. But look at it this way – you’re saving money because, by doing it now, when suppliers across the board need the money – you’ll get the deal of your lifetime! 

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

___

Thanks so much for reading our post today. Join us next time when we diss on Plan B. 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/00346-030909.mp3

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