Life Story

Chris Brogan issued a challenge over the weekend: post a blog regarding the importance of "story" in our lives.  The challenge comes on the heels of Chris reading Don Miller's new book "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned Whiled Editing My Life".

So, does story matter? Does OUR story matter?

From the parables of Jesus to bedtime stories, from old wives tales to urban legends,  stories make up our lives. Stories convey truth, address eternal issues, stir emotion – each day of our life, our story is being written.

What I've come to realize throughout my life is that each and every person has a story and it's worth hearing. So many people think that if they don't have a rags to riches story or how they overcame a drug addiction or how they survived a near death experience they don't have a story. But that is wrong thinking – each of us need to embrace life – the good, the bad and even the indifferent parts and live the story that we were created to live.

Some of the greatest memories I have are from the past twenty one years of tucking my kids into bed and telling them about my childhood. My kids have heard those stories so much they can recite them back, but they love hearing them over and over again. And each day my kids are writing their own story that they will share with their family.

Stories are the fabric of life and society – write yours, live yours – every day.

Book Review: Currencies That Buy Credibility (final)

In Part two of the book Tom gives some great examples of
companies putting the “Currencies” into practice. Some examples include

One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning became the
nation’s first heating and cooling service company to offer on-time service.
The created believability by fulfilling the promise of “Always on time or you
don’t pay a dime”. They risked material wealth to build credibility.

When talking about the currency of “Time and
Energy” Tom highlights the trusted and go-to online retailer REI. REI takes their
content to an amazing level by offering expert advice to outdoor experts or
wannabees. What’s your expertise? How can you highlight it?

The currency of “Opportunity” highlights toy
store “Geppetto’s Workshop”. A unique toy story that differentiates itself and
prides itself in NOT carrying any toy that is made of plastic or requires
batteries.  They go all out so that they
don’t become ordinary. The absence of “popular and trendy” toys is what attracts
the crowds.

Chapter Seven gives great insight into how
transparency builds extreme credibility. and Google are both cases
in point.

The currency of “Reputation and Prestige”
relates the story of how Patagonia put a stake in the ground that either
attracts or repels their customer. By staying true to their core values they
have continued to build out their reputation and establish themselves as a
brand of prestige.

“Safety and Well-being” are the final currency Tom
tackles with a great story about identity protection specialists Lifelock.


the final section of the book Tom wraps it up by challenging us to ask three
important questions:


1.       What
are your company’s defining characteristics?

2.       What
signals do you decisions send?

3.       Is
there conflict between what you are saying and who you are being?


that buy Credibility is a book that will be a perennial read for you.

Sandwich Boards and Social Media

In my hometown of Kernersville, NC old school marketing has collided with social media and is putting a local business on the map.

Part one – The man is Kenny (seen in the photo), his method – dancing with a sign on oneKenny_Vault of the busiest corners in town. Kenny's employer, The Vault, found him dancing on a corner in a nearby city several months ago and offered him a part-time gig. Kenny proved to be a huge traffic driver with 1 in 3 customers coming through the doors saying they  came in after seeing Kenny bustin' his moves on the corner. Needless to say Kenny is now a full-time employ of The Vault.

Part two is what all marketers love – the tribe rallying and spreading the word. Shortly after Kenny started dancing at the corner of Main St. and the on ramp to I-40 a passerby snapped a photo – drove home and started "the guy dancing outside of The Vault in Kernersville" fan page on Facebook. In less than two weeks the page grew to over 3000 fans and today is just under 4000.

This is a great example of how one of the oldest marketing methods is still viable and attracts so much attention that people can't help but spread the word through new marketing channels like Facebook.

What do you think? Have you found successful ways of integrating old and new methods?

Book Review: Currencies That Buy Credibility (part two)

Tom's definition of each currency frame the rest of the book and bring a clarity to how we can put into place programs, processes and policies that increase our credibility. Today's focus is on the first – material wealth.

Material Wealth – Tom uses the example of Nordstrom's and their legendary guarantee that allow customer's to return the product at any time for a full refund. The he asks the following question, "How might your business take on the buyer's risk to strengthen credibility?"

What other ways, beyond a liberal return policy, you have seen that build credibility?

Is there a line, when it comes to this currency, that a company can not afford to cross?

Book Review: Currencies That Buy Credibility (part one)

A couple of days ago I finished reading Currencies That Buy Credibility by Tom Wanek. In addition to being an international speaker Tom is an adjunct faculty member of the Wizard Academy founded by another great author and marketing "wizard" Roy H. Williams.

In a day and time where trust is at an all-time low and marketing messages are "unbelievable" Tom provides us with a map for building credibility and regaining trust with our audience. He says, "The believability of your company's marketing message is directly related to your willingness to risk or spend one of six resources. And the more you risk or spend, the more believable your message becomes.

The six currencies that Tom outlines are:

  1. Safety & Well-Being
  2. Time & Energy
  3. Material Wealth
  4. Reputation & Prestige
  5. Power & Control
  6. Opportunity

Over the next several days I'll be posting my takeaways and learning from this great book.


en·ga·gé – choosing to involve oneself in or commit oneself to something

How many opportunities have we missed because we were too busy and didn't "engage" someone? How many sales have been lost because we didn't just answer the phone? How many new clients slipped through the cracks because we didn't answer an email or didn't answer it soon enough?

Over the past couple of years I've been doing some straw polling of friends and business partners when it comes to "engaging". What I've discovered is that the vast majority of company's are seemingly too busy to engage their current customers let alone new, potential, customers. I have heard over and over from people – my customers and others – that we got the business or they got the business just because someone picked up the phone and talked to me.

How are you engaging with your team? With your customers? With your potential customers?

Poor Customer Service Costs Companies $83 Billion Annually

MediaPost Publications Poor Customer Service Costs Companies $83 Billion Annually 02/18/2010.

The Customer Experience: Your Core Asset

I've had a quote posted above my desk for the past 15+
years that says, "It's the customer experience that is the core asset of
your business." In an economic climate where everyone wants to compete
on price we have to resist that temptation and deliver a customer
experience that trumps price and produces loyal fanatical fans.

It doesn't matter if you are a supplier or a retailer, online or brick and mortar, service provider or non-profit – your success is measured and determined by the experience you offer your customers or donors. 

What's something you have changed or will change to give your customers something to talk about – in a GOOD way?

Using Social Networking to Build Professional Relationships – part 4

Here's the fourth and final part of the article that I wrote and was published in the January issue of CBA Retailers & Resources

Networking – Keep up with your customers so you
know what their immediate needs and hot buttons are. Stay in touch with
suppliers and keep informed of specials and provide them with feedback so they
know what is happening on the frontlines.

Groups – Join a
You can join as many as 50 LinkedIn groups. Use these groups to
increase your knowledge through the expertise of others. When you join,
introduce yourself and your services. Consider starting a group around your
company’s core competencies and let your voice and expertise be heard. There
are some excellent groups dedicated to Christian professionals on LinkedIn that
offer business wisdom as well as encouraging fellowship. A few groups that you
might want to check out include: Christian Business Leaders Network, Christian
Professionals and Christian Retail 3.0 (full disclosure: I manage this group).

Questions and Answers
– This is a great area of the site that pulls on the brainpower of others
to help you identify solutions and gain insight. Be a part of the community by
diving into the Q&A area of LinkedIn. Offering insightful answers builds
your value and raises awareness of your expertise. You can also tap into the
expertise of others by posing your own questions.

Publish your LinkedIn
– One of the easiest but often most overlooked tactic is posting your
LinkedIn URL. An example of a LinkedIn URL would be – Make
sure you are publishing your LinkedIn URL on all your marketing collateral,
including business cards, email signature, email newsletters, web sites and
brochures, so prospects learn more about you and can easily connect.

LinkedIn Recommendations
Nothing builds trust and confidence like a recommendation and testimonies
from happy customers.  Offer
recommendations of others and then ask them to reciprocate.

LinkedIn eMail – Use
the email function within LinkedIn to notify your connections about business
news, store events or product releases within your LinkedIn network.

These are only a sampling of the tools that LinkedIn has to
offer so take some time to discover all that the website has to offer. Compare
LinkedIn with the others listed above and see which one works best for you. But,
whichever social networking site you choose just Let 2010 be the year that you
engage with social networks to build your professional relationships and
increase your business.

If you don’t know of anyone to connect with on LinkedIn and
need someone to start with hit me up at Let’s

Using Social Networking to Build Professional Relationships – part 3

Here's part three of the article that I wrote and was published in the January issue of CBA Retailers & Resources

Here are
some quick and easy ways to begin leveraging the power of LinkedIn.

Your profile – Fill it out and give people good
reason to connect with you.

  • Make sure your profile highlights your areas of
    expertise, services offered and who and why you are looking to connect.
  • Please, upload a profile picture – it says you’re
    engaged and participating.
  • Get the branded URL – something like, as
    close to your name as you can get.
  • Look alive! Share your
    business news, store events, promotions and general information on a daily
  • Updating your status
    appears across your network of connections keeping you top of mind with
    others.  I’ve attracted supplier and prospect inquiries
    when I’ve updated my status regarding certain projects. For example, a few
    months ago I updated my status letting others know that I was working on a
    postcard. Someone that I had recently connected with worked for a printer.
    He saw my update and reached out to me to ask if he could give me a quote
    on the project.