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Bob Nardelli, CEO Home Depot - Fortune Magazine, 07/01/2002

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Finish Strong Video

You may know from interactions with me
that I am a big fan of setting and beating
goals.

I can’t believe it, but 2011 is almost gone.
Wow, only two months left to 2012.

So let me ask you…

How many of your business goals have
you accomplished so far this year?

How many more will you accomplish in
the next two months?

I want to see you FINISH STRONG!!

I just watched this video and thought you might enjoy it too.

I have no affiliation with this company.
I just wanted to share it because it got me pumped!

Happy Birthday Harkins Theaters

Scottsdale’s family-owned Harkins Theaters turns 78.

Congratulations Harkins, our home town family owned theater, with 30 theaters, 427 screens and about 2,500 employees, Harkins is the largest privately owned theater in the United States.

Dan Harkins tributes his companies success to passion and never being satisfied. Dan made a great comment when he spoke recently at the Economic Club of Phoenix kick off event.

“When you get complacent, that’s when you start going out of business.” Said Dan

P.O.W.E.R. Copywriting: Write Simple Ads In 5 Steps

When I was asked to teach a copywriting class for a special program at The Ohio State University, I discovered that teaching writing is far more difficult than the writing itself. Many of the things I did naturally from experience or instinct were a complete mystery to my students.

So, in order to make the copywriting process a logical and painless operation, I devised a simple method for writing ad copy for novice writers. I called it POWER Copywriting, an acronym for the five steps in the copywriting process: Prepare, Organize, Write, Edit, and Review.

This represents years of copywriting experience boiled down to the basics. I won’t promise that this will help you create a masterpiece of copywriting brilliance. But it can help guide you toward better and more effective sales writing.

Step 1: PREPARE
Good ad copy begins with good information. And the best way to gather the information you need is with a thorough Q&A. Here are some basic questions that will help you prepare for just about any ad writing project.

Don’t try to wordsmith at this point. Just collect as much information as you can. Feel free to add additional information as needed.

Description. Briefly, what is the product or service you are selling?
Purpose. What does this product or service do for the customer? How does it work?
Price. What is the suggested cost? What are you asking for it?
Features. What are the most important facts and specifications about this product or service?
Benefits. What do the features mean for the customer? What problems are solved? What needs are filled? Of all the benefits, which is the most important?
Competition. From the customer’s point of view, why is this product or service better than what the competition is offering?
Your Business. Do you have a special history, unique owner, awards?
Guarantee. How strongly do you believe in the product or service? How will you back up your belief? 30 days free trial? Money back guarantee?
Prospect. Who do you visualize as the ideal buyer? Male or female? Income? Job title? Interests? Concerns? Fears?
Objections. Why would someone NOT want this product?
Testimonials & Endorsements. Letters from happy users? Media coverage? Celebrity endorsements?
Objective. What do you want prospects to do when they see this ad? Ask for more information? Buy immediately? Come to your website? Request a demo?
Offer. What is the deal you are offering to prospects? Lower price for a limited time? Free information? Gift with an immediate order?
Deadline. When does the offer expire?
Required Copy Points. What information or legal copy must be included?
Taboos. What can never be said or promised?
Method of Payment. Credit card? PayPal? Installment Billing?
Method of Ordering. How should a buyer place an order? Phone? Email? Web form?

Step 2: ORGANIZE
After you’ve answered these questions, organize your information. This is simply a matter of writing the essential points concisely. These are still just notes for reference, but your copy is now starting to take shape.

Don’t take shortcuts. The best selling ideas come from this research and note-taking. I’ve found that writing and rewriting notes is a great way to focus the mind and shape ideas.

Here are the essential items you will need to write your copy:

  • Description
  • Purpose
  • Price
  • Features
  • Benefits / Prime Benefit
  • Guarantee
  • Prospect
  • Objective
  • Offer
  • Deadline
  • Method of Payment
  • Method of Ordering

You’ll notice that this list doesn’t include everything from the first step. Some of the information you collected in Step 1 is for background only. The items in Step 2 are those most likely to be used directly in your copy.

Step 3: WRITE
Now that you’ve collected and organized your information, it’s time to start writing your copy.

  • Write your headline.
  1. Review your Prime Benefit, Offer, Deadline, Price, Prospect, Method of Ordering, Description, and Guarantee.
  2. Choose the information you want to emphasize.
  3. Select a basic headline type that best conveys your information.* See below.
  4. Write several headlines and choose the best.

* 7 Simple Headlines that Work

Direct — A direct headline comes right out and states your main idea. (“7 step online business plan generates cash instantly”)

News — People are interested by news. Words such as “new,” “introducing,” “announcing,” “now,” and “at last” indicate something newsworthy. (“Now program your VCR by simply speaking to the revolutionary VCR Voice Programmer”)

How-To — This headline promises a solution to a problem or information of interest. (“How to stop smoking in 30 days”)

Question — When related to a benefit or the reader’s concerns, the question headline is a powerful attention grabber. (“How do I know which mutual fund is right for me?”)

Command — A command can kick your headline into high gear and start selling immediately. (“Call today and reserve your Star Trek collectible”)

Information — People make buying decisions with the information you provide. By educating people, you gain their attention and trust. (“Two things you won’t get on your average tread mill”)

Testimonial — Nothing is more convincing than a customer endorsement. (“This diet program worked for me. It can work for you, too!”)

  • Write your subheads.
  1. Review your Description, Benefits, Features, Offer, Deadline, Guarantee, etc.
  2. Choose the information that best expands on your headline.
  3. Write your subheads in order of importance. Use the active voice and make every subhead a benefit statement.
  • Write your body copy.

Expand on each subhead. List features. Explain each benefit. It may seem that this is the hardest part since the body copy will probably require the most number of words. However, body copy is relatively easy to write once you have your headlines and subheads.

Most good copywriters spend from 50 percent to 80 percent of their time on headlines. If your reader takes the time to read body copy, they’re already interested in what you’re selling. All you need to do is provide clear details and support your headlines and subheads. No need to get fancy.

  • Write your call to action.
  1. Review your Method of Ordering, Offer, Price, Deadline, and Guarantee.
  2. Write your call to action including all the above information that applies. Use the active voice and be straightforward and clear. (“Try the all-new Gizmotron 5000 for 30 days risk free. Your satisfaction is guaranteed or your money back. Order within the next 10 days and get 3 bonus Gizmo attachments FREE! Click here to place your order now!”)
  3. Look at similar ads to see how other writers have structured the call to action.

Step 4: EDIT
For some, editing is the hardest part of copywriting. But it’s essential to get the clean, crisp results you’re looking for. You must be ruthless. Don’t fall in love with your own writing. Every word must add to the message. If anything is unclear or wordy, cut it out. Long copy is fine. Just make sure that every word is pulling its own weight.

As you review your work, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Does my headline get attention, select an audience, deliver a complete message, and draw the reader into the body copy?
  • Does my headline exploit human motivators such as fear, exclusivity, guilt, greed, or envy?
  • Is my headline clear and to the point? Does it relate to the product or service?
  • Do my subheads logically expand on the headline in order of importance?
  • Is my body copy full of facts or empty clichés?
  • Do I ask for the order? Have I made it clear what I want the reader to do?

Step 5: REVIEW
Put your copy aside for a few days and read it later when you’re fresh. Try these techniques to review your ad.

Use the “5 Second Test.” Show the ad to a few objective people. If they don’t understand it at a glance — in about 5 seconds — it isn’t going to work. Don’t play with body copy. Revise the big things. Make your headline more clear and direct. Clarify your offer. Give direct ordering instructions.

List all the negatives. What’s wrong with the headline? The call to action? The tone? Be brutal and honest. Don’t get attached to particular pet words or phrases. This isn’t art, after all. It’s business. So if something needs to be changed, change it.

Consider one other way to write the ad. Even if you have a successful formula, there are always other approaches that will work. If you keep an open mind, you just might find a better way. Or you may discover improvements you can incorporate.

Try the “Stop or Go Test.” You should generally speak in the second person, using words such as “you” and “your.” And you should avoid speaking about yourself too much, with words such as “I,” “we,” and “our.” So, with a green pen, circle all words referring to your reader. Then, with a red pen, circle all words referring to you. If you see a lot of green, your copy is a go. If you see a lot of red, stop and edit.

Source: Dean Rieck on Copywriting & Direct Marketing

Posted in Marketing| Tagged , |

How To Write An Operational Plan For Your Business

In 2010, Sean Bandawat acquired Jacob Bromwell, a specialty housewares company that’s been in existence since 1819. Here, he shares his operational plan, focusing on his strategy to turn the company into a profitable business.

By Darren Dahl |  Jul 27, 2011

In most cases, entrepreneurs begin tackling the challenge of writing a business plan before the business exists. Doing that, of course, means that your plan will focus much more on the potential of the business and how you, as the entrepreneur, plan to take advantage of those opportunities. But, if you are writing a business plan for a 192-year-old business that you’ve just acquired, like Sean Bandawat did in 2010, with the intent to turn a money-losing operation into a cash cow, you’ll need to focus on an area neglected in many business plans produced by entrepreneurs: the Operating Plan. 

The operating plan is the section of your business plan where you dig into more of the nuts and bolts of your business, areas like: production/manufacturing, inventory, and distribution. In other words, this is the time where you put aside the conceptual aspects of your business to get your hands dirty in terms of writing out the specific of how you’re going to make your product, store it, and then ship it out to your customers.

The topic you cover in your operational plan will vary based on the kind of business you run. For instance, if you are starting a retail business, you will want to think about things like inventory and distribution while a software company may be more focused on securing office space and computer equipment. Again, the point is that you need to think about the kinds of details you’ll be facing from the day you open the doors of your business.

Take it from Bandawat, who, as an undergraduate business student at the University of Southern California, crafted a business plan that involved turning around the operations of Jacob Bromwell, a specialty housewares company that has been continuously manufacturing authentic campfire, kitchen, and fireplace products for families since 1819. Bandawat, who comes from a family of successful entrepreneurs, teamed up with his longtime friend, Eric Stanton, to tap money from friends and family to buy Jacob Brownwell. But before they closed the deal in May 2010—just after Bandawat graduated—they wrote a business plan that won top undergraduate honors from the USC Marshall School of Business.

The challenge for Bandawat and Stanton was that they wanted to continue to leverage the “Made in America” nature of their new company’s products, which range from campfire popcorn poppers to chestnut roasters. That meant that, in crafting their operational plan, they needed to come up with specific strategies and actions they planned to take. “Taking over a business with 192 years of history presented very different challenges than creating a business from scratch,” says Bandawat. “So we relied on our advisory team to come up with a direction to take the company in.”

The key decision Bandawat and Stanton made in changing the operations of their business was to close the factory the company had been using in Michigan City,Indiana, and move the specialized equipment to a contract manufacturing facility inGlendale, California.

Bandawat and Stanton agreed to share their operational business plan with us as an example of how you, too, can come up with one for your business. You’ll see how they focused on concepts like operational efficiency, who their suppliers are, and how they planned to sell to new customers. “The key is to put something down and then start executing on it,” says Stanton. “And you’ll need to keep changing and updating it as you go and learn. You won’t know everything from the start.”

CLICK HERE FOR OPERATIONAL PLAN

source: inc.com

 

Posted in Systems| Tagged , |

Quality Of Customer Service Is Most Important

For those of you who are working in a customer service industry, the quality of that customer service itself is the most important aspect of the job. People respond positively to good customer service. IF you are a business owner then you know how the saying goes, it’s easier to keep a customer, as it is to get a new customer. In order to keep your customers and build up some form of clientele that feels loyal to your company. Therefore you must put in the time and effort to keep your customers and your level of customer service up to where it should be.

In most areas of customer service there will be some time on the phone. If your job requires you to place and receive phone calls, you must ensure that you are always polite and customers. This is a great time to strengthen the relationship between the owner and the customer. Customer’s respond better to a business owner who is approachable and interested in their lives then someone who seems bothered and rushed. However, there are those that can become annoyed when the customer service representative becomes too personal. For those people who are in the customer service area, they should attempt to find a happy medium between being too friendly and not friendly at all.

At times in the customer service industry you will come into contact with less than satisfied customers. These people may become angry and they may yell. Sometimes it is hard to contain yourself and you might want to argue back. However, when you are working as a customer service representative then you must be able to control yourself. You should never interrupt an irate customer. If they are getting angry with you then you should just let them vent. Let them have their say and once they are done you can begin explaining what you can do to help solve the problem. The key to customer service is to always be obliging and polite.

-About the author-
James Hunt has spent 15 years as a professional writer and researcher covering stories that cover a whole spectrum of interest. Read more at www.customer-service-central.info

Posted in Customer Service| Tagged |

How To Hire Qualified And Reliable People

If human resources, falls last on your allocation of time, then you are missing the most basic key to success behind the desired implementation in the various fields stated above. The key that acts as an enabler for all the stated crucial tasks is the manpower, without which any firm, irrespective of size or nature, is dysfunctional.

Failures have always been attributed to various factors, but such case studies always seem to overlook the importance of hiring high quality and reliable people for the overall operations.

Common mistakes to avoid when hiring
Skill duplication: Successful directors, who started small, believe that they know it all and this picture motivates them to replicate their own skills while hiring. There is a tendency to ignore the requisite diversity and this tends to create a shortage of skill sets at a later stage. Therefore, to possess a substantial working capacity, complement your present resources rather than replicating them.

Lack of involvement: Various managers are of the belief that the task of the human resources department is easy and attention must be paid to other more important jobs. While they save some time, by not being present during recruitments, this lack of involvement leads to recruiting inappropriate personnel for the job and wasting loads of time and resources at a later stage.

Poor job definition: A scant knowledge of the requirements leads to the selection of the wrong candidate, who is nothing more than a burden to the firm. To hire sensibly, it is crucial to first define the job responsibilities and the desired skill set.

The conflict between departments: Deserving candidates often are not recruited for the appropriate positions due to internal company politics or lack of understanding between various departments, which must be streamlined in order to succeed.

Ignoring the existing pool: Firms at times are so focused in identifying and recruiting new resources that human resource managers have literally no time for the existing pool. This tendency to ignore the needs of the already existing employees creates unnecessary competition. So complement recruitment with the correct retention strategies.

A final thought
To keep up the pace with the competition and the increasing requirements of the industry, look at the internal procedures being followed while hiring and ensure that you select the right candidate for the job. Hiring high quality and reliable people, who know their job, is the key to success.

-About the author-
David Gass is President of Business Credit Services, Inc.

Posted in Human Resources| Tagged , |

Recession Or Excuse?

Is the word recession just another word for people who have run out of excuses? Easy, calm down. I’m not making light of the current economic situation. I got it, I feel it too. I just think it’s used way too much as an excuse by businesses that are not growing or, even worse, declining. The recession is out of our control. Why not concentrate on the things we can control?

It always falls back on how you look at things. A great example is a Realtor. Real estate has taken a pretty big hit with falling prices, short sales and foreclosures. Fewer people are buying homes; even fewer people are able to qualify for a mortgage. That sure sounds pretty bleak.

I see it differently — and so do the Realtors I speak with who are on top of their game. Realtors are dropping out of the industry at a record pace. Fewer Realtors equals less competition. Consumers are finally treating Realtors with the respect they deserve. The client is willing to pay proper commissions for a real estate professional. The strong Realtors are getting stronger and the weak Realtors are closing up shop. That sure sounds pretty good.

So I challenge you to ask yourself: Are you being consumed by things you have no control over? What consumes your time but isn’t making you any money? Pull yourself away from that and focus on the things you can control – and you’ll control a very bright future.

Posted in Business| Tagged , |

Don’t Be A Weiner!

It’s mind-blowing how a man with a 20-year political career with ambitions to run for NYC mayor can be such a Weiner. Anthony Weiner has crippled his career with a little help from Twitter.

The business lessons here are amazing. Business lessons? I thought he was just a sexting-psycho? Yeah, that’s the personal side. The business side shows how social media can be a danger to your business. Weiner’s business was politics, and he destroyed a lot more than just his business. I often see business owners posting stuff that can only hurt their business. Broadcasting your personal viewpoints on politics, religion and other touchy subjects is sometimes just as offensive to potential clients as lewd photos. Isn’t that just the opposite reason so much time is spent on social media – to connect, network and maybe make a few friends?

The other lesson he taught us is that when you do something wrong, just fess up. The penalty will be painful, but not as painful as when you act arrogant, take people for fools and lie. That’s the kind of behavior, friends, colleagues and clients will never forget.

Don’t be a social media Weiner!

A Bit About Quitting

This is pretty inspirational. I don’t subscribe to never quitting but I do feel most people quit prematurely.

1816 – His family was forced out of their home. He had to work to support them.
1818 – His mother died.
1831 – Failed in business.
1832 – Ran for state legislature – lost.
1832 – Also lost his job – wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get in.
1833 – Borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years of his life paying off this debt.
1834 – Ran for state legislature again – won.
1835 – Was engaged to be married, sweetheart died and his heart was broken.
1836 – Had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.
1838 – Sought to become speaker of the state legislature – defeated.
1840 – Sought to become elector – defeated.
1843 – Ran for Congress – lost.
1846 – Ran for Congress again – this time he won.
1848 – Ran for re-election to Congress – lost.
1849 – Sought the job of land officer in his home state – rejected.
1854 – Ran for Senate of the United States – lost.
1856 – Sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his party’s national convention – get less than 100 votes.
1858 – Ran for U.S. Senate again – again he lost.
1860 – Elected President of the United States.
Abraham Lincoln never quit.

Note: The Abraham Lincoln didn’t quit list has been printed countless times.

Posted in Leadership| Tagged , |

Go Small Business!

National Small Business Week 2011

May 16-20 Washington, DC

Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has proclaimed National Small Business Week to recognize the contributions of small businesses to the economic well-being of America. As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration recognizes this special impact made by outstanding entrepreneurs and small business owners. In 2011, National Small Business Week will honor the estimated 27.2 million small businesses in America. Small businesses are major contributors to the strength of the American economy. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business. They also create 60-80 percent of new jobs in the country. Small businesses drive innovation, create 21st century jobs and increase U.S. competitiveness.
Source: http://www.nationalsmallbusinessweek.com

I Love Lucy

I love Lucy
Tuesday, May 17 2011
Did you ever just click with someone? I did with Lucy. It was love at first recipe. An outsider would think our friendship odd; we were born decades apart, and she was beautiful and smart, and I am, well… I can cook. Lucy is my friend’s mom and recently, she passed away.

By Larry Vivola

Lucy and I spent hours sharing food-related memories, swapping cooking tips and reminiscing about meals shared with family and friends. Our strongest bond was our common belief that shared meals sustain cherished relationships.

I love writing for In&Out, and Lucy fed that love. As soon as Lucy read my article, she followed up with an email to me. She had me trained like a Pavlovian dog; I would wait for her email, which always included praise for my article. I loved Lucy’s seal-of-approval. She was president of my fan club, a fancy title for a club with two members: the other is my mom, (and sometimes my wife). If she felt my article didn’t run frequently enough— Oh boy, my publisher would receive an email, too. No stamp-of-approval, just a list of 22 reasons why I should get more ink.

Lucy’s most flattering gesture was the ‘Larry File’ she maintained of my columns. It doesn’t get any better than that, folks.
One Christmas, Lucy told me I reminded her of the roly-poly, gregarious Dom DeLuise. A Clooney comparison may have boosted my ego a bit more but, baby, where I come from, a compliment is a compliment. She gave me Dom’s cookbook, “Eat This…It’ll Make You Feel Better.” His book, like my articles, is chock-full of loving anecdotes inspired by food. Shared meals feed more than the body; they feed our souls. This is the philosophy that Lucy and I will always share.

I hope you enjoy this recipe from Dom’s cookbook. We miss you, Lucy.

Ciao, Lucy!

Chicken Dominick
(or Chicken Lucy)

4 boneless chicken breasts, split
flour
1 clove of garlic
2 tbsp. butter
1 green pepper, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
3 oz. white wine
Place chicken breasts between 2 pieces of wax paper; pound them so they look like cutlets. Dredge in flour. Sauté garlic in butter, remove when brown. Add chicken breasts and sauté 1 minute on each side. Add green and red peppers, mushrooms, and wine. Shake the pan. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.

Posted in Coaching| Tagged , |