Rank your business on the SWAG Meter

Last week we talked about you and your business’s SWAG. That’s:
S = Self Confidence. Customers trust you because you believe in yourself.
W = Wonderment. Your confidence creates their feelings of being amazed.
A = Assertiveness. You don’t wait for something to happen. You make it happen.
G = Greatness. You don’t settle for just being good. You aim to be great.
To find out where you stand on the “SWAG Meter” score yourself between 1 being low and 25 high for Self Confidence, Wonderment, Assertiveness and Greatness. Be absolutely honest with yourself. Don’t rate yourself better than you know you are.
Add the numbers. What’s your score?
90 – 100 is excellent. You are highly profitable helping customers. Keep it going.
80 – 89 is pretty good, but what can you do to really step it up to hit the next level?
70 – 79 means you need to pay more attention. Your business is not standing out. What are others you admire doing?
60 – 69 means you may not be in the right business. Is it time for an overhaul? Start by discussing it with customers. What more do they want from you?
We share such ideas in “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.”
For a $20 personally autographed copy, contact us at 803-359-7633 or email JerryBellune@yahoo.com.
Copyright 2019, The Bellun e Co., Inc.

Have you and your business got SWAG?

If you are an entrepreneur or business owner striving to grow your business, you need SWAG. This attracts and keeps customers, says our friend MaryEllen Tribby.
MaryEllen has a simple SWAG Meter you can use to gauge your SWAG and how it relates to your business success.
S = Self Confidence. Customers want to feel you can help them grow, teach new things or solve their problems. You believe in yourself and your ability.
W = Wonderment. Your confidence creates feelings of being surprised or amazed. You encourage and help them find solutions to their problems.
A = Assertiveness. You don’t wait for something to happen. As one with SWAG you make things happen. This builds trust and confidence in your resourcefulness.
G = Greatness. As one with SWAG, you don’t settle for just being good or average.
As Jim Collins wrote in “Good to Great” good is the enemy of great. You won’t settle for just being good. You strive each day to be your best. You aim to make a real difference.
Next week we’ll show you how to measure your business’s SWAG.
We share such ideas in “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.”
For a $20 personally autographed copy, contact us at 803-359-7633 or email JerryBellune@yahoo.com . To get an electronic edition for $9.99 on Amazon, click here.
Copyright 2019, The Bellune Co., Inc.

Be obnoxiously friendly

Pat Conroy loved to show visitors around Fripp Island.
He lived on the SC island at the end of US 17.
One visitor was his New Yorker father in law.
Pat waved and spoke to all his neighbors.
He knew all of them by name.
His father in law was amazed by this camaraderie.
Most Yankees are surprised by our friendliness.
“Pat,” he asked, “are you running for mayor?”

The late novelist loved to tell this story on himself.
He called himself “obnoxiously friendly.”
He bowled over fellow writer Cassandra King.
The first time they met, he grilled her about herself.
Cassandra admitted she is “extremely private.” 
But she said she “fell under his spell.”
She ended up marrying Pat.

Pat, she said, quizzed readers at book signings.
He wanted to know about them, hear their stories.
Of course, his readers loved his attention.
Many of their stories ended up in his books.

You’ve already figured out why I’m telling you this.
Being obnoxiously friendly is a great writer strategy.
People are hungry for appreciation and recognition.
They get too little of it at home or at work.

When we show interest, they open like flowers.
Sincere interest in someone is a compliment.

My wife says I “interview” strangers. 
She’s right. I do. 
It’s more than just a journalistic skill.
I’m interested in others.
I hear about their frustrations and problems.
Their likes, loves, triumphs and victories.

It takes little prompting from me.
Strangers enrich my life with their stories.
You’re smart. Let them enrich yours, too.

You will love The Little Red Book of Compelling Writing.
It’s full of stories like the one on Pat Conroy.
A $20 advance order is a great investment.
We will have a printed copy to you in a few weeks.
For advance orders only we’ll pay the $4 shipping.

To advance order a copy you can:
1. Call Katie at 803-359-7633.
2. Email me at JerryBellune@yahoo.com

Maverick entrepreneurs’ independent lives

When anyone asks what’s so special about maverick entrepreneurs, we laugh. It’s like asking why your faith is important to you or why it is that we look forward to each day with such enthusiasm.
“If I have to explain it to you,” I say, “you probably won’t understand it.” But here goes anyway.
• Mavericks are free spirits – innovators who see opportunity in every challenge in their lives.
• They aren’t looking for a warm stall, a bag of oats and a grooming at the barn.
• They are willing to live by their wits, take educated risks, and push the envelope.
• The comfort of a corporate cubicle, a steady pay check, a 9-5 life and dreaming about the weekend is not for them.
• They aren’t foolish risk takers, irresponsible or idle dreamers. They look for opportunities, knowing there will be risks but if they take action, most of their endeavors work out – and pay off.
• They know if this venture doesn’t work, something else will. Just keep looking and working. Pursue your vision, correct your course and swing for the fences.
None of this tells you how to do it, just why. In our book, “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies,” we not only tell you why but show you how.
For a $20 personally autographed copy, contact us at 803-359-7633 or email JerryBellune@yahoo.com .
Copyright 2019, The Bellune Co., Inc.

Your local advertising drives higher sales

Local advertising is a small business’s best bet to attract customers, say advertising experts Brian and Michelle Mattingly.
A simple, targeted approach to advertising will almost always yield better results if you work with limited dollars.
A primary benefit of local advertising is forming local connections. These are more powerful than the shallow, national connections big corporations try to form with a geographically diverse audience.
You need to continue to do digital advertising with social media, your website and online offers to your customers. But Brian and Michelle advise not to underestimate the value in local print advertising.
While others are investing their last pennies in digital campaigns, your audience is saturated with online advertising. You need a presence online, but it’s smart to set aside a healthy portion of your budget to invest in local newspapers.
Find an affordable, reliable printer to help you develop creative local campaigns with booklets, brochures, calendars, catalogs and other tangible resources.
Your dollar will stretch farther and you can measure the results.
We share such ideas in “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.”
For a $20 personally autographed copy, contact us at 803-359-7633 or email Jerrybellune@yahoo.com .
Copyright 2019, The Bellune Co., Inc.

8 questions, millions of answers

Ken Blanchard, co-author of “The One-Minute Manager,” “Raving Fans” and other books, has a challenge for us.
As business owners and community leaders, we need to spend time developing a personal mission statement by answering these 4 short questions:
• Why am I in the world?
• What is my overarching purpose?
• What would I like people to say about me after I’m gone?
• What difference will it make that I was here after all?
Our next step is to identify our personal values by answering these questions:
• What is really important to me?
• What do I stand for?
• What 3 values do I want to live by?
• Which values are most important?
This takes soul searching and quiet, thoughtful time. We can’t rush it.
Why is it worth the time and effort?
When we really know who we are, we operate more efficiently and calmly while making often tough decisions.
Even better, we’ll also be able to bring out the magnificence in others. Isn’t that the most important role of a leader?
We share such ideas in “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.”
For a $20 personally autographed copy, contact us at 803-359-7633 or email JerryBellune@yahoo.com . Get an electronic copy by visiting Amazon.

Marketing lesson: Can Absolut vodka teach us anything?

Marketing lesson: Have your products and services become commodities? Are you forced to compete on price, discounts and other concessions?
Take a lesson from a former dish washer and French master marketer, Michel Roux.
He made Absolut an iconic vodka with snob appeal in the booze market.
As head of the firm importing Absolut from Sweden, he engineered a wildly successful marketing campaign. It lifted Absolut from obscurity to No. 1 imported vodka.

For more winning ideas. Visit the Lexington Chronicle Business page.

I’ll bet you that you cannot tell a difference in the taste of any expensive vodkas.
What made Absolut desirable was not its taste but its snob appeal.
Roux’s ads started simple. An early version depicted a bottle of Absolut under a halo with the slogan “Absolut Perfection.” Artists and other celebrities including Andy
Warhol were paid to promote the brand.

More strategies @ the Lexington Chronicle Business page.

To reach trendsetters, Roux advertised in magazines aimed at wealthy people and those who wanted to emulate them.
You should explore Roux’s strategies in promoting other top brands and think of applying them to your own products.
You can only escape the commodity trap by using similar strategies.
We share such ideas in “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.”
For a $20 personally autographed copy, contact us at 803-359-7633 or email JerryBellune@yahoo.com.

How to win the war with your rivals

Remember what Sun Tzu taught us in his “Art of War” – know your strengths and weaknesses and your competitors’, too.
Our competitors are in print, online, on the air, on cable, you name it. We never under-estimate them. They are savvy rivals.
We watch their every move. We not only need to know what they’re doing but to steal their best ideas as our own.
We read their publications, listen to them on radio, watch them on cable or TV, see who is doing business with them and how their customers invest their precious advertising dollars with them. What are their advertisers offering that our readers, online and in print, might be interested in?
If they offer products or services our people need and want, we would be remiss to fail to give our rivals’ advertisers an opportunity to make offers to our readers, too.
Does that make sense? Your rivals are fishing the same pond for the same fish.
Test their products and services. Check how they treat customers. Even hire a Secret Shopper to check them out.
This is fair, legal … and smart. You won’t be blind-sided ever again. And you’ll never be ashamed that you failed to do this.
We share such ideas in “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.”
For a $20 personally autographed copy, contact us at 803-359-7633 or email JerryBellune@yahoo.com .

See more great content on this blog or by visiting https://www.lexingtonchronicle.com/business.

Copyright 2019, The Bellune Co., Inc.

Anecdotal lede: Watch for mushroom clouds

I confess to being an advocate of storytelling.
I also favor the anecdotal lede – with caution.
I once taught this to my Seton Hall students, tongue in cheek.
The story is about a Russian nuclear attack:

Mary Jones went to retrieve the morning paper and guess what?
A giant mushroom cloud hung over her neighborhood.
She wondered if it was going to rain.

You may have to overlook my warped sense of humor.

Our friend Denny Hatch is an ace copywriter.
He cautions us to use this technique with grace and style. 
He certainly doesn’t want us to beat it into chopped liver.

“Your 1st 10 words are more important than the next 10,000,” he writes.
“All writers are in the business of selling. 
“Your single objective is to sell the reader in going on to the next sentence, next paragraph, all the way to the end.” 
This is true of every literary form – letter, article or advertisement. 

“The place to start selling is the lede
“What’s a lede
“The introduction to a news article, the first sentence. 
“The ‘lede’ is a deliberate misspelling of ‘lead.’ 
When printing was done with lead type, it prevented confusion.
The lede not only tells what the story is about.
It invites the reader to read further.

Denny believes many of us start by:
• Clearing our throats.
• Rolling up our sleeves.
• Rubbing our hands together.
By then our poor readers have already gone on to Page 2. 
Create a lousy lede and chances are the reader will go no further.

In “Capitol Weekly,” Will Shuck wrote:
“I am sick to death of the anecdotal lede, that annoying habit of news writers to start a straightforward story by painting a quaint little picture.
“If the story is about a bill requiring pet owners to spay or neuter their dogs (just to pick an imaginary example), the anecdotal lead first tells us how much Janey Johnson loves Missy, her cocker spaniel.
“No doubt Janey and Missy are a lovely pair, but a lot of us have jobs and kids and commutes and precious little time to muse about Missy’s reproductive potential.”

My humble advice is to use the anecdotal lede when it makes sense.
Have an exceptionally good one to open your story.
Take a hint from that fabled novelist Snoopy.
He always opened with “It was a dark and stormy night …”
Mine might open with an early morning mushroom cloud.
Pick your own poison.

Advance orders for my $19.99 “Little Red Book of Compelling Writing” are going at a $10 discount – only $9.99.
Get your order in for the eBook today. It will be out in July.
Call Katie at 803-359-7633 or email me at JerryBellune@yahoo.com

Make it fun to do business with you

Dian and Gerald Harmon worked hard to make their concrete business successful and sold it for a bundle long before they were ready to retire. They started a “fun” business – a Christmas tree farm with hay rides, spooky Halloween rides and other events for kids. It was fun and profitable, too.
No matter what kind of business you’re in, find ways to make it fun, too.
Bill and Vickie Shanahan own a collegiate summer baseball team but know they are in the fun and entertainment business.
Last week they unveiled 2 “Fair Food” specials – donut burgers and chocolate covered bananas with sprinkles.
The burger (cheeseburger, too) comes on a sliced glazed donut. The frozen, chocolate covered banana with sprinkles comes on a stick. When their new baseball season opens today, they will also offer corn dogs on a stick, funnel fries and other fair food.
Now ask yourself this:

  1. What can I offer my customers, clients or patients that would be fun but not out of character with my core business?
  2. Ask your best customers, contractors, vendors and employees that question.
    You’ll be delighted by their answers.
    We share such ideas in “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.”
    For a $20 personally autographed copy, contact us at 803-359-7633 or email JerryBellune@yahoo.com .

Copyright 2019, The Bellune Co., Inc.

To see this and other great business content you can also check out the Lexington County Chronicle Business Section. Our E-edition has even more content.