Has commiserating become a national pastime?

Posted by John Park on Feb 26th, 2009
Feb 26

I am vowing to omit the following word from my vocabulary for 1 full week.
And, I will start immediately after this post goes live.
These days, it’s hard to escape the constant doom and gloom of the economy.  At every turn, there is some statistic to reemphasize over and over again how weak the current economy is.  If you believe everything you hear (especially from the 24hr news channels), you might even think that we’ve entered in to the abyss with no hope of return or survival.
I’ve also observed and probably have participated in a growing phenomenon.  Commiserating about the economy has become a national pastime.  I would say this is especially true in the workplace.  Instead of talking about sports, last night’s TV show or some hot new gadget, we seem to be finding solace in each other’s misery.  In fact, I’ve never been around so many econ majors in all my life.  All of a sudden, everyone has some crazy statistic supporting why the whole world is coming to an end soon.  After months of this nonsense, I’ve finally decided to do something about it.
Well… Enough is enough!
As a business owner, embracing this negativity which often turns in to stress and anger is especially dangerous.  I am not saying to deny what is happening.  I am just asking… how does it help to constantly dig deeper in to the abyss in a business setting.  As leaders of our organizations, we must work diligently to create a culture that does not fall prey to the recession for all of the wrong reasons.  Leading by example is one of the strongest characteristics of a leader.  Somewhere along the path of your life, you might have met a cold-calling CEO or you might recall the scene from Patton when the WWII general stood directly in the path of an on-coming German fighter plane with only his pearl-handle pistol in hand.  We remember these things for a reason.  Give your employees, team members and clients a reason to not only remember you but to be inspired by you.
Here are some ”Red Flags” to look out for in your business setting.
1)  Stop the internal commiserating around the water cooler (coffee pot).  Help them change the subject.
2)  Discourage the passing of “economic doom” propaganda in the business setting.
3)  Train your employees and team members on the negative impact of commiserating with clients.  This is a big one.
4)  And most importantly, don’t use and accept the economic condition as an automatic scapegoat.  Sometimes, a marketing idea didn’t pan out because it was just a bad idea.  Sometimes, you didn’t get the deal because you just did a poor job in the sales process.  NOT everything is the fault of the economy.  If you accept this scapegoating from yourself and from your team, you will find your business deteriorating over time even when times get better.
Say it with me “I will no longer use the economy as an automatic scapegoat for everything that goes wrong in my business.”
If you’re up to it… take the vow with me.
Starting now — GO!

“Each golden sunrise ushers in new opportunites for those who retain faith in themselves, and keep their chins up.  No one has ever seen a cock crow with its head down.  Courage to start and willingness to keep everlastingly at it are the requisites for success.  Meet the sunrise with confidence.  Fill every golden minute with right thinking and worthwhile endeavor.  Do this and there will be joy for you in each golden sunset”  Alonzo Newton Benn

Are You The World’s Greatest Business Mind?

Posted by John Park on Feb 17th, 2009
Feb 17

Every once in a while, a viral marketing video comes along that’s worth passing along.  I received this one from a client today.  It might be one of the most innovative viral videos I’ve seen yet.  It’s also guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.  I know… Are they making money with this?  I am not sure but they got me and others to write about it.  You won’t be able to resist passing it along.
So… KUDOS to The Message Group, the Australian company behind this viral video.

Business Discounting — The Rules of Engagement

Posted by John Park on Feb 15th, 2009
Feb 15

If you’re running a business, it’s pretty tough these days to avoid offering your products and services at a discount.  Everywhere you turn, there are sales, promotions and giveaways to entice the all elusive buyer.  Offering incentives is a good thing but like all marketing endeavors, there are some basic rules of engagement you should abide by to garner maximum results.
Here is a quick refresher for you.
1)  If you sell a product that costs less than $75, use percentages instead of actual dollar figures.  10% off of $25 sounds a lot better than $2.50 off.  There are exceptions like low cost food items but this is generally the rule to follow.
2)  ALWAYS add a time limit.  This creates a sense of urgency to act now.
3)  Offering a product for free when it already has an established value is very powerful.  I am referring to the timeless tactic of “2 for 1″.  Let’s face it.  We just love these offers.
4)  If the product or service does not have a clear established value, you must clearly define one.  What sounds better?
- Buy a coat and get a cashmere scarf for free!
- Buy a coat and get a cashmere scarf valued at $75 for free!
5)  Consider marketing loss leaders.  This is a strategy in which a business offers a product or service at a price that is not profitable for the sake of offering another product or service at a greater profit or to attract new business relationships.  Have you ever walked through Ikea?  Do you remember the large baskets at every corner promoting $5 clocks and desk lamps?
6)  If you offer a service, let them try it for free.  Use this only when you have complete faith and confidence in the value of your service.  Use a white hat (ethical) approach.  Don’t charge their credit card just because they forgot to cancel the free trial.  Allow them to upgrade to a pay service.  Establish a value for what you’re letting them try for free.
7)  If you sell a product that can be sold on an on-going basis, give them an initial purchase price that is significantly lower than your regular price.  Again, you must have complete faith and confidence in the value of your product.  For example, a manufacturer of rubber gaskets might offer a new prospect a significantly low price for the initial shipment.  And, if the new customer loves the product, you now have an on-going repeat customer.  Again, establish a value for the initial purchase.
8)  Don’t be a Business Discount Wimp?  This is what I call the “What would you do?” rule.  Remember, you are trying to inspire buyers to act.  You won’t do this by offering little to no savings and by preloading your offers with cumbersome conditions.  Just ask yourself, “Would I be inspired to act on this offer?”  Be honest.  You know the answer.
9)  Don’t forget the SECOND reason why you are offering an incentive.  The first reason is obvious.  It’s to generate immediate revenues.  The second rule might not be so obvious.  By offering a product or service at a discount, you are initiating a new business relationship.  And if you take care of this new relationship properly, it should garner you many more sales down the road for years to come.  Be careful about being too short-sighted.  In my opinion, the second reason is more important than the first.
Until Next Time…
“Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated.  You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.” David Lloyd George

The Recess Ends — a nation back to work

Posted by John Park on Feb 12th, 2009
Feb 12


Today, I want to tell you about a couple of young guys from my adopted hometown of Irvine, CA.  The two brothers Austin and Brian Chu are driving across the country in their beat-up minivan in an effort to produce a documentary about the current recession devastating our country.  They are basically doing this on their own dime and are getting some serious press for their worthwhile objective.  They are young, full of energy and probably still idealistic enough to get it done right.  Check out their web site.  And if you can spare it, make a donation.  Any amount will do.  It will pay for some gas or maybe their next greasy meal at some diner in the middle of the country.
In Austin’s own words…
From January 24 to April 30, I will visit the major, most impoverished cities in the United States, from Los Angeles to New York. I will interview everyday Americans: rich, poor, black, white, etc. I will interview students, families, and single adults. In addition, a large portion of the story will be the voices of both small businesses and large corporations. Businesses are shutting down and laying off. Recently, Sharper Image shutdown all major operations; DHL is closing down all domestic operations; Citigroup laid off 53,000 jobs; Chrysler shutdown their plants for a month. And I got laid off on December 5th, 2008. I subsequently applied for unemployment for the first time on December 8th, 2008. We all share a common story– I am going to capture and share that story.

Visit The Web Site — http://therecessends.com/

Feb 8


Well, here is a select list of what is included in the hotly debated Economic Stimulus Package.  This particular list is based on what the Republicans and the Democrats cannot agree on.
There is probably a good and valid reason for every one of these programs.  I believe the question is about timing and the purpose of this bill.  I thought the purpose was to create immediate and sustainable jobs.  What do you think of this list?
The one that jumped out at me was the $650 million to save those people still using old analog TVs.  I wonder how many new TVs you can buy with that money instead of buying the soon to be outdated digital converters?  Hmmmmm… I don’t remember anyone giving me a credit or money when my Beta Tape Player became obsolete.
I also love the 248 million to buy new furniture for the Department of Homeland Security.  What are they sitting on now?  Wait… Don’t answer that.

As you review this list, keep in mind that every dollar we spend now will be passed on to our children and grandchildren for generations to come.  We won’t even let our kids out the door without gloves or a hat.  And yet, we seem to be turning a blind-eye to the massive debt we are throwing squarely on their shoulders.  Did I mention that our lead creditors will be countries like China?
• $2 billion earmark to re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant in Illinois that the Department of Energy defunded last year because it said the project was inefficient.
• A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film.
• $650 million for the digital television converter box coupon program.
• $88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship).
• $448 million for constructing the Department of Homeland Security headquarters.
• $248 million for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters.
• $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees.
• $400 million for the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent STD’s.
• $1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs.
• $125 million for the Washington sewer system.
• $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities.
• $1 billion for the 2010 Census, which has a projected cost overrun of $3 billion.
• $75 million for “smoking cessation activities.”
• $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges.
• $75 million for salaries of employees at the FBI.
• $25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction.
• $500 million for flood reduction projects on the Mississippi River.
• $10 million to inspect canals in urban areas.
• $6 billion to turn federal buildings into “green” buildings.
• $500 million for state and local fire stations.
• $650 million for wildland fire management on forest service lands.
• $1.2 billion for “youth activities,” including youth summer job programs.
• $88 million for renovating the headquarters of the Public Health Service.
• $412 million for CDC buildings and property.
• $500 million for building and repairing National Institutes of Health facilities in Bethesda, Maryland.
• $160 million for “paid volunteers” at the Corporation for National and Community Service.
• $5.5 million for “energy efficiency initiatives” at the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration.
• $850 million for Amtrak.
• $100 million for reducing the hazard of lead-based paint.
• $75 million to construct a “security training” facility for State Department Security officers when they can be trained at existing facilities of other agencies.
• $110 million to the Farm Service Agency to upgrade computer systems.
• $200 million in funding for the lease of alternative energy vehicles for use on military installations.
List Source: CNN

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