Monday, October 29, 2012

Knowledge Is NOT Power

For generations, society's mantra to us was, "Knowledge is power." And that knowledge equaled power. As long as this continued to be subjective, unproven, society kept singing the mantra.
The Internet comes along, knowledge increases 10,000 percent over night, and society chases the knowledge in greater numbers. More people are getting PhD's and double master degrees than ever before. Stress-related diseases increased 100% last year alone.
What's wrong with this picture?
The subjective is now objective. You don't need any stats for this. Use your instincts. You "know" this already just with your own life. It's time for this cultural trance to awaken from a belief that has now proved itself incorrect.
So, then, what really needs to change?
Well, it didn't ever really change. The ladder was leaning against the wrong wall, that's all. We can't point fingers; we are just now seeing the mantra. The motivational trainers like Tony Robbins sing this daily. What's different is that we no longer can deny the truth of it. My grandma told me long ago, "The proofs in the pudding."
Do you relate to this? Even in a small way? Great! The good news -- it only takes 30 seconds to shift your perspective. That's several 30-second times throughout the day until its totally gone. It will not take long though. The real key that I'm getting into now will override the ole mantra much faster.
The real key to success is action. Think about it. We already have tons of information swirling in our heads that we haven't used. So, when were you going to use it? Someday maybe. When you are sitting in the rocking chair in retirement community? Now, don't get me wrong, it isn't too late to start it then either. But gosh darn it, who would want to wait until them. Not I. And I don't think you either. There's more energy available the younger you are.
Stop chasing more knowledge. Start taking action with what's already available. When you use up what's available, then reach out.
"Action leads to success." Adopt this new mantra. Set the books aside. Pick up your brain instead. Start with a short and quick action plan with a clearly defined goal. Not a "long drawn out take a month to do" plan. Keep it simple. Keep it short. Don't overwhelm your mind with anything else. Then you are returning to the ole' mantra. Don't wait until the kid's soccer game this weekend.
Stop what you're doing. It will only take three minutes. Go ahead; grab the Post-It notes. Aren't they beneath the paper stack to your left? I play Post-It note roulette on my office wall all the time. It's quick, easy, fast, and I can spend more time taking action. In my case, writing more.
Tony Robbins says, "The only thing that makes a difference is ACTION! Action is the foundational key to all success."
Okay, you hesitated. Couldn't find the Post-It notes, huh. Okay, use a full sheet of paper, I won't tell. Write down two goals. Yes, you read right, TWO. They could be something you've been putting off, or two that have been rumbling around in your mind the past few days. Right now, this instant, write. Do it before another distraction occurs. Make it clear in your mind, hold that vision a few seconds, then write the goal down. I don't care if you can't spell it or if the grammar isn't right. As long as you know what it is. Leave the details out, hold the vision, and staple the goal to that vision and bring them together with a finger snap.
Good job! I'm proud of you. Took some extra coaching. But I know you at least have their focus. Promise, you will not move your mind away until you've made two decisions.
Okay, done that. Now write two steps for each decision that you can do today. Now, go ahead, think what can you do right now to start. I know, I know, you're saying, "Catherine, dah, I've already started I wrote two decisions down." You're right. You have already started. Two pats on the back. Now the next step is going to be just as easy. What is it? Remember; take to get it from the knowledge you already have.
Is it lose weight? Then pick up the phone and call a few of the gyms to find out more? What about taking a daily walk or parking in the furthest part of the parking lot when you return from lunch or go shopping? What about not munching on those potato chips while you're reading this?
Do you want to write a book and have been "waiting" for the table of contents to magically appear? Pick up the pen and start wherever the mind is at. Most books are never written from page 1. Take that action.
When you complete that action, figure out the next or start the next. Trust what's already inside of you. It's there. You just haven't used this process frequently enough. Go ahead. Start. The water's fine. You know that.
You will find that once you start taking that first step, the universe will begin to send all that you need. Mix that with what you already have, and then reach for the knowledge. Not before. This is the same story with writing a nonfiction book. Stop researching first and write first. Get all your knowledge out, and then reach.
Set a quick, simple goal, then take action, and see the momentum. Don't reverse it. Okay, I can see you are well on your way today. Now print this article out and reread it tomorrow and the next. Let it move you with inspiration and desire for your dreams to come true.
You deserve that!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Taking Advantage of Trends: Cocooning

One of the biggest established trends on the market front today, and still gathering momentum, is cocooning - the desire to perform the majority of social and cultural interactions (working, entertaining, relaxing, etc.) from home, rather than by going outside the home. This trend was strongly reinforced by the 9/11 tragedy, as many people began to review their lives and, sometimes for the first time, consciously decide how they wanted to live them rather than just letting life happen to them and going with the flow.
This poses an obstacle for many businesses who rely on brick and mortar style storefronts and foot traffic, as well as for those in the entertainment industries who rely on people "going out" for a large part of their income. The advent of home theaters, rec-room "bars" or "cafe corners" - sometimes better stocked and appointed than local business versions - and similar cocooning-based home improvements are becoming more and more popular as people are rediscovering the delights of having friends and family over for social time as opposed to meeting them outside the home in a third-party establishment. This trend is here to stay, according to all economic markers, so what are some of the ways in which your business can take advantage of this trend rather than being diminished by it? Here are some ideas:
1. Create a "house call" option for whatever you do. Now of course this doesn't work in all fields, but you'd be surprised how many it can be extended to, given a little creativity and thought. For example, a new car dealer might consider creating an exclusive "We bring it to you!" option for pre-qualified buyers, where interested parties can submit an application online, choose the model they're interested in from an on-screen "sales lot" and have a sales person drive it to their house for the test-drive and negotiations. Where can your business create a house-call option to encourage cocooners to purchase with you?
2. Reconfigure services and other offerings to allow for in-home variations of previously outside-only availability. For example, the recent boom of home-delivered DVD rentals does just this - you pay a consistent monthly fee and keep the movies as long as you want, sending them back when you're ready to trade them in for new titles. No longer do you need to leave the house to stay home for movie night - the ultimate expression of cocooning. How can you recreate your service or product to meet your customers' desires to stay in?
3. Consider adding "companion services" that make your service or product more attractive to cocooning customers. A pizza delivery service now offers free movie rentals with a qualified purchase as part of their "specials and sales" menu. These creative combinations save customers time and money, and offer strong incentives to remain loyal. How can you partner your offering to create this sort of option for your customers? Hint: what are your customers likely to be doing or needing during or near the time they are using your service/product?
The trend of cocooning offers many challenges to traditional businesses, especially those that rely heavily on showroom sales and foot traffic income. However, with a little creative thinking, you can turn this obstacle to your benefit and pull ahead of the pack where your competitors are concerned. My advice? Stay home one day and examine all the things you do that could be improved or eased by some version of your product or services. See where you hit snags or annoyances in your goal of living, working and having a good time at home. Imagine your ideal customer at home - then do your best to keep him there.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Taking Advantage of Trends

Trendwatchers calls it "Mass Class." Other sources refer to it as "high-touch." Whatever you call it, the trend toward mass availability of high-quality, sophisticated and status-rich products and services is upon us, and businesses who wish to survive in the coming years would be wise to heed it's call. The era of life lived on price-points is fading - people are no longer willing to accept "just barely good enough" items as long as they are the cheapest. They are holding out instead for offerings that reek of quality construction and customized personal attention - gourmet coffees and luxurious imported pastries are taking the place of a quick cup of cheap joe and a snack cake for breakfast, and 200+ thread count, design-embossed linens are the bare minimum, even in the guest room.
Even companies that offer reasonably nice items at affordable prices are going to suffer in this economy - their products simply won't hold up to comparison with the new items coming onto the market to meet this need. And services that offer even good customer service will no longer cut it - you have to offer the sort of personal attention to detail and customer relations that were previously the purview of the personal attendant or butler. You have to know your customer, their tastes, their requirements and their preferences, and you have to be there first, with better quality offerings available in a wide range of customizable options, or you don't stand a chance of holding the attention of this new consumer market.
So how can you take advantage of this growing force in the market? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Create or expand at least a portion of your product line or services into the realm of Cadillac quality - make it resonate with fine engineering and attention to detail. Retrain the sales force to focus on the customer like they would focus on their own purchase, and empower them to sweeten and personalize deals to meet the customer's needs - without the sort of back-and-forth with the management that creates delays and gives prospects time to reconsider their decision.
2. Create a value-add follow-up system so that existing customers are transformed into valued friends of the company. Go beyond offering them special deals and upgrades not available to the general public - these are merely par for the course. Consider sweetening the pot by offering special events, private screening of popular upcoming movies, private concerts with popular bands and similar incentives and rewards available only to existing customers. And make sure that your staff is trained to deal with them as they would a VIP member of a private club - because that's the atmosphere and mindset you need to cultivate if you are going to retain your clientele.
3. Aim your marketing at the "high-end" and exclusive outlets rather than focusing on discount venues and value-based advertising. Create an atmosphere of exclusivity, quality and prestige - make your customers feel smart, well-educated and socially superior for joining with you in their purchasing ventures.
And note the wording in that last sentence, for it encapsulates the heart of this trend - your customers are not "buying from you" anymore, they are partnering with you to improve their quality of life. This is the new mindset to embrace if you want to play a part in the economy of the future - what was once a simple purchase is now a quality of life issue. Welcome to your future.