Paddle Upstream or Go with the Flow?

Paddle Upstream or Go with the Flow?

From the ScLoHo 2008 archives:
Which would you rather do:

  1. Start at the mouth of the Mississippi and paddle your canoe upstream until you reached Minneapolis,
  2. Or Start in Minneapolis and head downstream until you reached New Orleans and the Atlantic?

The distance is the same.

The obstacles are the same, such as other boats, dams, etc.

The scenery is the same.

The area or territory you cover is the same.

So what’s the difference?

Going with the flow is much, much easier compared to the opposite.

I Googled both options and could not find anyone that made the trip upstream.

But there were plenty of folks that went with the flow. In 2002 a man swimmed the Mississippi in 68 days. A canoe trip takes about three months. It also takes three months for a single drop of water to make the journey. 90 days is the natural flow of the river.

Imagine the extra effort that it would require to paddle upstream? Not only will it take you more than three months, but it will take more resources, more strength and more stamina to fight the currents that are pushing you in the opposite direction.

My guess, is that it would take 2 to 5 times the effort.

And the question is why go against the natural flow?

This story is not about rivers though, but it does paint a very visual word picture.

This story is about marketing and advertising. All too often I have watched well intentioned business owners paddle upstream and fight the factors that they have no control over instead of using those same factors to their advantage.

Marketing and Advertising that goes with the flow, follows the buying processes that people go through. It mimics the relationship factors that we as human beings look for in our lives.

Bottom line, if your advertising and marketing efforts are contradicting the way people buy or want to buy, you are going to spend a lot more time, energy and money to accomplish what could have been done easier if you followed the flow.

If an advertising salesperson tries to sell you ads without these considerations, you just may be paddling in the wrong direction.

Playing Doctor

Playing Doctor

More sales basics from


Diagnose before you prescribe
Sales consultant Nick Maslanka
Think about the last purchase you made where you felt you had a positive experience with the salesperson. Did the salesperson introduce themselves and immediately tell you what they thought you needed? Or did they ask you questions to better understand your situation and accurately diagnose your needs?

Here is a good way to test yourself to see if you understand your customer’s real problems. Think of a specific opportunity you are working on and name two or three challenges that your prospect wants your capabilities to help them resolve. In most cases, this is the easy part.

Now comes the hard part. Ask yourself, “What bad thing will continue to happen if they don’t do business with us?” It could be that their revenue won’t grow, they will lose market share, miss a goal, etc. Obviously, it varies based on product or service.

But if you can’t answer the question, chances are your prospect can’t either.

The basic principle here is to diagnose before you prescribe. When you can answer the question, “What bad thing will continue to happen if they don’t do business with us?”, you are ready to provide your prospect with a recommended solution. Challenge yourself to answer that question for your clients. They will reward you with their business.

Staying Connected with The Facebook Birthday Feature

Staying Connected with The Facebook Birthday Feature

Last week was my Birthday.  Another trip around the sun completed as a friend likes to say.

One of the cool features of Facebook is that it tells you that it is your friends birthday. I use it nearly everyday to send my friends a birthday greeting and initiate a conversation.  If I’m planning ahead, I’ll even pay attention to the weekly email I receive that tells me who is going to be celebrating in the next 7 days.

Do I care that I get wished Happy Birthday by gobs of people?  Not really.

But wait.

Because I have other motives, relationship motives.

If a person pushes the buttons on Facebook to wish me a Happy Birthday, and on their birthday, I do the same, that’s two opportunities every year to start a conversation.  A chance to connect, see how the other person is doing, find out what’s new, and so on…

About 1/2 way through my birthday I stopped counting but more than 25% of my Facebook friends had wished me a Happy Birthday either online, in person or via email or some other social media site.   I took the time to thank each and everyone of them (I hope) and by doing so, I renewed the connection.


That’s what this social media stuff is all about anyway.  Relationships and Connections.  Those of us who also use social media professionally call it engagement.

My advice to you today is simple.  Get on Facebook and make sure your birthday is public so others can wish you a Happy Birthday and do the same for others.

Are You Ready if They Call Your Name?

If you were called on to speak on a subject in front of a group people for 5 minutes, could you do it?

Do people know you well enough to know what to ask you?

A couple weeks ago the 43rd Social Media/Marketing Breakfast Fort Wayne had their final gathering for 2014 and our host Kevin Mullett asked the attendees to write down 3 social media questions that they want to know more about.  Then he asked the room to name someone in the room that they wanted to hear address the question.  Derrick, Dirk,  Alex and myself were all requested by our peers to do an impromptu talk. I was asked to speak about Lead Generation and Social Media.


Thanks Kevin for taping and sharing this on Facebook and thanks Peter for asking the original question and Brandon who asked the follow up question in the video.

Next year I’ll write a series on this topic and share it here.

But back to my original questions:

Can you give an impromptu talk for 5 minutes?   What do you need to do to be prepared to do this?

Do your peers know you well enough to know what your areas of expertise are?  What do you need to do to better communicate to others what you are good at?

In the meantime, I invite your comments and questions anytime.

Customer Service on a Saturday Night

Customer Service on a Saturday Night

Does serving your customers come natural to you and your staff? Or do you have to train them to over and over to do the right thing?

A few weeks ago my wife came home from work on a Saturday afternoon and asked me to check out one of her tires that was a bit low.

Kathy had just driven 30 minutes on a nearly flat tire with a nail in it.

I decided to get it patched if it was possible and while she was unwinding from work and preparing for our evening out, I drove off and went to the nearest tire store, a Goodyear shop a couple miles away.

Good news: They were open until 7pm and it was only 4:45.

Bad news: They were short handed and couldn’t fit me in until Sunday.

Good news: Chris, the service manager would check a couple other Goodyear shops to see if they can repair the tire and he found one a few minutes away.  He filled my tire and off I went.

15 minutes later I walked into the New Haven Goodyear shop and Augie was waiting for me.  He found my wife’s car in the Goodyear computer network and discovered that she bought 2 tires nearly 4 years ago and they were covered under a warranty.  We had a 2 out of 4 chance that the nail was in one of those two tires and it turns out it was.

Another 20 minutes later and they handed me the keys along with a copy of the no charge work order and a quote for new tires since these were going to need replaced in a month or two.

Altogether, it took a little over an hour from the time my wife came home and told me about her tire and I was back with it all taken care of and we were out the door again on a Saturday night.

The customer service that Chris and Augie provided was not dictated by a training manual.  Or if it was, they did it so effortlessly and naturally that it was genuine customer service by real people, not a corporate memo.

Take a step back and look at what they did:

  1. Chris told me he could not solve my problem the way I wanted him to. (Fix my tire.)
  2. Chris offered a couple solutions. (Fix my tire the next day or find another shop that could fix my tire now.)
  3. Chris found a shop that I could drive to and that would fix my tire now.
  4. Chris filled my tire with air so I could safely drive to the other stop.
  5. Augie was ready to fix my tire when I arrived at his shop.
  6. Augie checked to see if my wife’s car was in their system and it was.
  7. Augie informed me that depending on which tire had the nail in it, it might be covered under warranty and if that was the case, it would cost me nothing to repair.
  8. Augie got me in and out quickly and provided me with a price guaranteed for 3 months for new tires .

Each of those 8 steps built upon the previous step.  If Chris had simply stopped at step 1 without offering any alternatives, he would have done his job, period.  But it was the true customer service that happened next that made a difference worth sharing.

Learn and apply this lesson yourself.


Negotiating Basics

Negotiating Basics

For those new to the world of sales, a few negotiating basics from

Ask For Something In Return

Sometimes concessions are necessary in order to get a deal done. Granting a concession may even go a long way toward earning a prospect’s trust.

But even in a case where granting the concession is the best way to create a win-win outcome, it’s often best to:

— Tell the prospect you need to consider the request first, and

— Ask for something in return (e.g., a higher volume purchase or a long-term contract).

Granting a concession immediately (especially a price concession) sends a message that salespeople don’t stand by the inherent value of their offer.

It also makes buyers wonder if they might be entitled to additional concessions.

As a safeguard, some salespeople may even ask (before granting a concession), “If I can get my company to agree to the terms we’ve outlined, do you see any other reason you wouldn’t move forward with the sale?”

It ensures the prospect won’t ask for additional concessions and it moves you one step closer to finalizing the deal.

Source: Based in part on 7 Strategies to Build Negotiating Power, by Geoffrey James

Revisiting “A Better View”

Revisiting “A Better View”

January 2006 I wrote a blog post titled A Better View.

Now, nearly 9 years later on the eve of my 55th birthday, I’m updating and reposting it:

For the past 50+ years that I have been roaming this planet, I have learned a couple of things:
1. There are very few absolutes. When someone says the word “Always” or “Never”, I tend to dismiss them. Years ago my Mom taught me this lesson. Sort of like the sentence, “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times, don’t exaggerate.”
2. Stay true to your values. If you wander away from them, turn around and run back to your values. Your own values is one of the few things that make you distinctly, YOU.
3. Know what your priorities are, so that when opportunities for change come up, you can decide with your head and your heart.
4. God does not leave us or forsake us. We are the ones that leave. And He always welcomes us back. This is one of the few absolutes in life.
5. Listen to your spouse and others whom you love and love you. Even if you totally disagree with what they say or what they believe, there is so much to learn from each other and there is a reason for what they are saying and believing. Listen not just for the words, but also the belief and passions behind those words.
6. Forgive. Yourself and others too.
7. And, Always be a student of Life.


UnFollowing Some Tweeps

UnFollowing Some Tweeps

Twitter has been a favorite communication tool of mine since I first signed up in 2008.

It helped me connect with a bunch of folks locally and around the world.

The ScLoHo persona really became public and well known due to it being my Twitter handle.

But as I prepare for 2015, I’ve been making some changes in my activity and that includes unfollowing some people on Twitter that I wasn’t really following anyway.

Before I began this pruning process, I had over 4000 followers and was following about 2600.

As I write this article at the end of November, my follower count is just under 4000 and it may drop.

I don’t really care, because I am more about building value than a bunch of followers that I’ll never interact with.

By the way, way back when I was only following a few hundred Tweeps, it was getting unmanageable so here’s what I did…

Twitter Lists.

Everyone I followed I added to a list or two.  There were lists like Fort Wayne or Out of Town Hoosiers. And there is one list that if I was following you, it was the list you wanted to be on.  It’s called the RF list.

RF stands for Really Follow.

When I have my laptop open I use TweetDeck.  I have a few columns set up to watch but the main one is the RF list. Unless you are on that list, I’m not seeing your tweets.

In order to do my pruning I started looking at all 2600 Tweeps I was officially following and decided if they were a keeper or not.

I’ll be continuing this practice through out the new year and get down to a few hundred again that I am following.  If you want to follow me go ahead.

A couple of observations and insights over the last few years:

When I started on Twitter I followed nearly anyone that followed me.  Then as that number grew to over 1000 I began to always make sure I had more people following me than I was following.  This gives the illusion that you are worth following.

For awhile I was pretty active on Twitter and ignoring Facebook and the other social media platforms.  That changed a couple years ago when I started working full time in Social Media and needed to really crank up my use of Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

Now I’m still on Twitter but I also do daily updates on Facebook and weekly postings on Linked In.

Let me ask you…

What social media platforms are you using and what changes are you planning or have you made recently?