December 28, 2012

Collaboration - Why Collaborative, Cooperative, Complimentary Sales Efforts Work.

Call it what you will, it’s all pretty much the same. Any time you can build a team of people who call on like customers, and refer those customers to each other, develop a win-win for all involved. It’s formalized/structured networking. BNI groups do this better, on a general business basis, than any others I have seen – they say “Givers Gain”. The giver, by making the referral, is building trust within the customer by recognizing a need and assisting outside their normal business scope. The customer, by receiving the referral has saved time by receiving it from someone they already trust thus shortening their search effort (even if they need to evaluate multiple suitors – one down).  Finally, the receiver of the lead - a warm lead - a sale that is theirs to lose. It still takes follow up with the lead and making the sale – Sales Is All About Numbers – I call this an easy number.

Collaboration multiplies your efforts, reduces risks and creates more opportunity - Why Pay Twice!

Don't play well with others? Learn.


Buy Eat Live Local
Buy Eat Live Local

December 26, 2012

Marketing Materials - Your Message In Your Marketing Material Needs To....

The first step in designing / making your marketing materials is to develop the theme; the message you want to convey or question you want to answer? This might be something as simple as how to fertilize your lawn to as complex as dental improvements and options. It's the message of how you can tie your products and services – and expertise – into answering their questions.  Your message should be completely informational and not a sales pitch. Write with a journalistic style - your words will be more sincere. Your business will also become branded as customers begin to trust you. You will establish credibility and authority, and by the end of your message your customers will know who to go to when they are ready to take the next step in the purchasing process.

Bottom line, the message in your marketing material should create desire, solve a problem, develop an offer and motivate action all at once.  ~KM

December 18, 2012

Localization - Franchising Does Not Mean: "NOT LOCAL"

Too often people think that "franchise" is synonymous with "out-of-town ownership" or "big company ownership".  In some cases this is true, but in most it is not.  The local Dairy Queen, Dunkin' Donuts, Domino's, and KFC are most likely owned by a local resident.  What franchise means to the consumer is consistency and if the consistency is acceptable to us, it also means quality - We know what the "Original Recipe" tastes like whether we are in Arizona, Minnesota or Maine.  Local, in my humble opinion, means local something; either local raw materials and/or local labor and/or local ownership.

ACE Hardware
Think about companies like Ace Hardware. They have made a business of giving the locally owned hardware stores a second life by providing collaborative and cooperative advertising and buying power under one recognizable brand - giving ACE a competitive chance against the big-box stores - without losing that home town ownership, service and feel.  This philosophy is similar to the charter and mission of Time4's Buy.Eat.Live.Local publication and the website.

What "Buy Local" will need to convey - to be successful is "Net Better"; a combination of a competitive price, quality, service, training, a meeting of expectations, a good economic decision, time to obtain, and last, but not least, the Feel Good Magic Dust that comes from knowing we are part of a better future - "Net Better".

December 6, 2012

Re-Urbanization - Let's Start with Reining in the Banks

Until the 1970s, banking was governed primarily by state laws, and banks could do business only in their home states. From the mid-70s through 1999, a series of laws deregulated banking eliminating state lines until banking became completely deregulated; those laws and acts included:
In my opinion, deregulating the banks was one of the biggest mistakes that our government made (allowed) over the last 30 years, but I can only say that in hindsight.  I believed in deregulation of all commerce; only wisdom has taught me differently.

So why did deregulation occur?  Technology, competitive opportunity and expansion, a spreading of the capital to where it was needed, and finally, an economy of scale - a more efficient system.  All of these reasons make sense - most occurred and some did not ("...banks peak in efficiency when they reach the size of a small regional institution". says Stacy Mitchell of The Institute of Self Reliance - watch her TED presentation).

So why was deregulation bad? Very simply, money no longer had to stay close to home.  Banks could invest your money in projects and products anywhere.  Since the idea of business is "to profit", money went to where the most profits could be obtained (the money business is much different than services or manufacturing where location in significant).  Sometimes the money went to bad mortgage instruments - the rules allowed this.  Sure there were problems like the ones the media made big, but things like big bonuses were earned by creative smart people working within the rules - oh yeah... Having banks working within state boundaries would have greatly limited the size of those bonuses as well - simply, the market would not have been as large.

So what is the solution here?  Keep money local - local mortgages, local business, local commerce, local people.  In my opinion, moving banks back to being state regulated would solve the problem.  This is a monumental task that some people would scream out to be impossible to accomplish. It's not.  It was done with ATT (modern history)  and Standard Oil (early in the 20th century); in both cases, the sum of the parts were greater then the whole as competition and creativity boomed.  So, how?  It will be a process much like, but much easier (IMHO) than the aforementioned examples.  Regretfully, only the people would share this interests - the banks, their lobbyists, and most importantly, the money would have no interest in this.  I would be perceived by the money (and thus the media) as a flaming liberal (whatever that means).


hmmmm...  no commercial opportunity here - just more foundation to the Local idea.

December 3, 2012

Buy Local - Ahead of the Sharp Curve - The 1st Step in Re-Urbanization

Part of the re-urbanization of this country is going to be driven by the Buy Local initiatives happening everywhere.  Buy Local initiatives will eventually emphasize a "Net Better" - Price competitive, better service and better products.

One of many Buy Local initiatives
in Maine near the Time4 offices.

Buy Local will take much more than just saying "buy local"; it is much more than a lip service trying to get locals to stay in town rather than going to the malls or online. It is going to take collaborative efforts by local commerce and local politicians working together as well as educating their community.  Buy Local must become a destination. Buy Local must be price and service competitive.  Buy Local will require an online presence of products and services like many grocery stores are trying today.  As a matter of fact, a good Buy Local model will require all the exact products and services that a shopping mall provides to ensure success - plus more - educating the community on why Buy Local is good for them.  This is not an option, this is a must and will happen - it is just going to be a matter of who recognizes this first and takes advantage of the opportunity most.

SOURCE: Civic Economics - "Local Works!"
Study, 2008. Commissioned by Local First.
According to an independent study commissioned
by Local First and conducted by Civic Economics,
approximately 73% more money stays in West Michigan
when consumers choose locally owned and
independent businesses.
By supporting locally owned businesses over their
national competitors, we are supporting our community:

Buy Local initiatives will require:
  • Collaborative Advertising
  • Collaborative customer sharing (being close together or easily cross accessible).
  • Being price competitive with the Internet retailers.
  • Collaboratively educating the community on "Local".
    • reduced energy
    • local jobs
    • higher and broader tax base
      • better schools
      • better roads
      • a safer community
    • face-to-face service
    • less travel time - more leisure time
Even the United States Postal Service (USPS) is getting into the Buy Local game; it's EDDM program and service, possibly its final encore, favors local business and does such at both a price and service level that its competitors cannot match.  EDDM targets local; as finite as an individual mail route (imagine real estate agents, the 500 homes around the one you are selling). - I have wondered if the USPS knew this upfront or was it just an unexpected by-product of their initiatives..

This is what Time4 / LightsOn's Buy.Eat.Live.Local. publication helps to address. The theme / affinity is your hometown.

It takes collaborative efforts in development, entertainment and advertising. This makes "Local" a destination; it makes "Local" the mall.  Some places were created with this in mind (though upscale) like West Palm Beach, Florida's CityPlace.  Some places were converted such as Boulder, Colorado's Pearl Street Mall.

What we will end up with is "self sustaining communities" - a topic in vogue in both political and academia worlds.