Peter Sandeen

Peter Sandeen

Contact: phone +358 41 433 0144 / Email (contact {ät} petersandeen {dot) com) / Twitter / Google+

Leap Day Time Management Lessons

I’ve always thought leap day is the most interesting day of the year. But this year, it’s much more than just the day that corrects the “flaw” of our time system. It’s our wedding day! (And no, I’m not blogging on our wedding day.)

Anyway I decided to share the three most important lessons about time management I’ve learned during the preparations for the wedding. I wish I’d written this post a couple of months ago; our wedding preparations may’ve gone smoother.

Cost of Unmotivated Employees – How Much are You Willing to Lose?

Do you have employees? If you do, are they all motivated to do their best, every day?

If you’re not certain that they are motivated, odds are they’re not. The cost of having unmotivated employees is something many business owners avoid thinking about; it’s that unnerving…

The first thing that pops into the heads of most business owners is unmotivated sales people.

Review: Good to Great by Jim Collins

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t

Rating: 5/5

Good enough isn’t good enough for some companies. And those companies become great companies. Do you want to do that? The book tells you everything you need to know to go from good to great. In fact you may even get the impression it’s easy.

Jim Collins, with the research group, studied what exactly makes a company perform much better than the market or their competitors. I think the principles they found behind the great performance are what you’d expect them to be (except for one). But most people, me included, tend to avoid them because they’re not easy or “fun” to follow.

Top 3 Common Customer Service Mistakes

Customer service is the face of a company. Screw it up, and the entire company will crumble. Everybody knows this. Yet most companies don’t ever train their customer service people beyond basic familiarization, unlike sales people who are bombarded with training.

Not even the best products save a company with poor customer service. Some online companies can survive with poor customer service, but only because most customers don’t ever need it (this applies also to offline companies where customers serve themselves; grocery stores, etc.).

What are the most common customer service mistakes? These all significantly affect what your customers think about you. Make just one of these and they’ll probably leave unsatisfied.

7 Questions You Must Ask Before Marketing

There are countless aspects to think about when you start creating a marketing message. Here are seven that you must ask before doing anything else.

1. Who are you targeting?

“My customers/prospects” isn’t the answer. Not even close. But still that’s the most common answer.

You need to know which customers/prospects in particular you’re targeting with each marketing message. You can and you should segment people into buyer personas.

If you try to speak everyone, you speak to no one. Don’t try to please everyone with one message; no one’s interested in average or the mediocrity.

Review: All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin

All Marketers are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World

Rating: 5/5

In typical Seth Godin style the book is relatively short and only discusses one idea. But as usual that’s specifically what makes it so good. The one idea is explained exceptionally well with examples and demonstrations. You’re left with a desire to apply the idea into your business (or blog).

In “All Marketers are Liars” Seth Godin says that marketing is storytelling. These stories are created, told, heard, and retold. How to get people to even hear your story can be challenging. And even more so to get it repeated. But with a great story you will succeed.

How to Approach Specific People in 3 Simple Steps

As a marketer/blogger you sometimes need to target specific customers, businesses, and medias. That person/business may or may not have been in any contact with you. And it’s very possible they’ve never even heard of you. So, how do you approach them?

There’s a simple three-step approach to this. And the same steps apply whether your prospect is a person, a company, or any other entity (even a blog).

Step 1 – Research

Before you make any contact with the person, do your homework. Google their name for a start, but don’t think that would be nearly enough. Your goal is to find a way to make yourself interesting to them. Ideally, you’ll get them to contact you.

Understand how you can be valuable for them. Answer the question, “Why would they contact me?” If you can’t answer that, think harder.

Step 2 – Groundwork

Once you’ve understood what would make you valuable for them, it’s time to let them see that reason. At this point they shouldn’t think that you’re trying to approach them. But they do need to notice the value you can provide.

Commenting on a blog is a good way to do this. Write a comment where you refer to the value you can provide. But don’t try to sell the idea. The point is just to get the idea out there.

If you have a blog you can write a post that’s interesting to the person you’re approaching. This works especially well if you have a blog since the trackback will take care of notifying the person (if they have a blog as well). A recent post that I wrote titled, “Danny Iny is a Liar – Just Like Me” did just that, though it wasn’t the reason for writing it.

Step 3 – Approach

Finally if they haven’t contacted you, you need to initiate contact. You should still only attempt to make them see how you can be valuable for them.

Find out how they prefer to be contacted. Start with something less personal like an email and move on sending them a Tweet and to calling them directly.

Once you’ve created a situation that benefits them, you can grow your relationship.

What do you think about this approach to approaching? Share your ideas in the comments.

The Biggest Business Mistake – One You’re Likely to Make

The mistake

The biggest business mistake you can ever make, is one you’re likely to make. Several times. Without noticing.

It stops your business from going forward, and can even take you back. Do it too often and you guarantee your business won’t succeed. This is also the most common reason most bloggers never succeed.

And here’s what’s worst about it, the mistake is a lot of fun to make. So, even when you notice you’re making the mistake again, you may not do anything about it.

What’s the biggest business mistake? It’s losing focus.

You’ve probably done it, everybody you know has probably done it, I certainly have done it. But what exactly does it mean, to lose focus?

Losing focus

You should always know what you’re after in the end. In almost every business, this goal is profit. For Unicef that goal is to save the children of the world. For bloggers that might be selling an e-book or getting more ad revenue. In any case, this goal is the end result you’re after.

But it’s not enough to know what you’re after. You need to know how you plan on getting there.

These are basic business truths, so how could anyone forget them? The mistake isn’t forgetting your end results, nor creating the plan. The mistake most people make, is to lose focus of the plan.

You might start a project that doesn’t really get you closer to the end results you’re after. Or maybe you hire someone who doesn’t really fit your plan. You basically do something that feels like it gets you closer to your goals, but it’s not a part of your plan, and doesn’t actually help you one bit.

You forget how your plan is supposed to work, and you alter it without preparation.

Your end game and the game plan

Before you ever start a business, you should know exactly how it will generate income (assuming that’s your goal, the end game). For most businesses this is a straightforward question (selling specific products or services).

The next question is a bit trickier. How do you plan on selling your products and services? “Online” or “in local stores” is a poor answer. It’s like saying, “We’ll win the game by scoring more points than our opponent.”. You need to know how you’ll get your products sold. This is your game plan.

The important question to ask is, “What can I do, to make people want my product.” When you have thought through all possibilities you can think of, choose the best plan.

Now that you have your game plan, follow it. Do what the plan says you need to do. This is the time when you’re most likely to make the big mistake. After a while of following the plan, you do something unplanned just because it felt like it was a part of the plan. And you’re unlikely to notice it.

If you like sports metaphors, here’s one: Your business game plan is like ice hockey. Your end game is to win, but if you think for a moment that you only want to hold the pluck, you could take away your goal keeper and get a sixth player on ice. You’d probably meet your goal of holding the pluck more, but you’d also lose the game. Similarly if you confuse your short-term goals (holding the pluck or getting more people into your store) with your end game (winning or making a profit), you’ll work toward a misguided goal.

Don’t obsess over your plan

Maybe you used a lot of time to create the plan, and you followed it religiously. And that’s exactly what you should do. But you shouldn’t become obsessed with your plan.

If there’s a reason to change the plan, you should do it. Holding on to a plan that’s anything less than the best plan available is stupid. Knowing which plan is the best is sometimes impossible. As a rule, if there’s no clear reason to think another plan is better than the one you already have, don’t switch. It’s better to see through the plan you’re already executing, than to start over with another.

For many admitting their mistakes is difficult. But protecting your reputation will only benefit your ego, not your company, bottom line, customers, marketing, or anything else. If you notice that a change to your plan would probably work better, than do the change. Admit that you’re a human and that the original plan wasn’t perfect. In the end you made the plan better, regardless of your feelings. At least I’d rather hire someone who puts the benefit of the company ahead of their own image… Wouldn’t you?

How to stay focused

I wish I knew a definitive answer to this, but I don’t and I don’t believe it even exists. Here’s a couple of ideas that have helped me to stay focused.

1. Spell out your goal. Your goal may seem so obvious to you, that you’ve never actually said it out loud. Write it on a piece of paper and assess if it’s clear or not. If it’s not extremely clear, then clarify it so that you cannot forget the end result you’re after.

2. Create a timeline. Put a deadline (or an approximate time) for each step in your plan. When you know all the steps and when you’re supposed to do them, you’re less likely to stray from your path.

Have you made the mistake of losing focus? I’d like to hear your thoughts about focusing on a plan, so share them in the comments below.

10 Places Where You Can Tell Your Story

The foundation for marketing is always a story. You don’t market a product, service, or a subscription. If you’re not perfectly clear about what your story is, check out the free Guide to Premeditated Marketing.

Once you know your story, you need to tell it. But even if you create a perfect marketing campaign, you won’t reach all of your potential customers. When you put your story wherever possible, you increase your chances of reaching your audience. The more your prospects come across your story, the more they’ll relate to it. Here’s some ideas about where you can tell that story, or at least the “elevator pitch” version of it.

10 places for your marketing story

1. Back of your business card. The back of a business card is free marketing space. If you don’t use it, you lose a possibility to influence your prospects.

2. Your email signature. Email signatures are a good place for your story. When your email gets forwarded, your story can reach new people.

3. Your website’s footer. People are used to finding information about you and your company from the footer area. The first piece of information they find should be your story.

4. Invoices. When you send an invoice, you can reinforce your story in it.

5. Receipts. Why not print your story in the receipts your customers get? When they check the receipt later, they’ll be reminded of what you’re about.

6. Product manuals. If you create product manuals for your customers, add your story next to your logo.

7. In videos. If you create video content, you should add your story in it somehow.

8. Inside your web content. Your story will create the best results when you embed it in content, because it’s then seen as content instead of marketing.

9. In your by-line. If you write content to websites (or magazines) other than your own, you’ll add a by-line of you in the end. That by-line should tell your story.

10. What’s the last place? Share your idea in the comments below. And if you liked this post, share it with your friends.

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Do You Make These 3 Sale Advertising Mistakes?

Whenever you have a sale, you need to market it, to make it profitable. Though they might seem simple, many businesses do these three mistakes with sale advertising.

The sale season is still on, and every store has a sale. So, you know every store has a sale, but do you remember noticing it? Usually only a few stores manage to get your attention. Most of the other businesses make these common mistakes, and therefor you haven’t noticed them.

1. Complicated Offers

Ideally a sale advertisement says nothing more than “50% Off Everything”. It means everything is on sale and you get half off.

The mistake is that you add conditions like these,

“… excluding this, and that, and those, and these, and…”

“… when you buy this you get that, but only if…”

A sale is effective because it doesn’t require much thinking. The advertisements should create a simple desire: “Get something for a discount, and get it now.” This desire doesn’t survive any scrutiny. When you add conditionals you mess up the reason it works so well. It’s no longer easy to make the decision to buy.

2. You forget your best customers

Just as with all marketing, you should make sure your target audiences hear about it. If you just wallpaper your store windows with red signs that say “50%”, your target groups will never know, unless they happen to walk by.

Consider all the normal marketing methods like, TV, radio, newspapers, online marketing, and so on. But more than ever you should contact your best customers individually. They’ll appreciate getting a head start to going through the offers. They’ll probably find the best deals before most people even know you have a sale. And they’ll thank you for it.

3. Don’t care to advertise

Really, businesses do this. They expect the word to go around. And maybe it will, if you’re Apple or Ikea, but you should never expect your sale to work, if you don’t advertise it.

People who are near your store, must know you have a sale. You must extend your advertisements outside the store. When people are in the store, they already know of the sale. You should target people close to your store, not the people inside it.

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