Make Sure You Solve the Right Problem

Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity
and are able to turn both to their advantage.

VICTOR KIAM

People often charge into action, only to discover they’ve set out to solve the wrong problem. Take the case of the major dog food manufacturer who introduced a new line of food at a cost of millions of dollars. Despite a high-profile marketing effort and plenty of shelf space at the local supermarket, the product just stuck to the shelves. Already worried after only a few weeks, the company rushed to solve the problem.

First they changed the packaging. “It must be the wrong color,” said one. “It’s the design,” said another, while a third suggested the dogs in the picture weren’t the right breed.

Back on the shelves it went with a bold new look and still nothing happened. Next, after brainstorming all kinds of wonderful ideas, they changed the name of the product to one that was sure to delight any canine lover. Still the product stayed on the shelves. Finally, the product team agreed it must be the price. It was, after all, at the higher end of the doggy food scale. After much debate, a new price was decided upon, significantly lower than the original introductory price. The product was rolled out once again, with new packaging, better looking hounds, a cuter name, and super pricing. It still didn’t sell!

The CEO was so discouraged that he went personally to his local supermarket to observe buying habits in the pet food department. After a few minutes, a boy of eleven or twelve marched up to the dog food section and pulled down a large bag of competing chow. The CEO casually wandered over to the boy and politely inquired why he had chosen brand X instead of his brand. The boy cheerfully replied, “My dog hates the taste of that stuff. He just won’t eat it.”

Problem solving is often not as hard as problem identification! The first step in problem solving is to identify the real problem. Exactly what is the problem you are going to solve? Clearly define your problem on a piece of paper and list its individual components.

For example, say your business is not profitable. This is the first problem statement. Using a piece of paper, list all the components of the problem, or clearly write down what the problem is. Your business is not profitable because sales are down, the product is faulty, your accounting system doesn’t track your expenditures, etc. The problem must be clearly identified if you expect to solve it.

It is important to note that many problems are very complex and thus need to be broken down into a series of smaller component problems. The trouble in solving most everyday problems is that they are often ill defined. The actual problem runs into another problem, and the desired outcome seems hazy at best. For example, I need more money. That is a vague problem that must be further defined into a specific amount—say $5,000. This gives you a clear problem with a clear outcome in mind. Now we can go about trying to solve the problem.

This step in clearly identifying the problem will ensure that you face the problem with the understanding necessary to solve it. A problem that is extremely complex and has multiple facets will only be a source of frustration because it is too large to tackle in one effort. Breaking the problem down to smaller, more manageable pieces will yield the desired effect…solving the problem.

As Peter Drucker said, “Once the facts are clear, the decisions jump out at you.” Problems must be defined in detail and looked at from all angles and points of view before a problem statement is generated.

Examine the problem and define it clearly.

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Jay Abraham and the Dumbest-Ever Five-Million-Dollar Marketing Idea!

Last week I had dinner with Jay Abraham in LA. I always love having dinner with Jay because he was one of my original marketing mentors and one of the smartest strategic minds in the world! We laughed as I related to him the story of our first meeting some 19 years ago where he shared the dumbest idea I had ever heard … and I went on to make millions…!

By the mid-Nineties I had sold my first few karate schools and been in the karate consulting business for four years. I had a series of how-to manuals, videotapes, seminars, a consulting service, and my own magazine, Martial Arts Business. I was traveling 60,000 miles a year and bringing in $30,000 a month from my garage. I had an expensive home in a gate-guarded community, a Porsche, a golf club membership, and my kids in private school. But the down- side was, I wasn’t making any profit!

I had $120,000 on my credit cards, had sucked all the equity from my home and burned through every dime I had made in my karate schools the first time around. I was about six weeks away from losing my home and going under because I was losing 10 grand a month!At this time Jay Abraham was the big-name marketing guru. He ran huge seminars where people paid outlandish sums of money to attend while he charged $5,000 an hour for personal consulting. I had read all of Jay’s books and listened to his tapes and was eager to meet him in person. This was eventually arranged by a friend, who knew someone who knew Jay’s wife. A short time later I was welcomed into Jay’s huge Pacific Palisades home where after the perfunctory greetings, we relocated to a small breakfast joint near his home.

Exploit the Power of YouTube to Make Yourself a TV Star

Nothing is real unless it happens on television.
DANIEL J. BOORSTIN

YouTube is an amazingly cheap and powerful tool to create buzz. It basically gives you the ability to create you own TV show. If used correctly, that’s serious power.

YouTube is the ideal place to share your expertise, highlight your products, and showcase your customers and results while you attract and entertain your existing and future clients. It’s also a great way to go viral. It aids in generating web traffic and helps you climb up the search-engine rankings.

I use YouTube to showcase my sales and marketing expertise. Go to www.CunninglyClever.com to see samples or search Cunningly Clever directly on YouTube. Most of my shows are three to seven minutes in length and contain lots of meaty information, samples, and case histories.

For more great sales, marketing and business growth advice read or listen to http://cunninglycleverentrepreneur.com/

At the end of each informative segment I direct viewers back to www.CunninglyClever.com to receive additional information. Once there, they can download additional free information, buy products, or sign up for ongoing access to my massive database of sales, marketing, and entrepreneurial information. The free shows in effect drive traffic back to the website, a percentage of which then become customers.

Many of the resorts I consult with use YouTube to showcase their golf courses, spaces, rooms, and other activities. Several restaurants I work with use YouTube to showcase different dishes they serve in the restaurant. Golf, karate, fitness, and instructors of all kinds use it to showcase their skills.

Then of course there are those businesses that put together funny skits that can quickly go viral. I did one such three-minute spot for a resort that featured Elvis playing golf, with Ozzy Osborne as his caddie, and Donald Trump playing through. It was watched by over 10,000 people in a single week. If you do “funny,” make sure it somehow ties back into what you offer in order to be truly effective at building business as well as brand.

One important fact in marketing is that once you have produced a DVD and someone puts it in a machine and hits play, you are now on TV. The same is true of YouTube. It doesn’t matter what it cost you to film it, you are up there just like Tom Cruise. Being on that screen is an incredibly powerful tool in selfbranding.

YouTube, is of course, not the only place you can upload your video content. Yahoo has a huge video section and there are another 30 or so mainstream sites and 125 additional ones that accept video content. That could be very time consuming. In fact, it was until I found Tube Mogul. There, for a small monthly fee if it’s commercial and FREE if it’s not, you can syndicate your content just like a big TV station to 30 or more key sites that accept video.

Don’t wait for your chance at stardom; make yourself a star on YouTube!

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The More Creative You Are in Accepting Payment, the More Money You Will Make

If you’re attacking your market from multiple positions and your competition isn’t, you have all the advantage and it will show up in your increased success and income. - Jay Abraham

It’s a fact of business life that very often the people who want to do business with you don’t actually have the cash, or at least are not willing to part with it. They are often, however, willing to part with services, or leverage other items of value they may have to get what they want.

I have been paid in cash, diamonds, land, cars, paintings, carpentry, room nights, gift certificates, vacations, golf clubs, advertising, and professional services, to name just some of the creative ways I have accepted payment for my services.

I sat on the land until it went up in value, gave the diamonds to my wife, and used the services for things I would have had to pay for anyway. I used vacations for employee motivation and customer incentives and sold the rest of the stuff on eBay at a discount, but still at a profit.

Golden Leads – Use In-Bound Emails as Sales Leads

I get way too much email — in excess of 1,000 a day. But hidden in all those subscriptions and even some of the spam are golden leads — you just have to look. I frequently use an in-bound email solicitation as the starting point of a relationship rather than just deleting it.

I might email back something that says:

I got your email about your new land development in North Carolina but when I followed the link and got to your site I noticed several important tools miss- ing to help you turn traffic into sales. My company Legendary Marketing specializes in lead generation using an amazing product for turning prospects into sales called Marketing Commander.

Your property looks lovely, I hate to think how much money you are losing by not having these simple tools on your website.

Please call me today at….

You’d be surprised how much business you can gain in this manner simply by tying your response into their outbound email.

Many inbound emails can be an opportunity to start a dialogue! 
For more great ways to increase you sales click here http://cunninglyclevermarketing.com/

Five Timeless Tips on Negotiating a Lease

Negotiating means getting the best of your opponent.
Marvin Gaye, singer

Rates vary so much from place to place, even in the same city, that it’s very hard to be specific about lease negotiations, but here are some general rules to keep in mind. First, let me say that the landlord or leasing agent will kick, scream, feign insult, and tell you about the three other prospective tenants bidding on the very same place you are interested in—despite the fact it’s been empty for six months. But follow these principles and you’ll get a good deal.

1. Everything is negotiable. I usually start offering about 25–30% less than the asking price per square foot and usually settle for a discount of about 15–20%.

2. Always ask for free rent to get started. It is standard policy in most places to allow one free month for every year of lease you are willing to sign. Therefore, if you sign a three-year lease, you can expect to get three months free rent, but always ask for more.

3. Ask the landlord to help you with the needed improvements. About half the time they will, or will opt to give you some other consideration instead. Ask for the walls to be painted or carpet to be put in before you take possession of the premises. In some cases where the landlord really needed a tenant I’ve even had them build out the entire space exactly to my specifications. The rule is simple: You don’t get if you don’t ask.

4. Always rent less space than you think you will need. It’s very easy to be seduced by the vision of how wonderful your store will be and how much money you are going to make. Remember this: I’ve never seen anyone go out of business because they leased too little space! I can, however, give you hundreds of examples of small business owners who went out of business because they rented too much space.

cce_25. Cheap rent is usually cheap for a reason. Like TV time at three a.m., cheap rent usually means little traffic in the center.

Try figuring out in your mind what extra money you will need to spend to build up traffic at a less-than-ideal location. Sometimes it’s worth it; many times it’s not.

You don’t get if you don’t ask. Make the deal work for you.

For more great sales, marketing and business growth advice read or listen to http://cunninglycleverentrepreneur.com/