Thursday, July 29, 2010

Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson

This is an hour long presentation by Jay Conrad Levinson, author of the excellent Guerrilla Marketing books. Levinson is speaking live over a series of slides. If you're a little ADD, like I am, it's painful to watch this type of presentation. However, anything by Levinson is worth watching. So, you'll want to watch it while you're doing something else (in my case, I watched with signing all of the Roundtable Reward checks going out to Service Roundtable members - and yeah, it took just about an hour to sign them all).

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Raving Fish Got Cheesed And Didn't Get It

Are you a fan of business parable books? You know, the little books that spin a fictional tale with underlying meanings that pertain to business. Fish, Who Moved My Cheese and Raving Fans are just a few examples.

Perhaps this is a tale of my own ignorance, but I hated parable books with a passion. Once I reached the age of fifty however, I began to mature. Looking back it wasn't the books that cheesed me off, it was corporate America's mandate: "Here is a copy of Fish. Read it. Afterwards we'll have a meeting to discuss how your morale KPI charts. We're expecting a significant increase."

Other than Mark Matteson's work, parable books had been off my radar for a long time until recently reading, They Just Don't Get it! Leslie Yerkes' book is about those times when you're trying to tell someone something and they just don't get it and what you need to do to transform their resistance into understanding.

Holy light bulb Batman! You mean if I read Leslie's book I'll be able to transform my technicians into correct-paperwork-completing-machines? Maybe. Maybe not. I'll give you one hint but you really need to read the book. Transformation begins with that really good looking person in the mirror.

A super huge red flag moment for me came when I read what some others had to say about They Just Don't Get It! To sum up: "I could read five bullet points about the book, get it, and save fifteen bucks." At first I thought wow, they don't get it! Then I thought, no, their left brain gets it. If they could only step off the Hamster Express for just a few minutes and engage their right brain a whole new world of possibility will pop right before them. At this point their left brain will kick back in and say, "the return on this fifteen dollar investment will pay back in 1.15 days."

Next week I'll offer suggestions on how to read business parable books using the right side of your brain.

Photo credit, Jan Tik

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Recently, I read the book, Zag. Zag is about branding and while I don't agree with everything in the book, I thought it was generally pretty much on the mark and recommend it. This presentation, based on the book is terrific. Take a few minutes and flip through it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Famous Failures

It doesn't matter how many times life knocks you down. It only matters how many times you get up. If you doubt it, take 76 seconds to watch this video.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Do You Hire People?

A world renowned career specialist lists the five worst ways to look for a job:

  • Looking for employer's job postings on the Internet
  • Mailing out resumes to employers at random
  • Answering ads in professional or trade journals, relative to your field
  • Answering local newspaper ads
  • Going to private employment agencies or search firms for help
This same gentleman tells his readers there are five questions that people who have the power to hire want to know:
  • Why are you here?
  • What can you do for us?
  • What kind of person are you?
  • What distinguishes you from nineteen other people who can do the same tasks that you can?
  • Can I afford you?
If you're in a position to hire people, you're probably saying, "This information is of little use to me."

Really? Think about it for a minute. Do you search for prospective employees using any of the methods described above? Are you quantifying exactly what you need from prospective employees during the interview process? How does your hiring and interviewing process correlate with the advice being given to people looking for jobs by a world renowned career expert?

Sometimes we need to view our problems through a different lens. Instead of using a resource designed for hiring managers, consider a resource designed for job seekers.

The author I refer to here is Richard Bolles. Richard began writing What Color Is Your Parachute? way back in 1970. With the exception of 1971, he has revised and republished it every year since. Translation: It contains a boat load of relevant wisdom and knowledge. This book is one of the best books that I've ever read. I highly recommend picking up a copy today!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

To Win The War On Business: Advertise

This is my latest "Rant" in Contracting Business...

Private enterprise is under assault in America to a degree not seen since the Great Depression. While Hollywood and the media attack business with rhetoric, the government uses rhetoric, regulation, and taxes. It doesn't bode well for those struggling to find employment, though it might present an opportunity for your company.

Read more at Contracting Business (and be sure to add a comment in the new comment box at the bottom of the column).

Saturday, July 10, 2010

How Cavs Owner Dan Gilbert Screwed Up In His Rant About LeBron James

Photo Credit:  Dave Hogg

I had little passing interest in basketball star LeBron James' move from Cleveland to Miami until the Cavs' majority owner, Dan Gilbert, launched an online tirade against James.  Gilbert considers himself betrayed by James' move.  Apparently a lot of Cavs fans feel the same.

Anyone who has ever taken a chance on a new hire and invested in the employee's development only to see the employee leave for a competitor knows how Gilbert feels.  It's natural to feel betrayed.  It's stupid to rant to the world about it.

By all accounts, LeBron James is about as clean-cut as a tattooed NBA superstar can get.  He worked hard. He fulfilled his contract.  He made a move for reasons known to him.  Maybe it's a better opportunity to earn more money over time.  Maybe it's a better opportunity to win a championship.  Maybe he's sick of snow.  Maybe it's a move designed to avoid paying taxes as the Wall Street Journal notes in LeBron's Tax Holiday.

James has every right to pursue his career the way he wants.  What loyalty?  Do you think Gilbert would be offering James a new contract if he had a career ending injury a few months ago?

Gilbert's problem is his rant poisoned the well against a potential return by James after he fulfills his contract with Miami.  Since you never know what the future holds, it's foolish to close doors.  Moreover, budding NBA stars might look at Gilbert's behavior and question whether they really want to work for such a lunatic.  Why not play for Sacramento where the weather's better to boot?

When good employees leave, resist the urge to lash out.  Wish the employee the best and extend to the employee the opportunity to return in the future.  You might get a good employee back when he discovers the grass really isn't greener on the other side of the fence (and what a powerful lesson that will be for anyone thinking about leaving!).  At the very least, the employee will be more inclined to say good things about you to his peers and on social media.

Treating departing employees poorly gains nothing and risks sullying your reputation.  Don't do it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Service Roundtable Business Alliance Will Support Solar Contractors

The Service Roundtable (, an Internet based contractor business alliance is launching a dedicated business support program for solar contractors, company officials announced today.

The “Solar Roundtable” will be headed by Jim Hinshaw, one of the top sales trainers in the solar industry. Since 2007, Hinshaw has trained over 1,000 solar contractors on the sales and business side of contracting.

“Most solar contractors know the physics of solar,” noted Hinshaw, “But my experience is that many have questions concerning sales, marketing, advertising, that sort of thing. The Solar Roundtable can help solar contractors answer their questions and solve their problems on almost any topic: business, application, engineering, employees, compensation, advertising, marketing, and sales.”

Since 2002, for a $50 monthly subscription, the Service Roundtable has provided contractors with sales, marketing, and business management tools served over the Internet. Examples include direct mail letters and post cards, consumer newsletters, social media marketing pieces, service agreements, eBooks, training tools, business forms, operations and management tools like pricing calculators, recruiting ads, interview guides, policy guides, employment applications, and more.

The Service Roundtable also hosts moderated peer support groups where contractors post questions about their business and receive input, guidance, and support from other contractors and industry consultants.

In 2010, the company added a free buying group, called Roundtable Rewards. Members receive discounts and cash rebates based on purchases from a variety of vendors who use the program as a way to boost sales and reduce marketing costs.

In addition to solar, the Service Roundtable serves HVAC, plumbing, and electrical contractors. The company also operates Service Nation Press, the Retail Contractor Coalition product and company branding program, and Service Roundtable MoneyMail turnkey monthly email marketing program.

Service Roundtable contractors hail from all 50 U.S. states, most Canadian provinces, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, the Caribbean, and Oceana. For more information visit or call 877.262.3341.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Solar Can Brighten Your Company’s Outlook

Are you tired of fighting economic headwinds?  Why not try a business opportunity with massive federal, state, and utility tailwinds?  Why not add solar to your business mix?

Solar is a natural add-on for HVAC contractors.  You’re already well positioned as home energy experts with consumers.  You already have relationships with your customers.  You know how to sell high ticket items.  You know how to use financing.  You know how to utilize government and utility incentives.  Plus, HVAC contractors tend to be the best marketers in the service trades.

Read More at Contracting Business

Friday, July 2, 2010

This Says It All About The Yellow Pages

If you're marketing to consumers over age 60, the yellow pages are still necessary.  If you're marketing to consumers under age 40, you probably don't need a presence at all.  If your target customers fall in between 40 and 60, a yellow page presence may be necessary, but not on the scale (and expense) of the past.

The death of the yellow pages makes marketing more complicated for service companies.  You can no longer take out a big yellow pages ad and simply wait for the phone to ring.  Today, you must use search engine local search, SEO, SEM, and increasingly, social media.  Are you?

For HVAC contractors attending HVAC Comfortech in Baltimore in September, I'm teaching a class on social media.  Be sure to attend.  I'm also starting on a book titled, "Social Media for the Service Contractor," that will be given away to anyone attending my class at Comfortech.  If there are any copies left, I'll make them available for sale.