From the Clinton Presidential Library when Renae and I visited in Summer 15.
From the Clinton Presidential Library when Renae and I visited in Summer 15.


Do you give anything away for free?

Maybe it’s a free upgrade to an order, maybe it’s a free white paper, maybe its a free consultation.

Why would you do that?

Free is the opportunity to create a reciprocal relationship. Free could be the chance to prove yourself.

So what could you give away for free? Probably something you have in abundance. The reason a lot of restaurants give away free drinks, is because they have a huge amount of syrup on hand and it costs them very little. But at the same time their profit margins on the drinks are huge. But if it leads to a purchase of a burger or pizza, they come out ahead. It also gives them a chance to make you a fan!

I have an over abundance of ideas. While in the gym the other day, I saw a commercial for CopperFit Compression products. It had Brett Farve playing flag football with the compression product. My brain immediately thought, what an amazing campaign idea: take submissions of people using CopperFit products to win a chance to play flag football with Brett Farve! So I tweeted it to them.

No one responded. I didnt expect them to. It didn’t cost me anything to tweet it and I didn’t lose anything by sharing that idea. But the upside could be huge. What if someone from Copper fit saw it and thought, “Hey, I like that idea!” and gave me a call. What if someone else say that idea and thought, “That guy has a great idea, I wonder what he could do for my brand.”.

It could lead to future business. Ideas are worthless if you do nothing with them. I am going to start sharing more of mine with #freemarketingidea.

Engaging employees with passion

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 11.33.56 AM

Local Factory works don’t have a lot of passion about the mission of their organization. At least according to a recent report from Gallop. This makes some sense. When in an organization in which you end up being a very small cog in a very very large machine its easy to lose sight of the overall mission. To compound that problem millennials care more about purpose then about their paycheck. Factory work might not be classified as fulfilling by some people due to the nature of products or the parts that they make.

I think we can extrapolate this out to even employees in most businesses. Maybe not to the same degree but the low level employees of small businesses probably don’t care a lot about that plate of food they are making or the widget they are selling beyond making sure they receive a paycheck. I would guess there is more concern then what might exist in a large factory situation but I think some of the same problems would still exist.

That article did show that a local mission, like a charity, can help engage employees. I think we can take this principle and start applying to local businesses as well. What if every local business took one or two charities on to be the charity they support. Run contests among the staff to raise funds, give employees time to volunteer at that charity, and have fundraisers with customers as well. These could be be a great thing to help employee engagement.

I have seen this effect in my life. When I worked in nonprofits, I would see the pride in the eyes of factory employees when I would come to a factory to pick up a check or large donation. How can you implement this in your business?


CVS and their Hedgehog Concept

CVS Heart

CVS Heart

CVS stopped selling smokes?  This is a bold move. It has been said they will lose $2 Billion (with a B) in revenues, Now  they made $123 billion in revenues in 2012 so maybe $2 billion will not be missed. But in a business where you answer to shareholders every penny counts. What I see in this story is a company following their hedgehog concept.

The Hedgehog concept comes from an amazing book called: Good to Great by Jim Collins.  Your hedgehog concept comes together when you find the common ground between three questions: What are you deeply passionate about? What can you be the best in the world at? What drives your economic engine? A hedgehog concept breaks down as depicted here: hedgehog graphic-01

CVS’s hedgehog concept is selling products that make people healthy. Selling tobacco products is glaringly contrary to that concept. I applaud CVS for making the bold move to stop selling a profitable item because it dose not fit with their mission or hedgehog concept. The next question that comes to mind for me is: How far will they go? Will they stop selling soda, alcohol, or candy? I don’t imagine they will but what would be the next appropriate step? Related note: CVS released a new logo to correspond with this change.

What is your hedgehog concept? What are you deeply passionate about? What can you be the best in the world at? What drives your economic engine? Figuring this out will help you make decisions that will help grow your business in the long run and avoid bad short term decisions. Also check out Good to Great it has the potential to change your business life!

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Needs for employees to succeed.

Do you want to be a great organization? If you are familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs then the below chart will make sense to you. This chart is derived from some of the great research that Gallup is doing on leadership. Almost all of the steps to creating deep employee engagement have to do with the leadership of a supervisor. When I think back to some of my most successful times during employment, I can see these factors being present. Conversely, when I think back to some of my least successful times of employment, I can see these factors not being present.

My only issue with this chart is the word ‘best’ in Q10. Might be over kill to require a best friend at work. But friends at work is a must.

One thing I might add is: Does the culture of the work place demand excellence? Cultures that demand the best often bring out the best, when these other factors are present.

via Gallop Business Journal