This is the logo of a unique organization that’s found a good cause to support and a way to do so that leaves everyone a winner.

Thanks A Bunch is a website where you make a $10 contribution and a member of the US Armed Forces (or, their family in the states) will receive a gift card worth $50 that can be redeemed at over 14,000 restaurants in the US and around the world.

They’ve teamed up with restaurants seeking to increase traffic by offering a discount to diners.  Their deal for the military and their families:

1) gives donors a tax-deductible 500% ROI (your broker and banker can’t do that!),
2) boosts traffic for participating restaurants at cost or near-cost, and
3) makes a special ‘night out’ possible for a a military family whose father, mother, son or daughter is serving our country overseas.  Man, that’s a win-win-win for all!

How YOU Can Use This Same Idea In Your Business

1. Identify a worthy cause — US military, homeless animals, etc.
2. Identify a product or service or ‘credit’ you can offer (“at cost”)
3. Know your ‘hard cost’ of your offer (so you don’t lose money)
4. Approach an organization or business that serves the worthy cause
5. Make a deal — you offer a ‘killer deal’ and they ‘promote it’ to their people
6. Enjoy the increased, zero-cost traffic
7. Plan to give your new customers a reason to return soon (to buy again!)
8. Create a ‘club’ with ‘free membership’ for everyone you attract
9. Cultivate your ‘members’ to stay top-of-mind over time
10. Keep your competitors guessing how you did it!

In challenging times, get creative . . . and you’ll get more business, too!

“All things being equal . . .”
You know the expression.  It’s said just before an UN-equal fact is about to be introduced in a conversation.  That’s how many people are ‘wired’ to perceive reality — ‘similar with exception’.

Stand Out or Sit Down
Naturally, you want to ‘stand out’ from the crowd of your alleged competitors.  And there are ways to do that.  But most require time and money — the two biggie assets that no ever has enough of, right?  Well, here’s how to save your money, use a little bit of your precious time and be seen as a ‘preferred provider’ of your problem-solving expertise.

Write . . . a “Thank You” Note
I get these.  Rarely.  But everytime I do, I am more impressed with the person who sent it and, (taking notes?) more inclined to do ‘something nice’ in return.  I just got a great note from Jody Ferrer, President of The Perfect Promotion thanking me for a referral I’d made to her business.  Included with the card was a smaller ‘bookmark’ branded for The Perfect Promotion.  I am so impressed with Jody, her business and her business acumen that reflects her social skills.

If you want to ‘Stand Out’ . . . send a “Thank You” note!

“Should I attend a business event?”
Business events — a chamber meeting, a BNI open house, etc. are prolific.  So the issue isn’t where do you go to meet prospective partners and clients.  It’s DO you go to meet them, isn’t it?  And yes, it’s a choice.  You don’t have to go.  But I suggest you do.

Our Breakfast Club — New Haven, CT
Today I got up early and drove 45 minutes to attend a monthly business meeting.  As I left there, I was reminded why I need to take an obstacle course and get over myself — especially when I find myself debating whether I should go to an event, or not.

Lunch, Article, Prospect, Insight, Introduction, Social
These are all things that came from a morning meeting.  I scheduled a meeting for lunch with a prospect whom I also introduced to two people later in the day, I found the basis for a great article for my monthly column at TNNW, I gleaned great insights from the speaker, Joe Grushkin of InLineAdz and for social affiliation, I got a hug from one of the best there is at that — Peaches Quinn.  All this because when I had a chance to say, “No” . . . I said “Yes!”

Say “Yes!” and watch the miracles happen!

iTunes App Store reveals that ‘free’ games are generating the majority of new revenues from the ‘Top 100″ money-makers.

But It Doesn’t Make Sense
No, it doesn’t. At first glance.  After all, if you’re giving something away without charge . . . how can you generate revenues and make a profit at the same time?

It’s called ‘SAMPLING’.  And it’s one of the oldest and best promotional tactics you can use to market your products or services.

Services Benefit The Most From Sampling
An intangible service is difficult to assess — until AFTER you’ve used it. But that requires a purchase.  And therein lies a problem.  You can’t tell if a service is good unless you buy it.  But you aren’t likely to buy it if you can’t tell that it’s going to be good.  And THAT . . . is why a small sample of your problem-solving expertise or ability is smart to offer — it’s unique, valuable and differentiates you quite nicely!

FREE! . . . isn’t a dirty word . . . IF . . . you apply it wisely!

I attended a social media workshop today.  Local marketing gurus were assembled by Eric Lopkin, President of The Modern Observer Group.

Joel Leyden, the first speaker, asked a great question . . . “How did you learn about this program?”

In spite of using ‘Meet-Up’ to promote the event, the bulk of the people were in the room because someone they knew had shared the ‘news’ about the event with their ‘network’

Power of The People (We Know, Like and Trust)
While the topic was social media, I wonder how often, in our digital, nano-second mentality online world, you take the time to reflect on the most potent social medium available to your business . . . word-of-mouth?

Your Social Network is both online AND offline — leverage them both!

“You should.  It’s me. I’m sorry, what did you say?  How do I know your name?  HOW do I know your name?  Are you serious?  Really!

Well, I’ve spent a lot of money with you in the past . . . actually had a great experience, too . . . by the way, is that young man, Mark (oh I can’t remember his name) . . . still working with you?  Oh that’s great.  Good kid.  That’s nice to know.”

Why Don’t You Know Me?
Are you so busy building transactions you fail to remember to build relationships . . . bridges . . . between you and your clients?  I’ve got a lot more revenues IF . . . you stay-in-touch!

Don’t Assume
Like a marriage, a client-advisor relationship needs to be nurtured.  Watered.  Cultivated.  And yes, even weeded from time to time.  Do you have a Client Cultivation Plan or System in place to do things to build your relationships AND your business revenues?

Don’t let relationships die from apathy. Cultivate the potential in every prospect, client and center-of-influence that you can.  You’ll BOTH be much better for it!

WHY . . . would someone find you attractive?

Let me ask you a question. “What is the beneficial difference you create in the life of your client?” Unless and until you can articulate –– succinctly and effectively –– what you do for your clients . . . your marketing efforts will suffer from a lack of focus and purpose.

Your Mission is what you want to say to the question, “What do you do?”.  It’s NOT about ‘how’ you do what you do.  It’s always about ‘what’ you do for a client.  It’s ‘why’ they might care . . . to know you better.

A famous cosmetics mogul was asked, “You’re in the cosmetics business, right?”  She replied, “No.  I’m in the ‘helping-you-get-lucky-on-Saturday-night’ business” Now . . . THAT’S a great Mission!  See if you can develop something like that for your business or practice!

Learn WHY you matter to your Ideal Client; your marketing will be better for it.

In 1986 John Landis made a very funny movie – The Three Amigos starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short.

Here’s another memorable couple of ‘amigos’ who can make your marketing really effective: Advertising, Public Relations and Referrals. If you’re not using all three to generate leads, you’re probably missing out on some business opportunities.

Advertising may or may not work for you.  But advertising doesn’t necessarily mean a 1/2 page ad.  PR doesn’t mean blowing out press releases mindlessly, either.  And referrals is a strategy that reflects how you operate your business more than how artful you are at asking for ‘people to talk to’.

Regardless of which of these ‘amigos’ is right for you to use — and how — they do kick-start the selling process by generating opportunities you can develop into the sales you seek.

Lead generation is a vital function; involving your 3 Amigos in a consistent and effective manner will work wonders!

“If a friend, colleague, family member, etc. asked you . . .
on a scale of  ‘1 – 10’ . . . HOW LIKELY are you to refer us?”

I used to ask, “Would you refer us?”.  The problem with that kind of question is that it leaves no room for shades of grey.

So I’m advising you to use a 1 -10 scale to identify someone’s degree of willingness to refer.  This allows your client to tell you, “Well, I’d say 6”.  That should then prompt you to ask the next question: “OK, what would I have to change . . . for you to say “10”?”

Going to your clients to learn, directly, WHY you are so remark-able . . . is a key to becoming more refer-able. Remember, this is about learning what it takes, on your part, to be worthy of being referred.  And, If you’re not quite ‘there’ yet, this will tell you how to get there soon!

Becoming remark-able is no easy feat.  It’s not impossible, either. You have to look closely at your business or practice through a very important perspective — your client’s!  So . . . Question 4:

“If a friend or colleague asked you, “What does (our firm) do, really?  What would you tell them?”

This will reveal how your best brand ambassadors understand your value proposition.

Of course, what you learn may not align with what you want to hear!  If so, just remember, “The Truth Shall Set You Free” is very true.  In this case, knowledge IS power and it’s something you definitely want to know and understand more than you want to ignore.

Seeing your value through your clients’ eyes is a key in becoming a remarkable and referable practice!