Jerry Gitchel

Jerry Gitchel

Tuesday, 28 November 2017 16:41

Choosing the Right Tool

 Early next week in the blink of an eye your living room will go from a vision of sugarplums dancing in their heads to a total disaster of wrapping paper and empty boxes. Once you clean up that mess, it would be the perfect time to address your digital mess. We are talking about your collection of unused apps and desktop icons that you’ve collected over the years.

We have all the technology we need. The challenge is we load up our devices then waste time looking for the right one. A perfect first New Year resolution could be Sean Winter’s article in CMSWire.com Declutter Your Digital Workspace. Here at Leverage Unlimited, every client engagement starts with a detailed inventory and analysis of the firm's digital tools. We focus on creating a custom toolbox for each client.

Here’s some ideas you can use to lose  10 ugly pounds of digital fat just in time for the New Year.

  • What’s in your toolbox? Survey the Apps on your phone. Delete the ones you no longer use. If you just can’t let them go, at least move them to the back. While you’re at the last screen, look for Apps that need to be moved up to the front. I bet you feel lighter already.
  • Unsubscribe from the $20 a month Software Club. Scan your bank statement to identify software subscriptions you no longer use. Close the accounts. 
  • Acquire the right tools. Now that you’ve dropped all that ugly digital fat, consider investing in the right tools to help you increase productivity and profits in 2018. Start with tasks. What do you need to do? Look for the best technology for your organization and workspace.

I can’t wait to see the new you in the New Year. Happy Holidays and may every day of 2018 be Just Another Day In Paradise!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017 07:10

The End of Online Marketing

Retail stores were empty on Black Friday. Kate Taylor, in an article for Business Insider, delivered the bad news, "Photos of shockingly empty stores prove that Black Friday as we know it is dead" (See photo above). Just 4 years ago shoppers were camping out all night with the full knowledge they could be trampled in their quest for holiday discounts. The amount and speed of the change in customer behavior is startling and a clear call to action for business professionals. 

Retailers are not publically alarmed. They point to a shift to online sales with a sigh of relief. I suspect that in the back of their minds they are thinking, "What's next?" It took less than 4 years to decimate in-store sales. A generation ago the expected lifespan of a corporation was more than a century. It's dropped to twelve years. Take a moment to reflect on what your business will look 4 years from today.

Your New Digital Reality

Marketers are still laboring under the false premise that mass-marketing works. It's used for online marketing for #BlackFriday, #CyberMonday, and #GivingTuesday. Instead of shoppers falling all over each other to get into the stores, marketers are falling all over each other to get into your inbox. The idea of pushing a one-day event to boost traffic is as empty as the store in the photo above. If your organization is looking for an edge in 2018, start here.

Personalization

Using the digital tools you already possess, gather intelligence on your perfect prospects. Start with social media. Personalize your email messages. Include both first names to start building a relationship. Compose a message that focuses on their individual needs. A generic message sent to your entire database is like a T-shirt with a "One-Size-Fits-Most" tag on the collar. It fits no-one.

Content Sharing

Sharing the intellectual property (IP) created by others sounds great. No need to create your own IP, just copy the value of others. The problem is it dilutes your value, not once but twice. You failed to add your value, then you pointed the prospect away from you.

Instead, write your own posts and publish to your blog, content sites like Medium.com, or your social media platforms to demonstrate your expertise. If you find a valuable piece of content you simply must share, target the recipient carefully to create the highest value. Not only will it be well received, they will remember who cared enough to share it with them. 

Customer Journey

 Retailers were surprised when lines didn't form outside their doors on Black Friday. They failed to keep an eye on the customer journey. Each business is different, and it evolves over time. The changes are happening quicker than ever. Start by putting on your customer hat. Then use post-it notes or 3 x 5 cards to document not only each step but the segues in-between. Look for what's missing, watch out for distractions that throw them off-track or abandon the sales process altogether. With a plan in hand, update your social media, blog and landing pages to create a smooth path of engagement. 

Mass-marketing is simple. It is also ineffective. in 2018, success will come once you focus on individual customers, train your team to leverage your investment in digital tools and streamline business processed to increase your speed of execution, extend your reach beyond the low-hanging fruit and develop strong bonds of trust with those you serve best.

Digital Leverage for More Sales in 2018

 Each January I conduct an invitation-only session to sharpen my client's tools for the new year. If I wait until January, it will be too late. Please check your calendar for December 14th, 11-1 p.m. here in Jacksonville for a special session. If you like an invitation, give me a call at 904-566-8325. I call it The Gathering. 

Tuesday, 14 November 2017 07:44

The Need For Speed in 2018

Wow, just wow. Next week is Thanksgiving in the United States. It's the time of year you hear everyone say, "This year sure went by fast!" It really did. The iPhone turned 10. Puerto Rico was destroyed in a single day. If you feel like you are even further behind the curve, you are not alone. It's more than just a feeling. Change happens faster, is more disruptive and the struggle to keep up has become a primary focus. You can forget about getting ahead. That bothers me. If it bothers you, here are some ideas you can use to not only keep up but get ahead in 2018.

The Need For Speed

Stop running. Sounds counterintuitive, I know, but you can't add the number 13 to your clock. The key to getting more done is is to increase the speed of execution, not your pace. There are only three ways to make this happen. Focus your energy on any one of the three and you will be amazed at your success and peace of mind.

Tools

If your phone looks like the Swiss-Army-Knife of Apps, stop and take inventory. Start at the back. If you haven't opened an app in over a month, delete it. Ignore that twinge of anxiety, just let it go. Second, look at the Apps that remain and identify the task it was meant to do or the challenge it is supposed to solve. If it lacks purpose, delete it now. Finally, identify the Apps you can't live without, (not Facebook, I hope). Drag them to your home screen. Not enough room? Drag the less frequently used Apps to your second or third screen to make room.

My personal motto, Discard Nothing, works on two levels. first, I don't throw away people, things or ideas just because they are old or have slowed down. Unless, on the other hand, they have been revealed to be nothing. If your digital tools no longer bring you joy, let them go. 

Talent

 Now that you have a lighter digital toolbox, let's make sure they, as well as you, are sharp and ready to do great work. Here at Leveage Unlimited, we just launched a direct mail campaign to promote a client's new App. We were able to obtain thousands of targeted leads, for free (and not only for a single use). Using the digital tools we already own, we segmented the database and printed labels for our in-house postcard design.

Did you know you can automate the publishing of a weekly newsletter to require nothing more than writing a blog post? You are holding it in your hands right now. Make a commitment today to learn more about the extraordinary functions of your magical modern tools

Technique

Once you've chosen the right tools, sharpened them and yourself, you are ready to hit the gas and build momentum for 2018. Defining, documenting and designing streamlined procedures is the point where you will see your productivity soar. Every organization has at least one process that contains a bottleneck, a step that's always left out, one that never quite seems to reach 100% complete. Maybe it's collections. It's killing your cash flow. Maybe it's prospecting.

Whichever one you choose, start there. The rules of business have not changed, just the tools. Combining business rules with digital tools is vital to your success in the year ahead.  Use 3x5 index cards or post-it notes on a whiteboard to define your business process. Decide which digital tool will help you execute quickly and focus on including all the steps to eliminate the need to do something twice. If it fits the process, create a template to give you a headstart and create a consisant, high-quality outcome.

Digital Leverage for More Sales in 2018

 Each January I conduct an invitation-only session to sharpen my client's tools for the new year. If I wait until January, it will be too late. Please check your calendar for December 14th, 11-1 p.m. here in Jacksonville for a special session. If you like an invitation, give me a call at 904-566-8325. I call it The Gathering. 

"Know your numbers" was the top takeaway from last weeks Small Business Consulting Services Group Meetup here in Jacksonville. Richard Scherzer of About Floors N' More shared classic business management principals with the entrepreneurs in attendance.  Richard's tough love mindset and timeless truths brought audible gasps from the crowd. Not surprising when you consider the contemporary mindset is that all you need to succeed today is a website, a social networking feed and a killer app.   

Richard is right. It takes discipline to sustain success in business. I believe the entrepreneurs are also correct, it takes modern tools and techniques to connect with new clients and compete in the digital age. The truth is your success in the future requires a combination of the best of both mindsets.

Business Rules and Digital Tools

Maximizing cash flow is one of the most important business rules to ensure success.  In fact, it's one of the primary Leverage Principals we focus on when working with business owners or buyers. It's a great example of the power of combining the truth of business rules with the leverage of digital tools. If you are a business owner looking to get paid faster with less hassle, these tips are for you.

At Leverage Unlimited we create client success in three areas. Acquiring the right tools. Building better teams. Streamlining business processes. To maximize your cash flow, document your Accounts Receivable process. Create a timeline of all the steps and durations. Don't forget to include surface mail delivery, invoice aging, bank deposit holding, etc. Make sure you are sitting down when you total up the elapsed time. Next look for all the places you can eliminate all that wasted time. Electronic invoice delivery and online payment systems can cut your receivables aging by 75%. 

With a streamlined process, research the digital tools that enable the process. Mobile card readers are now available for swipe, chip reader, and tap-to-pay. We recommend clients explore PayPal for electronic invoicing, online payment, and requesting a PayPal debit card to eliminate waiting for payments to clear, giving you instant access to your hard earned cash.

Beyond Accounts Receivable

Streamlining your AR process is a big step in the right direction. Another opportunity is building a payment strategy that sets the payment expectation from the start of an engagement. that eliminates the hassle of invoicing for both you and your client. A member of our ResourceArmy, Sara Hansen of Phoenix Online Solutions requires online recurring billing to eliminate the hassle of invoicing for you and your client. The client doesn't have to remember to pay Sara, and Sara no longer chases clients for payment. 

The bottom line is this. You have to wear a bunch of hats to run a successful business. Bill Collector shouldn't be one of them. 

Resources

Tips for Streamlining Accounts Receivable

Monday, 30 October 2017 14:46

The Power of a Personal Privacy Policy

Last week I shared an insight I learned about a local luminary with a close associate. He cautioned, "I wouldn't publish that on Facebook." Even though it was complimentary and a great tip for those who present from the platform, I never gave a thought to writing about the celebrity's superpower. The encounter got me to thinking about the topic of privacy vs secrecy. Organizations work hard and make a considerable investment in their brand reputation. In the age of online transparency, the transformation from hero to zero can happen in the blink of an eye. When I think of online privacy, my thoughts turn to how marketers control what I share online. As outlined in, 10 Reasons Why Privacy Matters, author Daniel J. Solove challenges the idea of who ultimately controls your personal privacy. 

Does this Post Make Me Look Stupid?

Like the fit of an unflattering pair of pants, if you have to ask, you already know the answer. Just because we live in an age of transparency, we don't have to share everything with everyone. In fact, the all-seeing, all remembering eye of the Internet, calls for caution before tapping the unrecoverable, unforgiving Send button. I've learned that although I have the right to remain silent, there are times when I don't have the ability. Apologies take effort, can be costly, and often require lots of forms.

Most well-run websites publish privacy policies. What if you had a written personal privacy policy? Imagine the feeling of being in control of your personal brand reputation.  I think I'll start on #9 today.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017 04:29

The Day the Internet Died

I'm back in the office now that Deborah and I have returned from our vacation to Costa Rica. As I checked in with clients yesterday their first question was, "So, how was your vacation?" Thanks for asking, it was a disaster. A natural disaster. 

As Tropical Depression 16 grew into Hurricane Nate, thoughts of sun-drenched sandy beaches were replaced by torrential downpours, loss of electricity and flash flooding. Oh, did I mention we lost the Internet? I could share a whole litany of trials and tribulations, but I won't because, in the middle of all those challenges, I found opportunities. Four in fact.

Matt, Victor, Antonio, and Remegius

Matt and Joellen are the proprietors of El Chivo (the Goat) in the little town of Nosara. It is the best restaurant in town. In fact, during the storm, it was the only restaurant in town. Matt's goal was simple, "Keep the lights on." They emptied their refrigerator, slow-cooked everything overnight at their home up in the hills and singlehandedly kept the community together. Each rain-soaked, poncho-wearing patron was greeting at El Chivo's wide open double doors, often by Matt himself. When we arrived, Matt expressed concern about my missing flashlight I'd left behind earlier in the week. I had just met him, but it felt like I'd known him for years. Lessons from El Chivo: Keeping the lights on is not a slick marketing slogan, it's a mindset. It kept the community fed, the staff employed and the operation in the black.   

Victor patiently listened at the United Airlines counter in Libera as I attempted to explain our missed connection to San Jose. We were going to miss the last flight of the day to Houston. There was a flight leaving Liberia, but it was completely full. I thanked Victor and headed back to the Sansa Airlines counter to work on Plan "C". With the thought of spending an additional night somewhere in San Jose in mind, we headed for security. All of a sudden Victor bounded across the concourse and shouted, "We have two tickets for you!" Even with missing luggage and incessant seatback video marketing, I'm left with a positive feeling of United team members. 

Antonio, our Nosara Transport driver, did his very best to miss the potholes on the last 60 Kilometers of gravel road to Nosara. I'll share on Facebook the photo of his Crucifix hanging sideways from his rearview mirror as he dodged quads and pedestrians and an entire heard of Bhrama bulls (morning rush hour). As we neared the Liberia airport, I thought about his lonely ride home. 

Remegius was not the only attraction in Houston. The shiny new airport sports a sea of iPads mounted squarely in front of any traveler brave enough to sit and endure the incessant video marketing. Remegius gave us the gift of elevating our golf cart shuttle ride into a giddy parade float resplendent with princesses' waves and hearty hellos to all the perplexed onlookers. It was the perfect distraction to the last leg of our journey, a mad dash in front of Hurricane Nate on our way home to Jacksonville. 

The most important thing I learned on my vacation is that the customer experience is not about marketing. It's about the customer.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017 09:23

The Death of Social Sharing

It was too easy. Sharing news reports, industry findings, and product launches with everyone on the planet was so easy. Find content, copy the link, post it to social and you are done. You didn't even have to create your own intellectual property. Like a cover band, all you had to do was copy the work of others. 

It was so easy everybody started sharing. We didn't even have to write the obituary, we simply copied and pasted social sharing to the grave. What started as an idea to create value and demonstrate expertise has devolved into a quick and dirty method of demonstrating just how little respect you have for your readers time, intelligence and value to your organization. There is a better way to meet the original goal. One that doesn't require an increase in your investment. All it takes is a change in mindset.

Tuesday, 08 August 2017 09:45

How to Avoid an ADA Scam

The Americans With Disabilities Act was meant to protect the rights of Americans. About 15 months ago we started hearing about law firms taking advantage of the act by sending small businesses "Demand Letters" to produce revenue through intimidation. Yesterday we received reports that the practice has arrived here in Jacksonville. Jim Poggott, I-Team reporter with News4Jax reports, "Dozens of ADA lawsuits seeking compliance or cash?" The report indicates the alleged scam involves a law office contacting local small businesses and threatening legal action. They offer to make it all go away, for a price.

We have been working on a related issue, web accessibility. Law firms have been using similar tactics to attack small medical practices. They allege they have a client who was denied access to the practices web site. Same tactic, same demand. Once a medical practice receives a demand letter, it's too late. There is only one effective solution to this threat, prevention.     

Thursday, August 10th I will be presenting the three steps Practice Administrators need to take to avoid becoming a target.

Use the link below to learn more or register now.

Web Accessibility Standards for Medical Practices
August 10, 2017 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

DPC Technology Center
7845 Baymeadows Way
Jacksonville, FL 32256 

A recent article from PracticalEcommerce by Armando Roggio documents the decimation of the brick and mortar industry. As many as 4,000 brick-and-mortar stores have closed in the United States since last year. Armando suggests two reasons, technology, and training. My research indicates it's not about tech, it's about mindset. You need to look no further than popular culture. Marvel comics transformed from comic books to a multi-billion dollar empire simply by taking the same stories out of the books and onto the big screen. It was made possible by the invention of digital effects. 

Take Your Best Self and Make It Timeless

In another recent article, Digital Transformation Is More About the 'Transformation' Than the 'Digital' author Rich Wood makes the case that technology is the enabler, not the engine of transformation. He goes on to say, "Real digital transformation, which holds the idea of transformation at the heart of the concept, is really about applying the new to the iconic, improving it and making it timeless.".

The implications of digital transformation extend beyond retail and comic strips. In three years all industries will be impacted by the disruption. For your business, it comes down to two choices. Will you be a champion or a victim of digital disruption? Three ideas for your consideration.

Develop the Need for Speed

If you were able to increase the tempo of business, how would that impact your bottom line? Digital enables your organization to respond quickly to inquiries, establish a dialog, provide prospects with answers faster than ever before. Closing more sales in less time is the result.

Stretch to Increase Your Reach

It is simple math. More prospects equal more revenue. Digital helps you get your brand story, your grand opening, today's special offer to those you serve best. If you use a street side changeable sign, snap a photo after each change and share on Social.

Place Your Processes on Autopilot

 One of the best ways to leverage your digital resources is by applying it to streamline your business processes. Automate repetitive processes to reduce expenses. Look for ways to transform labor intensive tasks involving paper and pencil into automated digital processes. 

Although it's rarely spoken out loud, fear is the biggest obstacle blocking established business from profiting from their digital future. It starts with the fear of change. It paralyzes business leaders into putting off the inevitable transformation. Then the fear changes into the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). By then, it is often too late.

Develop your 2020 vision for a profitable future. Call 904-566-8325 how your organization can profit from a digital transformation.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017 09:16

The High Cost of Customer Loyalty

Actually, the opposite is true. The cost in dollars is low, it's the effort that appears to be costly. It a recent article from Forbes titled, How Technology Can Help You Engage Your Audience The Right Way, contributor John Hall outlines the Golden Equation for digital success,

Technology + authenticity = engagement

Earlier this morning I fired off a reply to a product support ticket from ZAGG, the folks who make a Bluetooth enabled keyboard for iPads. They are not going to send me a replacement for my replacement keyboard. This is the second keyboard where the hinge failed. I expect hardware to outlast the warranty. Neither keyboard made it. The true fail here is customer relationship and retention. ZAGGs one-size-fits-most reply, the $10 gift card and the empty promise of, "please don't hesitate to contact me back. I would be more than happy to assist you" transformed a rabid fan and promoter into a staunch detractor. 

I have an equation for ZAGG, Keyboard + Hatchet = Customer Satisfaction. Join me on Facebook at YourDigitalLeverage this afternoon for the main event.

I feel better already. The main takeaway from the Forbes article is that engagement requires more than an investment in technology, it requires authenticity. In addition to the golden equation, John shares two principals representing a distinct shift in digital mindset.

 Make the shift from me to you

Talking “at” versus talking “with”: It’s a big distinction. It's not about me. It's not about you, talking about me. It's about you.

Pursue new technology for better relationships 

John provides a link to a new product that focuses on communications preferences. I believe it starts with listening, then responding appropriately using the contacts preferred channel. Consider adding "Communications Preference" to your CRM. I added it to Nimble. No more out-of-sync conversations. 

Now, where did I put that hatchet?

 

 

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