Chesapeake promotional productS ASSOCIATION


  • 03/14/2016 11:59 AM | Jolie Porter

    Most business owners I know will tell me they are “100% focused on the client.” While that sounds good, it’s generally not accurate. The truth is that, over time, many will make tiny sacrifices to service that they believe won’t be noticed by clients. 

    However, those small details generally develop into service gaps that drive clients away. This is especially true in the promotional products industry where all distributors are essentially selling the same products to the same target audience.

    Here’s a truth: almost everyone does the big things well. Product gets sold at a fair price, is decorated properly, is shipped on time, and invoiced promptly. Clients generally don’t share how accurate you are decorating a hat or invoicing them quickly. Those are the big things and they are expected. This is why the little things – the ones that too many are quick to dismiss as not noticed or appreciated by clients – have more value than ever.   

    As you look at the experience you and your staff have created, it’s important you ask yourself one question every single day: have you developed a service philosophy – one that focuses on the seemingly insignificant little things – that you could imagine paying to experience?

    Little things like hand-written thank you notes, ordering a spec sample of a product that you know your client would personally love, or even sending over a few dozen doughnuts and coffee because they are up against a deadline for their client. These are the experiences that people remember and talk about for months – even years. 

    The big things are easy and just about everyone does them well; it’s why it’s impossible to use them as differentiators. Those seemingly insignificant little things that take more thought, time, and effort? Those are the things that hold the keys to client happiness, loyalty, and profitability. 

    It's time to create a client experience you would be thrilled to pay for over and over again.  

  • 12/22/2015 4:21 PM | Jolie Porter

    What are you doing to hone your skills? Hone. What a funny word! Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.”

    Are you so busy running around and trying to do everything? You may be working extremely hard chopping away with a very dull ax. Make a conscious commitment to continuous improvement, and professional and personal development. You’ll find that with a sharper ax, your work will flow easier. Lincoln knew that it would still take six hours to chop down that tree, but by focusing on the right priorities, he could make easier work of it.

    In his seminal classic, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen R. Covey wrote that habit No. 7 is to “Sharpen the Saw.” This habit informs us to balance and renew our resources, energy and health in addition to our professional skills and knowledge.

    For physical renewal, take time to exercise and make healthy lifestyle and diet choices. You’ll have more energy and be better equipped to work hard and long. Your clients will notice how you take care of yourself and feel more confident that you’ll be able to take care of their projects too.

    Develop regular routines of meditation, prayer or yoga, and good reading for your mental and spiritual renewal. Start each day by reminding yourself of three to five things that you are grateful for and start your day with gratitude. Make a note to send a thank you card to someone you thought of as you went through that exercise. Find ways to serve your community or society.

    In his book, Covey describes how your conscience efforts at meaningful and consistent progress you will create an “Upward Spiral” of growth, change and constant improvement. Learn. Commit. Do. Education with a commitment to feeding your physical and spiritual/mental renewal will propel you on the path of personal freedom, wisdom and power.

    I think the word “hone” has a time element implied. Over time you will transform your effectiveness and professionalism. The synonyms for hone are improve, refine, enhance and fine-tune.

    Hone your skills and make your job easier.

  • 11/12/2015 10:00 PM | Jolie Porter

    How do you answer that question?  If your customers don’t need you, you’re not relevant.  No need means no customers.  No customers mean no sales.  No sales means no business.  It’s as simple as that! 

    How do you make yourself indispensable to your clients?  You work at it.  You focus not on making sales but on solving problems.  You consciously decide that you want to serve.  Making a sale becomes a by-product of your commitment to helping.  Your biggest opportunity is out there.  It requires that you discover what needs that your customers have that are not being met.  And then you meet them.

    How do you find where their needs are not being met?  Where do you find those needs?  By intense focus, observation and creativity.  You watch to see how your customer’s organization interacts with its customers.  You look for holes.  You try to understand what their end buyer needs.  You attend their trade shows.  You read their trade publications.  You pretend that they just hired you and you are trying to get up to speed quickly so you can create value.

    You focus on results and outcomes and not on products and specifications.  You take an active role in helping your customers increase productivity, profits, performance and expand their market presence.  You help them attract, train and retain great people.  You help them communicate their purpose. 

    What do your customers need?  They need to increase sales, keep current customers, reactivate old customers, lower costs, increase efficiency and motivate and inspire their stakeholders.  You have the tools to solve their problems.  They may happen to be promotional products.  Identify the need.  Present the solution.  Do this and your customers will need you.

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