Working smart # 18: 5 rules that focus on results in every sale or marketing outreach

These five rules are effective to keep you focused on results, and to avoid wasting time on efforts that bring no return on your investment of time and effort.

For every project, marketing outreach, or other time-consuming effort on your business plate, no matter how small, make certain you stick to these basic rules.

1.  Define the result you want from this effort in a short phrase, and verify that this effort will meet the 5 rules.

  •  I want this to bring me more prospects.
  •  I want this to alert my referral network to send me more referrals.
  •  I want to win this gig.

2.  Identify the audience (the specific target market), for example ~

  • qualified prospect who has passed my screening criteria
  • existing client ready to be upsold to more work
  • your referral network

3. Speak only to the specified audience about the result you want.

  • Do not address any audience other than the one you have targeted.
  • Say one thing well to one audience.
  • Brief is better.

4.  Craft a message that presents your value to that audience to gain the specified result.

  • Do not confuse the outcome with any adjacent messages.
  • See #3 above.

5.  Ask for the result.

  • When you have crafted your single message, addressing your single target audience, and you have presented your value, ask for the result you want.  Be specific.  Make a direct request for the referral or the sale.

These 5 rules will save you much wasted effort, and focus your outreach, projects or prospecting in the most efficient manner.  Be sure you review the 5 rules you have created for each project while you are working on it, to be certain you have not moved off-message or off-target.

Good luck.


Do You Know What Drives Your Profit? by Terry Corbell

Terry Corbell, The Biz Coach

Terry Corbell, The Biz Coach


Who have the toughest jobs? Well, in my experience, single moms who work outside the home, have the toughest job of all. Entrepreneurs have the second-toughest job.

For profits, entrepreneurs must learn how to manage their financials and performance, which are difficult tasks. Savvy business owners know who their ideal clients or customers are.

Entrepreneurs realize financial benefits when their revenue from business exceeds their expenses and taxes. This results in a much easier task – deciding whether to save, spend or invest the profit back into the business.

Until employees and customers actually walk a mile in an entrepreneur’s shoes, they often think a small business owner is wealthy. That may or may not be true. In recent years, the odds are that many small business owners are struggling.

Smart, hardworking business owners enhance their chances for success — by completely understanding the critical factors that drive profits and they tirelessly focus on those profit-drivers.

Profit drivers

The four basic drivers of profit:

  1. Price
  2. Variable costs (variable costs change as a result of revenue from the cost of sales)
  3. Fixed costs (also known as overhead)
  4. Sales

Which of the profit drivers have the most impact on an entrepreneur’s success Price. That’s because increases in price immediately add to any profit margin.

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of focusing on sales volume without regard to price. Especially, in a sour economy, business owners are focused on selling to alleviate ageing issues.

The dilemma, however, is that sales increases are tied to increases in variable costs, which lead to less profit.

Conversely, decreases in variable costs increase profit margins, but total revenue will not increase.

Many business owners fail to realize that cutting fixed costs do not affect revenue, which means it has the least effect on profits.

Entrepreneur mistakes

The three biggest profit-mistakes of entrepreneurs:

  1. Business owners are so focused on developing revenue from prospective customers, they fail to concentrate on their existing customer base.
  2. They fail to build their brand image so they miss opportunities to increase prices.
  3. When they cut good marketing and lay off employees to cut costs, most often they’re cutting their investments in their business muscle not fat.

To elaborate on mistake No.2 — missing brand-building opportunities to increase prices — successful entrepreneurs determine how much they can hike prices without losing profit.

True, you will most likely lose the 18 percent of customers who only buy products at the cheapest price. But depending on the amount of a price increase, you can still make a better profit.

Price-sensitive customers who do not appreciate value, most-frequently make the most-undesirable customers. They’re high maintenance, and demand the most service. They complain the most and most-readily return products.

The moral: Build your brand to maximize prices and target the best customers. That’s what leads to long-term profits – and success.

From the Coach’s Corner, here’s more: 8 Simple Strategies to Give You Pricing Power.

“I don’t want to do business with those who don’t make a profit, because they can’t give the best service.”

-Richard Bach



Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

SharpInsights #61: Romancing the Recession Customer by Seena Sharp

These wonderful short pieces from Seena Sharp are full of wisdom and thought-provoking ideas about how to approach our markets and competitively position our businesses. 

Even in a down economy, determined marketers will always find opportunities. Unemployed (or under-employed) consumers don’t stop spending-they just spend differently. Recognizing this, some companies have earned media coverage (and consumer gratitude) for making it easier to do business with them.

They feel your pain
Hyundai’s Assurance program wooed worried drivers in 2009. They promised to buy back new cars from customers who lost their jobs. JetBlue’s Promise program lets consumers cancel tickets and get a refund in case of job loss.

Pay now, buy later
Best Buy, Toys R Us, and Marshall’s offer layaway to let budget-conscious customers keep shopping. Kmart never stopped offering layaway, and the number of contracts has doubled since 2008. (Bonus: Nosy kids can’t find holiday gifts that are still at the store.)

Bucking for a bargain
Even that penny-pincher’s paradise, the dollar store, is responding to market conditions by selling smaller packages with smaller price tags. Lower priced private label goods are on the rise as well. Even low price strategies need to adjust to changing times.

Whether your company is B2C or B2B, how can you make your products or services more attractive to prospects and customers who are feeling the pinch?


Seena Sharp of Sharp Market Intelligence is my long-time colleague who identifies your competitive edge by uncovering opportunities, threats and growth segments. Visit Seena at, and Download the free chapter in Seena Sharp’s new book, Competitive Intelligence Advantage: How to Minimize Risk, Avoid Surprises, and Grow Your Business in a Changing World (Wiley) And read the great Amazon reviews.


Think 1930s for Business Success. Consumer Attitudes are Changing by Terry Corbell

Hyper-consumerism is history. Traditional values with a purpose are in vogue.

Traditional values – old-fashioned, if you prefer – describe the new mindset of consumers and what they expect from business. That’s according to a white paper, “The Power of the Post-Recession Consumer,” republished by strategy+business.

Authors John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio explained a shift in consumers who
are now adamant about affordability, connection and quality. It’s similar to
the attitudes of any person who survived the Great Depression. The shift has
implications for every ambitious company, manager and employee – from human resources and marketing to finance. Many business cultures must change for survival.

“People are returning to old-fashioned values to build new lives of purpose and connection,” the authors wrote. “They also realize that how they spend their money is a form of power, and are moving from mindless consumption to mindful consumption, increasingly taking care topurchase goods and services from sellers that meet their standards and reflect their values.”

Messrs Gerzema and D’Antonio maintain this consumer shift about business started before the Great Recession. It accelerated during the downturn. It’s a worldwide philosophy, not just in the United States. It’s related to disenchantment with the behavior and policies of political leaders. It’s a shift to a new attitude of values and environmentalism.

They call it a “spend shift movement.”

“It will create opportunities for businesses that heed its message, and penalize those that do not,” assert the authors.

As a launching pad for their research, they started with Young & Rubicam’s BrandAsset Valuator (BAV), which is comprised of 20 years in the research of consumer habits, and in more than 40,000 companies in 50+ nations. It’s complemented by the opinions of more than 1 million respondents worldwide, including 16,000 Americans.

Some 70 brand measurements are also included.

“As a factor in decision making, sheer desire or the goods themselves has been declining sharply for the past decade,” the uthors wrote. “More recently, the BAV surveys show sharp increases in the number of consumers who want positive relationships with marketplace vendors and who focus more on corporate behavior.”

The authors report consumers now resist buying brands/products associated with these adjectives:

  • “Exclusive” (down 60 percent)
  • “Arrogant” (down 41 percent)
  • “Sensuous” (down 30 percent)
  • “Daring” (down 20 percent)

Consumers now prefer these brand images:

  • “Kindness and empathy” (up 391 percent)
  • “Friendly” (up 148 percent)
  • “High quality” (up 124 percent)
  • “Socially responsible” (up 63 percent)

The authors state these attitudes represent the biggest change in the two decades of BAV’s research, and they cite personal-savings data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

“Even as unemployment surged past 10 percent, U.S. consumers socked away more money every month,” the authors explained. “By the middle of 2009, people were saving about 7 percent of their disposable income — a figure that hadn’t been seen since 1995.”

To illustrate the spend shift movement, the authors divided their findings into four tenets:

  1. “United by Change” – the shift includes 55 percent of Americans, 53 percent of the French, and 45 percent of the Germans and Italians.
  2. “The New Thrift – more than 66 percent of Americans are down-sizing. Among the millennials, 77 percent are cutting back. Companies that deliver according to the expectations of these consumers have a 249 percent better
    word-of-mouth opportunity.
  3. “Transparency breeds trust” – The digital age has prompted a new awareness. Consumer trust has dropped by almost 50 percent in companies and governments that fail to adhere to the new expectations. “In  today’s marketplace, successful companies will practice complete transparency, letting customers see their supply chains, management  strategies, and values,” the authors assert.
  4. Companies that Care” – empathy should be a top priority. “The ability of a company to identify with its customers is now a prerequisite for any brand in the post-crisis age,” the authors added. “Today, openness, humility, and understanding are critical.  Generosity binds a company to its community and its stakeholders.”

As the authors suggest, think “helpful, reliable, educational and durable.”

For new and existing entrepreneurs, the authors provide this advice: “If you have an idea for helping people learn new skills and connect with others, your business has a good chance of success.”

Amen. The change is welcome.

Click here to read the white paper.


Terry Corbell, my close colleague and friend, is Seattle’s “Biz Coach.”   I wanted to share his article with you, and refer you to his site, where you will find hundreds of interviews and articles (

SharpInsights #57: Truth Is A Moving Target by Seena Sharp

Pick a few “facts” about the market for your product or service. Can you afford to bet your business on what you assume is true? Just look at these new truths:

The flipside of foreclosure
Real estate news has been bleak for the last few years, but in 2010 a record 27.8% of all homes sold in California were cash transactions. No mortgages. That figure rose to 30.9% in January 2011. When market conditions are extreme, so are the opportunities.

Keep your iPad, dad!
A recent study from the National Association of College Stores found that 74% of college students prefer print textbooks over digital, and only 13% had purchased an electronic book of any kind during the period studied. Further, 92% indicated that they currently do not own an e-reader, and 77% of those who purchased an e-book indicated they used a laptop or netbook to read it.

Smart is colorful
A third of all mobile phones in the U.S. are smartphones, but consumers of color are far more likely than whites to have one of these feature-filled phones. Just 27% of white mobile phone owners have a smartphone compared to 45% of Hispanics, 45% of Asians, and 33% of African-Americans.

Even if you’re not in any of the fields mentioned above, what you don’t know can cost you sales. Competitive intelligence is the best way to get current market information and see new possibilities.

Seena Sharp of Sharp Market Intelligence is my long-time colleague who identifies your competitive edge by uncovering opportunities, threats and growth segments. Visit Seena at, and Download the free chapter in Seena Sharp’s new book, Competitive Intelligence Advantage: How to Minimize Risk, Avoid Surprises, and Grow Your Business in a Changing World (Wiley) And read the great Amazon reviews.

Want more SharpInsights? Visit the Sharp Market archives for byte-size bits of food for thought for executives. You are welcome to forward this message to colleagues, tweet or reprint it, as long as you credit us and link to the source: