You had me at hello

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Ever been in a position where someone is trying to persuade you, or sell you something and they can’t stop talking? They breeze right by the part where you said OK.

big earsIt happens a lot in sales where someone is working from prepared text (telemarketers) or pitches (door-to-door). They are so engrossed in getting their message out they are not watching or listening to your reaction.

I like to throw a spanner in the works, interrupt and ask them a question totally unrelated to what they are talking about. Most are flustered and can’t pick up their pitch.

Be comfortable with your pitch or elevator speech, whether you are selling something or responding to someone asking what you do at a networking event.

But most of all listen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Networking, Sales

Insanity is a root cause of business failures

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

A friend of mine reminded me recently that Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. Yet we often  think that doing what we always do will yield better results. If you feel yourself descending into the abyss consider these few suggestions.

1.Is what you are doing to market and promote your business really working? Measure the return on your marketing investment. What works and what doesn’t? Don’t be afraid to change approaches, even midstream.

insanity2.  Survey, measure results What? Was number one a challenge because you don’t measure the success of your marketing  program.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, but you need to understand what is working and what isn’t, so track sales related to a specific campaign and compare those results to the cost of running the campaign. If it costs more to run the campaign than …I think you get the idea.

3. Talk with your customers Don’t be afraid to talk with your customers, that would be face to face or even on a telephone.  Or use Social Media to create dialogue. Consider a blog. Share your expertise.  Talking to your customers is a good thing.

4. Find other experts in your industry You are not alone. There are experts everywhere online and you can subscribe to any number of blogs that could be useful to your business. Go to Google blog search ( ) and search for your areas of interest.

5. Check the pulse regularly Don’t wait until it is too late to discover your business is under-performing. Set out a plan and check monthly to ensure you are on target.  If you have three months of under-performance, you need to make a change. Be nimble, monitor your business and adjust accordingly.

Leave a comment

Filed under Managing, Marketing, social media, Uncategorized

Attitude will make the difference

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Here’s a thought.

tea byWhat skill, attribute or approach best enables a small business owner to succeed?

Businesses have to plan, which means they need to set goals, develop strategy and tactics and to the best of their ability deliver that plan.

PoutineLots of businesses do this stuff and not all of them succeed. Why?

The larger question is why are you in this business? What is your driving force? What happens when the plan doesn’t work or your competitors jump all over you? What keeps your head in the game.


We all look for it when we hire, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the most successful business people have it in spades.

I have great admiration for two Brampton business people who have the attitude. Don’t try and tell Daniel at Tea by Daniel or Graham at Poutine Dare to be Fresh  that they can’t succeed.

These guys don’t know what that means.


Leave a comment

Filed under Marketing

I really didn’t say everything I said

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra died Tuesday night. He was a member of 10 World Series championship teams as a as a Yankee and a three-time MVP He had 358 career home runs and was considered one of the greatest players of all time on the field.

He was also one of sports most quotable players with phrases or Yogi-isms that have become part of popular culture.

I have been using some of these Yogi-isms in facilitation exercises for years. One of my favourites in a strategic planning exercise is:

“If you don’t know where you are going,
you’ll end up someplace else.”

yogiHere is a sampling of famous Yogi-isms.

On his approach to at-bats: “You can’t think and hit at the same time.”

On selecting a restaurant: “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

On economics: “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”

On the 1973 Mets: “We were overwhelming underdogs.”

On how events sometimes seem to repeat themselves “It’s deja vu all over again!”

On baseball attendance: “If people don’t come to the ballpark, how are you gonna stop them?”

On a slipping batting average: “Slump? I ain’t in no slump. … I just ain’t hitting.”

On travel directions: “When you come to a fork in the road take it.”

On pregame rest: “I usually take a two-hour nap from 1 to 4.”

On battling the shadows in left field at Yankee Stadium: “It gets late early out there.”

On fan mail: “Never answer an anonymous letter.”

On being told he looked cool: “You don’t look so hot yourself.”

On being asked what time it was: “You mean now?”

On being given a day in his honor: “Thank you for making this day necessary.”

On a spring training drill: “Pair off in threes.”

On his approach to playing baseball: “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.”

On death: “Always go to other people’s funerals. Otherwise they won’t go to yours.”

On learning: “You can observe a lot by watching.”

On his team’s diminishing pennant chances: “It ain’t over `till it’s over.”

On the fractured syntax attributed to him: “I really didn’t say everything I said.”


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Volkswagen – another epic big brand fail

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

When big brands fail, somehow we are shocked.

The latest is Volkswagen,  engulfed by a growing crisis over its attempt to make millions of diesel cars appear cleaner than they are.

The scandal broke Friday, when U.S. regulators said the German company had programmed some 500,000 vehicles to emit lower levels of harmful emissions in official tests than on the roads.

vwVolkswagen stunned investors Tuesday by admitting that the problem was much bigger than that: internal investigations had found significant discrepancies in 11 million vehicles worldwide.

It set aside 6.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion) to cover the cost of recalls and “efforts to win back the trust of our customers,” trashing its profit forecast for the year in the process.

Shares in Volkswagen plunged 18% Tuesday, after crashing 17% Monday. That means about a third of the value of the group has been wiped out in two days.

Volkswagen is not the first. There is the GM ignition switch problem, that caused 13 deaths and 10 years to recognize. Toyota’s airbag problems. Toyota ‘s $1.2 billion settlement with federal prosecutors over its handling of more than 4 million recalled cars because of unintended acceleration in 2009 and 2010.

The US Justice Department will investigate Volkswagen, so undoubtedly there is more bad news coming.

What are we to make of this other than greed is ever present in corporate America?

Brand loyalty is built on trust. Trust isn’t bought, it’s earned. Volkswagen has a tough row to hoe.




Leave a comment

Filed under advertising, Branding, Customer Service