Monthly Archive for September, 2013

Disregard the “Nu-uh!”€ Effect at your own peril

In this weeks video I explain how User Generated Content can produce a "Nu-uh!" effect against your small business.

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SBA Poll Results: Military action in Syria

The Question:
Do you think the U.S. should respond militarily in Syria due to the use of chemical weapons on civilians?

11% - Yes, but only for humanitarian reasons.

5% - Yes, only because it’s in our national security interests.

39% - No, because it’s time to stop fighting wars in the Middle East.

45% - No, because President Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing.

My Comments
President Obama is having a tough couple of months with regard to foreign policy. Let’s review: 1) He can’t get our allies to go along with him in making Syria’s Assad pay for using chemical weapons on his own people; 2) nor can he get the U.N. to join him; 3) and in what is unprecedented in history, a U.S. president can’t get his own Congress to back his military play, even with the Senate controlled by his party; 4) the president of Syria thumbs his nose at Obama. But it gets worse.

Without going into all the background, Russia’s Putin was handed a diplomatic gift by Obama. By seeming to author an option that in one fell-swoop allows Obama to escape from his feckless “red line” bravado, while stopping Assad from using more chemical weapons, Putin now goes from being seen as the most prominent leader who refuses to stop the gassing of little children, to a global statesman. And then, as if all of this weren’t bad enough, in an op-ed published in the New York Times, Putin lectures Obama about morality and American exceptionalism. This from the man whose hero, Joseph Stalin, murdered 20 million of his own people from the 1930s to the 1950s.

So now we come to our recent online poll: “Do you think the U.S. should respond militarily in Syria due to the use of chemical weapons on civilians?” Barely one-sixth of our respondents said “Yes,” for either humanitarian or national security reasons. Almost four-in-ten said “No, because it’s time to stop fighting wars in the Middle East.” But the largest group, 45%, said “No, because President Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing.”

But again, it gets worse. It’s increasingly clear that President Obama is no more adept at business than he is at foreign policy.

He’s presiding over the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression, now more than four years after the end of the last recession. His proudest accomplishment, Obamacare, is unraveling even as the specter of it represses economic growth. I’ve asked more than one noted economist if the U.S. could be heading for a lost decade, akin to what has happened in Japan — all have answered in the affirmative.

President Obama’s world view is what has caused his failures. With regard to foreign policy, he would rather avoid any hint of what he might call nation-building or colonialism, than to use our strength and influence for good. On the economic front, he thinks successful Americans are more fortunate than those who have less, not that they worked hard and took risks. And he’s making it his job to rectify this perceived imbalance. Both positions, which inform his decision-making, are invalid, incorrect and impractical. And sometimes, they’re dangerous.

Barack Obama is our national leader for the next 3.5 years. It’s not in anyone’s best interest, regardless of political persuasion, for him to fail. We should all want him to succeed. But his failures are hurting our country, and it’s time we all tell it like it is: As the president of the most powerful and well-intentioned country in the world and as the commander-in-chief of its military, Mr. Obama is incompetent.

President Obama is plenty smart and has many qualities and capabilities. But management experience, executive acumen and leadership are not on that list. There are many highly qualified Democrats who would be successful as president. Unfortunately for America, and perhaps the world, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Barack Obama is not one of them.


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Disregard the “Nu-uh!” Effect at your own peril

Once upon a time, but not that long ago, a brand message could be successful even if it was close to a work of fiction.

Created by Madison Avenue wordsmiths, copy for an ad or brochure was crafted to manipulate and motivate using puffery, a legal term referring to acceptable marketing exaggeration. And most of the time it worked.

In fact, generations of consumers allowed themselves to be manipulated by puffery that became part of the sound track of our lives. For examples:

“Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is.”

“Put a tiger in your tank.”

“The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup.”

Here’s a local example:

“Largest inventory in the tri-state area.”

In the past, I’ve revealed how the 10,000-year-old Age of the Seller paradigm has shifted in favor of the Age of the Customer. The differentiator is control of the information, and your customer now owns that advantage, including the truth about your products, services, and marketplace behavior. This control is derived in part from something called user generated content, or UGC.

UGC is word-of-mouth on digital steroids; the commercial equivalent of political fact-checking. Today a successful brand message will look less like Madison Avenue manipulation and more like the good, the bad, and the ugly of your business discussed by customers in online communities, like Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. You’ll benefit from good UGC one day and try to recover from negative UGC the next.

Negative UGC produces what I call the “Nu-uh!” Effect. It’s what someone posts online when your brand message doesn’t meet their expectations. If you say you have the freshest salad bar in town and one person writes “Nu-uh!” on Facebook or Yelp, that’s your new brand message until you find a way to redeem yourself.

A “Nu-uh!” could refute your claim in any number of ways, from a well-written critique to “Dude! Seriously?!” Either way, if you’re getting responses like this to your brand messaging, anyone who gives you a “Nu-uh!” raspberry is, at that moment, the co-owner of your brand.

Since no business, product, service, or relationship is perfect, the over-arching goal of your brand strategy in the Age of the Customer is to have more positive UGC than negative and, if possible, leave no ”Nu-uh!” unresolved.

UGC represents the two-edged sword by which brands large and small will either flourish or die.

Disregard the power of UGC and the “Nu-uh!” effect at your own peril.


Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

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Only the courageous know failure

One of the most powerful words in the English language is courage; it’s also a characteristic unique to humans.

The reason courage is a uniquely human trait is because it is typically demonstrated for something other than self — a cause, a country, another human — which is abstract thinking, also unique to humans. And courage usually manifests itself after the courageous has had time to think about it. The great silent movie actress Dorothy Bernard once said, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” If you’ve had time to pray, you’ve had time to change your mind.

Courage is certainly not unique to entrepreneurs, but it is a characteristic very much in evidence in our world. And the abstract that we are willing to fight for is our vision.

When you start a small business you demonstrate courage. When you persevere in the face of entrenched paradigms and small-minded naysayers, you demonstrate courage.

And what about failure? If you fail — nay, when you fail — welcome to the rarified air of the courageous. Since you can’t fail if you don’t try, only the courageous can know failure.


Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

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SBA Poll Results: Should minimum wage be increased?

The Question:
People around the U.S. are protesting for the government to increase federal minimum wage. What do you think?

18% - Agree: minimum wage should be increased.

82% - Disagree: the market should set labor prices, not government.

My Comments:
Before any commercial product or service can be offered to customers, the price must be determined. The foundational element of the price calculus is the cost, which includes payroll. In a true free-market economy, all elements of cost are determined by the marketplace.

But in the U.S., we don’t have a true free-market economy because the government sticks its nose into the equation with mandates and subsidies, one of which is the federal minimum wage. When the government is involved, politics, not reason, is the motivation, which is fine when the issue is politics. But when the issue is the price businesses pay for one of its cost factors, especially what is often the largest cost factor, politics has no place. At least, as you can see from the results of our recent poll, that’s what 82% of small business owners believe.

I’ll have more to say about this son in our Feature Article. Stay tuned and thanks for participating.

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

What’s love got to do with your small business?

People start businesses because of love.

We love to make and/or sell things: shoe laces, tires, socks, cars, soap, computers, bread, air conditioners, etc. You love your business; I love my business. Starting and running a business is a love story.

Yes, I know. Our businesses are not always lovable. Indeed, a business is like a teenager: You may not always like it, but you always love it. Which is a good thing because if you didn’t love your business you wouldn’t come back the day after it gave you the worst day of your life.

As Tina Turner asked in her song, what’s love got to do with it? Love is an important component of being in business, but it can also be a problem. Is it possible to love your business too much? As business owners, we know how to fall in love with our businesses, but we usually don’t know how and when to fall out of love with it. Here’s a great American love story that went wrong:

In the early 20th century, the railroad industry thought they were in the railroad business instead of the transportation business. When freight trucks and better roads came along, many railroad companies failed because they loved what they did more than how they did it.

Here are two happy love stories:

In 1993, the octogenarian IBM business model was in trouble. Top leadership saved the company by realizing they weren’t in the computer business, but rather the information management. So they shifted from being hardware/software centric to adding services. IBM understood that they should only be in love with delivering digital information solutions.

Founded in 1916 in Seattle, Boeing had deep roots. But in 2001, the leadership realized their future was in aerospace, not just airlines, and moved the headquarters to Chicago. They loved what they did, not where they did it.

Both IBM and Boeing saved themselves by following:

Blasingame’s Law of Business Love: “It’s okay to fall in love with what you do, but it’s not okay to fall in love with how you do it.”

What do you love about your business? I’m serious; make a list. Then go back over the list and identify anything might be holding you back. You probably can’t do this by yourself, so engage your team.

As you go through this process, listen for and beware of responses that sound like: “Well, that’s how we’ve always done it.” Statements like that make a great epitaph on the tombstone of a dead business.

Love your business, but don’t love how you do business.


Check out some segments from The Small Business Advocate Show® about changing the way you do things within the small business you love.

Fall in love with what you do, not with how you do it with Ryan Kugler.

You can fall in love with what you do, but not how you do it with Stephen Baum.

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

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