Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Lately, as I started some new projects, I have been thinking about whether or not I believe these projects are viable because I want them to be or if I am just deluding myself and they don’t have the merit that I think they have.

It is typical of the human brain to validate the ideas that we have. When we want to start a new endeavor our brains are more likely to direct us to information that will confirm what we believe or want to believe rather than give us the facts.

For example, in a town nearby to where I live there is one corner that has, in the time I have been paying attention, had five different Mexican restaurants in that location. I am not saying that starting a Mexican restaurant may not be a good idea (I love Mexican food). I am just saying that perhaps that particular corner is not where you want to open your restaurant. If it hasn’t worked five times, there is a good chance it won’t work a sixth.

More than likely, a sixth Mexican restaurant will go into that space because we tend to pay less attention to things that do not fit with what we have already decided. We bias our brain towards confirming what we already want to believe.

I was listening to a well-known author speaking the other day and he said that “Ego defends us against new information from the world.” As soon as we get our ego involved and are bought into believing something, it is very difficult for us to understand that whatever we want to do might not be a good idea.

Another reason why this is likely is that we tend to surround ourselves with people who think similarly to the way we do and therefore will also confirm our bias.

Before I go forward with my new ideas I am going to seek out a few people I know who tend to have different opinions to the ones I hold and ask them how they feel about my new projects. Chances are I will still go ahead with them, but I will probably be more aware of possible problems I may encounter.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Make Your Websites More Personal

I have lately spent some time going through winery websites. I do this every few months to catch up on what wineries in different regions are up to.

I have been amazed at how many wineries have no information on their owners and staff. I know that tasting room and other staff members may change regularly so continually changing out pictures can be time-consuming. Fair enough, if all your staff members do not have their photos and a short bio on your website. However, there are things that you can do that can be easily changed if needed.

The First Law of Connection

If you want people to buy your products, join your clubs or come to your events give them the opportunity to connect.

When I am reading ABOUT US sections of websites, they usually contain paragraph after paragraph of “We planted vineyards”… ”We made wine”…” This is our passion”…” We want you to come and visit us.” While this is all very nice, I am much more likely to come and visit you if you have told me who you are. I am also more likely to buy what you are selling.

In order to connect with people, you have to start with their emotions. It is hard to connect with an unnamed, unknown entity and relate to him/her as a person.

To quote John Maxwell, “Connection is not about you but it begins with you.”

What is the first thing you usually want to know about someone to start a connection?

That’s right, their name. It is much easier to get people to give you their names if you have told them yours first.

So imagine reading the website for a business that you may be interested in visiting and finding that the company talks about “we, we, we”, but does not introduce the people who own it or work there.

Take a look at your website and see how you can make it more personal so potential customers will have another reason to connect with you. There is a lot of wine out there to choose from but there is only one YOU!

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Improve Performance for Loyalty or Rewards Programs

Most companies these days have rewards programs for loyal customers. Though how successful these programs are can vary considerably from company to company. In April, I came across an interesting article concerning rewards programs on Marketing Profs by Samir Palnitkar.

One thing that struck me was his assertion that consumers are enrolled in an average of over 30 loyalty or rewards programs but are active in less than half of those programs. Based on my own experience I would say that is true. These days it is easy to sign up for a rewards program, especially if bonus points or rewards are given for signing up. How many rewards programs do you belong to that you seldom use?

The article gives some good ideas about how you can utilize your rewards program members in other ways than just through purchases. You may allow them to earn points towards rewards for talking about your business, products or staff on social media. If they write a review, for example, they get extra points.

Additionally, your rewards members have to feel that they can achieve at least the lowest couple of redemption options otherwise they will get discouraged. Design a program with different tiers and think about how the rewards may be a mix of products and experiences. For example, a reward might be that they may use some of their rewards points to attend an event that you are hosting. If you are doing it right, getting them to the event should result in increased sales. You may also award points for signing up to receive emails from you and give bonus points with the first three months that they are signed up. Consider giving more points, instead of discounts, where the points are redeemable for future purchases.

Make sure that your rewards program is a prominent part of your website as well as prominently displayed in your place of business (put signs among merchandise displays) where customers congregate and at the cash register.

There are many more things you can do to maximize the use of reward points, start thinking about what will work for you.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Who Is Accessing Your Website?

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine. Rebecca, who owns Maximum Value Marketing, and I have known each other for years and we enjoy a good chat about all things marketing. We can talk about marketing the way winemakers can talk about their wines… that is in more detail than most people really want or need to know.

This time we were talking about websites, one of Rebecca’s specialties. What works, what doesn’t and not so much of what we see in company website (especially small companies) but what we don’t see. This led us back to the age-old questions that are pertinent throughout all marketing channels. “Does your website provide information for all the different people who may need it? And if not, how does that affect the profitability and success of your business?”

The gist of the conversation was that all different types of people, consumers, trade, press visit your website. It’s where they go to gather information about you for a number of different purposes. Here are just a few examples of who may be accessing your website and what they may want to know:

Consumers

  • A customer of yours may have served a friend your wine during a visit. The friend then wants to know more.
  • Customers in stores or supermarkets, may see your wine and use your website to find out more about it before they decide to buy.
  • People planning their next holiday may be looking for wineries they want to visit in the region. What is on your website that will make your business stand out from those around you?

Retailers & Distributors

  • Sales people who work for a retailer or distributor that carries your wine may need information to promote your products. Make sure that information is easily available on your website.
  • Retailers or distributors who are interested in carrying your products would use your website first to find out if you would be a good fit.

Press

  • Bloggers and media outlets (usually at 10 p.m. or later on the night before their blog or story is due) may be looking for facts on the company and the wines. If they can’t find the facts or your site, they will use another brand in their story.

Your website is available 24 hours each day, so interested people can access it whenever they need or want to. Make sure yours has everything they need to answer their questions.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Tips to Improve Your Online Presence*

These days, if you are in business, an online presence is essential to your success. Critical to that success is that you update constantly your online presence to keep up with the changes in online platforms and to maintain your information current.

By making it easy for customers to do connect with you online, find information about products, services, events and operational information, they can make plans to visit or buy products when you are not available to speak with them. For example, if you change your hours during the winter that should be reflected on your website.

Websites should not be static but should be updated regularly with things added or removed. One easy way to do this, without having to change your entire website, is through a “What’s New” page, where new information can be added at a moment’s notice. Imagine that you were voted the “Best Business in North America.” The sooner you can get that up on your website, the better. You can send out emails to let customers know, but what about the people who are looking for you that you don’t have access to your email newsletter? They should know it, too.

Make sure your website loads quickly. The messages should be clearly presented and valuable information should be visible (contact information and address).  If you want people to get in touch with you, make it easy. I have a hard time with websites that tell me to complete a lot of my personal information to contact them but don’t make their phone number easy to find if I just want to give them a call instead.

Mobile device accounted for 49.74% of website views worldwide in 2017 and this percentage is only going to go up. Optimize your website so it shows well on mobile.

Be accessible, allowing your customers and potential customers to access your information through the platform of their phone, whether that is a phone call, email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or the next big thing that comes along. By being easy to find you can have a 24/7 presence to give you a competitive edge.

Your strong online presence will benefit you, your customers and those that are still trying to find you. Make it a priority.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

* Some information from an article in Entrepreneur Daily.

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Simple Things to De-stress Yourself

For many people life is (or seems to be) more stressful these days. We have more to do, more to think about at work and at home. So when I came across this article by Nina Zipkin on Entrepreneur Daily, I thought it would make a helpful blog. Sit down, relax and take five minutes to read about some techniques that will help relieve the stress you may be feeling.

Deep Breathing

A tip from Harvard Medical School: Find a quiet place, it could be outside or behind your desk (if you have already locked the door) and breathe in slowly through your nose allowing the air to fill your lungs. Let your abdomen expand fully. Then breathe out slowly through your mouth or your nose.

Laughter

Try and find humor in things and start laughing. The Mayo Clinic says laughter can ease physical pain, boost your immune system and help you connect with others. It can also aid in coping with anxiety and depression.

Be Grateful

A study at the University of California at San Diego showed that people who were grateful had healthy hearts. When it comes right down to it, most of us have a lot to be grateful for. People who are grateful feel less fatigue and sleep better.

Sing

Singing does make you feel better. Partly, I think because of the breathing, but it also takes you out of yourself. I remember my mother singing “Whistle a Happy Tune” from the King And I. The lyrics: “Whenever I feel afraid. I hold my head erect. And whistle a happy tune. So no one will suspect I’m afraid.” I now sing that and other songs myself when I am stressed and it works well for me.

Count to Ten (or twenty if you wish)

Counting refocuses your mind on something other than the stress, according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America.

Hugs are a great stress reliever and drinking water can help. Having an apple, berries or walnuts, which contain antioxidants, may also work. Lastly, get some exercise, even if it’s just a five-minute walk around the building.

Whether you are at work or at home be aware of when you are becoming stressed, deal with it in a quick and easy way to get things back on track.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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Creating Good Relationships at Work

An article in Mind Tools reported that Gallup published a study about the value of having good friends (or at least one good friend) at work. The poll showed that people who have a friend in the workplace are more likely to be satisfied with their job, be more positive and work harder. As humans, we want friendships and positive interactions with co-workers. If we are happy we are also going to be more productive.

That being the case, it’s important for businesses to foster good relationships between workers. Managers should be aware of employee differences and make every effort to understand and deal any situations with the employees involved. If not, minor disagreements can blow up out of proportion, affecting more employees than those originally involved, making the workplace uncomfortable for larger groups.

As employees or managers, it’s important that you look at all sides of the problem.  Sometimes people who have to work together are not drawn to each other’s personalities or managers may prefer one employee over another for any number of reasons. At these times, it is easy to criticize the person you don’t see eye to eye with rather than trying to find the positive things that this person brings to the group or department. Granted there can be co-workers that you just don’t get along with. It’s rather like an AM/FM radio; the AM stations can’t play on the FM channels and vice versa. It doesn’t mean that either AM or FM is wrong, it just means they are different.

If you are working with or managing someone who you are not in sync with, try getting to know the person a little better. Find out more about them before making your final decision. If you still don’t care for them, be polite, professional and offer them the same courtesies you would offer to anyone else. Conversely, if you are a manager and realize you have one person who is upsetting the whole team and have talked to them once or twice with no result, don’t sacrifice your whole team to one person. Remember the one dysfunctional person can easily drag the rest of the team into being dysfunctional. It is very rarely that a functional team is able to bring a dysfunctional person up.

A tip of the glass from me to you!

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