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Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

There was a time when I was a fairly decent resource for all that was ‘technology’…however, that was many, many moons ago. I like to think I am a bit above the curve for some things, and I am learning more every day, but I still am surrounded by people who are bona fide experts and call upon their knowledge when I know I am faced with a task that is beyond my reach.

That said, I do know what binary is and how it relates to computers. I find it fascinating when I see a software program or application that does some amazing things and realize that all a computer can really do is add 1 and 0.

With the beginning of a new year, I believe it deserves our personal consideration to be a bit more ‘binary’ as we look at our current efforts to build new business. Now, before we begin, please do not misinterpret what I am about to say as me believing all things are either black or white. This is only a test. Please ‘circle’ the appropriate response.

Q: Do you have a bona fide, you can reach in a drawer, put your hands on, marketing plan for 2011?
A: Yes or No

Q: Was your bona fide, 2010 marketing plan effective?
A: Yes or No

Q: All of your employees are aware of and support your marketing plan?
A: Yes or No

See the pattern we are developing here?

Sure, one could answer the above questions with, “Kind of” or “Sort of” but for this exercise, those responses do not compute. There is no better time than the beginning of a new year to be more decisive in what you will do to build new business for the next 12 months.

In closing, will you take a few moments to sit down, review your business development, sales and marketing strategy and see if you need to upgrade or are happy with the results of your current model? Circle one please.

A: Yes or No.

Remember, goals that are not written down are just wishes.

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Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell [at] cmconl.com

www.cmconl.com

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Back in the saddle is a good place to be!

My last post was more than a while ago and I did share with everyone how I was involved in an auto accident that put me on the sidelines for a while. Between physical therapy and having to have an operation, plus keep up with my ‘day job’, I have not had much time to write. That has changed.

One of the things I learned while I was trying to sneak in trips to the doctor and to P.T., was just how much I took for granted my ability to walk downstairs to my office each day and how much I truly am addicted to what I do. (Business-wise that is.)

I set as my goal, way back when, that I would retire at age 40. I had a Finance professor who taught Federal Finance (The Federal Reserve, etc.) and he did just that. On our last day of class, he said he wanted to thank us for being such a great group of students and that this was his final class as he was retiring.

To make a long story short, and to definitely date myself, my professor invested in real estate in the Athens, GA area, begin pyramiding his properties for several years and within a six month time frame, liquidated everything, netted after taxes, just north of $2,000,000. He bought a condo in south Florida and munis with the rest. That, I told myself, would be my plan.

Well, fast forward and the closest I ever came to that would be when my former company was sold, the new owners told ‘old timers’ like me to hit the road and I had six months severance and they had to purchase my stock. I was in no hurry to get a job. I told my wife, I was going to take six weeks and do nothing but play golf.

That lasted about three days.

I started going ‘crazy’ and then decided that I would make my job to find a new job. I would go to my home office at 8:00 AM and search for my next opportunity until 5:00 PM. Fortunately, at the same time, I started Construction Market Consultants, Inc. and have loved what I do ever since.

Why does Donald Trump, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs still put in the hours they do? Because they love what they do.

I have since changed my mantra from my days in business school. I never want to retire. Sure, I have lofty financial goals that would put me in a position so I would not have to work, but rather would want to work. Yes, my IRA is not where it used to be but I am not that concerned. I am addicted to churning the wheels of commerce and am so grateful that I get to wake up each day and participate in the free enterprise system.

In spite of loving what I do, don’t let me kid you, there are, to quote Jimmy Buffett, ‘Good days and bad days and going half-mad days.’ without a doubt. I am more than ready for 2010 to be a part of history. However, there is nothing like savoring a successful RFP or to be referred a nice piece of business that helps sooth the aches and pains from pulling the crank and seeing three lemons time and time again.

Next time, I will address something more specifically pertaining to building new business. Today, I wanted to remind everyone that if you too are ready for 2011, to just keep on hanging on and if no one else decides to participate, let’s just us turn things around in spite of the doomsayers! Being the week of Thanksgiving, I am willing to bet that even the most beleaguered businesses still has things to be thankful for.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone and know that of all the many things I am thankful for, those who take time to read my ramblings are definitely on that list.

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Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell [at] cmconl.com

http://www.cmconl.com

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Everyone,

Sorry for the lack of activity but I hit a snag about a month ago on a business trip.

To make a long story short, I was involved in a head-on auto collision (Not my fault), was knocked out, woke up in the ambulance, got a CT Scan at emergency room, was told as I was checking out, “Oh yea…by the way, we found a golf ball sized tumor in your neck, you need to get that checked.”

We had it biopsied, inconclusive.

Radio-active medical scan, inconclusive.

So, last week they went in and got it…thankfully, it was benign.

That said, I am back in the saddle and ready to churn the wheels of commerce once again! I did a webinar yesterday for a company called Elevation Research Group and was very happy with the results. It was on, what else? Building New Business for Architects.

I trust all is well and enjoying cooler temps. I hope to post some good stuff shortly so in the mean time, keep on churning!

Bobby

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Having played guitar since I was a youngster, I have developed a deep appreciation for guitar players. Once, a friend asked me, “What is the difference between you and Sonny Lallerstedt?” (More on Sonny in a moment.) I replied, “I play guitar, Sonny is a guitar player.”

I could regale you, if you are a music fan, with Sonny Lallerstedt stories for the entire blog but I will make a point before I am done. Sonny is one of the best friends I have ever had, and without a doubt the most talented musician I have ever known. He played Phil Keaggy’s ‘Wedding In The Country Manor’ at our wedding, has played on hundreds of albums from Elton John down to people no one has ever heard of and he is as humble as he is gifted.

A couple of quick examples of Sonny’s musical abilities:

– When Sonny was 12 years old, he could play any song on the radio by Chet Atkins (His major guitar influence)

– Sonny has perfect pitch. You can put a guitar tuner in front of him, ask him to sing a ‘C’ and the tuner will indicate a spot on ‘C’.

– I was in his recording studio once when he was working on a project for the ‘Miss South Carolina’ beauty pageant; they were making a track of ‘New York, New York’. He had six horn players, all partitioned from each other but still playing/recording at the same time.

After they finished, Sonny had to point out to one of the horn players that at a certain measure, he played a ‘F’ instead of a ‘G’. Obviously, the trumpet player asked to hear the playback. Sonny ‘punched out’ all the rest of the horns so we would only be hearing the player in question and sure enough, the mistake was obvious.

There are so many other examples I could share but the bottom line is I have been very blessed to have so many experts at so many things among my circle of friends. When I am buying a new guitar, piece of equipment or whatever, I always ask Sonny’s input first.

Now, back to business; when Eddie Van Halen came on the scene, the tones he got out of his home-made, Fender ‘Stratocaster’ copy guitar were amazing. I once mentioned to Sonny how I would love to play Eddie’s guitar to get those sounds. He replied that it would sound different if I played it. (He was not just talking about the vast talent gap either.) That thought never left my mind.

When I got the idea for his blog, I dropped Sonny an email just to make sure I remembered this conversation correctly, that if I picked up Eddie Van Halen’s guitar, played it, it would sound differently. Sonny’s reply was:

You’re right! Everybody has a different touch. We might get close to the sound, but the little things that each of us does makes a difference.

This was good news for me. First, I would not have to abandon my idea for this blog and secondly, my memory may not be as bad as I feared.

As we try to build new business, we are inundated with solutions, tools, opportunities and experts all offering help. I have no doubt that we can all learn something…even from a blog like mine! The thing to remember is when you hear someone say “This is the way to do this.” or “This is the way to do that.” each one of us, no matter how closely we follow the recipe, will have a different result because of, just like Sonny said, we all have a different touch.

It you play guitar or are a guitar player and you want to improve…read a book, attend a seminar/webinar or even better, take a personal lesson that will help you develop your unique touch. What may be comfortable for me to say in front of a building committee will be different than what you would feel comfortable saying. If you are in charge of growing revenue and/or increasing profits for your company, I believe the same holds true.

There are many solutions out there that will help you grow your company, just remember that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. Or, one ‘sound’ doesn’t fit all.

Post Script – I want to thank Chris Hill for his guest post last time. Chris is an incredible resource and his blog, ‘Construction Law Musings’ is the best law blog I have read.

Also, if you want to see a very short clip, less than a minute, of Sonny:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22tMBjerRdk

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Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell [at] cmconl.com

www.cmconl.com

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Through the years, I have been a member or an associate member of many trade organizations and have to admit, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in each and everyone. Color me a ‘geek’ but I love networking, learning new aspects of our industry and attending tradeshows. My involvement in these organizations has afforded me many opportunities to indulge in all three.

A few years back, I received a call from one of my mentors, an incredibly successful real estate developer and owner of a large REIT. (Real Estate Investment Trust) Charles asked me if I would not mind meeting a friend of his just to talk and hash out ideas. Charles explained to me how he met James at Harvard’s MBA program and they, both being successful serial entrepreneurs, have stayed in touch through the years.

I met James for breakfast to discuss a company he is involved with and how they could build new business within the A/E/C marketplace. During our conversation, James introduced me to an Enterprise Forum that he chaired and invited me to attend one of their local meetings. I jumped at the chance and it proved to be, without a doubt, one of the most influential gatherings I have ever attended.

The night I arrived, I felt very much like a student attending fraternity rush on my own. The room was filled with some amazing people but the moment I walked in, one of the greeters introduced himself and asked me what I did. When I replied with, “I am Bobby Darnell and I have a small consultancy group that does business development, sales and marketing consulting for the A/E/C marketing place.” he grabbed me by the arm and said, “You need to meet Mike.” and proceeded to lead me across the vast room and introduced me to Mike.

After chatting with Mike for a few minutes, I learned that he just recently sold his construction company and was looking for something new to get involved with. (I later learned that he sold his construction company for $160 million dollars) We chatted, exchanged numbers, had a few meetings and that was really about all that happened.

The real impact of my time with this organization came when I attended one of their functions that pretty much resembles the NBC show ‘Shark Tank’ with the exception that the panel was offering a critique of the presenter’s business plan as opposed to capital. It was a most fascinating event.

I watched people present their business plan ranging from a one-man shop offering the latest and greatest metal drive (golf club) to a former television executive laying out his company’s plan to take on CNN. The insight the panel offered was amazing and worthy of a blog posting all its own.

However, the main nugget I walked away with was when one of the panelists, after hearing the pitch from the entrepreneur walked over to the whiteboard and wrote. ‘C.F.I.M.I.T.Y.M.’ and asked if anyone presenting knew what that stood for. No one did and I admit, being a ‘fan’ of acronyms, I did not either.

To sum it all up…’C.F.I.M.I.T.Y.M.’ simply means: ‘Cash Flow Is More Important Than Your Mother.’
Now, apart from any personal moral disagreements with that phrase, one would have a difficult time challenging the wisdom behind it from a business perspective.

We picked up a new client this week and are in the process of working with this owner as he begins to develop a transition plan to new ownership. On our laundry list of items to discuss and understand is the company’s cash flow since this company maintains and sells inventory in the A/E/C marketplace.

Selling, marketing, advertising, responding to RPF’s, building new business, etc. is all fun, necessary and vital to any business. But in chasing these important pursuits, we must not ignore the fundamentals of any business and that is staying on top of cash flow, revenues and expenses.

There is nothing I enjoy more than walking into a room, knowing I will soon be giving a presentation for either my company or on behalf of a company we represent with the goal of walking out with a commitment for new business.

Sales!

Revenue!

Closing Deals!

I love them all!

However, every business owner needs to always remember that the most important rule in business is that it’s not how much you make…it’s how much you keep.

Also, never forget…business is a verb!

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Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell [at] cmconl.com

http://www.cmconl.com

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Being a product of the south, I have heard and used more than my share of colloquialisms. I especially enjoy being able to sneak one in during a major presentation or group of ‘heavy hitters’ to see what, if any, reaction I get.

This past week, I was in the corporate office of a Fortune 200 company and was able to use one of my favorites, ‘Shuckin’ it down to the cob!’. For those unfamiliar with the phrase, ‘shuckin’ it down to the cob’ refers to shucking an ear of corn with so much enthusiasm that you are left with nothing but the cob. Translation: it means no frills, no extras, as bare bones of a proposition as one can find.

In this particular setting, we were negotiating a rather large contract for over 200 locations and the setting felt much like the stereotypical ‘buying a new car’ scenario with the price haggling bouncing back and forth like a Forrest Gump ping pong match.

It was close to ‘walking out’ time when I was able to remind the prospect that, regarding our price, we have ‘Shucked it down to the cob’. I was able to gain a double sense of satisfaction by (A) getting the business and (B) being able to use one of my favorite colloquialisms in such a setting.

This post is not so much about winning negotiations with corny, no pun intended, sayings but rather taking a look at one’s business, tossing out the fluff and focusing on that which is most important.

Here are a few ‘Shuckisms’ since my last post.

I had a meeting with a new client this week, and as we were reviewing the business development strategy we were putting together, the owner of the company expressed his excitement about all the new techniques we had gone over.

Shuckism: I had to remind him that results are the only thing that counts.

I was watching one of my new favorite shows, ‘Shark Tank’ and there was a candidate there seeking money for her store that catered to teaching children how to shop. If you are unfamiliar with the show, it is kind of like an ‘American Idol’ for entrepreneurs, seeking funding as opposed to a recording contract. After making a pitch for their business and stating an amount they are seeking oin exchange for ‘X’ percentage equity in their business, the ‘Sharks (Successful Venture Capitalists) either opt out or strike a deal.

It was obvious the lady had passion for her business but there really was not much of a model for success. All of the sharks opted out and while most were trying to be kind, one shark was brutally honest. He said, ‘Shut it down, I am the only one here who is your friend.”

Shuckism: There is a big difference between being in business and ‘playing business’.

A few years ago, we redid our kitchen. You know, the whole nine yards: granite counter tops, new appliances, cabinets, lights, hardwoods, etc. My wife did the budgeting as this was her project. I did give her a template to follow and she did indeed do a great job of researching all the costs.

When we reviewed the budget, I noticed she left blank the line marked ‘Contingency’. When I inquired, she assured me she thought of every cost and provided me her research to back up her claim. She was correct, her numbers for the labor costs and appliances and fixtures were spot on. I honestly could not think of any contingency so we left that blank.

Low and behold, when one is having a kitchen redone, the opportunity to cook in said kitchen is greatly reduced and the cost of eating out for three weeks could fall into your ‘contingency’ cost line.

Shuckism: If you are not sure, ask someone who has done it before. Measure twice/cut once applies to more than lumber.

There are so many great resources on the web…tons of great blogs, websites, discussion groups, e-newsletters, etc. If you are having challenges building new business…just ask.

I have had the pleasure of getting to know Michael Stone author of the construction blog ‘Markup and Profit’ (www.markupandprofit.com). He is very much like me in that he truly enjoys helping people build new business. The same with Mark Buckshon, author of the new book, ‘Construction Marketing Ideas’ (www.constructionmarketingideas.com). I would not be blogging if it were not for Mark. I know for a fact, both welcome inquiries and offer a lot of great information on their sites.

There are a lot of great resources out there that can help you build new business, you just have to take advantage of them. It may be the simplest small pearl of wisdom someone else shares with you that helps you land the next contract. Very much like trying to solve magic tricks, people often way over think the solution.

Shuckism: The answer is always ‘no’ until you ask.

——————–

Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

www.cmconl.com

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell [at] cmconl.com

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WARNING: This blog does not have any pictures and may be considered lengthy by some.

I remember doing some channel surfing many moons ago and coming across George Carlin doing a bit about how all we really need in life is a ‘place for our stuff’. He went on to say that all life is about is finding a place for your stuff. Your house is really nothing but a place for your stuff with a roof. When you go on vacation, you take a smaller version of your stuff but you will still have a place for your stuff.

In the same spirit and thinking of Mr. Carlin’s wonderful piece on having a place for one’s stuff, I will contend that the parallel for business is not so much having a place for our stuff but, from Wal-mart all the way down to the sole proprietor, business is all about finding ‘shorter lines’.

Sure, we all have ‘stuff’ for our business. Where would I be without my laptop, my Blackberry, iPod player, copy machine, coffee maker, scanner and printers? These are merely tools to help me obtain what I truly desire – shorter lines.

Everything in business is a part of some type of line and we all want shorter ones. Think about it: You pull into the bank to make a deposit and there are four open drive-thru lanes. Which one do you pick? The one that has the shorter line. This also applies to checking out at the grocery store, going through security at the airport and any visit to your friendly Department of Motor Vehicles. We all want shorter lines.

In business, every single task we engage ourselves with involves a line of some kind with, I believe, the broader category being ‘time lines’. For each of the following, whatever process we choose, we cannot escape getting from ‘A’ to ‘B’ via a line of time.

• Complete stranger to loyal client

• Zero revenue to our first $1,000,000

• Profit margin from breakeven to 15%

• One location to ten branch offices

• Three employees to 50 employees

I think you get the picture. Every business person worth their salt is quite aware of the different lines involved in achieving one’s goals but what separates those possessing shorter lines from the ones with longer lines, is the amount of preparation put into each goal.

How does one reduce the timeline from meeting a complete stranger to having that person as a loyal client from 10 months down to three?

How does one shorten that timeline to seven figures in revenue from three years to one?

The simple answer is planning.

This past week, I am happy to report that we moved four companies from our ‘Prospects’ folder to our ‘Client’ folder…each being an entity in the A/E/C marketplace. If I had to highlight one item as the most profound and common issue of every single company we have worked with it would undoubtedly be how amazed I am to find the number of companies who make their living designing or following a set of plans and specifications…yet do not plan for their business.

What would the timeline be to build a 10,000 SF retail store without plans and specs versus the timeline with plans and specs?

What would the timeline be to build a million dollar business without a plan versus having one?

The late great coach Paul “Bear” Bryant once said, “Have a plan. Follow the plan, and you’ll be surprised how successful you can be. Most people don’t have a plan. That’s why it’s is easy to beat most folks.”

The shortest distance between two points will always be a straight line. The best way to make that line shorter is to plan for a shorter line.

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Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

http://www.cmconl.com/

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell [at] cmconl.com

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