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Marketing and Generosity: Sales and Solutions for Human Flourishing

by Bernie Anderson

My name is Bernie Anderson and I have the honor of taking over the BAM blog for the next several weeks. I am a certified business and nonprofit consultant with Growability® – read more in my bio below. 

This is Part 3 of a series. Read Part 1 and Part 2 here.

 

The day I landed my first “grown-up job” I was pretty excited. It was Summer of 1985 and I had graduated high school. I was not entirely sure what was next in my life, so I took a gap year before figuring out college, university, trade school, or something else. I landed a job in a local shop that sold books and music, two of my favorite things in this world, to this day. For a year, I thrived as a salesclerk. People would come into the store wanting a new series to read or a new album to listen to — and I could authentically help them with that problem. Sales was a satisfying job because I was serving people by being generous with my knowledge of books and music.

We sometimes get jaded with age.

Over the years that love for sales waned, mostly because I hated being “sold to” (and there are a lot hucksters in this world who do just that!) The slick used-car or door-to-door salesperson, trained to be psychologically manipulative, conning you into spending money on things you don’t need.

Later, we were just-married, and I was seeking work to pay bills, I interviewed for a sales job at a mattress store. The first question the manager asked was, “Are you willing to do what it takes to make a sale? Would you lie to a customer, telling them there’s only one mattress left and you will lose it unless you buy now?”

I said “no” and walked away.

In my mind, marketing and sales was a “necessary evil” for running a business.

Yet, marketing is the second simple ingredient in your BAM project and it’s non-negotiable. It’s at the heart of all business. You must take your valuable product to the market. This is unavoidable.

 

Sales is about prioritizing your customer and solving their problem

 

In the Growability® Business Operating System, there are two critical aspects of marketing:

1. Prioritize Your Customers
2. Automate Your Sales

 

Here’s where many of us need a mindset change. Read more

Business and Bread: Build your BAM Project with 3 Simple Ingredients

by Bernie Anderson

My name is Bernie Anderson and I have the honor of taking over the BAM blog for the next several weeks. I am a certified business and nonprofit consultant with Growability® – read more in my bio below. 

 

Flour. Water. Salt.

Three of the most basic ingredients imaginable.

Yet, when properly combined, processed, and timed, these three ingredients produce what might be the perfect food: Crusty, soft, sourdough bread with complex flavor and texture.

Yes, I was one of those COVID-shutdown sourdough people. And I’m still at it three and a half years later.

I started simple. Created a starter.

Fed the starter until it was active.

Made a few discard recipes.

Keep that starter alive and flourishing.

I was well over a year in before I started creating actual sourdough loaves without added yeast.

Then I went in deep.

The magic of sourdough is the chemical creation of natural yeast. And it really is a miracle. Flour, water, and salt, mixed with a fermented starter made of a living fungus (yeast) and a living bacterium called lactobacillus. They work together to eat the sugars in the flour. These living creatures basically poop acid – a tasty, savory acid that puts the sour in sourdough. When the fungus and bacteria finish their feast and have suitably relieved themselves, the dough is ready and baking can begin.

The result is a crusty, airy, flavorful loaf of delicious. The complexity of flavor and texture in a loaf of sourdough is a veritable miracle given the simplicity of ingredients.

It’s possible to complicate the recipe. Add sugars and oils, preservatives and shelf stabilizers. But complexified breads are rarely as good as simplified loaves. Three simple ingredients, with time and a specific process, will bring extraordinary results.

 

The simple believe everything, but the clever consider their steps.

Proverbs 15:15

 

Like anything in life worth doing, starting a business is difficult. Starting or running a BAM project adds more complexities. But, one of the biggest stumbling blocks for entrepreneurs is overcomplicating the essentials. You can read thousands of business books, take hundreds of online courses, attend seminars, and even go to University and get an MBA – but the simple ingredients for starting a business stay the same.

And that’s exactly what makes a BAM project both exciting and daunting!

Business done right makes life better for everyone involved, from customer to employees to the community where it lives. Let’s simplify your BAM project by extracting the essential ingredients for starting and running a business anywhere in the world.

Every business, no matter how large or small, simple or complicated, grows from a combination of these three simple ingredients: Read more

Brand Strategy is for Everyone (Not just marketing!)

by Bruce McKinnon

I started my business back in 2009 to solve a specific problem. Namely that companies found it hard to define the value of their brand and put that value into an order. When I asked them to tell me their most important message I would invariably be told it’s not possible because it depends on the audience, the current campaign, the territory, the product, etc. all of which have their place, but the brand has to be able to rise above that minutia and be able to be defined in a concise and cohesive way.

So I developed the Brand Arrow® as a framework to help companies make good choices because it’s their job to make those choices – not the agency they hire to build a website or the PR agency writing a press release. Why?

Because nobody knows the brand better than the company that owns it. And that’s the truth!

And whilst we’re at it here are 4 more truths about the value brand strategy can deliver:

1. Brand Strategy is for the whole company, not just marketing because its job is to represent the whole company

Whilst the marketing team may well be the first to use a brand strategy in developing its communications, it’s just as important for the HR team for example, to use the values of the brand in managing the culture of the organisation; the sales team to use the key messaging in developing relationships with prospects, finance to know why the budget is being focussed on particular areas and of course, the CEO to be able to communicate a clear vision for the company. Read more

Iterations Through Feedback: Maximizing Startup Success

by Stu Minshew

On the topic of ‘maximizing BAM success factors’ we’ve invited guest authors to highlight what they consider key factors contributing to success and growth for BAM practitioners. But what if you are a startup? What if you have a business idea and want to know how to maximize your success from the get-go? We asked entrepreneur and CO.STARTERS trainer Stu Minshew to share what he’s learned about maximizing startup success in this five part mini-series.

Part 5: Iterations Through Feedback

In my last post, we explored the benefits of a small start with a focus on providing value to the customer. This allows you to get your product or service into the hands of your customers quickly and begin collecting feedback. Today, we will discuss what type of feedback you are looking for and what to do with it once you have it.

Capturing Customer Feedback

Once you have the product into your customer’s hands, you will need to to create a system that allows you to learn from your customer. This will allow you to capture their feedback and make improvements to your business, product, or service. In every successful business, learning to meet customer needs is a top priority.

Find a way to hear stories about how your offering is helping to solve your customers’ problems. How is it meeting a need? How are they using it on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis? Ask the questions that will get people to tell you those stories. This is most effective through face-to-face interaction, where you can learn through what they say, and how they say it. If face-to-face isn’t an option, phone or video call is a solid second option. Make sure you are asking open ended questions that are allowing them to tell their stories about how your business is changing their life.  Read more

Starting Small: Maximizing Startup Success

by Stu Minshew

On the topic of ‘maximizing BAM success factors’ we’ve invited guest authors to highlight what they consider key factors contributing to success and growth for BAM practitioners. But what if you are a startup? What if you have a business idea and want to know how to maximize your success from the get-go? We asked entrepreneur and CO.STARTERS trainer Stu Minshew to share what he’s learned about maximizing startup success in this five part mini-series.

Part 4: Starting Small

In my last post, I focused on the importance of living out your Kingdom values by loving and serving your customers. This allows you to sustain and grow your customer base as you deepen your relationship with those you serve. However, before you can get customers, you need a product or service for them to buy. The sooner you can get your product or service to them, the closer you are to making money and creating a sustainable business.

Dream Big, Start Small, Grow Smartly

Earlier in this series, in the post titled It Starts With You, I talked about the big dreams that motivate and inspire us. Often times our big dreams cause us to do too much or take on too much too fast. This can be overwhelming and result in a failure to do anything well. Or, it can put a large financial burden on our business too quickly. Neither of these is helpful as you are seeking to create sustainability.

Dream big, but start small.

To be good stewards of what God has given you, I encourage you to find the quickest and easiest way to get your product or service in front of your customer, while continuing to communicate the unique benefit you offer. This means you may not be able to offer everything you envision to your customer at first. By simplifying your long term vision to focus on the first step in achieving your dream, you will define a way forward that looks much more manageable. This allows you to serve your customer NOW, instead of someday, and helps you make the customer an important part your startup journey.  Read more

Understanding Your Customer: Maximizing Startup Success

by Stu Minshew

On the topic of ‘maximizing BAM success factors’ we’ve invited guest authors to highlight what they consider key factors contributing to success and growth for BAM practitioners. But what if you are a startup? What if you have a business idea and want to know how to maximize your success from the get-go? We asked entrepreneur and CO.STARTERS trainer Stu Minshew to share what he’s learned about maximizing startup success in this five part mini-series.

Part 3: Understanding Your Customer

As a current or future business owner, your customer is critical to your success. While we may believe that our customer exists to buy our products or service, the reality is that we exist to serve our customers. I appreciate how CO.STARTERS intensely focuses on knowing and serving your customer. This customer-centric view aligns with Christ-honoring Kingdom values. Jesus calls us to love, care for, and serve our neighbor, or customers, in the same manner that we desire to be served. In order to serve our customers well, keep them coming back, and increasing in number, we must deeply listen to and understand their needs and desires.

What’s inside your customer?

Traditional customer research focuses on demographics including age, gender, location, income, etc. While these are important, it is vital to understand the the factors that lie beneath the surface. What are their interests, passions, skills, beliefs, and values? For example, if you have a product or service for dog lovers, your customer will cover a wide-range of demographics, but it is important to realize they share a common trait, a love for dogs.  Read more

6 BAM Practitioners on Engaging the Customer with Stories

Stories can be a powerful way to engage clients and bring more of a personal connection between your customers and your staff or products. We asked 6 professionals and company owners engaged in business as mission to share how they have used stories to connect with customers, build their brand and sell products, here’s what they shared:

 

In the case of the fashion industry, consumers have largely lost the association of the human impact our purchases make. I believe it is key that businesses use stories wherever they can to add value to their brand, the more personal the better. All our team members and crafters have published stories on our website. Our brand is built on the stories and connects the consumer to “Who Made Yours” with a unique, identifying tag on each item. – Brad, South Asia

 

As our company has grown, then yes, we have used the life stories of our staff to connect with customers. Stories are certainly powerful but with that comes huge responsibility. This should never be taken lightly! Stories of transformation should always be highlighted rather than their past. Everyday examples should always dwell on the positive and not the negative. It could be a temptation to use sensationalism, but that while that is powerful, it should never be the motivation! There are definitely pros and cons to using real stories of employees and we would strongly advise that you first earn the trust of the person whose story you are telling, and inform and gain their consent before using it as a marketing tool. Any photo or video captured also has to have  consent, along with an explanation of the power of social media. As a rule of thumb we do not use facial recognition unless consent is given and we have a no photo policy for any visitors, with photos and videos only being taken by trusted team members. We also always change the name when publishing as a safeguard. – Kara, South Asia

Read more

The Power of Planning and Marketing: 7 Reasons Tentmaking Businesses Fail [Book Excerpt]

Poor Planning Paralyzes

It was a couple years back when an individual who was interested in starting a business in our city approached me. As we sat down he pulled out a few pieces of paper, which contained his business idea. He had translated the business idea into a couple of other languages for others to read it. After glancing over the proposal, I had a couple of questions come into my mind. Who is your target market? How will you make money on this idea? 

I was surprised at his answer! He said that he had done some market research and interviewed some of the people who might be interested in his product. They told him that there was no real market for his product. They said it was not needed or really wanted at this time. 

He then said something I will never forget:

“But I decided to move forward anyway with the idea.” 

All he had done for planning was to ask a few people. The people had told him that there was not a need for his product. However, he was still moving forward with the idea. Where was the business plan? This idea was doomed for failure. Read more