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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

There are benefits to a solid marketing and advertising plan



Jordan Wirsz is a self made millionaire. At a very young age (15) he was able to master something that millions of entrepreneurs struggle with everyday. He sold a product for a profit and started his career of creating wealth.

I don't know if it is my desire to find the unique nature in everything, but I always image what things would look like if it was enhanced with a different outlook. If I could simply re-brand everything and give it it's own signature.

In sales, companies rely on the bottom line to create more business. A lot of times companies struggle because they lose focus of their plan or their plan is underdeveloped or nonexistent. I have fallen privy to this on more than one occasion. When I was at Ball State University the basketball Coach Rich Majerus told me once that plays on the court require execution. Not following a plan is just as bad as not having one. You can have the best athletes and even pure shooters, but if you fail to execute the pick or are out of position you simply won't get the job done.

The same principle applies to our marketing and advertising efforts. After you develop a solid plan that differentiates you from your competition, which gives you a niche focus you have to execute your plan daily. It is about reach and frequency. How often can you reach your consumer base and for how long?

Once you have established a quality product or service how do you stand apart from the crowd? There are a core group of companies that exist today because they sought to solve a problem or fulfill a need. Great marketing and advertising can be used to promote anything. You can promote a university, a hospital, a school, a city, a business, and even a church.

Advertising agencies say that companies should spend 4% to 7% of their revenue stream on promoting their business (a hard sell when things are extremely tight financially, but necessary). Without a constant drive of properly marketing and advertising your business it won't be long before your revenue stream dries up.

In today's market where do you spend your advertising and marketing dollars? There is print media, television, radio, direct mail, telephone banks, and the ever present Internet. It is most important to track your end user. Is the audience you are selling a product or service to in the market your are spending your time and effort to attract? I use a free internet based site to track website traffic (www.compete.com). Whatever your market niche might be it is important to determine and track your reach and frequency to your desired audience and tailor your advertisement to a concentrated group.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Why things do not work out


Last week, I found myself in conversation with some current Anderson residents. Some of them are retired and read my column on occasion. Others were young citizens who have called Anderson home. The question that we found ourselves visiting was, "What happens when things do not work out?"

We talked about everything from business to real estate development to politics to employment. There are definitely more causes for things not working out than what we identified, but the topic stirred up a laundry list of reasons that we thought might serve as interesting approaches to taking on failure or missed opportunities before they overtake you.

The overall effort was to figure out why things may not work out and properly prepare to address the problem areas ahead of time.

At the top of the list was lack of knowledge. Regardless of the project, there is always the chance that things do not work out because we don't have the knowledge base necessary to try to accomplish whatever it is we are after. Obviously this problem has a simple solution. Get more knowledge or surround yourself with people that have a working knowledge of whatever it is that you are aiming to achieve.

Another area identified was lack of resources. I have heard countless times of deserving ideas and projects that were underfunded. No matter how great the idea or how developed the plan has become, without the proper resources it is nearly impossible to achieve any level of accomplishment. On the flip side some people have a host of ideas that they present to their boss or project manager and they have no idea what their suggestion will cost the company. Every project cost something. It was determined that in trying to figure out why things don't work out that we always count the cost and identify funding sources or revenue streams to at least get the project off the ground.

Another area that seemed to top the list was a lack of influence. Have you ever seen a great idea go by the wayside? It didn't necessarily lack the knowledge or the resources, but the approval of those in authority or a group at large that somehow deemed it unlikely or impossible to achieve a proposed goal stopped everything. Identifying key decision makers plays a role in the initial perception of any project or idea. Winning their approval may be as important as overcoming any other obstacle that stands in the way of progress.

Whatever it is that is holding back accomplishment has a root. Things don't work out for all sorts of reason, but identifying why and properly preparing to address those issues might improve our success rate at accomplishing anything.

Jesse J Wilkerson is the principle of a local architecture and design firm. His column appears in the Opinion section of the Herald Bulletin (www.heraldbulletin.com)every other Monday.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Internet is our most underutilized resource.


As defined by Wikipedia the internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks used to serve billions of users worldwide. Over the years I have visited many useful sites for research, information, booking travel, and even instructions on preparing a simple meal.

I watched Social Network, the movie,with my wife last week. It is amazing to see how the internet amplifies an idea. Mark Zuckerberg has undoubtedly created a place in history as the world's youngest billionaire with his rock star popular internet build up of Facebook. There are multiple sites that do some of the same things. The internet is a tool that has unlimited potential and has steadily become a part of our everyday culture. From our personal computers to our cell phones information is becoming more readily accessible.

If and when I do watch television I do it online. A few weeks ago I happened to run across the story of Ted Williams. Ted was a beggar turned famous by his golden voice. I just happened to receive an email just prior to his rapid climb on YouTube. Over 5 million people in 4 days watched a video shot of him sharing his story from a street corner. I wonder what would happen if 10,000 people from our community uploaded their stories to YouTube at the same time. How can we harness the billions of dollars that seems to be floating around the internet?

There are undoubtedly millions of websites that are out there. Certain sites seem to have their season and benefit greatly from their idea. Ideas like linking people socially or presenting information that no one else seems to have. The internet is also filled with a steady array of blogs. I started my blog in 2009 (www.visionforsuccess.blogspot.com). Though I am not quick to join every new community that hits the web, I have found some sites more useful than others.

I am sure you have a list of sites of your own that have proven helpful in gathering information. Here is a list of some sites that I have used from time to time. The value of the internet has far exceeded many peoples expectation. I have often wondered what would happen if communities like ours could harness the potential of the internet to create jobs, advertise, and effectively communicate who we are.

My initial intent was to list websites that I frequent. The list is pretty exhaustive (i.e. www.wordpress.org, www.blogger.com, www.typepad.com, www.blogtalkradio.com,www.vimeo.com, www.salon.com, www.grants.gov).

With all that the internet provides and is capable of doing it may be our most underutilized resource.

Jesse J Wilkerson is the principal for a local architecture firm, Jesse J Wilkerson & Associates LLC. He also hosts "Vision for Success" on 1240 AM WHBU and is a columnist for the Herald Bulletin in Anderson, In, USA. You may find his articles at www.heraldbulletin.com under the Opinion section of the newspaper.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Why not just quit?


If there was ever a time to throw in the towel, give up, and quit, I am sure scores of individuals could attest to this being that moment. The economy has tanked, no jobs for budding young professionals or non professionals, hope has left and been replaced with doubt and discouragement.

I am sure some people read my opening statement and felt good. It is the song of the desolate and hopeless. Why say anything else? Why believe things are going to change?

As bad as it seems to some, there is hope. There is a perspective that ensures things will get better. History repeats itself.

Until things do get better how do we find hope? Guard what you watch! How much news can you watch before you feel your stomach turn?

Be careful of what you allow yourself to hear. Find someone, anyone, who seems to appreciate the life they have and realize that hope and joy are given perspectives by those who choose to pursue them. It takes a simple stroll through the local hospital to realize the gift of life.

What do you have to offer? Is there anything you can do to help others right around you? Is it possible for you to do something? Something that offers you the ability to assist others while using the talent, gift, time, and or career training.

A few weeks ago our pastor started a series called "Do Something!" The question he asked was what if the entire church could offer the city of Anderson 20,000 volunteer work hours?

He approached the Mayor (and school system) and requested a 'to do' list (http://www.madisonparkchurch.org/pdf/Do-Something-City-List.pdf) that our church could begin to tackle. He initially told a story of an experience he had. The point of the story was that people watched him personally experience a situation and initially the reaction was to state the problem. It took time for anyone to simply 'do something' about the situation.It is an interesting concept of which the protagonist was author and former professional football player Miles McPherson.

How many of us know people who lost their job or simply are having a hard time? I heard of a church that was not doing well and received calls from other church goers inquiring about how they could buy their furnishings. I couldn't help but think why can't we do something to help save the church instead of people waiting for their demise.

I have made the challenge personal and met with 12 friends. All 12 of us work together to push ourselves to complete projects that have been stalled because we may not have the time, tools, or resources to take them to the next step. At the end of the day we want to all contribute to each other by serving each other as a group.

What could we change if we all decided to 'do something' as an entire city?

Jesse J Wilkerson is the principal for a local architecture firm, Jesse J Wilkerson & Associates LLC. He also hosts "Vision for Success" on 1240 AM WHBU and is a columnist for the Herald Bulletin in Anderson, In, USA. You may find his articles at www.heraldbulletin.com under the Opinion section of the newspaper.

Here we go again: a new year, a new you


Every year at the beginning of the year I have the pleasure of not only celebrating a new calendar year, but also celebrating a birthday. It is amazing the number of new year resolutions that I see, some of which I have written myself.

The cutting back on morning coffee,the waste line, and the list of "I am going to do this or that" is a great way to start the year. As a side bar, last year I did plan to meet roughly 250 new people (mostly through conventions, business solicitations, or referrals). A goal I can say I did meet. There is a correlation in my business with meeting people and getting work.

Whatever new year's resolutions mean to you I am sure there are enough categories to not only plan out a new year, but a new decade. What makes for a good resolution? I have fallen short of some resolutions because the plan was unattainable within the given time frame. I have even been in a place where the plan was just right, but I wasn't motivated to move forward. I stopped going to the gym. I was tired of keeping track. I thought, this is not the most important thing to me so why bother.

Resolutions should come at a time when you are inspired to act on them. Some times the resolution might need to be that you get inspired. Whatever your new year's goals are I wish you success!

I have developed a small list of things I really want to go after this year. Time and space won't permit me to share everything, but in the area of growing my personal contact list by 2012, I would like to meet the Trump family, Evangelist Pat Robertson, and world renown architect Tadao Ando. The idea of meeting them has more to do with business ambitions than it does anything else.

Pressing palms with people has opened the doors to communication that has broadened my perspective of the world and afforded me the opportunity to develop some interesting relationships (like meeting architect Richard Meier a couple of years ago at his office in NY). Everyone has a story. Some people fascinate me more than others for their perseverance, their achievements, or even their life philosophy.

As I tweak my personal development I keep building a contact list of names of individuals that inspire me. Not every person is a household name. A great percentage are individuals that I can simply pick up the phone and ask to lunch. Just as important as it is for me to meet people outside of our community it is even more fulfilling to meet so many great people from right here within our city.

Make this a year a year of achievement.

Jesse J Wilkerson is the principal for a local architecture firm, Jesse J Wilkerson & Associates LLC. He also hosts "Vision for Success" on 1240 AM WHBU and is a columnist for the Herald Bulletin in Anderson, In, USA. You may find his articles at www.heraldbulletin.com under the Opinion section of the newspaper.

Prepare to press forward



British neo soul songwriter, Adele Laurie Blue Adkins, wrote the lyrics, "Should I give up or should I just keep chasing pavement, even if it leads no where," to capture a myriad of feelings she wanted to relay to her fans about relationships.

The way the chorus of the song is presented it can cover a number of topics universally of anyone pursuing a passion be it career goals, relationships, and or ideas. It makes you wonder if there is a moment when reality overshadows your dreams when you give up and never make it back to engagement in what you are most called to do in life. Should you ever give up on your dreams?

American philosopher Dr. Cornel Ronald West on network television recently stated, "What we need more than anything else these days is courage,incredible courage. You have to be able to cut against the grain. You have to distance yourself from your peer group. You have to have an habitual vision of greatness! You have to believe in fact that you will refuse to settle for mediocrity. You won't confuse financial security with personally integrity or your success with your greatness or your prosperity with you magnanimity. Your vision of greatness is luring you all the time for something grander than you."

The quotes above are on two opposite ends of the spectrum. One is at the point of quiting, but questioning the need to keep moving forward. The other might be at the same point but refuses to entertain anything but the goal of success.
Dr. West statement isn't a matter of revelation, but a matter of fact related to the approach of building anything great. Success means different things to different people. For me success is knowing my purpose in life.

At this time in the year I like reflecting back to key decisions that I have made in preparation for charting out my new year. What decisions had the greatest impact on your life? What should you have done differently?

Some people live their lives as though there are no struggles, pain, failure, and or missed opportunities. That is not my world. I don't write with a passion for vision or paint a picture of success because of my existence in a perfect world. I write of a bright future in spite of anything I see or hear that contradicts what I know to be a vision of the truth. It is a conscious effort to press forward instead of complaining or becoming discouraged about what I see.

This upcoming year I am compelled to not only understand what to do, but how to do it. The greatest success stories are of those that have persevered. What will this year mean to you? Amidst some of the greatest struggles of our time how will you move forward?

Jesse J Wilkerson is the principal for a local architecture firm, Jesse J Wilkerson & Associates LLC. He also hosts "Vision for Success" on 1240 AM WHBU and is a columnist for the Herald Bulletin in Anderson, In, USA. You may find his articles at www.heraldbulletin.com under the Opinion section of the newspaper.

1,000 New Entrepreneurs in Madison County by 2012!!?


In architecture, there are several periods and styles of design.The breadth and depth of what we call architecture is a canvas of hits and misses from individuals who have spent their life creating structures based on defined design principles.There is a business to creating things that work, a proven methodology, a series of case studies, and/or a preferred path.

When something works we use it until something better comes along or until we can afford to change. There is this constant cycle of human existence that gives way to the birthing of visionaries and leaders, new ideas, and innovation as new ideas trump old ideas.

My continued effort and daily struggle, at times, is to build a world class architecture firm. My dream hangs in the balance with the bent economy. I have been redefining my business plan to the broader picture of becoming the largest owned minority design firm in the world (it is an ambitious 20 year goal with mile markers along the way).

Recently, I had a conversation with both of our community's Chamber of Commerce leaders, some gentlemen from S.C.O.R.E., and the President of the local chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. The thought came to me, "What if our number one objective for the next 12 to 16 months was to launch 1,000 new entrepreneurs right here in Madison County?" I am currently engrossed in a book called Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. It is interesting to see their distinction between clock-makers and time-tellers. A time-teller tells time as long as they live, but a clockmaker tells time through the clock they build. We are in need of clock-makers: individuals who conceive ideas to build organizations that last beyond them.

It is one thing to aggressively pursue companies from around the world that have made a product or service that the world can't live without to plant themselves here. It is another thing entirely to be that company that the world can't live without. Visionaries build legacy. Architecture itself limits my ability to achieve my personal goals; however, design extends my personal goal in that it allows me to place my principles/ style of design to everything from furniture to architecture, from writing to speaking, from designing a toothbrush to designing a new fragrance.

What might happen if we were to concentrate our effort to creating 1,000 new entrepreneurs that could place their energy and effort on not just servicing a need but building a legacy? Clock-makers. How might people here be affected if just 1% of the 1,000 goes on to be a fortune 500 company based out of our community?

Jesse J Wilkerson is the principal for a local architecture firm, Jesse J Wilkerson & Associates LLC. He also hosts "Vision for Success" on 1240 AM WHBU and is a columnist for the Herald Bulletin in Anderson, In, USA. You may find his articles at www.heraldbulletin.com under the Opinion section of the newspaper.