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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.

Can one individual/ idea change anything?


A man approaches a local nursery to request the use of shrubs, bushes, and plants that the local nursery cannot and will not use. The nursery owners without hesitation take the man, a retiring factory worker, to the “dump” at the back of the nursery. The man proceeds to find items he can use. He wastes no time in collecting shrubs to take home and plant in his garden.

The man continues to build his garden while everyone watches it grow and grow and grow. He trims hedges early in the day and into the wee hours of the morning. His wife looks on in wonderment. He sculpts one bush and shapes another both flat trees and round trees. The topiary garden continues to grow. He makes the bushes do whatever he wants.

First he develops his front yard, then side yard, and now an entire garden. The neighbors are watching. The whole town is watching. I can hear the whispers and read the smirks on their faces. “What is he doing?” and “What does it mean?” People take notice. It is the birth of a phenomenon. No it’s the start of an entire town’s economic development!?

As made up as the story sounds, it’s true. The man is Pearl. Pearl Fryar in fact (www.pearlfryar.com). The town is Bishopville, South Carolina. Here you have one man, one passion, and a town of 3,671 people. The truth is Pearl is like countless other people who have a gift, a talent, a calling, and/or dream. The difference is Pearl tapped into his by acting on what he believed. Who knows the sacrifices he made.

He has been in the New York Times, The Washington Post, on NBC, ABC, flown in for college lectures, invited to teach classes and hold seminars, and even featured in an award winning documentary called “A Man Named Pearl.”

He didn’t do it for the fame. He did it partially because of a stereotype that as a new home owner in his neighborhood he might not keep his yard up. Not only did he keep his yard up, but he won the coveted neighborhood award for best yard and drew the attention of the director of the Chamber of Commerce who commissioned him to do topiary in the middle of town. His work alone has boosted the local economy with tourist coming from all over the world.

As we wind down this year, I am mindful of all of the countless people I have met over the last year. There are people who share with me their ideas and offer their encouragement. I wonder how many Pearls we have in our town. Not horticulturalist, but people with a passion for something. Something that once they pursue it with all of their heart will yield something that enriches us all.

A message of hope from Joel Osteen


For a little over a year I have been hosting a radio show on WHBU that I intended to use as a vehicle to simply share a vision for success. The goal is to interview local and national business owners about their success story.

Since the initial broadcast, I have interviewed people like Bill Hardacre, Jay and Quinn Ricker, Judy Zinszer, Pete Bitar, Jada Sparks, and Michelle Reis to name a few. National guest have included EXTRA reporter A.J. Calloway, Magic "Earvin" Johnson, Build-A-Bear Workshop C.E.O. Maxine Clark, and last week Pastor Joel Osteen.

I have listened to a lot of people talk about their personal success and the struggles that they went through to get to the place they are today. There is always the story of perseverance even when things look their worst.

I saw in passing an advertisement that said Joel and Victoria Osteen were coming to Indianapolis on September 10, 2010 for a "Night of Hope." I called his office to ask if I could interview him and talk to him about our community. The next day I was on the phone with Pastor Osteen listening to him talk about the process of sharing and imparting vision in times when people have lost hope, which ended in a prayer he prayed for Anderson.

For those unfamiliar with Pastor Osteen he is the pastor of the largest church in the United States. The church recently acquired the old NBA Houston Rocket Stadium where it holds services for the congregation. His positive message resonates with millions and has been the inspiration for New York Times best seller books he has authored.

Some of the things that stuck out most from his comments were his statements:
"You won’t ever rise any higher than you see yourself,” and “ Write down where you want to go and keep that in front of you,” and “Success to me is becoming who God wants me to be,” and “Let everyday be a new beginning. You can’t drag the disappointment from yesterday, or the hurt from yesterday, or what you didn’t do right from yesterday, you can’t bring that into today or it clouds today," and "…be yourself and be grateful and recognize you are not going to have everyone’s approval and that is okay."

I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of people. I learn something from everyone I meet. Joel Osteen left me with the realization that success is an inside job. Create the image on the inside and it won't be long until what is on the inside comes out.

If you want to attend the Night of Hope at 7:30 p.m. at Conseco Fieldhouse Google “Night of Hope” and on the ministry website click on Indianapolis, IN.

The Impact of a Global Economy is Inevitable; the Game Started Years Ago.


When I used to play basketball I always wanted to arrive when the games started. It was when everyone was fresh. If you sat out a few games you take the sidelines or just wait to form another team to return to the game. Things moved with or without you. The goal was not to lose and if you did lose you tried to play well enough so you didn’t get sidelined.

Our global economy is starting to remind me of the pick-up games at the gym. The game goes on with or without us. As a country we have always showed up early and played to win. In fact, we almost always have been crowned the winner. America is indeed the greatest land of opportunity and maintains its global presence as such. Yet we are faced with the reality of an ever emerging global economy.

The President is in Yokohama, Japan with members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC). The Governor and a small delegation are in China then also Japan looking at ways to strengthen our global ties in what is inevitably the preferred market for business. As small town America why do we need to think globally?
More American companies than you could imagine outsource work. International investment on American soil is at an all time high. Nitin Nohria, MIT graduate and newly crowned Dean of Harvard Business School, makes some interesting points about where we have come as a country and why things have shifted in his 16 page lecture “India and the Globalization of Business.”

In a recent presentation in Mumbai, he states, “I believe the 21st century will be a
Global Century because there will be many formidable global competitors.”
Though I believe that competition alone does not guarantee a wide spread epitaph of U.S. leadership on the global stage, I do believe the level and nature of the competition is such that we have all become witnesses to a dilution of America’s strength to maintain its position.

Nohria goes on to explain his efforts in researching the 20th Century and American business names like Andrew Carnegie, Walt Disney, Henry Keiser, Sam Walton, Bill Gates and Jack Welch to determine, “What enabled American businesses to supplant European competitors on the global
stage?”

His finding was that the reason for America’s dominance in the 20th century is that the most successful economies are those that are the most dynamic. As he defines it the greatest strength of the American economy is, “where an economy renews itself and constantly evolves from within.”

As we aim to remain off the sideline as a city, state, and nation I am afraid we will have to put all of our effort in understanding the global economy as it exists and determine how adaptable we desire to become.

It’s Election Time Again


Here we go again with the proliferation of yard signs, billboards, phone calls, emails, mailers, and public debates. For all the money that gets spent on campaigning I wonder how we will fair after elections. I have a few friends running for public office. Regardless of the side you are on the process is one many people including the politicians are glad to see come and go.

What is it that we are voting for in this election? Is it referendums, lower taxes, or simply change? The familiarity of candidates with one another always makes for an interesting side show in small towns where many of the candidates grew up together and their debates are seasoned around long term relationships stemming from as far back as high school.

As an outsider to the political event of election day that elevates some and dismisses others it is equally amusing to watch candidates tear each other down with futile words and angry expressions of how they are right and others are wrong. As an attendee of a public event a few years ago in another city where I was commissioned to do some architectural work I watched as an incumbent mayor stopped the political event to request that all politicians on both sides consider each other’s family this election.

Granted everyone has had situations we all wished we could retract or rephrase. What he meant was that as campaigns geared up and television commercials and ads rolled out that he was soliciting his constituents to try to think of the impact some of the candidates families would experience as a result of others actions. Politics can be a nasty game.

I have seen people who I know to be good people turn ugly when a particular topic is addressed in a political arena. Their passion and drive to be right supersedes their desire to consider others feelings. It seems like a lot of people want the same thing, but disagree with how to get there. I hope that people who don’t get elected still contribute to building our community.

The stage is always set for debate, but when individuals running for office have a proper perspective of life it seems to make decision making for the general public much easier. Who has gained your allegiance this election day? Is it the person with the most yard signs, the best plan, the right party, or the most experience?

The right to vote is something that should be taken seriously and a frequent reminder of the struggles of our not so distant past. Though many people will choose not to participate in this election day, for me it is an opportunity to exercise our right to choose leaders to carry our community to its next phase of existence.
Best wishes to the candidates.

Vote with purpose!