Broadway here we come

“Who killed the business?” didn’t make the cover of Variety on Saturday morning, but we definitely should have.

To put it in the words of co-producer Dr. Loren Murfield, “This has been an exhilarating experience. I loved how everyone made their character come alive.” He nailed it. Each of the cast members are characters in real life. Give them a script and a mission, they become bigger-than-life hilarious.

As much fun as the eight of us had playing our respective roles, the audience at Tampa’s Centre Club was thoroughly engaged. They took copious notes and argued back and forth as to which of the six possible team members killed the business. They laughed and enjoyed solving the puzzle with others at their table.

Suffice it to say, we did a great job of making each of the players look so guilty the audience missed the killer the first time through. With a little extra insight and a hint they found their killer.

Of course, in real life, it’s always management that kills the business. Sure, there are outside circumstances, such as the economy, change in technologies, a rogue employee, or competition that plays a hand. In our mystery drama, we excluded the business owner as the perpetrator.

People who know me professionally know my mantra: “People don’t start listening until they start talking.” That’s how “Who Killed the Business?” was born –– the need for a highly interactive, audience participatory event in which everyone had a chance to share their opinions. And that’s exactly how it turned out.

If you missed it, don’t fret. It may return –– with a different story line, different roles, and a different killer. I’m already looking for ways to package “Who Killed the Business?” — either to take it on the road or help others produce their own version. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also highly educational. We’ll see what doors open.

cast photoThe cast, left to right: Dr. Loren Murfield, Elaine Bovinette, Ryan G, Thanecha Anderson, Dave DeVelder, Eric Smith, Chris Myers, Jenna Waites, and Gil Effron. Special thanks to our stage manager Valerie Lipstein.

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Interactive Workshop: Back by popular demand

SMARTstart Business Incubator invited me to return on Thursday, October 15, 2015 – 9:00 a.m. to noon, for an Interactive Workshop: How to Close More Business in Less Time. This fast-paced workshop helps business owners develop and define specific strategies for their business that help them close more business and more profitable business in less time.

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“Who Killed The Business?” Mystery Theatre Comes To The Centre Club


Was it the owner’s spendthrift son, the lazy salesman, the bookkeeper who knows all and tells all, the not-so-innocent foreman, or one of the other so-called valued and indispensable employees that killed the business?mystery_shopping small

That’s what dinner guests must decide when the business committee of Tampa’s Centre Club presents a mystery dinner theatre production entitled “Who Killed The Business?” on Friday, October 2, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. at the Centre Club.

The mystery begins when the founder and president of an alleged Acme Widget Manufacturing gathers together employees, their significant others, neighbors, friends, and a handful of his best vendors to celebrate the company’s 15th anniversary of the business with a festive dinner party at the Centre Club.

As the party gets underway, a long-time advisor to Acme enters the scene and informs the founder that the business is dead!

Throughout the evening, Acme employees begin to tell their stories and trickle information about what could be motives, opportunities, gripes, observations, feelings, conflicts, blame, their own suspicions about who could have caused the demise of the company.

At the conclusion of the evening guests working in small groups summarize their findings including initial suspicions, motives, opportunities, red herrings and, of course to identify the killer or killers.

Price for a three-course gourmet dinner is $39.50 per person including tax and gratuity. A cash bar is available throughout the evening. For additional information about “Who Killed The Business?” and to make a reservation, contact the Centre Club at 813-286-4040.

Centre Club members Gil Effron, Loren Murfield, Ph.D., and Jenna Waites developed this original production of “Who Killed The Business?”

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Who Killed The Business?

Every now and then a project comes along that takes me far afield of my customary activities. Here it is:

As a member of  the business committee of Tampa’s Centre Club, we looked for a program that would not only be educational, but also entertaining. Most importantly, we looked for something that would be highly interactive for the audience.

Of course there’s nothing more interactive than a mystery dinner theatre. With two other members of the committee, we came up with a theme: Who Killed the Business?”

The script is written, the actors selected, and the chef at the Centre Club has great eats in store for all of us. If you want to find out who did it, you’ll want to attend. As the primary writer of the production and one of the actors, I don’t even know whodunit!

See how good you are at finding the answer to who did it, how, and why on Friday, October 2, 2015.

half page mystery5 v03b

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The many moving parts of marketing

I suppose the world was confounded when Sears mailed its first mail order catalog in 1888.

Sears catalogWant to buy a watch or some jewelry? No problem. Thumb through the catalog. Find what you like. Fill out an order form. Put a check or money order in the envelope. (Don’t send cash.) Mail it to Sears and wait… and wait… and wait. Heaven forbid you wanted or needed to exchange an item!

It was a slow process with very few moving parts.

The world of marketing, advertising, and promotion has changed to TOO MANY moving parts. Not only must we advertise and promote our products and services, but we must also advertise and promote in order to drive people to where those sales messages reside –– mostly online.

We drive people (hopefully viable prospects with cash in their pockets) with search engine optimization, search engine marketing, or pay-per-click. We drive people to our messages with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google Plus+, and a dozen other social media channels.

Feel worn out just thinking about it? I do.

It would be simple if getting them there were the only challenge. But now we also have to inspire them to buy. That conundrum is what inspired me to look for ways to apply the principles I outline in How to Close More Business in Less Time to websites. (See Continue reading

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Here’s what happens when an author studies his own book

old typewriterWhen I wrote How to Close More Business in Less Time, I was focused entirely on eyeball-to-eyeball, face-to-face transactions.

The majority of the examples I used and stories I told had to do with one-on-one interactions between a sales person and a prospect in close proximity to one another. I used these stories to dramatize exactly how a sales process could be orchestrated to live up to the title of the book: closing more business and often better business in less time.

I did, however, share one story about a business that exists entirely online –– no storefront! I talked about how they constructed a website, supported it with technology, educated they team members, and created an exceptional experience. That story, of course, had to do with, an online audio, TV and video, and electronics company.

Shifting Gears just a little: I never know what kinds of marketing projects are coming in the door until the phone rings or a client refers me to someone they know.

That’s exactly what happened one day last year. I found myself talking to a business that had a tremendous amount of traffic to their website, but failed to convert that traffic into a next step. In other words, their website simply wasn’t motivating prospects to pick up the phone, send an email request, or take any action to connect.

Essentially, I went back to my own book –– this time, to read between the lines. I wanted to see how I could create a new, improved sales process for a website that would qualify and educate prospects and motivate them to take the next step. (This is the conversion I talked about in last week’s post.)

It worked. And I shared the link with you when the website came online in December: Silver Fin Capital.

Since then, I’ve been working diligently with my marketing team to formalize how we can successfully support any business that’s investing heavily in search engine optimization,  spending a significant amount for Google Adwords or pay per click, or simply not getting the conversions they need. I’m happy to say we worked it out.

I am pleased to introduce a new team within ProfitAbility Institute. Meet The Strategic Marketing Team, dedicated to building websites and constructing marketing that consistently and efficiently converts more traffic in less time!

tsmt home page1

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Traffic versus traffic

I remember getting into my car in Riverdale, New York, plugging a Long Island address into my GPS, and seeing 24 minutes pop up as my estimated travel time. An hour and a half later I’d still be sitting in traffic.

Traffic on highwayToo often I can’t move faster than five miles per hour here in Tampa on the Veterans Expressway trying to get to an early morning meeting.

Most people don’t like traffic –– unless, of course, that traffic has something to do with web traffic.

Then, it’s an entirely different story.

In fact, they’ll do anything they can to generate more traffic. They invest large sums of money in Search Engine Optimization or Google Adwords or both. They watch Google Analytics more closely than the stock market for hits per day, week, or month. It’s all about numbers –– how many people they can drive to their website.

But generating web traffic is only half the battle.

The other half of the battle is getting those people –– called prospects –– to do something. That something is to take a next step. Continue reading

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I’m sorry

On a recent trip, my wife and I stopped at a name-brand hotel in Virginia – our hotel of choice on most road trips simply because things are always just right. In other words, they’re consistent from location to location.Irate Customer

As we were checking out the following morning, I mentioned to the desk clerk that, among several minor problems with the room, our hair dryer had a broken plug. I could see inside the plug and it appeared there could be a short. Understanding I rarely need a hair dryer, I felt mentioning this would be a service to the next guest. I expected it would also be a prime safety concern for the hotel and a means to avoid a lawsuit.

The desk clerk responded to my four concerns with, “I’ll let them know.” There was no apology, no “I’m sorry,” no attempt to offer me a discount or a free Hawaiian vacation – not that I was actually expecting that.

I used to hear “I’m sorry” all the time when a business transaction, service, or purchase didn’t work out well or when I returned something to the store because of a technical problem or manufacturer’s defect. Continue reading

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Blind to taking follow-through seriously

For years in my talks, writings, and books I’ve preached the absolute imperative for businesses to focus on developing and maintaining lifetime relationships with their customers and clients.

Call it a hobby, but I’m always on the lookout for good examples and bad examples of blinds 3businesses that nurture lifetime relationships.

I’m a skeptic. And I’m always testing. So it’s not unusual for me to place a smaller order with a company, to see how well they perform. If they do well, they get the big order. If they do poorly, I move on.

That’s exactly what happened recently when I placed my first order with a local franchise of a national blinds company.

A competent salesman came to the home. We chatted, talked about various projects I wanted to tackle. We talked about pricing and delivery. In keeping with my testing approach, I ordered two blinds – one for the bedroom and the other for my home office.

As predicted, in about three weeks I received a call telling me they were ready. We set a date for the installation.

As good as the salesman was, the installer was just the opposite. Continue reading

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Watch the lowest common denominator

I’m old enough to remember when we had only black and white television. There was no cable. We could watch three stations if the rabbit ears (the antenna) that sat on top of the TV were positioned just right.

I also remember the transition from black-and-white to color. I was working at a Philco TV 1960s bwcommercial television station in Cincinnati. Our control room was suddenly filled with state-of-the-art color monitors feed by state-of-the-art color cameras that were about the size of a Mini Cooper. (Whoever could have imagined each of us with a smart phone could carry a television camera in our pocket let alone have the capability to broadcast it.)

Now this transition from black-and-white to color occurred when only five to ten percent of the population had television sets that could receive color. So while those of us in the studio were watching in color, people at home were fiddling with rabbit ears desperately trying to watch the Cincinnati Reds win a baseball game.  Continue reading

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