Robert Skrob Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
Robert

How to Get Attention, Build Trust and Generate Better Customers, Simplified by Robert Skrob

I’ve asked Robert Skrob to write another guest blog for my site. Today, he is sharing the topic of Jim Collins’ Good to Great. “Good is the enemy of great” rallied players of the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning toward this professional hockey franchise’s first Stanley Cup. They were repeating the mantra within the business book phenomenon of the last decade, Jim Collins’ Good to Great, published in 2001. Over 2 million copies of the book were sold, creating a huge consulting and publishing business.

 

But what made the book Good to Great so great? Jim Collins used engaging and memorable stories to illustrate his otherwise mundane points.

The actual lessons of the stories, “hire the right people,” “stick with what you are good at,” and “building momentum with a consistent effort toward one organizational goal” are well-known business concepts.  Yet, his book was propelled to the top (and his consulting firm with it) by the power of those stories he uses to illustrate those points.

 

Jim Collins’ international bestseller became famous because of its compelling stories rather than its revolutionary wisdom.

 

Learning Stories

Just like Collins’ “get the right people on the bus” and “fly wheel” stories, Learning Stories illustrate specific teaching lessons. Each story focuses on a problem and provides details on how the problem was solved with an explanation of why it worked. Your goal for Learning Stories is to get your audience to say, “Now I know how to avoid that mistake” and “That makes sense now that it has been explained to me.”

 

Within Learning Stories, it’s important to provide a detailed context. Your audience must be able to see themselves confronted with the problem of putting together the right team to understand that they must get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus. That’s why in Collins’ book, the author spends a lot of time talking about the problem team members and the frustrations the business faced before coming to this realization.

 

Spur Action Stories

These stories get someone to take action. A common example is the NutriSystem commercials that feature Dan Marino saying “I lost 22 pounds, and you can, too. Lose the weight; get back in the game.” This is a simple example because the target audience for this ad readily recognizes Dan Marino’s name, but this story has all of the basic elements of a Spur Action story.

 

Spur Action stories describe a successful action that took place in the past, state, or implies the impact of inaction and allow the audience to see themselves in that position. Your goal with these stories is to get the audience to say, “What if that were me?” and “It’s only going to get worse unless I do something about it.”

 

Mission Stories

A lot of marketers teach you to give a “reason why.” For example, if you are having a sale, you can’t tell your prospects that you are having a sale to generate new customers to upsell them into other products. Instead, it has to be because you over-purchased, it’s St. Patrick’s Day or you have a tax bill to pay. But whatever the “reason why,” it’s more than “sales are low and you need to generate some interest with lower prices.”

 

When someone is considering working with you, they are asking themselves, “What’s in this for you?” If your stated motivation is nothing other than profit, you’ll be looked at with suspicion.

 

Walt Disney was a relentless promoter of his theme parks. However, his customers forgave him because of his stated mission, “To create a place for parents and children to spend pleasant times in one another’s company, a place for teachers and pupils to discover greater ways of understanding and education.” In Good to Great, Jim Collins includes a Mission Story about creating a more productive world with leaders that employ his philosophies.

 

Empathy Stories

When I first heard about story writing, I was totally intimidated. I told myself, “Oh great, now I have to learn something else. How in the world am I supposed to become a good storyteller?” While I always marveled at stories and enjoyed hearing them, I believed storytelling was out of reach for me. I’m an analytical person and just not creative enough to invent stories. When I forced myself to try to write stories, I figured out that it’s not about inventing stories. Creating stories is simply writing down what happened. And I realized I told stories all the time—to friends, to my wife, and to my kids. All I had to do was channel a skill I already had into stories with a purpose.

 

Empathy stories relate to what your readers are thinking or feeling about a situation, empathize with their belief, and then show why that belief is false. The quick story above addresses a concern you may have had learning to write stories yourself. In it, I reveal that I had misgivings about what I’m now teaching, acknowledge the reasons for my belief, and then show why that belief was false.

 

Origin Stories

Good to Great includes a detailed description of the research methodology used to determine what great companies do that others do not. Collins gives descriptions of several great companies as well as a set of other companies he uses as comparisons.

 

Origin Stories are the most important stories for you to use regularly. When your customers look at you today, they see a successful person, someone with a lot of knowledge and money. They perceive you are different from them.

 

Writing Your Own Stories

The great communicators all use stories to help their audiences understand their messages. As you watch television and listen to radio commentators, keep an ear out for the stories. While reading books, pay attention to the stories and start a little catalog of stories organized by the five types outlined here. Soon, crafting stories and communicating in stories will become as easy as getting the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus.

 

swirl

Become Productive by Getting Out of the Swirl

I’ve asked Robert Skrob to write another guest blog for my site.  Robert is also the author of “Retention Point, which I highly recommend.  He previously shared the topics of “The New Customers Experience”, “Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company”, “Creating Case Studies” and  “A Networking Secret” on my blog.   Today, he is sharing about “The Swirl”. Read closely – Robert is truly an expert about getting out of the swirl.

“The swirl” is one of the things we talk about with Harley-Davidson dealers when we are coaching them to improve the profitability of their dealerships. At any given time in a dealership, there are customers considering buying motorcycles, trying on clothes or waiting for their motorcycles to be serviced; service techs working on motorcycles; parts orders arriving via UPS; and a parade of salespeople walking through the showroom. There are a hundred things the dealer would like to pay attention to, and at the end of the day, he’s exhausted. He works hard every day, but he can’t find time for the things that are most important because he is too busy.

That’s the swirl. Perhaps you have it in your own business. So many different urgencies crop up that you aren’t able to work on what’s most important. It’s like one of those shooting galleries at the fair. Targets pop up and you have to shoot them quickly before they disappear again. At the carnival, you’ve got to concentrate on the gallery to score maximum points and get the biggest prize. It feels great when you hit all the targets, both at the carnival and in your business.

When I get into the swirl in my own business, it actually feels good. It’s like I’m the head of an army that’s under attack. I’ve got projects and problems coming at me from all sides, and I’ve got to keep them all under control. While being in the swirl can feel invigorating, staying in the swirl is the wrong approach for a business owner. With Harley-Davidson dealers, we taught them to create trackable goals for each department.

Here is what we coached them to do:

Set your goals by first determining the total amount of money you want to make at the end of the year. Then assign a net profit contribution from each department. Based on that expectation, set goals for each month and what must be done within each department to achieve those goals. For instance, for motorcycle sales to generate the desired amount of profit, determine how many motorcycles the sales department needs to sell as a department. This will allow you to estimate the number of motorcycles each salesperson must sell each week to meet your goal.

Managing this way is like having a pause button for the swirl. You see that it exists, but it’s happening to everyone else, not you. That’s because your attention isn’t focused inside the swirl; instead, you can see all the way through it, straight to your goal. You are able to keep your attention on what’s really important, driving your business toward your real business goals.

Most business owners find themselves caught in the swirl. Within the swirl, we jump from one project to the next. Our goal is to keep everything running so we can quickly move on to the next big idea. We lose sight of where we are really trying to go. And it’s easy to find ourselves working and working and never seeming to make any progress.

It’s important to create a careful plan for the business you want to create. Outline the types of programs you want to offer, and create a timeline for when you’ll implement those programs. What will each of those programs contribute to your company’s profit? Who is responsible for getting them implemented? And for each person with responsibilities, what’s his or her schedule for getting the work done? These basic goal-setting and project management plans can mean the difference between getting caught in the swirl and reaching your business goals.

At the beginning of this year, you probably made some resolutions. You may have set some goals for yourself to achieve. How much progress have you made? If you’ve made progress, it’s probably because you set out monthly, weekly and daily goals in addition to just making a resolution.

If you haven’t made progress, make an appointment with yourself—an appointment you refuse to break. Outline what you need to accomplish each month to make your goals a reality. Consider what has to be done each week. And then put each week’s goals into your calendar so you’ll take a break from the swirl to get the important projects done. In the same way, you’d step away from your business to go to a doctor’s appointment, step away to improve the health of your business by focusing your attention on your most important goals.

While the swirl feels good at the moment, working on your goals gives you a great feeling that lasts. It’s actually a feeling of superiority. You can hold yourself above other business owners when you see them battling within the swirl.

Secret

The Secret Hidden in the Open

I’ve asked Robert Skrob to write another guest blog for my site.  Robert is also the author of “Retention Point, which I highly recommend.  He previously shared the topics of “The New Customers Experience”, “Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company” and “Creating Case Studies” on my blog.   Today, he is sharing a networking secret. Read closely – Robert is truly an expert.

There’s an ultimate test of physical endurance and mental fortitude: a six-day, 153.2 mile ultra-marathon across the Sahara desert called the Marathon des Sables (Marathon of the Sand). Competitors carry their own supplies as they compete in temperatures exceeding 120 degrees. The longest one-day distance covers 50.6 miles and includes 14.3 miles of sand dunes.

Four-time champion Mohamad Ahansal grew up in the Sahara. And in a place where most just try to survive, the skills Mohamad learned helped him become a winner in one of the most grueling footraces in the world. Since 1997, either Mohamad or his older brother, Lahcen, had won the race, until the 2014 year, when Rachid el Morabity, their trainee, beat Mohamad by seven minutes. Morabity has won the race each year since.

Morabity attributes his winning time to using a unique zigzag method to climb the large sand dunes that make up many miles of the race.

“Other runners, they go directly up the hill,” Morabity says. “They don’t notice the secret.”

Even though it’s easy enough to see the secret, instead of emulating the champion, competitors innovate their own improvements and try to barrel directly up the hill. Their intuition tells them that a straight line is the shortest distance and the shortest distance is always the quickest. Instead of learning from the proven results of the winner, they follow their less experienced intuition.

I used to think the same way. I’d learn a technique or a strategy from a mentor, and then I’d put my own spin on it. I’d say to myself “That may have worked for him, but I’m going to improve it and make it work even better for myself.”

It took me years to figure out my mentor’s technique was already improved. I was learning from the champion. There was no need for me to create my own innovations. Instead, I needed to get better at emulating what had already been proven to work.

I see people (who should know better) make this same mistake all the time. Instead of simply emulating what works, they try to make improvements. Or worse yet, they ignore the aspects that work and imitate the insignificant details.

They see, but they do not learn.

Within BNI, we have Ivan Misner, Ph.D. to learn from and emulate. He’s been networking, teaching networking and thinking about networking for more than 35 years. And yet, what do some new chapter officers do, make their own “improvements” to the system.

On its surface, following the system may appear difficult. It may seem like a harder way.

However, it’s similar to the Marathon des Sables champion’s “shortcut” of zigzagging back and forth while climbing sandy dues for miles. At first glance, the zigzagging appears to add more distance. Why would you want to add steps when you are already running 50 miles through a desert?

It’s because when you are running 50 miles through a desert, adding a few feet through slogging sand in an uphill climb saves you a lot of energy. That saved energy helps you endure longer and reach the finish line more quickly.

Too many people add features, change scripts or create innovations that reduce their own performance. What’s worse, they are also impacting the performance of every member of their chapter.

Instead, focus on following the system.

If you want to make changes, be clear about the goal you are trying to accomplish.  Become a scientist by first setting a hypothesis, “I believe making a change to ____ will increase referrals passed.”

If you can increase the number of referrals passed, Dr. Misner is eager to learn how you did it.

Dr. Misner approaches BNI as an engineer. If you can build a better, cheaper bridge in a shorter period of time, every engineer wants to know about that. Same with Dr. Misner and BNI, if you innovate a way to increase referrals within a chapter, then we all want to know about it.

But, making changes because you have a preference or belief isn’t good enough.  There are too many smart business people who are depending on the performance of your chapter to take any chances.

Follow the secret, hidden in plain sight. Then test innovations to determine their impact on your chapter.

Case Studies

How to Create Case Studies that Make Customers Buy, Engage and Ascend

I’ve asked Robert Skrob to write another guest blog for my site.  Robert is also the author of “Retention Point, which I highly recommend.  He previously shared the topics of “The New Customers Experience” and “Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company” on my blog.  Today, he is sharing the topic of creating case studies. Read closely – Robert is truly an expert.

Creating Case Studies

Your customer has three important decisions to make about you and your products. With each decision you have the opportunity to win or lose the customer.

Those decision points are:

  1. Should I give this product a try?
  2. I bought, is this really worth what I invested in time and money?
  3. I’ve been a customer for a while, I’ve enjoyed this in the past but is this still worthy of my time and money?

There’s one marketing tool that can help your customer choose you each time: a well-crafted client case study.

Really? A client case study?

Yes. These case studies and client stories are the most powerful tools you have on your side to foster strong relationships with potential customers, new customers, and long-time customers.

The publishing industry has undergone a huge transformation in recent years with subscriptions at historic lows. Today, Business Week is a shell of what it was with fewer than 950,000 subscribers each month. People Magazine, however, has more than 3.5 million subscribers. People want to read about other people.

Your customers want to hear about people like them. They want to hear stories of striving, overcoming, and of the underdog beating more powerful rivals. As great as your teachings and training resources are for your members, these stories are what they really want. You’ll attract and retain your customers in proportion to how well you deliver these stories.

These stories also prove that what you say is true. When you deliver example after example of individuals who have used your product or service and succeeded, you impact how your members think about your program and themselves. Even if a customer hasn’t gotten results. After reading or watching a video about one of your client success stories, they think, “Gee, maybe this is possible.”

After enough of these stories, your customer says to himself, “If that guy can do it, I can do it, too.” After this mindset transformation, she’s a lot more likely to use what she purchased and consider buying more. Which brings us to the question of the day:

How do you write a terrific client success story?

Recently, a long-time client asked me the following question about case studies; perhaps you have wondered something similar:

“My question for you is do you use these questions on clients based on what YOU did for them? YOUR process? Meaning, should I do these to sell myself and my product? Or do I put these forward as their own case studies of how my client became successful and leave me out? Then just mention some of the things I teach?”

On how far to promote yourself and your strategies in your case studies — it depends on the how you are using them.

If you are presenting case studies within a sales presentation, then you’ll want to make it clear where you were involved.

Or, if you are presenting this case study to existing members, you may be advocating a key philosophy. In this case, you may indicate the person is a member or client, then describe how using a particular product or service you sell created the impact.

To summarize: If you are in an overt sales situation, then be overt about your involvement. Then, in many other cases, it may be appropriate to illustrate the power of implementing your philosophy.

My formula for creating case studies is simple. I start by recording an interview with my member. I then provide the interview transcript to a writer to create a written case study.

Here are interview questions to get you started.

As you read the questions, replace the words “your member breakthrough process” with the name of your product or coaching program:

  • What’s your background? How did you get started doing what you are doing now?
  • How did you discover “your member breakthrough process”?
  • What did you think of it when you first saw it?
  • How did you get started implementing “your member breakthrough process”?
  • What has changed in your life since you discovered “your member breakthrough process”?
  • What advice do you have for someone else who has just discovered “your member breakthrough process” and is deciding whether or not to try it?

For best results I conduct these interviews personally. I can explore areas that would be interested to members by asking follow-up questions. However, if time is short I’ll often send these questions out as a survey instead.

Once I have a good interview recorded, I use the transcript to craft a compelling success story.

Once you have these case studies, you can use them in presentations, monthly newsletters, pull them together into books to give to prospects, or include them in email follow-up sequences to convert more prospects int customers.

Use demonstrations, capture case studies everywhere you can, and teach through examples rather than relying only on lectures.

Robert Skrob is the #1 expert in membership and customer retention and the author of the book, Retention Point The Single Biggest Secret to Membership and Subscription Growth. He has helped hundreds of membership programs launch and then grow from start-ups to become some of the largest membership and subscription companies in the world.

 

Vibrant Community

Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company by Robert Skrob

I’ve asked Robert Skrob to write another guest blog for my site.  Robert is also the author of “Retention Point, which I highly recommend.  He previously shared the topic of “The New Customers Experience” on my blog.  Today, he is sharing the topic of “Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company”. Read closely – Robert is truly an expert.

Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company

What if you had 45 percent of the available customers within your market?

The mutual fund company, The Vanguard Group, does just that. More than 45 percent of the money flowing into mutual funds today goes into a Vanguard managed fund.

You’d think they wouldn’t need to do much for their customers. Since they specialize in index traded, set-it-and-forget-it type investment vehicles, you’d think they wouldn’t need to communicate with their members. In fact, the opposite is true. The Vanguard Group has one of the most vibrant customer tribes in the investment world, and it’s a large part of their success.

The term “Boglehead” may not mean much to you, but I’ve been a Boglehead since 1991. Actually, we weren’t called Bogleheads then; instead, we were known as “Vanguard Diehards.”

While I pursued my master’s degree in accountancy from Florida State University, I wrote a paper about index fund investing. Mind you, this was during the big recession of 1990-1992. Through my research, I discovered that fewer than 30 percent of the professionally managed mutual fund companies beat the S&P 500 index in any one year. And a much smaller percentage could beat the index over a period of five or 10 years.

I figured if full-time professionals couldn’t consistently beat the S&P 500 index, why should I believe I could pick stocks any better working part-time? I became a believer in index fund investing and have stuck with it ever since. Of the index funds, The Vanguard Group is consistently the least expensive, so I’ve been squirreling away my savings there ever since.

Jack Bogle, the founder of The Vanguard Group, passed away in January 2019 at the age of 89 years old.

As the founder and while CEO of Vanguard, Jack was an avid promoter of index fund investing. He was an outspoken critic of high-fee mutual funds and “financial buccaneers offering a panoply of silly investment strategies that people may not understand.”

Jack Bogle created thousands of fans. One of them started a membership site called Bogleheads.org. It’s grown to have an annual meeting with appearances by The Vanguard Group executives, a field trip to Vanguard headquarters, and featured speakers from the world of personal finance.

You may have different opinions with regard to investing. You may be a financial advisor who offers investment vehicles that directly conflict with what’s published on Bogleheads.org. However, see Bogleheads.org is an excellent case study on how you can create a vibrant community around your company, no matter what you offer.

Within the “Start here” menu, Bogleheads.org outlines the investment philosophy first promoted by Jack Bogle during the 1980s.  This gets new members caught up on the values of the Boglehead community. In a word, it indoctrinates them. This is a critical piece that’s missing from most information marketing businesses.

Bogleheads.org gives its members valuable information (ROI), a connection to a community of like-minded people, an opportunity to contribute by posting content, recognition for being helpful to other members, and an opportunity to be part of something greater than themselves.

Even though the site has a dated design and the founder of the philosophy has passed away there are still thousands of active users every day.

Plus, for Vanguard, it insulates its members against all the conflicting investment offers within the marketplace. The community helps customers believe the single best investment option is low expense mutual funds. The same low-cost mutual funds Vanguard happens to specialize in delivering.

What if you had a community indoctrinating new customers into believing the products and services you offer are indeed the best solutions to your customers’ problems? Perhaps like Vanguard, you could own 45% or more of your market?

It all starts with your core values. BNI’s core values are Givers Gain®, Building Relationships, Lifelong Learning, Traditions + Innovation, Positive Attitude, Accountability, and Recognition. When BNI members experience the power these values have within their business life they become excited members for life.

What are the core values of your company?

For The Vanguard Group, Jack Bogle had to convince investors that index funds were the smarter way to invest. What must your customers believe and how should they behave to get the most value from what you deliver?

This may be an “advanced” marketing skill. But when it’s complete, it can give you a fast-growing world-wide business that leaves competitors scrambling for second place.

Robert Skrob is the #1 expert in membership and customer retention and the author of the book, Retention Point The Single Biggest Secret to Membership and Subscription Growth. He has helped hundreds of membership programs launch and then grow from start-ups to become some of the largest membership and subscription companies in the world.

New Customers

Are you pushing your new customers away or building trust for repeat business? by Robert Skrob

Today, I’ve asked Robert Skrob to do a guest blog for my site.  I thought it was fitting because Robert was recently a guest at my home to work on a new book that we are writing (the working title is: The Connector Effect).  Robert is also the author of “Retention Point, which I highly recommend.  I should also note that he was a great guest at our home. That statement has nothing to do with the incredible Cabernet Sauvignon that he gave us as a gift for staying with us.   Today, he is sharing the topic of “The New Customers Experience”.  Read closely – he is truly an expert.

The New Customers Experience

Imagine yourself walking into a restaurant at 3:32 p.m. It’s three hours past your regular lunchtime, and you are starving because you were in a hurry and skipped breakfast earlier, as well as your normal lunch. You have a headache from not eating. Just from feeling so hungry, you are grumpy and all-around sick. You finally get the attention of the hostess who was busy with table work as the lunch rush has long passed. The hostess walks you to a table where you are immediately greeted by your server. Your server takes one look at you and says, “You look hungry. I’m here to help you get the food you need, as quickly as possible. These are the three items that come out of the kitchen the fastest this time of day. They are 1. Salads 2. Soups and 3. Sandwiches. Would you like one of these three options, or would you like to see the entire menu?

How would you feel about that experience? A lot more confident, right? I know I’d be excited to have a server who recognized what I needed and dedicated herself to getting it to me as quickly as possible.

What if, instead, the server showed up with a tray full of desserts saying, “Darling, we’ve got a bunch of desserts left over from lunch. Here are some key lime pie, cheesecake, and a bowl of ice cream. Enjoy.”

I don’t know about you, but I’d be frustrated. Dessert may be fine later, but right now, I’m starving. I’d like to eat something before dessert. You’d likely feel the same way. You’d begin to wonder if you were in the right place or if you should find some other restaurant where the people working understand their job is to give real food (rather than desserts) to hungry people.

Too many businesses make a similar error with their customers. I’ve come across many who welcome their new customers with friendly conversations, follow-up calls from customer service reps. and/or gifts of cookies, coffee cups, and T-shirts. This is similar to delivering desserts to a hungry, grumpy, in-a-hurry guest in a restaurant.

Chances are, your customer didn’t join because he wanted to speak with someone from your support department. So when she receives the call, she’s thinking, “That’s nice, but this doesn’t solve my problem.” To you, it’s another contact to demonstrate you care. To your new customer, it feels like pestering.

If I buy your product to get a tool or to learn how to relieve some pain in my life, that’s what I’m going to be looking for. And anything I get that’s inconsistent with that solution is going to make me wonder if I can really trust you to deliver the solution you promised. So think: How can you craft the first thing your customer receives to be your version of the “Here are the three items we have that come out of the kitchen the fastest …” solution to your customer’s greatest hunger? After all, in order to make the sale, you did all you could to point out your customer’s pain points, irritate that pain, and make him so uncomfortable he couldn’t do anything but buy immediately. He’s ready, so why are you making him wait? And it’s not just friendly calls and gifts.

There’s a place for dessert at lunch. Let’s go back to our restaurant story. What if, after you enjoyed a hearty lunch, served promptly, the waitress came by with some free desserts? At that point, dessert would be awesome. Those desserts would have a tremendous impact. To have a positive impact on customer retention, you can deliver those bonus “desserts” after you’ve delivered on your core promises and have built trust with your new member. When your customer chooses to buy from you, you have a short window of time to solve the problems you promised to solve, or you will quickly lose their trust. This is your opportunity to deliver your very best solutions, quickly and concisely, so you can establish yourself as someone your customer can rely on.

Robert Skrob is the #1 expert in membership and customer retention and the author of the book, Retention Point The Single Biggest Secret to Membership and Subscription Growth. He has helped hundreds of membership programs launch and then grow from start-ups to become some of the largest membership and subscription companies in the world.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
   Follow Me

Get every new post delivered to your inbox