Monday, March 8, 2010

Blog Reviews

Blogs...the new way to find out and hear about things in the words of those we trust.
Human nature is to follow someone elses recommendation.

Right now the word of mouth reviews from the bloggers on Kup Buddy are treating us right.
Follow their lead!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Word to the Wise (follow up)

Reliving that story here on my blog was a trip back in time. I feel however that there were some other lessons learned of equal importance. It has formed some of how I am still wired today. I did keep my word as previously stated, but I did so with an asterisk. I attended with the vow I would never speak a word in my class, I would not participate, I would not answer even if I was called on. Additionally I would probably not ever actively partake in my religion ever again, but this took a year of stewing in my class to really come up with this Big Hairy Audacious Goal. I had plenty of time to develop my plan since I was no longer participating in class.

Surely I looked like the crazy kid (you remember the one) that refuses to talk. They are in every school across the country. Now I understand what that kid is going through. Someone messed with them in a way they shouldn't’t have and they forever changed. Not my parents or the god squad could undo what I felt was forced upon me. To an adult it was probably just kid stuff, and it was no big deal. If you think about it, as a twelve year old, I made a decision that I still uphold today. I have never actively participated in my religion and will never do anything someone tries to make me do. Eventually there will be other choices and how you handle people today will forever change how they react to situations in the future.

Apply that lesson to business and one could say that you must never take your customers for granted by forcing them to do something they don’t want to do. Even your best customers will leave you if you mess with them. Never lead anyone down a path and change direction part way through it without their complete buy in.

Even if your customers have no choice at the time, they will eventually leave you forever. They will lose money and take on a worse situation just to make sure they do not give you the satisfaction of ever having their business. I have encountered it on many sales calls and won great opportunities because my competition put a gun to someone’s head. Never ever put yourself in that situation. You will lose.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Word!

Keeping your word is big part of my makeup and for that I have my parents and religious school to thank. It’s probably not quite how it sounds so I will put the story out there since my mind has drifted back to it after all of these years. I am twelve years old and have been attending Hebrew school for the last 4 years, 3 times a week, an hour plus each time. My Monday, Wednesdays and Sundays are pretty routine and are slowly taking their toll on my poor kids body. I am not really cut out for school much less an additional few sessions of school in another language. Even the most religious kids have pretty much stopped going to every class offered and make it in once a week. I am doing this because I have been convinced that in order for a Jewish boy to become a man he must get his bar mitzvah. Now I may have been a bit naive but I was told all of this was going to get me to this monumental day. So while my other friends went maybe 1 time a week to the local temple and played football after school pretty much every day, I attended to my religious responsibilities. The school was in another town, far away from anyone I may have known because this was the temple my grandparents went to for their religious studies.

One day at age 12 and a year before the date of my impending Bar Mitzvah the school secretary comes calling on my class requests my presence. We walk down the hall and into the room and I find myself in front of the God Squad (the Rabbi, the Cantor, and the principal). My heart is pumping and I was sweating so hard I thought I would just slide off the seat. The new guardians of the oldest active religion on earth have requested my presence to discuss the terms of my upcoming Bar Mitzvah. I answered the questions that were asked which I truly don’t remember except for one. It was the question of continuing on AFTER my Bar Mitzvah for my Confirmation which would be an additional year but only two times a week. Now God Squad or not there was no way I could handle another year. Besides what is this business of telling me this now? I had already given a third of my life to these guys and here they were asking for more! To make matters worse they actually handed me a document and asked me to sign it saying that as a condition of getting Bar Mitzvah’ed that I would agree to continue on for another year. I took the pen, squirmed hard and desperately wanted an out when I remembered what my parents had also taught me. Never sign a document without reading it first and taking the time to understand it. The words flowed out of my mouth faster than the sweat on my back and it was agreed that I could take the paper home with me and bring it back later in the week. I was angry like any twelve year old would be and lacked the words to convey my anger. I am not sure my folks even understood how pissed I was. After discussing the ground rules for the Bar Mitzvah which included further education my parents asked me what I was going to do. The answer was pretty simple I thought. “I will sign the document, get my Bar Mitzvah and just not go the last year.”

This resulted in one heck of a conversation about a person’s name and my word being the only thing in this world I really have. I can get most things in life provided I always stick to it and uphold what I say, over and over and over again. Mess with it once and it is gone forever. Keep my word and I will have something invaluable. Understand most of this was going way over my head but the lesson was made clear by my Dad who said in plain English,” Sign it and you are going for another year. Not signing it is OK too but then there will be no Bar Mitzvah” (Reading between the lines I will be stuck as a boy my whole life). Somewhere along the way I started off stoically by refusing to sign but either caved or was coerced. In the end it was the same. I signed and got my Bar Mitzvah under duress and became a man. I lived up to my word and continued for that additional year, two times a week. It was a great lesson on keeping my word and one that was now cemented into my character.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Out of the Woodwork

Like a termite nest that has been disturbed I get a half dozen calls from guys in the premium business who have received samples from me and they are all interested. I look some of these guys up and from what I can tell they may be bigger than my first buyer. It is incredible that now everyone finds out about it and wants to buy them. It is a classic feast or famine situation. Right now I will just have to be content with the feeding I have agreed to, but it is painful the potential opportunities that are showing up which I am now turning away.

It is amazing that somehow these guys are all from the same industry. It’s like one guy has it and they all need it. I will absolutely keep my word to Mike but feel the need to ask my newest distributor if “XYZ Company” is ok to sell to or does he consider them competition? Of course they are all competition I am told, even if they are from Minnesota, California and Upstate NY. I can’t believe this one guy is competing with the rest of the country in any meaningful way but I had to ask.

My word is more important than my wallet and so I bite the bullet and let everyone who calls know I can speak to them about selling this at a later date. I don’t even want to hear how many they would buy or entertain quoting it because I see this as just an exercise in self torture.

Friday, December 5, 2008

First and Forty

It first down and forty cases of Kup Buddy No Spill Drink Holders to go. I have had enough feedback by now that tells me the real value to people at this point is to have them printed with a company logo, phrase, or souvenir twist such as “I love NY” or something of the sort. As luck would have it I find someone who can do this for me and their business is fairly close to my office. I get some pricing together and am intrigued enough to stop in and set up for the possibility of getting this done.

It would be the luckiest call so far in an attempt to sell my new idea. Not only could they print them they also have another related business that prints on hundreds of premium items for companies who give out things to get noticed and get the company name out to the masses. They do things like golf balls with corporate logos, pens, tee shirts, key chains, bottle openers, penlights, and just about everything you could imagine. I happen to be there the same day as Mike, the guy who owns the company, and he tells me about his big show in January and how he is getting ready to print a catalogue with all the items listed in it.

We seem to hit it off and I find out his office manager is from my hometown and so the conversation seems even easier. I ask him if he wants to sell them in his catalogue. He agrees but with one caveat. I will need to agree to an exclusive for him in his industry in order for him to carry the product, at least for a while to let him get started. I have a real good feeling about this guy and we agree to it on a handshake. With that he orders forty cases to get started and I have scored my first touchdown. Shortly there after he shows me his newly published sales catalogue and Kup Buddy has a prominent place on the cover. I am ecstatic.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Giving it All Away

In order to get things rolling I find myself giving them away. Unbelievably the harder I try to sell them the faster I am handing them out. Six for you, four for you, a couple here a couple there and soon everyone will have these things and it won’t cost them a dime! Samples are just that though. You have to get them in the right hands to make them work in your favor.

From the feedback I have been getting hundreds of other people along with myself all have ideas they want sold on the retail shelves of America. This is not going to be easy. My thinking is that if I send a half dozen at a time the shipping does not cost me anymore. The likely hood those buyers will keep one and give the others to co-workers is pretty good. Even if I get rejected, a few of them may just hang around on peoples desks in the office for a second chance.

I can see it in my head. “Sorry Len we are not interested at this time, I will give the samples out to my co-workers but we are really not interested.” A few weeks later these Kup Buddies are on now on a bunch of desks in the buyers office and the big boss comes in asking “Where did you guys get these things? They are great, I want one!” The rejecting buyer immediately sees he passed on great potential and bam! My phone is ringing with a now hot order. Oh those dreams look so real!

In reality more than a few buyers offered me proposals that essentially have me giving them away and to see how many THEY can sell. So incredibly I need to give them away to sell them. This seems counter intuitive to me and even a really big offer to put them in a major retailers store on consignment has popped up. I would certainly reach my goal much quicker of putting a Kup Buddy on every desk in America, but I will go broke getting it done. I should have said “A Kup Buddy on every desk in America….profitably”, but profit is just one of those things everybody else downplays and only I seem to care about.

The irony of giving them away to reach my goal lingers on my mind in a twisted sort of way. If you were given a Kup Buddy then of course you would take it and try it. If you had to buy a Kup Buddy for a few bucks you might not part with the money. Somehow I have to start giving them away (as crazy at this seems). If I start doing this I certainly cannot sustain the financial impact for too long, but maybe there is a tipping point in there somewhere. I am left to ponder this relentlessly. The riddle is laid out before me and I now get to torture myself on how to solve it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Few Too Many

A few days is what I am told will be needed to make my run of cup holders. I have heard this before and so I sit patiently for a few days, and then a few days more, and a few more days after that. Ok so it is about 3 weeks late and I am pretty convinced something has gone wrong. How can someone actually tell me a few days and then let a few weeks pass? With no calls to boot?

Look, I am more than happy not to push for them as I have been pre-selling over the phone and tapping my entire contact list, friends, and customers (who have been incredibly insightful and supportive). I have finally used my Linked–In membership (an online Facebook of sorts for business people), and even the dreaded Facebook (a non business Linked-In for people with way too much time on their hands). I find the latter terribly annoying, but am willing to endure for the sake of “reach” and the opportunity to hook up with past friends that may happen to also be buyers of “Kup Buddy” style products. Somehow with all my facebooking I can’t seem to come up with even one remotely viable candidate. I do find this social media tool to be somewhat intriguing as well as overwhelming though. Deep down I recognize how someone who has the time to use it right could really leverage it to produce some pretty amazing results.

With that in mind I have been using my Face to knock on so many doors that my hands are cramping up. I am also getting some pretty poor results. Its bad enough that I don’t want to spend more time without changing the outcome and so I decide to get some education of this new phenomenon. I reach out, (once again) to my EO business friends and ask for some advice.

In a few short days we have a meeting scheduled with 3 member companies who all work in the social media space. Along with them is a group of other members who read my email blast plea fro help and admitted that they too were equally perplexed about what they were supposed to be doing about social marketing. This is the truly amazing thing about a good business network. You have people willing to jump in, be the experts, and share everything they know to help others move ahead. There is no pay involved and no great contracts that come from it (for now), but I can say for sure when the time comes to hire a company it will be those that educated me that I will gladly give the business too. I know there are probably a million people who tell them this, but for me Kup Buddy Karma is all I have to work with, and it seems to be paying off. You can’t just get good karma you need to give it too, otherwise it never really works.

Another few weeks have passed and we are now into the beginning of December, when my call comes. We are running them now and it will take a few more days. Yea yeah I think. I run over to the factory to see what they look like and I leave with my car loaded to the roof with about 10 cases of each color. I am so pumped to actually have these that I drive right over to my buddy Mike’s place and give him a case so he can get some of his friends interested. In a fouled attempt to be prove they have the value I believe they do to solve this problem no one has addressed, I try to sell him a few cases for his friends and family but he is not biting. If you want me to show them around give them to me otherwise go to hell!, he tells me.

My first case and already I had to give it away. Little did I know this was to be a scenario that would begin to repeat itself often.