The One Sales and Marketing Idea That Will Differentiate You From Everyone Else

Direct mail, telephone, e-mail, internet, personal sales, networking, newsletters, articles, press releases, e-newsletters, radio shows, radio ads, TV ads, infomercials, billboards, signage, company cars, posters, letters, blogs. These are all good ways to market your business. Every business that employs these techniques will get a certain amount of results.

There are dozens of marketing tools that can be used to promote your business, but none of them will make an enormous difference if they are not partnered with something even more important.

PT Barnum used it and became the first millionaire in show business.

Andrew Carnegie used it and built one of the largest companies in the world at the time.

Examples of people who utilize it today include Richard Branson, Ken Blanchard, Richard Bolles, Sean Combs, John Kotter, Steve Wozniak, and the list goes on.

If you want to experience growth this year, regardless of what marketing techniques you want to use, you must do what all of these people did or are currently doing…

Take massive, focused action.

The words look so simple that they might be perceived as commonplace. But as any student of business knows, massive action is one of the most rare occurrences in the business world.

Everyone mentioned above had an intense desire to experience rapid growth. They stopped looking for the perfect brochure, mailer, advertisement, copy, etc. and began implementing the multitude of things they could immediately do, perfect or not, that would attract large amounts of people to their enterprises.

If business has taught us anything the last fifty years it is this: the market does not demand perfection, it demands action. And the greatest rewards go to the companies who take the greatest amount of action.

Loans and Credit Cards – and Bankruptcy

Not so very long ago the moral climate in this country was very different. People had more time for each other, and more time to examine and compare their own moral standards with others. One of the many results of this was an almost unspoken pride in making your own way through life without looking for handouts from the state or elsewhere.

This resulted in a high degree of poverty in the working classes and the unemployed with their determination to be in debt to no one, but also a resolve in the so-called middle and upper classes to avoid financial embarrassment. The lowest point of this ‘loss of face’ was a declaration of bankruptcy – the shame which this carried with it is difficult to comprehend nowadays, but it was very real then. People lived (often very precariously) within their means and a failed business venture was a usual reason for total loss of credit.

Credit – even that word has undergone a subtle change of meaning. It used to be a means for businessmen to raise funds for expansion or a new venture, and was a word with very limited use outside the business world. Nowadays credit is more often taken to mean the opportunities for individuals to spend more than they earn and to live beyond their means, with a concomitant increase in the numbers declaring bankruptcy.

This situation however seems to have lost its aura of shame, and instead has become, whilst not quite a badge of pride, at least an apparently easy way out of a crisis of ones own making. In 2005 there were almost 70,000 individuals declared bankrupt in England and Wales; the trend would seem to indicate that the figure for 2006 will exceed 100,000.

This has resulted in an explosion in bad debts to a current average in the UK of over £3000 per person – a staggering total of over £190 billion. High street banks report that they are being particularly hard hit.

Why so many? There are two major factors involved – the availability and the variety. Credit is now very readily obtained, with some financial institutions positively anxious to lend sums of money which are at best loosely related to the borrower’s income. The increased variety is provided in the form of debit and credit cards, mortgages, unsecured loans and ‘schemes’ such as consolidation agreements.

A further problem is the refusal by many people to see the problems they are facing and to deal with them whilst there is yet time. They tend to close their eyes and hope it will all work out, which to some extent it does – by a declaration of bankruptcy! This can result in loss of their home and most of their possessions and, doubtless in many cases, the break up of their family.

One improvement for bankrupts is in the increased cost of housing which can mean that they have sufficient assets to pay their debts but do not necessarily have to sell the property, despite their lack of available funds.

Does the problem start in schools? Not because pupils are going bankrupt, but because proper education in financial matters is virtually non-existent. This really would be useful education – learning about the costs of credit, how to use credit cards responsibly, how to say no to that unrepeatable bargain, how to operate a bank account etc. All of which would be remarkably useful information in the credit crazy 21st century.

In addition, people need to know the cost of loss of control over their financial affairs. That administrators will take control of all their financial decision making, and that there could be criminal charges for irregularities. That restrictions on their actions can continue for up to 15 years after discharge. Perhaps most telling, the information that an administrator will for their services, take a 15% levy on all income received by the bankrupt person. This at the time when for the bankrupt every penny will count as never before.

Bankruptcy Restriction Orders are likely to be served on around 10% of bankrupts who are deemed to have been reckless in their move into debt, and are to be made very much aware that the condition is ‘self-inflicted’. A restriction order operates for up to 15 years, and prevents trading under a different name or acting as a company director, and makes credit virtually unobtainable.

Co-Sign a Loan and It’s All But Certain You’ll Lose

Money is the best deodorant. ~ Elizabeth Taylor ~

As ‘Liz’ points out, money gives off a certain scent, and when people get a whiff of it, you can bet your bottom dollar that you’ll attract certain folks. These people just want to borrow a few dollars, and they’re even quite willing to pay you back… with interest… so where’s the problem?

Unless you’re ready to write it off, do not under any circumstances lend family and friends money. That especially means co-signing for loans. Period. Here’s why. You cannot win. You cannot come out ahead. You have everything to lose and nothing to gain.

If you get paid back then you simply avoided a potential catastrophe. If you don’t get paid back (which may very well be the case) your relationship will never be the same. It usually results in irreparable damage.

“Oh I don’t want you to give me any money, I just want you to co-sign for a loan!”

That’s even worse!

Banks and financial institutions are professional money lenders. That’s what they do. In the same way that Major League Baseball players are the best in the world at playing baseball, bankers and lenders are the best in the world at lending money and evaluating risk. If a friend or relative asks you to co-sign on a loan it can only mean one thing – the banker or lender doesn’t like the odds of getting their money back. In fact, they think their chances are so slim they are saying flat out “No!”

So is that a good reason for you to step in? You’re not stupid. You know full well that your relative or friend is a bad credit risk and yet so often, we reluctantly agree to sign. Why?

Your left hemisphere, logical brain, knows that this is a bad move. Your right hemisphere, emotional brain says “Oh he’s a good guy, things will work out in the end.” Parents sign for their child to buy a car, or a house so he can learn to be responsible. Hmm. Responsibility might be better learned the way you learned. Save and manage your money and voila, you’ll have enough to buy what you need on your own.

You should be aware that co-signing can go a lot deeper than just agreeing to cover the loan.

Not too long ago a friend of mine (I’m told he’s now an ex-friend) called and asked me to co-sign for a new mortgage on the house that he and his girlfriend lived in. Here’s the scene.

Over the course of the past year or so, my friend and his girlfriend had missed a number of mortgage payments. The bank was tired of chasing after their money so they called the loan. My friend quickly scouted around and found a lender who was willing to take the mortgage – and give my friend access to ninety percent of his remaining equity – provided he could find a co-signer.

My “friend” then called to tell me the good news. He had found a new mortgagee and all he needed was for me to agree to co-sign on his girlfriend’s mortgage. (If you’re wondering why my friend’s name wasn’t on the mortgage it’s because he declared bankruptcy several years earlier and was forced to put the house in his girlfriend’s name.) It gets better.

My friend further explained that this was a “really good deal” because the new mortgagee required a much smaller monthly payment than the present mortgagee. In fact, with this smaller monthly payment, and up to ninety percent of the remaining equity available, they could use the equity to pay the monthly bills. As he explained, it was as safe as houses. How could they possibly miss a payment? “Think about it,” he enthused, “it’s a complete no-brainer.”

To further see how delusional some people can get, my friend hasn’t held a job in six years, and from all indications at the time he called, he hadn’t the slightest intention of getting one.

To be fair, I don’t think my friend really had any idea of what he was asking me to do. He “really believed” that I would suffer no more inconvenience than having to go through the trouble of scrawling my name on a piece of paper. In reality, by co-signing that loan I would have been bringing a mountain of responsibility and aggravation on my head.

As a co-signer you are stating that you will take full responsibility for the entire matter. In effect, even if everything goes according to plan (and it seldom will) co-signing can have a devastating effect on your own finances.

As a co-signer the liability immediately goes on your credit record. In fact, this could prevent you from getting a loan, or your own mortgage, because a creditor considers the co-signed loan as one of your obligations – and make no mistake about it, it is!

If you co-sign and your friend misses a payment, the lender can immediately collect from you without first pursuing the borrower. In addition, the amount you owe may be increased by late charges and attorney’s fees if the lender decides to sue for payment. If the lender sues and wins, and he usually will, your wages and property may be taken as payment.