The cell phone reception was surprisingly good. "Daddy, I got a 96 on my pop quiz!" chimed Bentley, my 11-year-old daughter.
Although I was primed to give a positive response, she tossed in a comment for comparative measure ". . . and everybody else failed!" There was more glee than I cared for in the second clause, but I understood, and praise was more important at the moment.
"That's just fantastic!" I beamed while standing at my Dallas hotel window where'd I been learning about (what else) marketing. "How did you do so much better than everyone else?" The answer was surprising.
"I knew we were going to have it, so I had already studied." I could almost see her sweet little smiling face, straight through the phone.
Now, given the definition of a "pop quiz" this either seemed contradictory or my daughter was paying an inside informant. Another grade school security leak.
"Really, how did you know?" I asked.
Her response was instructional: "Because it was about time for one."
Wow. That's borderline clairvoyant. Is this the same way her mother knows when I haven't actually cleaned up the garage from my last four projects? No, this was just an 11-year old applying "predictive preparedness." Don't worry; I didn't give her the lecture you're about to get.
Time for the Overly Obvious
Okay, it's December. You know that by the cover date on the magazine, the calendar, and the fact that you are a smart person. You knew 12 months ago that Decembers occur with great regularity, act much like the previous ones, bringing roughly the same business challenges, and that the year would end with the month.
Yet I'd wager that you — like many of us — put off doing much about it ahead of time. You can pick any month if you want to feel similarly guilty. No matter what, don't feel alone. When I ask seminar attendees if they have a marketing plan, I get a disturbingly low show of hands (below 20%, if you're wondering).
The year-end just makes us look at this question harder. We want to plan for the upcoming year. This year we'll set goals. Do all that stuff we keep hearing about.
Yet we're riddled with indecision, confused at the choices, often assuming we can do it inhouse, while we're actually only rationalizing our eternal "busy-ness" and feeding our insatiable procrastination.
We see others pass us by, reinforcing the emptiness of intended betterment or the bitterness of resentment, your choice. Neither are that darn swell.
In the words of Robert Service, who had the perfect name for this business although he was a 1920s poet, "It's later than you think." Indeed it is.
It's about time. Time to do it. While ideas are great and intentions are superb, implementation is all that matters.
Oh, and lest you think I am some efficiency master with long to do lists neatly checked off, forget it. My desk would benefit greatly from a 3-hp leaf blower so I could just start over.
The Value of Time
They say time is money. Hogwash. Time is far more valuable. I can generally replace the money; it's the time I have a hard time reclaiming.
I have way too many projects, deadlines, and desires, hindered largely by stubbornness or failure to recognize the calendar keeps advancing. However at the marketing seminar I just mentioned, I did something about it.
I bought stuff. Sure, I can probably figure out how to write an e-mail and postcard sequence to increase event attendance, but I paid another copywriter $3,000 so I could learn from what he'd already done that worked. Why? Because it saves me time so I can implement it sooner.
I also purchased a little $4,900 program to use as a template in another endeavor. Yes, I'm sure I could've eventually figured this one out too, but at a much greater cost in time. I'm not talking about the cost-per-hour bunk; I'm talking about speed to market, which translates to less stress, fewer mistakes, and smoother sailing ahead.
So did I waste $8,000 on stuff I could have done myself? Hardly, I merely invested in a clearer, shorter path to help me and you reach our goals.
I encourage you now, at this moment, to seize the opportunity that has your name on it. Only you know what that is.
For the last 11 issues of this magazine, I've offered something free to help you over that month's marketing challenge of choice. Several hundred of you did so. I'd assume a smaller portion than that implemented. The rest of you said, "Hmm, that's nice. I'd like to do that some day." Then the phone rang, the e-mail blinged, a customer had a problem, and the dream got put off another day.
Not this year though. Not gonna happen. You're going to grab the tools to make a difference and get it done. I'm going to be here as a thorn in your side should you flirt with either stepping off the path or sitting for too long in the way.
I can't help you with the technical training. I don't do business management. This magazine and industry are stuffed full of help there. However, neither of those matter too much if the phone's not ringing. That's my job. And if you don't like my brand of marketing, that's okay by me, but do something no matter the choice.
Here's a start:
Get ready for the 13 SEER change we've been yapping about for a year, which will be in your face next month.
Create your 2006 marketing plan now. Decide your income goals for 2006. Divide that by desired service and replacement volume. Then divide that over your year, per month, and figure your marketing budget accordingly.
Mostly, pay attention to time this year. Get the tools, hire the people, or invest the resources to make the most of your time. Time really does fly, and I'm sure God doesn't appreciate when we waste it. You've got the talent. You've got the desire. And you've got
Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, a contractor marketing firm. Author of 11 books, creator of turn-key marketing packages, customer retention programs, and powerful Yellow Page ads, plus a seminar leader and speaker, he is a regular columnist for Contracting Business. Visit www.hudsonink.com, request free resources from [email protected], or call 800/489-9099 for more info.