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wow, WP did it to me… did not post and did not save…. wow…. so will post it to Facebook.

The lesson learned was that while we should anticipate clients needs, lets not assume that we know what they need more than they do.

I have seen a growing trend lately in small business and entrepreneurships of the lack of understanding when it comes to opportunity costs. As defined:

The cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action. Put another way, the benefits you could have received by taking an alternative action.

When I decided to get out of the Navy in July of 2010, I made a decision that it would have been better for me to get out at that time, and finish my undergraduate degree, than to have stayed in at the time. The pay that was forgone during this time to date, is about $25,000. To me, that was a great deal of money and income to lose. I felt that by finishing my undergrad, the income that I would be able to earn within the next 5 years by having a degree, would GREATLY outweigh the money that I left.

Now today, I have an opportunity to fly, and make a considerable income increase, because of my Bachelors degree. Now I am faced with another decision. Whether or not to put my business pursuit on hold for a year or so so that I can pursue a personal ambition. While the personal ambition will greatly compensate me while I am away, the greatest cost that I will forgo is my brand image.

I was reminded that I have been in Jacksonville, Florida only a little over a year and a half. In that time, as a brand, I have accomplished recognition that some haven’t in 5 or 10 years. Not saying that to brag, but saying that is an enviable position to be in, and can be a costly lost. It allows the opportunity for others to move into my position in the market. So is the cost of one or the other worth it?

That is the choice that we are forced to make every day. Do we want this, or do we want that. The understanding that every decision we make takes the place of another is a powerful tool in decision-making. Often, many businesses jump over dollars to save quarters. They feel they cannot afford to hire, advertise, offer a better product, until they are at a certain level, but fail to realize the failure to do so, may be the most costly decision in the long run.

Even in our personal lives, we make this decision when it comes to friends, relationships, education. The more information that is available to make a decision the easier the process can be. So when making a decision, its more than just heads or tails, it may be all in the ability to see the values of the outcomes.

I remember growing up, I used to have a fascination with magic. Everything from the interlocking rings, to the deck of cards, to the coin behind the ear tricks I wanted to learn how to do. However, I never got to the level of David Copperfield, or Chris Angel, or many others that we watch on television today. Or did I?

Since the term “magician” refers to one who uses mythical and extraordinary powers, then the question would be, can you TEACH magic? Holding to that definition, the answer is probably a “no,” but you can teach someone with the powers how to use them. Kind of like Obi Wan and Luke Skywalker. What many consider themselves instead, illusionists. Having the ability to make people think they see what they truly do not see, or the other way around.

How does magic apply to business and marketing? Well, hopefully many of you have some kind of business plan or at least a draft of a business plan. For those that do not, consider taking some time away from whatever you are doing, and draft one. There is no time like the present to get a road map to let you and your followers know where you are going. For those that do have a business plan though, you will find that one of the most overlooked “sections” is the marketing plan.

The reason why it is often glossed over is because people think marketing is just advertising and that’s it. Marketing is not just getting business cards out, or “word of mouth,” or tagging each other on social networks. All of those are components of marketing. You wouldn’t define your fingernail as being your entire hand would you?

according to the American Marketing Association(AMA), marketing is defined “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. Marketing is a product or service selling related overall activities.”(Wikipedia 2011)  That is a lot of information. But what does it mean?

There are three terms I would like for you to pull out of that statement; create, communicate, and value.

Your marketing plan needs to have fluidity to be able to have both long-term and short-term goals. The creation process should be constant and ongoing, so that you can place your firm in a competitively advanced position. While it’s great to be able to see what someone else has done, people remember you for what YOU have done first.

Communication is so important to your marketing plan. It is great to have a good idea, with all the glitz and glam, but if there is no medium to deliver or exchange your information, is it all for naught? Do you give your plan enough time to fully develop? Do you advertize an after holiday sale the day after the holiday, or a week before? Do you know who you are communicating with? Are you speaking their language? If your marketing fails to communicate with the intended audience, it will often have unintended consequences.

Lastly, what is the value of your marketing and the product or service it is representing. I can not stress how important it is for a firm to place some kind of TRUE value on its product or marketing.

One of my favorite advertising campaigns right now is the “Mayhem” campaign from Allstate. While the commercials communicate well, and are funny, the inference is that “mayhem” can happen at anytime and it is best to be prepared for it. This places tremendous value on the product that is being offered. While the target may not go with Allstate, it does put them in the mindset to get insurance, and hopefully Allstate will be one of the companies they inquire of.

If your entire marketing plan is only social networking, business cards, commercials, or other two dimensional avenues, is that providing the best value to you, or your consumer?  With the Allstate ad, it was easy to see how it would cost a client more to NOT utilize their services than to retain them.  Does your marketing campaign add value to your product?

As a magician of marketing, you must communicate to your clients and customers not just what you do, but what you want them to see you can do. With that understood, remember, that everything you say, do, or show; there is a potential for present and future clients to see. They will develop their expectations of you from what you show them, or how you treat other clients and colleagues. Often we lose site of this aspect of our marketing and we watch clients slip away that we never noticed were there.

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