The Customer Centric Model

 

The Customer Centric Model

It has been my agenda for nearly 20 years to reform an industry that is for the most part has been built upon a shifting and unreliable foundation that has always been broken and is heading for total annihilation. If you have attempted to build a business in MLM you will relate to what I am addressing.

For over a decade this vision has grown in urgency and definition to help direct a broken industry towards developing a customer based centered direct sales model.  All of this was originally inspired by a maverick move towards customer acquisition by a company called Trivita. In 2001. I was introduced to this new direction in MLM by the simple statement, “just buy your customers”. I had already been engaged in the MLM industry for nearly 10 years at that time. My first exposure to MLM was in 1992 with the first to market consumer (customer) based ISP, nationwide dial up Internet access for $20 per month.

I have been an entrepreneur my whole adult life and a good portion of my teen years as well, with my first business started at the age of 14. Prior to my exposure to MLM, I was and still am a traditional business entrepreneur. Therefore to say, I found the MLM model of exclusive distribution to and consumption by distributors and only motivated to this action by pursuing profit; alien, illogical and disturbing. Let me explain:

My introduction and very successful sojourn to this day with Trivita helped me discover the stark contrast between the artificial economies of a distributor based sales company in contrast to a customer based sales company.  I studied this comparison for many years and it became painfully clear, the reason traditional MLM fails, regardless of the compensation plan, regardless of the motivational speakers, regardless of the training to sell the “Hope and Dreams” as that is the only way to promote when the products and or services are frankly, always overpriced and usually underwhelmingly ineffective. There are very few exceptions.  So the glaring difference I found in Trivita was the fact that for every distributor I recruited, I averaged 100 customers. Then the fact, I did not have to sell Hope and Dreams and instead, the pitch was just buy customers. The reaction from the potential distributor was always extremely positive and the close rate of a distributor was very high. When you factor in that every distributor usually meant 100 customers, the potential success was superior to anything else like it.

 This was just a company that offered co-op acquisition of the leads and customers Trivita acquired via their infomercials and not much else. Even Trivita’s products lacked true demonstrability and the pricing was not very competitive. The only viable benefit regarding being customer centric was the fact you could just buy customers, that for the most part, only about 20% stayed a viable reorder over the years.

Because of this one aspect with Trivita, I have enjoyed a significant income for over 10 years with little attention, a true residual income. Over the years as a vendor to the MLM industry, occasionally getting involved with a few companies because I was promised they were going to offer customer centric solutions (all deception from short sighted pitch men). None of them ever did and in my opinion, the super majority of MLMs are run by handicapped captains, that understand the game and that being the 3 month rule. They build their businesses to inspire, motivate and separate their new distributors from as much money and contacts they can quickly. They know their business model only attracts distributors seeking some semblance of financial success therefore they lay their snares with grand claims of Hopes and Dreams. I consider it borderline criminal. Now we finally arrive to the meat of this article, that being what is a true Customer Centric direct sales company look like. Being that there really isn’t any yet, we have to go to the imagination and vision that to some part is guided by good business principles and look at some of the true customer centric businesses on the scene today.

Amazon could easily be the epitome of customer centric. 

 

Wow. “Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.”

That is big, it’s bold, and it’s risky for a brand to make the promise to fulfill on that 24/7 every week of the year.

Service recovery design pays off

Of course the shopping and purchasing experience on Amazon has been exceptional for years. But what if a customer has a post-purchase problem? A big part of customer experience design is a focus on “service recovery,” or designing and refining the process when something goes wrong for the customer. Beloved brands like Zipcar know this is a critical opportunity for delivering moments of delight.

READ MORE:
http://delight.us/earths-most-customer-centric-company/

It is all about Customer Satisfaction.

Let me repeat that, “IT IS ALL ABOUT CUSTOMER SATISFACTION”!

The latest results from the American Customer Satisfaction Index reveals Amazon.com as the reigning and undisputed champ in both Internet retailing and across the entire department in overall customer satisfaction. Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos perhaps more than any business leader has taken the philosophy of truly caring for the customer and ushered it into the digital era. Bezos has built a company from the ground up purely based off of the unbending, unyielding philosophy of serving the customer across all departments. With a 164 million Amazon customers, few would argue Bezos as the key architect of building an authentic, customer-centric company.

Pointers from the article 7 Customer Service Lessons from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos
https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2013/06/jeff-bezos-lessons.html

1. Don’t Just Listen to Your Customers, Understand Them
Everyone has to be able to work in a call center.”

2. Serve the Needs of the Customer
“We’re not competitor obsessed, we’re customer obsessed. We start with what the customer needs and we work backwards.”

3. The Empty Chair: The Most Important Person in the Room
“Focusing on the customer makes a company more resilient.”

4. Never Settle for 99%
“We’re not satisfied until it’s 100%.”

5. Respect Today’s Customer
“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000.”

6. Strive to Create a Customer-Centric Company
“If we can arrange things in such a way that our interests are aligned with our customers, then in the long term that will work out really well for customers and it will work out really well for Amazon.”

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Apologize
 “We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.”

Over the past nearly two decades, Amazon has held a steady pace of positive press due to their industry-altering company and great customer service. However back in 2009, the foundations of the online book mogul were shook when they remotely deleted copies of the books “1984” and “Animal Farm” from users’ Kindles. The incident prompted an outcry of Internet users to see the dark, “Big Brother” side of Amazon – one that Bezos had worked hard to steer clear of. Amazon quickly made an apology with the usual dry and inhuman statement from the press team. But what really turned people back towards Amazon, was an informal and heartfelt apology from Jeff Bezos:

From “MLM” (Network Marketing), to a sustainable Coop Customer based Marketing Platform!
Now the vision for a better kinder direct sale company

I have run MLM companies, built them, serviced them as a vendor and engaged with them as a distributor for more than 20 years. I have touched and serviced and influenced over 100 million associates over this period of time. The following is my agenda to change this industry to service the little guy and gal, offering a real solution to build a middle class sustainable income for everyone, not just millions for the elite few, we know as “leaders” in their respective company.

1.       1. A Viable and Competitive Product

First and foremost, the “company” must offer a viable product and or service that does what it says and better than any of their competitors and better yet, have a product or service that has no legitimate competition. I could go into great detail here about the MLM industry and their underwhelming and over priced products with many making spurious claims to eventually be shut down by the FDA, etc. but I won’t.

2.       2. The Virtual Warehouse

This may be putting cart before the horse. “Inspired by Amazon’s virtual warehousing” for their merchants selling in Amazon, it is time the MLM industry moves forward with a similar solution. Storing your monthly product commitment in your spare bedroom, garages or den has been the standard for decades. With today’s technology and database management abilities, there is no excuse to not move toward a virtual solution for distributors. This can be done in house by the company, or, use Amazon’s virtual warehousing that is available on a global scale.

This one upgrade to this industry will make reselling, shipping and distribution automated and easy for every distributor, regardless of location or available storage abilities. Bottom line is a doubling or greater movement of product.

3.       3. Customer and Lead coop acquisition

This is where the company marketing people run ads, campaigns, etc., driving vertically targeted prospects to an 800 number or website, acquiring quality pre enrolled prospects or customers who have purchased or at most have enrolled into an auto ship. The distributor’s contribution enhances the company’s budget and the “partnership” enhances the customer’s retention. The company also makes available to the distributor mailing lists to their “enrolled leads and customers” to assist in the continued purchases etc. It is a win win situation and is a proven technique as proven by Trivita.

4.       4. Becoming an E Retailer (automated back office shipping)

Now that the distributors have their inventory, products and samples (if applicable), online, in an offsite virtual warehouse, the process to send product or samples becomes effective and easy. As simple as logging into the back office of their respective MLM company, designating the product (pulling from existing inventory and/or auto purchasing additional inventory), quantity, and drop ship address, with a simple click, the product or sample is easily on the way, while the distributor is still talking to their prospective client, prospect or distributor on the phone. This seamless process makes the potential growth of the company and distributor 100 times greater than the typical cumbersome processes today.

5.       5. 800 telemarketing service platform

Today’s technologies not only make this proposed service affordable, but extremely effective. Typically, new distributors are assigned an ID# number. The number resides within the servers database to track sales, commissions, etc. of the distributor. Thus the hardest part is already done for an 800 sales number.  [A little explanation of current tech] 800 number technology software interfaces display the originating number, or forwarded number.  IE: If the distributor develops a radio commercial with a phone number (toll free or not) then forwards that number to the company 800 number, all he or she needs to do is register that number (via the back office) or calling it in. This way the telemarking operators receiving the incoming calls, know who originated the call and the orders are taken and assigned appropriately to the distributor.

It can be as simple as the distributor takes a call from an ad, the prospects decides to buy the product. The distributor can easily 3 way into the 800 platform and assist the sale. It can be as easy as an ad running offering a product with the company main toll free number offering free shipping and handling with the special pin number. It can be very easy to build.

Imagine the projected results with the distributors taking the initiative, no more need for mentors, no more lead for upline leadership, no more need for motivational events, because the motivation is found in the system and the results. Imagine!

6.       6. API (Application Programming Interface). Distributor selling on Amazon, Ebay, Alibaba, etc.

Basically, the MLM company has an API developed that interfaces with Amazon, Ebay, etc for the distributor. This allows the distributor to develop an online store on Ebay, Amazon, Alibaba, etc, driving and supporting the prospects and customers, but the sale interfaces through the company. Thereby the company controls the pricing, collects the money (connected to the distributor) and ships the product. All the collecting, shipping, tracking and commissions paid out is done by the company.

API: In computer programming, an application programming interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. An API expresses a software component in terms of its operations, inputs, outputs, and underlying types. Basically allows the company to remotely control pricing, merchant collection, shipping and communication via the distributors Ebay, Amazon, etc. account

More about Amazon API:
http://support.getdropstream.com/customer/portal/articles/1233046-configuring-amazon-marketplace-for-third-party-order-fulfillment-

More about Ebay API:
https://go.developer.ebay.com/what-ebay-api

7.       7. Retail Sales Only Sites (Widgets and actuals)

Traditional MLM companies give a distributor a self-replicated web site that is upfront and focused on selling the Hopes and Dreams of the opportunity, the money, the comp plan, the hype and flash of it all, designed to recruit more distributors. This is death to a retail customer.  Very few MLM companies even consider a dedicated self-replicated retail sales only site for their various products.  I have yet to even hear of any companies making a simple widget that allows the distributor to have the retail site hosted via the widget on their own domains, much less the ability to add any customization to it. Below is one of the first and recent MLM retail sites I am aware of. It sells the coffee, offering one off sales or a discount and free shipping with an auto ship order.

More about widgets here:
http://alexmarandon.com/articles/web_widget_jquery/

8.       8.Social Marketing Aps and systems

Marketers, merchants, etc. need a portfolio of tools, to get the message out, to build awareness, to build a sphere of influence and to build a customer and distributor centered loyalty program. Very few people, even entrepreneurs have all the skill sets to achieve this. However, automated marketing, email auto responders, social broadcasters, coop advertising, blogging platforms, materials and videos are necessary tools for the entrepreneur. First these tools are expensive and the various costs ad up quickly. When you do not supply these types of tools in a controlled environment, the message being broadcasted may not meet the criteria of the company nor abide by regulations.  There are solutions and Markethive is one of the best options. http://markethive.com  Markethive supplies all of these tools and more, integrated and easily configured and controlled within the communities vertical structures built for DSA companies like yours. It is called the company Directories and within a company portal in Markethive, your distributors will find all they need; Broadcasting platforms, self-replicating personalized PDF documents,  Coop advertising systems, blogging platforms, email auto responders, everything needed for marketing, in one place.

9.       9. Training and videos

I do not mean motivational speakers and cheer leading. I mean, real world training how to build the businesses. Daily classes offered by competent experienced teachers, so the distributors develop a strong understanding, expanding their customer territory and acquisition and operate like a real business.

Summary;

With the accelerated market place awash in innovation and technology, technology that puts the human element right into the center of the equation, you can understand why you see the MLM industry sluggish and many companies dying on the vine and others falling flat on their faces with their much heralded launches. Entrepreneurs (distributors) that once upon a time, a flashy video, a charming pitch man, and a compelling comp plan, worked to explode the next greatest MLM launch.

Not today.
It is only a matter of time a young bold, innovative entrepreneur launches the first true customer centric MLM similar to the framework I have discussed here. And when they do, the world will quake, the swamps will empty and the first multi trillion MLM enterprise will rise to stand head to toe with the great innovations today like Facebook Google, PayPal etc.

Written by:
Thomas Prendergast
CMO: Markethive

 
 

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

How to Create a Customer-Centric Culture

What makes the great companies so great? It’s the service and experience the customer receives when doing business with them. The companies that get it are customer-centric. They put the customer at the heart of decisions, ideas, marketing, system design and more.
 
customer centric companies
 
 
It is definitely not the product. The product can be truly amazing, even a lifestyle changer, but that’s not what makes a company great. Take for example, cable television. Cable TV is truly amazing. When I was growing up, there were only four channels from which to choose. Today we have hundreds of channels to choose from with amazing high-definition clarity. We can record shows on the cable box to watch later, or watch movies and other programs ‘on demand,’ whenever we want to watch them. This is an amazing product. However, the cable TV industry, as a whole, delivers an abysmal customer experience. One of the less-than-customer-friendly policies: Asking a person to stay home on a workday to meet the cable TV installer during a four-hour window. That hardly seems customer-centric.
 
 
On the other hand, there are companies that sell the same products as everyone else, but the customer experience they offer really does set them apart. Ace Hardware is one of the best examples of this, having been awarded the JD Power award for highest customer satisfaction in its industry eight years in a row. These smaller, independently owned hardware stores compete against big box stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s and sell many of the same items as the big stores. 
 
 
However, many Ace Hardware stores are only one-tenth the size of one of these larger stores. Imagine an 8,000-square-foot store going up against an 80,000-square-foot store. And, these larger stores outspend Ace Hardware in advertising dollars by 30 to 1. Yet, Ace Hardware thrives in this competitive environment. So, what does Ace Hardware have to offer? The experience, which comes in the form of helpful customer service. As an Ace customer in Seattle put it, ‘Even though the prices can be, but are not necessarily, higher, the convenience and help are worth it.’
 
 
Ace doesn’t promise ‘friendly’ service. It promises helpful service, and there’s a difference. It’s the way Ace stores engage their customers, provide knowledgeable employees who help them with their projects, and deliver a higher-level customer experience.
 
 
Consider several reasons to create a customer-centric culture. I’ll argue that customer service can make the difference between a company’s ultimate success or failure. It can mean the difference between having loyal, repeat customers or one-time-only customers. And, it can mean the difference between customers’ rave reviews or online rants.
 
 
Steven Hodgkiss
Free Inbound Marketing Tools from MarketHive
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Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Why do Customer Centric Companies Stand Out?

The bottom line is that customer-centric companies stand out. They are more desirable for consumers to do business with and more enjoyable places for employees to work. The top-rated customer service companies are often the best companies to work for as well. The reason is that the culture within the company offers a similar experience to what the customer experiences on the outside. Some things to consider about customer-centric companies:
 
Customer-centric companies empower employees to make decisions that are for the benefit of the customer. They have guidelines versus rules and policies, and the mindset that if what the customer is asking for isn’t illegal or immoral, won’t cost the company money (although sometimes that’s still OK), and won’t harm the company’s reputation, then it should be considered.
 
customer centric companies
 
Customer-centric companies hire people who fit the culture and have personalities that align with the company’s core values, mission and vision. Skills and experience are important, of course, but these high-performing companies are looking for other qualities as well. It takes the right combination of skill, personality, and attitude.
 
Customer-centric companies invest a lot of time and money into soft skills training such as customer service and relationship building. Technical and product training are important, but constant reinforcement of the “people side” of the business is equally important, if not even more so. Customer-centric companies know the importance of their employees, and take a “people first” approach. They develop their people at a level that keeps them engaged and enthusiastic about taking care of the company’s customers.
 
Steven Hodgkiss
Free Inbound Marketing Tools from MarketHive
See MarketHive for more information and to register

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

What does Customer Centric actually mean?

Creating a positive consumer experience at the point of sale and post-sale.
A customer-centric approach can add value to a company by enabling it to differentiate itself from competitors who do not offer the same experience.
Does the business you are involved in fall into the category? Well, these are the indicators: –
 
  • Puts customers above everything else.
  • Enhances the buyers experience, promotes sales and works to ensure customer loyalty, above all.
 

Here’s my list of seven steps for creating a customer-centric culture at your company.

 
These figure in my work as a company culture consultant; I’ve found them to be central to creating a corporate customer service culture that’s devoted from top to bottom to the customer experience. I am recapping the list here at the request of a MarketHive reader; I hope you find it useful.
 
1. Articulate your central philosophy in just a few words, a few meaningful words. That’s right: a company’s culture can begin with words, but those words need to represent a decision – something you actually stand for, a decision then expressed in the clearest, and ideally fewest, words. Find a central operating principle. Think of the Ritz-Carlton’s“We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen,” or Mayo Clinic’s “The needs of the patient come first.”
 
2. Elaborate on your central philosophy with a brief list of core values – a list short enough that every employee can understand, memorize, and internalize it, yet long enough to be meaningful. Your core values should cover how customers, employees, and vendors should be treated at all times.
 
3. Reinforce your commitment to these values continually. You may want to go as far as to devote five minutes every morning you stress one value, or an aspect of one value, at your departmental meeting. If that’s too often for your business reality or sensibilities, do it weekly. But don’t save it for the annual company picnic. Annual anything is the enemy of ‘‘core.’’
 

4. Make it visual.
The above-mentioned Ritz-Carlton has ‘‘credo cards’’ – laminated accordion-fold cards that each employee carries during work hours. The brand’s entire core beliefs, plus shared basics of guest and employee interactions, fit on that card. Zappos highlights one of its core values on each box it ships out. And sometimes ‘‘visual’’ doesn’t mean words at all. One way that FedEx shows that safety is a core value is via the orange shoulder belts in its vans: Everyone can see – from twenty-five yards away – that the driver’s wearing a belt.
 
5. Make your philosophy the focus of orientation. That way, if safety is one of your core values and you stress this at orientation, on day two, when the new employee’s co-worker tells him ‘‘In this restaurant, we stack the high chairs in front of the emergency exit when we need more room to do our prep work’’ [This is a real-life example, unfortunately], the new employee will experience cognitive dissonance and work on a way to align the actions of the company with the core values they’re supposed to reflect.
 
6. Train, support, hire, and, if necessary, use discipline to enforce what’s important to you. A core values statement is two-dimensional until you bring it to life – with the right people and energetic guidance. ‘‘Maintaining a culture is like raising a teenager,’’ says Ray Davis, President and CEO of Umpqua Bank, a the Pacific-Northwest-based U.S. retail bank that’s consistently top rated for service. ‘‘You’re constantly checking in. What are you doing? Where are you going? Who are you hanging out with?’’ And, sometimes, you have to use some tough love when that teenager is acting up in ways that don’t support the culture you’re working to build.
 
7. Include the wider world. Your people want to be part of an organization with a sense of purpose. Pizza parties and overtime pay (and even, believe it or not, stock options) only go so far. More inspirational: A version of a corporate “triple bottom line,” such as Southwest’s “Performance – People – Planet” commitment and annual report card. Or Ritz-Carlton’s “Community Footprints” social and environmental responsibility program. Or the story Umpqua Bank Regional VP Michele Livingston shared with me, about her employees visiting the homes of disabled customers to help them fill out their paperwork. Now that’s really something.
 
Steven Hodgkiss
Free Inbound Marketing Tools from MarketHive
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Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

How I Cut My Writing Time From 2 Days to 4 Hours

As I was brainstorming ideas for my last post on the MarketHive blog, I started reflecting on what I’ve personally learned during my time at MarketHive.
 
creating writing 

My writing process is considerably different today than it was when I joined MarketHive over 2 years ago, so hopefully you can find some nuggets in the mistakes I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned that might help you as well.

Slow beginnings

When I first joined MarketHive, I wrote or sourced the content, published it and promoted it all. I approached blogging from almost exact opposite ends of the spectrum; Others are great at getting something up quickly and tweaking it to fit, whereas I was prone to spend a long time on my “first draft,” which was more like a fourth draft by the time I eventually sent it over for Paul to look at.

Depending on the style of the blog post and the topic, I would take 1-2 full days to write a post for the MarketHive blog when I first started. I remember thinking how silly I was to underestimate my writing time: in my interview with Paul, I estimated that I could write one post per day, but it probably took six months before I got to that point.

I made a few mistakes on a regular basis in those first months. One was to research too much, which hurt me in two ways: one, I had too much information collected about a topic that I wanted to squeeze into a 1500-word piece. I would either struggle to leave out research which I found interesting, or squeeze it in so that I ended up with upwards of ten different sources for one blog post.

The second way this hurt me was simply by taking up too much time. Paul Graham wrote a great essay about how we spend our time. He says that sitting on a couch all day watching TV is so enjoyable and unlike work that it sets off our alarm bells pretty quickly. Most of us would struggle to get through a whole day of that without feeling really bad about wasting time.

When you do “busy work,” however, it’s not that much fun and it looks a lot like work. Emails are a good example: you’re sitting at your desk, using your computer, and you’re not having fun, so you’re probably working. Only, you can get through a whole morning of emails and look back to realize you didn’t get anything important done. That’s what research can be like.

Particularly on a topic I don’t already know much about, I tend to get sucked in to reading everything I possibly can about it before I start writing. For a journalist that has months to complete a piece, that might be feasible—and even admirable. But for a blog that’s aiming to publish a new post every day, there’s no time for research beyond the minimum you need to explain the topic to your readers.

Another thing that slowed me down to begin with was managing my workload. Working full-time at MarketHive meant I had other tasks to do aside from writing blog posts: helping out with projects in other areas of MarketHive, working on emails to our customers to announce new features, answering blog comments and more. For a long time I struggled to find a balance between the different types of work I needed to do. I have some ideas about this which I’ll come back to later.

Experimenting with my workday

Something I love about the MarketHive culture is the emphasis on self-improvement: not only by simply doing things we know are good for us, like exercising more, but also through experimentation.

I’ve done several experiments on my workflow and my daily routine over the past nine months to eventually arrive at what seems to be working well for me now.

Originally, I worked from around 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. until about 4 p.m. or 5 p.m.—a regular workday. When I realized I had a lot of work to get through besides my blog posts, I tried pushing my blog posts up to the top of my to-do list each day, working on those before I did anything else. I often fell into the trap of moving on to smaller, easier tasks like answering emails or blog comments, just to check some things off my list, and my blog posts would still take a couple of days to get done.

Not only did this process slow me down, I felt pressure a lot of the time: either because I had so many things on my task list that I hadn’t started, since I was working on my blog post first, or because I had a whole blog post to get done that I was ignoring to work on smaller tasks.

I had always thought I was a morning lark, who worked best before lunch. A few months ago I realized that I didn’t know this for sure, and I’d actually noticed I was working in solid, focused blocks right after lunch many days. So I tried a new experiment: I worked on my own startup before lunch and started my MarketHive workday at 1 p.m. This worked to a point, but I found that if I wasn’t done for the day by around 6 p.m., my energy started to wane and I struggled through the last part of my day.

At various points in my time at MarketHive I also tried working until 10 p.m. at night, and starting at 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. to get a head start. I tried blocking out distractions, working in coworking spaces or at home by myself, working in silence or with various types of music. MarketHive’s culture really encourages this type of experimentation, and we’re lucky that we have a supportive team to share our progress with. I’d highly recommend trying this yourself if you’re struggling with productivity at work.

Drastic changes that led to increased productivity

creating writing 
 
Right now I have the best daily routine setup that I have tried. I’m really happy with how it’s working after the first few weeks, and I expect I’ll stick with it now that I’ve found something that suits me. On a day I’m working at MarketHive, my day now looks something like this (keeping in mind that I’ve been working part-time at MarketHive for the last few months, so I no longer have extra tasks besides writing blog posts):

7am: Get up, drink coffee, read, generally just sit around and wake up

8am-12pm: Start writing today’s MarketHive post

12-1pm: Lunch

1-2pm: Complete any editing that needs doing on my last MarketHive post

Depending on whether I’ve got edits waiting to be done on my last MarketHive post, I’m usually done for the day by lunchtime or just after lunch. The high of taking my lunch break knowing my day’s work is done is huge.

I originally got the idea of working until noon from Sean Ogle. I was fairly skeptical that it would work for me, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised that I’m generally able to focus on one task (writing a blog post) for a solid four-hour stretch. I take tiny breaks during this period to grab drinks, go to the bathroom, check my emails, and so on, which help me to refresh my brain a little. Knowing that my goal is to get my work done by noon, however, helps to nudge me back to work when I get distracted. If I really want to start noodling around on the internet, I have to remind myself that I have limited time until my goal is up, and after lunch I’ll have all afternoon to waste time.

A few lessons I’ve learned

In the process of cutting down the time it takes me to write a blog post from a couple of days to just a morning, I’ve learned a bunch of lessons. Many of these are specific to my workflow, but you might find them useful as well.

1. The right music is important

I really love listening to Pandora, but I’ve found that switching to different artists all the time tends to affect my workflow negatively. I spend more time skipping or liking tracks and checking to see who I’m listening to than I should. This month I’ve paid for a month of Rdio to test whether listening to full albums will help me to focus better. So far it seems to be going well.

2. Lying to myself doesn’t work

Working until noon isn’t a new idea. I’d come across the concept of setting earlier deadlines for yourself to induce focused work before, but I had always thought that it wouldn’t work for me. After all, if I tell myself I have to have something done by noon, how do I block out the little voice in my head saying, I know that’s a lie and I actually have all day to do this so I’m going to check my email again? Turns out, the trick is not about lying to yourself at all. For me, it’s about setting a challenge.

Rather than telling myself, I have to have this done by noon, I tell myself, let’s see if I can get this done by noon – that’d be awesome. Working on a challenge that offers a big reward (more time to do what I want in the afternoon, and no last-minute scramble to finish my work) is a lot more fun and manageable for me that setting arbitrary deadlines.

3. My own mind gets in my way a lot

One of my biggest issues with getting blog posts written quickly has always been that they appear to be huge, audacious projects in my mind. I wrote once before about my process of breaking down each post into subtasks that were manageable chunks of work. Although this helped, I still approached each one as a massive project, rather than just another task on my list.

Now that I’ve proven to myself over and over that I can write a post in a morning without dropping my quality, they’re a lot less formidable in my mind. I think that makes a huge difference to how I work.

It takes a lot of trial-and-error to know how you work

I said before that I’ve tried working early in the morning, late at night and right after lunch. I tested a lot of theories about how I work. I’ve worked surrounded by people, all alone in my house, at coffee shops, in silence, in dark spaces and light, when I’m cold and hot. Experimenting has been totally worth it for me, because I’ve found a system that works really well now. It’s taken a lot of time, though, and if I went back in time to when I started at MarketHive, I’d tell myself to be patient and keep experimenting.

Getting something on the page has to happen quickly

creating writing 
 
Something I’ve learned from experience and from reading advice from other writers is that there comes a point when you need to shake yourself out of research mode and force yourself to start writing. Getting words on the page is that huge push that it takes for a boulder to start moving. As soon as you get that done, you’ve got the momentum to keep going.

Quite often I’ll get stuck at this stage and I won’t be able to get words on the page, even though I know it’s what I need to do. I have a few strategies to help with this, and I’ve found that using them to get something started is almost always the push I need to keep going.

One way I do this is to type rubbish. I may literally start my first sentence like this: “I have no idea what to write about this topic because…” and just type gibberish about the topic and why I’m struggling. Many people have said that writing is important for thinking because it helps you to organize your thoughts. In my case that’s often the case.

Notifications are not worth the distraction

creating writing 
 
I never turn my phone off when I’m writing. This means that anyone with my phone number can call me or send me a text message. That hardly ever happens, so it’s not something I’m worried about distracting me. Email and Twitter, on the other hand, can be huge distractions. The problem with notifications from those is that they’re never urgent. I know that anything I urgently need to take care of will come via my phone from something who actually knows my phone number. No email or Tweet is ever going to be so important that I have to stop working immediately to deal with it. At least not when I’m working in a four-hour stretch, and checking my email every hour or two.

Not only do I turn off notifications, but I keep Twitter and my inbox closed on my computer when I’m writing. If I really want to check them, I need to use my phone, which keeps my computer safe from those distractions until my blog post is finished and I can send it off. That may not work for everyone, but since I’m prone to switching tabs constantly to see what’s going on, I enjoy the freedom of having no interactions available on my computer.

Not having “little tasks” to do helps me focus

One thing I mentioned earlier was that I struggled to balance my writing at MarketHive with all of the other tasks I had each day, like replying to blog comments and emails, or jumping into support. I’ve been able to focus more easily in recent months because I stopped doing all of those tasks when I switched to a part-time employee. I think there’s still a lesson to be learned from my struggles though, which I expect I’ll face again in the future.

Because I always had trouble balancing my “big task” of a blog post and my “little tasks” (everything else), my next experiment with these would be to try pushing all of my little tasks onto one or two particular days per week. Even when I tried doing my blog posts first thing in the morning, I still had trouble balancing the different mindsets needed for different types of work. I think having an entire day blocked out for one type of work would make me more productive and remove the pressure of worrying about the tasks I’m not making progress on.

Moving on

creating writing 
 
I am thrilled to be able to take all of these lessons away from my time at MarketHive, and to move on to new things with a better understanding of how I work best. MarketHive has an awesome culture for someone like me who enjoys experimenting with their workflow and routines to learn what works best. If you have the flexibility to do so, I’d highly recommend experimenting with your own workflow and taking note of what works and what doesn’t.

Or maybe you’ve done some experiments already. Let us know what you’ve found in the comments.

Steven Hodgkiss
Free Inbound Marketing Tools from MarketHive
See MarketHive for more information and to register.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

T minus 10 and counting

Update to the Juggernaut launch of MH!

With a very small edit in the 2nd video (Alpha Founder) they are being prepared for final release. Mike Darling will be updating the Alpha Profile pages to have the new video. He will also be upgrading the back office to default to the second Alpha Founder video and the Alpha upgrade page. In other words, unless you are either subscribed to our a fully paid Alpha subscriber or founder, every time you log in that page will default.

Mike Darling will also be building a template capture page to be used on any domain for the new video and we will have it hosted on some of our domains for the big massive email campaign to our old Veretekk database.

Mike and Mariusz are working on our new Admin email system so we can access the millions of name, email, IP, date, phone, etc. so our first launch will go to that database as soon as they finish it. Mike has told me he will try to have it ready by the end of this month.

Vince (the video animation marketing firm we are using) and his copywriters will be crafting our 10 MH auto responders starting next week to complete this campaign.

We are getting very close to heading up up and away!

Thomas Prendergast

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

744 West in West Haven, Connecticut Restaurant Review


I came here Saturday May 2, 2015 around 2:30 pm. I wanted to be close in West Haven as my Dad was in the VA recovering from pneumonia. I was here many years ago and a co-worker recently told me how good this place was. It received many positive Yelp/Trip Advisor reviews so I wanted to check it out for myself.

Their address is 744 Boston Post Road; West Haven, CT 06516. Their telephone number is (203) 934-5726. Below is a picture of their street sign.

Besides giving a review, I want to give my readers a chance to learn more. It is always good to have more than one opinion when you want to dine out.

744 West Bar & Grill
Yelp Reviews
Trip Advisor Reviews

I was by myself and was hoping for a place at the bar. The bar was packed so I went into the dining room. Ariana came out with food for a group and politely said “one moment please”. It was a moment and she promptly took me to a table.

I ordered the “Pepper Jack Cajun Burger”. It is listed as ½ lb angus burger cajun dusted & topped with caramelized onions and melted pepper jack. It was $8.00. I asked for my burger to be cooked “well done, a hockey puck please” and I got what I asked. I want to say fantastic job as my request in other restaurants seem to be difficult to carry out. I detected a little salt on my French Fries which wasn’t a bad thing. Coleslaw way typical. Below are two different pictures of my meal.


This was a good lunch. I still prefer places like Prime 16 and Rudy’s in New Haven for my burger but if I am ever in the neighborhood and want something I know I will like I will come here. The customers around me seemed happy.


I am giving my experience 3.5 stars. Ariana was terrific. Food was good and I love getting what I ask for. Bathroom was small and it had a small line. I am not a fan of the Post Road.

I agree with the positive Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me. Feel free to share (or like) anything I have done on Pinterest with others and feel free to follow me.

Follow Me on Pinterest

All the best,

Alan
Alan Zibluk
http://www.alzibluk.com
e-mail: alan@internetguy.ws

PS: If you are going to blog and want to get noticed, you should use Markethive
http://www.markethive.com/alzibluk.

MarketHive is much more than just a website for business owners.

MarketHive is much more than just a website for business owners.

When I was introduced to Tom Prendergast in October 2012, he told me of a vision he shared with his long time business partner, Mike Darling. This vision was to provide an advanced online marketing platform to help existing and prospective small business owners build their businesses by providing them with free online marketing tools. 

I had no real experience of using the internet to market a business but I shared this vision and decided to become a Founder Member in this project. With other Founder Members, some who have much more internet experience than I do, we were able to raise the funds to develop the project. 
We had not even decided on the name MarketHive at that stage. We knew the project would take approximately two to three years, and now this vision is soon to become a reality. 
MarketHive is currently in a soft launch phase to gather a few members to help us test some of the further development stages before a full launch to the public. 
I am proud to be a part of this project and look forward to seeing many more members in MarketHive soon. 

You may not want a business of your own. That’s OK. Anyone can have a MarketHive account. You can join MarketHive just to check out the best deals in the products and services being offered by other MarketHive members. 
As a MarketHive member, you can even join or create groups and/or forums based around your personal interests.
…and so much more.

Membership is entirely free of charge. There is absolutely nothing to lose by joining MarketHive.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

I am Watching You

The time has come that the rank and file (That is You) engage in the practice of speaking your mind, belaying you insights, sharing your perspective of what MarketHive means and does and how it serves the little guy and gal out there on the Internet. Go plant the seeds on the forums. HINT: Look up at the banner. It lists many of the top forums. Get your Twitter going! Engage the Markethive Fan page! It is time for organic discussions across the vast wastelands.

I am watching you and taking notes.
 


Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

A Brief History of AJS Motorcycles

AJS motorcycles were first manufactured by the Stevens brothers in Wolverhampton in the late 19th Century.
 
The company was started by four Stevens brothers who’s father Joe was a blacksmith in the Wolverhampton area of the West Midlands. Joe had five sons and it was the four eldest who started in the early years manufacturing proprietary engines and later building frames eventually leading to building complete motorcycles, the first being produced in 1898.
 
ajs motorcycles
 
The company, originally called the Stevens Screw Company, was renamed after taking the name of the only son Jack with two initials becoming the A J Stevens & Co Ltd., the models thus being named AJS.
 
The company was noted for its high quality and were firm believers in competing in speed tests and reliability runs to improve the quality of their products, along with entries in the famous Isle of Man TT races in 1911.
 
As production increased, the brothers, in 1914, moved to new premises at Graisley Hill, Wolverhampton and while many manufacturers of the day, including AJS with an 8hp V twin, changed to twin cylinder models, the Stevens brothers also continued to develop the ever popular single cylinder models.
 
Due to the First World War, the factory was forced into military production which provided the company with valuable expertise in metals and production methods which, after the war, were put to good use in motorcycle production and featured heavily in the new ohv 350cc racer winning the first post war TT in 1920 by a large margin.
 
This was followed up the following year with a Senior TT win with a 350cc Big Port AJS. Many notable victories followed over the years including Jimmie Guthrie’s famous first Isle of Man victory in 1930 on an ohc 250cc AJS. During this time AJS were also very active and successful in various record attempts throughout Europe claiming many world records in the process.
 
The factory was also busy developing new models, while the 350cc Big Port remained a firm favourite along with a twin port 250cc and ever growing in capacity V twin models, new models included a transverse V twin in 1930 while on the racing scene in 1927 an ohc 350cc was developed followed by an ohc 500cc in 1928.
 
Another development in 1928 was a transverse in-line four cylinder using an engine similar in design to that used the Austin 7 but only three or four development bikes were ever built and never went into full production. Thankfully one of these surviving versions can be seen in the Sammy Miller Museum at New Milton Hants.
 
The company also looked at manufacturing other products from wireless sets, motor cars and heavy commercial vehicles. However, during all this costs started to get out of control and when in 1931 there was a massive downward trend in the sale of motor vehicles the company was in financial trouble and had no option but to close factory and go into liquidation. The brothers were proud of the fact that in the fullness of time every creditor was repaid in full and to the last penny.
 
The company and all its assets was purchased by the London company H Collier & Sons Ltd, manufacturers of the Matchless motorcycles who kept the AJS name and continued to produce models pretty much as they finished with the Collier Brothers forming a new company called Associated Motorcycles Ltd.
 
AJS models were promoted through the various aspects of competition developing a number of multi cylinder road racing models including the 500cc V four, initially as air cooled racer followed by water cooling and turbo. As in the Wolverhampton days reliability trials continued to play a large part in the development of their models. Another model developed in Wolverhampton.
 
After World War II the production range was gradually merged with the Matchless range becoming badge engineering of both brands with a range of 250, 350 & 500cc ohv singles along with twin cylinder models from 500 – 750cc.
 
On the competition front the V four cylinder roadracer was dropped and followed by a 500cc twin famously known as the Porcupine due to cooling fins around the head and cylinders, initially with a turbo charger which was later dropped because of rule changes in the sport. The off road competition also developed with a very successful production based 350cc trials and 500cc (motor cross) scrambler supplied under both brand names. They also developed in the mid sixty’s a two stroke bike for motor cross called the Stormer using the Villiers 250cc Starmaker engine.
 
The Porcupine originally designed proved to be not very successful and was dropped in favour of a of a production based 500cc twin but was soon dropped in favour of a brace of ohc 350cc and 500cc singles these being the AJS 7R and Matchless G50. These machines enjoyed major successes and provided the back bone from the 1940s through to the late 1960s both in Grand Prix and the domestic road racing scene.
 
Sadly in 1967 AMC ceased production and was sold off but the AJS name continued being bought by Fluff Brown who continues to produce the Stormer in both 250cc and 370cc versions. The Browns (AJS Motorcycles Ltd) also import under the AJS brand a range of custom and off road type bikes for use on public roads.
 
 
Article written by Roger Limb

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

The Social Media Expert