NSA Logo

The first question we should always ask when entering any situation that could be a networking situation, and you’ll likely find that ANY situation CAN become a networking situation (done tastefully and tactfully, of course) is….

Who here can I help?

I got this idea from Dr. Robert Cialdini, who is considered by many to be the world’s foremost expert on influence and persuasion. He says that if you really want to be influential, start with that simple question.

Our concern should not be “How do I look,” or “How can I make some money today,” or even, “Who do I most want to talk to,” but should instead be, “Who can I help?”

If we go into a networking situation with that as our focus, we’ll not only endear ourselves to our fellow networkers as a nice person, but as a valuable RESOURCE that delivers VALUE for them. That’s the kind of professional all of us want to add to our networks!

How do you get ahead? Ask “Who can I help?”

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” – Martin Luther King

I often hear decision-makers talk about how they need a new logo, a new brand identity, a new website, or they need to “do more social media” or any other number of things that may indeed be worth looking at, but may not be the real problem or the best place for their attention.

One of the best books I ever received was Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith. Perhaps not coincidentally, the book contained one of the best pieces of marketing advice I ever read, too.

Mr. Beckwith urged the reader to first fix your service! Make sure your customers are getting first class service as a priority all of the time. The best marketing in the world can’t make up for a lousy customer experience.

If you want to test this advice, put your consumer hat on and think about how you spend your money and you’ll probably agree.


Lots of people set resolutions for the new year, and lots of people end up abandoning them a few weeks afterward. What’s worse, these people often end up feeling like they failed. Or worse, they consider themselves a “Failure.”

Remember, success is a process, not an event. We talked about that some time ago, and don’t be surprised if I come back to this later on. Process, after all. Process!

If that resolution/goal/idea/hope/dream/whatever you had in mind for 2018 hasn’t worked out yet, quit moping and try again! Who says it has to be a “resolution” anyway? And who decides that it has to be set at a certain time or accomplished at a certain time?

Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” – Arthur Ashe

Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: Now.” – Denis Waitley

Comments Off on A thought for the new year…

Something I like to help clients do is maximize every resource. When that maximization also offers some potentially high ROI activity, all the better. It should come as no surprise that Amazon provides us with a fine example of this very concept in action.

I ordered some stuff from Amazon and it arrived in the box shown in the pic to the left.

As you can see, the box features promotional copy for the movie, “The Greatest Showman” starring Hugh Jackman.

The industry term for this is “printed packaging” and not only is it something Amazon is using, it’s become another profit center for them because vendors pay Amazon for the privilege of using that space to get their messaging in front of the eyeballs of Amazon customers.

Once again, Amazon, BRILLIANT!


Comments Off on This idea was delivered by Amazon (In less than two days!)

THANKS 2017!

By Dr. Burt Smith November 20th, 2017

I’ll keep it short and sweet because I know this is a busy time of year for you. For that matter, there probably isn’t a time of year for you in today’s world that isn’t busy, and that’s why I am especially thankful for your taking time to read my posts each week. Or whenever I get around to doing one.

From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!


Veteran’s Day 2017

By Dr. Burt Smith November 9th, 2017

Another year has gone by, and if you’re reading this in the United States, it means you and I are still free.

We have veterans to thank for this freedom.

If you are a veteran, THANK YOU for your service.

If you know a veteran, please pass long my family’s thanks for their service.

There can be no real peace while one American is dying somewhere in the world for the rest of us.” – Ronald Reagan



Comments Off on Veteran’s Day 2017

There are any number of ways one can become an entrepreneur, and there are many ways to earn success as an entrepreneur.

While there may truly be no “one best way” to get there, my belief, based on advice from entrepreneurs I admire and my own journey, is that there is a preferred path to eventually owning the business of your dreams. That path starts with experience.

First, go get some experience in the field in which you want to own your business. For example, if you just know you want to own a coffee shop someday, go work in a coffee shop. While you’re there, strive to move into as many responsibilities as you can so you can learn as much about the business as possible.

If you can obtain a management role, all the better, because then you’ll gain experience in making decisions based on what you’ve learned. And believe me, you’ll learn tons more once you become the one making decisions and then living with the consequences of those decisions, good and bad.

For that matter, go into any “job” with the attitude that you’re there to learn and not only will you gain some invaluable training, you may find how much you enjoy the work actually surprises you.

This is my favorite approach because not only are you earning the crucial experience you need, but because someone else is paying you to earn it!

Education is what you get when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get when you don’t.” – Unknown

Comments Off on The road to entrepreneurship?

Need to write some ad copy? A flyer? A cover letter? An e-mail? Copy for your website?

Here’s a time-honored formula that’s sure to work for you. An oldie but a goodie.

AIDA – Attention, interest, desire, action. Those four hallowed words reverently dictate how you can write persuasive copy. It’s a formula that’s been around for nearly a century and whose usage still echoes in much of the messages you experience today across all media platforms. Here’s a short discussion of the steps involved in the AIDA formula.

Attention – Before any persuasive communication can take place, the attention of the audience has to be captured. This is often referred to as “disruption” because in addition to having many other things on their minds, your audience today is being bombarded with over 3,000 advertising messages every day.

Interest – Gaining attention is one thing, but it’s another to actually secure the audience members interest in your message. This step engages the reader by showing how your offer solves his or her problem or how their life could be better with your solution.

Desire – Once the audience’s interest is established, because they see the value of your offer, the next step is to build their desire by getting them to imagine themselves experiencing the value of “owning” your offer. The benefits. Get them to imagine that better future your product can deliver.

Action – They’re interested, and they want it, so don’t leave them in suspense! Show them how they can get it! The call to action gives the audience member the way to act upon their desire to own what you’re offering, so a good idea is to make is as easy on them as possible. “Click here to order” or “Call now” or “Visit your local showroom today” are examples of calls to action.

Next time you’re listening to the radio, watching TV, browsing the web or your favorite magazine, look closely and you’ll see that adaptations of this formula are still heavily used for a simple reason – they work!

Every writer I know has trouble writing.” – Joseph Heller, Catch 22

Comments Off on How about a sure-fire copy writing formula?

Wal-Mart is experimenting with not only delivering your groceries to your door, but with actually coming in your door, entering your kitchen, and stocking your fridge and pantry with your groceries. Seriously. I’m not making this up. You can read all the details for yourself here.

To be fair, this is a good idea not so much because of the specific approach they’re testing, but because of the thinking that Wal-Mart seems to be demonstrating in desperate response to the big chunk of their business they are losing to Amazon and the like. Kudos to them for asking how they can differentiate themselves by offering additional value for their customers.

It’s a bad idea because not only are there way too many moving parts in this approach, and not only because I predict it’s highly unlikely that there will be a big enough target market who will trust Wal-Mart with the “keys to their home”, but because they are getting too far outside what they know they can do well. Their core competencies if you prefer the fancy schmancy MBA term.

On the grocery side, Wal-Mart does a super job of using their buying power and the efficiency of how they operate to offer the consumer a vast selection and a remarkably low price. Bravo, Wal-Mart. Expanding the services they offer in that vein to include online ordering and curbside pickup makes excellent sense. Grocery delivery seems like a bit of a stretch and a gamble, but operationally that isn’t terribly far fetched, so that’s an idea worth a look. But to think that Wal-Mart will be able to cost-effectively field a team of competent delivery staff who their customers deem trustworthy enough to let into their homes I think will prove to be a promise they’ll have a hard time delivering on.

Whenever you chase after another target segment, chances are you’ll chase away your original customer. Whatever you do, you should not get greedy but stay true to your product type, your attribute, or your segment.” – Jack Trout and Steve Rivken, Differentiate or Die


Comments Off on Why Wal-Mart’s newest idea is good (and bad)