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10 07, 2011

Part Two:When Change is in the Wind–Change! John Gifford

By |2017-03-03T12:07:08-05:00July 10th, 2011|Categories: Blog, Competitive Advantage|Tags: , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Part Two:When Change is in the Wind–Change! John Gifford

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John Fifford, publisher of "Indy Smallbiz"

When change happens, change.

This is a continuation of my  interview with John Gifford, publisher of “Indy Smallbiz.Indy.” John purchased a newspaper in 2008 and almost immediately realized that the present newspaper format was not where he wanted to be. With that in mind, John moved on to creating his “tribe” of people and what he calls  his “Boutique Marketing.” 

John you really had to take a leap,  how did you know what to do?

I didn’t know what to do but if you want to know what to do just ask your customers.  Unfortunately if the customer wants something different, no one wants to listen. We talk about customer service but it really begins when you start to listen to what customer’s want and then develop a model to make it happen. I was also looking for something that was exhilarating and I really liked. So my strategy was to rule out what I hated and focused on what I liked and what I felt I could do.

I started  Simon Sinek’s  model from his book, “Start with Why.” All organizations and careers function on 3 levels. What you do, how you do it and why you do it.  The problem is, most don’t even know that “Why” exists. In other words, ask yourself, what drives you? This is the impetus that will get you going in the right direction. 

Wilbur Wright was looking for a way for man to fly. He broke it into parts solving one problem and then on to the next. I identify with Wilbur Wright’s motivation: I like to solve problems. The problem I am solving now is how to use a publishing site as an “attractor,” both for readers, as well as authors. By helping  the authors to share their expertise online, readers will be drawn to their expert skills for meeting their business needs. Add a cross-promotional approach in which the authors promote each others’ articles via social media and email lists and you add a targeted increase in readers – readers that count, those who are already customers of other authors’ businesses. Deepen the connection with Radio programs hosted by the online authors and you are talking about a tightened bond through another means of communication, one that can provide immediate interaction between listener and host (otherwise known as author on the online publishing site).

See what is driving you; what really motivates you. I invented a new shoestring at age  5 , later on in my varied and checkered career I went on to work out a complex delivery model that needed to be solved for social services, and have been solving problems ever since, but until a little under a year ago I didn’t clearly identify to myself what was really driving me and motivating me.

Life is all about finding solutions. It sounds like the next phase will be very exciting and I’m glad to be a recipient of John’s problem solving mind and ideas for the future.

Lisbeth Calandrino is an award winning author, trainer and blogger. She is  author of the book, Red Hot Customer Service, 35 ways to heat up your business and ignite your sales. Lisbeth can provide customer service/ sales training using the principles of her book at your place of business or through video conferences.

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6 07, 2011

When Change Is In the Wind, Change. Part One

By |2017-03-03T12:07:08-05:00July 6th, 2011|Categories: Blog, Customer Service|Tags: , , , , , , , , |2 Comments

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Change will occur with or without youI met John Gifford the way we meet everyone these days, through the internet. Actually I tagged John in one of my blog posts and he called me. With only a couple of years in the newspaper industry, John realized he would have to change. His take on “print” is different than most newspapers and magazines.

I found it very inspiring, it’s all about change. I hope it gives you some ideas.

John Gifford is publisher of “Indy Smallbiz. Indy Smallbiz  is the new monthly news magazine that will focus on the needs and interests of the small business community in Indianapolis.

“The aim of Indy Smallbiz is to help businesses grow and increase their profits. As you read our news magazine, we want you to learn something new to help your business or to appropriate a business strategy from one of our stories into your own business. Foremost, we want our publication to evoke action on your part.” – John Gifford

John Gifford is an interesting man with unusual vision and foresight. As the newspaper industry was drastically changing, John was too.

John, originally you were in the newspaper business but only for a short time.

I had a print newspaper from 2008 until January 2010. I realized that all print was being affected by the internet so I looked for a niche to fill. Most publications were focusing on large businesses so I decided to look at small businesses. In Indianapolis there are 60,000 businesses and 45,000  (the small ones) were being overlooked. I realized they needed help and so I decided to reach out to them. My idea was to establish the model, clone it and take it across the country.

What did you do when you saw that print publications were losing their appeal?

I tried to get them to move to online advertising but it was a tough push, but I continued to focus on my website. I knew that print was going away.

What did you see as the problem?

In 1880  the predominant market was selling whale oil lamps and then Edison came in with the light bulb. In 2009 and 2010 I was still selling whale oil and whale oil lamps (print advertising) when the online tip-point came;  on top of that came social media. It’s all like swimming upstream with weights on. Why do that? I changed my approach in 2010, dropped the print edition,  and concentrated my efforts on to increase readership and connectivity. The online delivery system has no printing costs or costly distribution. It is based on creativity rather than dollars. Generation X and Y are tipping the balance against the traditional way of getting the message out. Everyday there are more and more online venues. I don’t need a zillion customers, I just need to cover a narrow area and make it deep. Small businesses: realize that marketing is the key to your business.

It’s not good enough to “be good.” You now have to be good at what matters. You don’t need brute force (dollars);  just find the system and spend the time. Being good won’t help you unless you find something to be good at; today it’s continually changing.

People will come by word of mouth, and today everyone is in charge of their own marketing and marketing remains the key to success. The competition is mind boggling because of the internet. I like to problem solve and the rest I will outsource to my “tribe.”

Do you have a name for your model?

I call the new model “Boutique Marketing” made up of “a tribe” of people who can work together and impact various customers and businesses. I have put together my “tribe,” a simple group of like minded people, added social media to the mix and have my new business partners. Instead of print with advertising we will all work together in a collaborative way to add value and grow this new model.

Stay tuned for the rest of the article and John’s Boutique Marketing ideas.

Lisbeth Calandrino is an award winning author, trainer and blogger. She is  author of the book, Red Hot Customer Service, 35 ways to heat up your business and ignite your sales. Lisbeth can provide speaking or customer service/ sales training using the principles of her book at your place of business or through video conferences.

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