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June 2, 2015

Written by Bob Meyer, Editor of BarterNews

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From the desk of Bob Meyer... 06/02/2015

All back issues of "From the Desk..." can be accessed by clicking here.

(Please feel free to forward our newsletter to your friends and colleagues. We have a "box" at the end of the newsletter for your convenience. See you next week...)



Cabo San Lucas Selected For 36th Annual IRTA Convention

The International Reciprocal Trade Association is thrilled to announce that this year’s convention will be held at the five-star all-inclusive Solmar Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, from September 17 through September 20, 2015.

The incredible Solmar Resort is being offered at the amazing 3-day/3-night rate of $559 cash and 500-UC trade per person, and there are shoulder rooms available to extend your stay 3 days before the convention and 3 days after the convention at below internet cash rates.*

The gorgeous Solmar Resort has a 93% approval rating on Tripadvisor, and most reviews concur with this one:

"Paradise! Stayed at this resort with friends for a week in May 2015. Amazing resort! The room had a breath taking view of the ocean and of resort pools. The food from either restaurant is delicious, especially their breakfast buffets!"

Don't miss-out on this year’s amazing 2015 convention, to register now, click HERE. Please Note: The click-through link contains a new two-page digital registration form with automatic fill-ins to calculate the cash & trade totals. Make sure to click to page 2 on the panel to the left of the form to go to the auto-fill booking form.

For more information contact Ron Whitney at ron@irta.com and (757-393-2292), or Patty Weston at patty@irta.com or (407-951-6797).

*Shoulder rooms are available subject to availability. All convention Solmar bookings must be made through IRTA —subject to a per-person $795 cash and 600 UC registration fee.


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Ready To Take That Quick Weekend Get-Away?

The paradox of planning a trip is that it often makes life more stressful, not less. That's why the newest type of vacation — the quick get-away — is so popular. Today's time-starved couples can relax and enjoy a weekend jaunt to an urban hotel, then return home refreshed and energized.
 
According to the Travel Industry Association, the number of weekend trips that people take has jumped 70% in the last decade. And getaways of one-to-five-days now account for about half of all U.S. travel.
 
Hotels have long marketed to hometown clientele, by offering "romantic" weekends away from the kids. The latest perk comes from hoteliers and retailers working in tandem, providing various discounts and incentives for hotel guests at nearby stores.
 
So, whether you want to get away for a quiet weekend, indulge in a romantic interlude, or have some time to shop — you'll want to check with your trade broker on the availability of nearby hotels and resorts.


Is Your Trade Exchange Missing Out On Valuable New Business?

If your barter company's listing on BarterNews.com isn't current, you are definitely missing out on new business. The web site BarterNews.com receives heavy traffic - with over 150,000 page-views every month. Entrepreneurs and corporate executives check the thousands of articles, the weekly "Tuesday Report," and the "Contacts Section" of our site. They use the latter to find barter companies with which to do business.

Is your barter company's listing up-to-date?

To keep your listing current is very easy. See the links below to (A) update any changes to your company's listing, such as new location, phone number, web site or other information, and (B) if your company has not been listed.

Here's how to get on board:

To make changes to your listing click here.

For new listings click here.


Seven Things Your Customers Can Do Better Than You

By Bill Lee

I want you to see your customers in a (lucrative) new light. The old paradigm works like this: Your company produces goods and services that help customers get a job done. In return, the customers pay you money. You take that money and invest a good portion of it in traditional sales and marketing efforts—including product developers, creative people, and salespeople, all of whom are paid to figure out what buyers want and to say good things about your company—in a quest to get even more customers.
         
Wouldn't it be far more effective to let the customers drive your sales and marketing efforts and fuel your growth?
         
The new approach makes so much more sense. No matter how much money you spend on third party marketing people, they're still a layer removed from those who buy. They can never really understand customers because they aren't customers themselves. The organizations that achieve rapid growth are those that don’t just think of customers as "buyers of stuff" but as advocates, influencers, and contributors.
         
In my book, The Hidden Wealth of Customers: Realizing the Untapped Value of Your Most Important Asset, I offer a compelling vision for a more reliable way to grow a business by maximizing "return on relationship" with what I call "rock star" customers. When this is done right, a company’s best customers will prospect for the firm while also speeding product adoption and improving customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty.
 
It's all part of a virtuous cycle: Companies improve what they offer customers, which allows customers to gain more value from products and services, and thereby improves what customers can offer companies.
The truth is, your customers are incredibly well equipped to market, sell, and even develop your products and services. Here are seven things they can do better than you:
 
(I) Attract high-value information from other customers. This "inside knowledge" of their peers creates stratospheric value. Facebook is the quintessential example. Imagine a traditional company that tried to generate the kind of information Facebook generates: real-time data on what movies people are watching, what restaurants they're visiting, what vacations they're taking, and what books they're reading. Facebook dispensed with all the research most companies would have tried to dig up, and instead focused on letting customers provide it.
 
Westlaw, which provides legal research services for law firms, is another example. It realized that its clients were interested in how they and the markets they serviced stacked up to other firms and markets. So Westlaw created Peer Monitor, which aggregates anonymized data on firms' financial and operational performance, collected from participating clients with their permission — and this turned into a lucrative new business.
 
(II) Believably promote your product. It's this simple: You've got something to sell. Your customers don't. This makes them far more credible to other potential customers than agencies or internal employees. SAS Canada is a good case in point. The company was having a noticeable customer retention issue several years ago. Retention rates had declined from the high 90s to the mid 80s (percentages), which senior management felt they needed to address quickly.
 
SAS software was doing an excellent job of keeping up with customer needs. Unfortunately, the customers didn't seem to realize this. So a small group within SAS built a team of 250 "customer champions" along with 50 "super champions" to spread the word for them.
 
SAS saw that it would be futile for the company to keep pointing out how great they were. However, they knew that defecting customers might listen to what other SAS customers had to say. With support from the SAS team, customer-champions established regular events in more than 20 major cities, set the agendas, selected speakers (and made presentations themselves), and stayed in touch afterwards via online forums and e-newsletters. As a result, retention rates rebounded back up to the high 90%s.
 
(III) Close the sale. Your customers make better salespeople than you do, precisely because they don't have any (obvious) skin in the game. Plus, they can honestly say, "This product or service worked for me. It can work for you, too." Marc Benioff realized the persuasive power of customers in the early days of building Salesforce.com. Lacking the multi-million-dollar budgets of competitors like Oracle and SAP, he relied instead on face-to-face meetings with prospects and customers in major city markets.
 
He was surprised to find that prospects at such events were much more interested in talking with his customers than with him and his executive team. And he was delighted to find that 80% of prospects who attended the events — and interacted with customers in such ways — wound up becoming customers themselves. That's an amazing close rate for any offering. And unlike salespeople, the customers didn't require a bit of training.
 
(IV) Understand buyer needs. Many leaders believe that customers can't articulate their needs, much less develop ideas for products to satisfy them. This is just not true. A substantial body of well-established research has shown that many if not most successful innovations are customer-originated. In one compilation of studies of 1,193 commercially successful innovations across nine industries by MIT's Eric von Hippel, 737 (60 percent) came from customers. That's why companies that struggle with product development should consider looking outside to customer innovators.
 
3M's Medical-Surgical Markets Division tried a last-gasp project in the 1990s to kick-start its consistently poor innovation record. It formed a team designed to bypass the internal innovation process and search for breakthrough innovations being created by outside lead-users. When the results were compared with ordinary product development projects at 3M, the differences were dramatic: Lead-user innovations achieved average revenue of $146 million in their fifth year, compared with $18 million for internally generated innovations.
 
(V) Connect with your prospects, a.k.a. peers. By nature, most all of us are open to creative new ways to affiliate with our friends and peers. On the other hand, we're not that excited about getting close to companies — a mistake many companies make when they set out to form communities around their brand. (Let's face it: Corporate logos and official spokespersons don't exactly promote the warm and fuzzy connections that invite confidences!) The key is to figure out a way to foster a dialogue between customers and their peers that touches on issues related to your products.
 
Procter & Gamble's BeingGirl community for teen and pre-teen girls was initially formed to promote feminine hygiene products. Because P&G knew TV and print ads made its young audience uncomfortable, it enlisted experts to provide content.
 
When this created little interest, P&G established forums so that girls could talk to each other about the issues and challenges of growing into young womanhood. Finally, the site took off. Girls from around the world were eager to get into the conversation — and P&G was able to market its products more subtly and effectively than before. The bottom line is that customers are more apt to trust and care about information when it comes from a peer rather than an organization.
 
(VI) Energize your online and social media marketing. Many firms are getting nowhere with their web and social media marketing efforts. That's often because they're trying to adapt traditional marketing to fit these mediums. They need to get creative about bringing customers into these programs.
 
Intel, for example, credits well-designed customer testimonials and other customer content for an explosion in the creation of qualified prospective customer interest and inquiries through its once-lagging social media and web marketing efforts. The company can't share the numbers publicly, but I can say that within a few years, it expects to bring in a significant percentage of all its new business through its website efforts and the key to this growth is content from its existing customers.
 
In 2011, Salesforce.com cut traditional lead generation spending by 69% while increasing spending on customer videos and social media. One early result from that was an increase in contacts generated by social media of 400%.
 
(VII) Help you penetrate new markets. When seeking to penetrate new markets, firms typically recruit some mix of local employees or agencies into their marketing and sales efforts. How about local customers?
 
Microsoft has perfected the art of finding and engaging with local MVP (Most Valuable Professional) customers who play a central role. An example is "Mr. Excel," who runs a website by that name, which on some days attracts more visitors than Microsoft's own Excel page!
 
Many companies would have issued a cease and desist order or filed a lawsuit. But Microsoft embraces and supports such customers — now numbering some 4,000 around the world. These customers provide the firm with highly effective marketing communications and superb product testing and feedback. They also provide exceptional, and free, customer support — which has saved Microsoft hundreds of millions of dollars in support costs.
         
Companies often assert: customers are our best assets. But most of the value of these assets lies fallow. Now, with the advent of social media and a global marketplace, more and more companies are starting to harvest these assets and are propelling their organizations to rapid and sustained growth.
 

Bill Lee, author of The Hidden Wealth of Customers: Realizing the Untapped Value of Your Most Important Asset, helps organizations reinvent customer relationships and accelerate growth through the creation of engaged, passionate customer advocates and communities. He pioneered the concept that return on relationship is the key to organic growth in organizations of any size, public or private.



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The Growth and Use of Secondary Capital (New Money) Creates Unprecedented Wealth In Today's New Age Of Possibility

There are many forms of secondary capital — which can be defined as any financial instrument that measures and communicates value in a common language. Would you like to see and learn more about the many forms of secondary capital?

 We have 70 free, informative and inspiring, articles for you in our "Secondary Capital Section."

Check it out... www.barternews.com/secondary_capital.htm.


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