Monday, October 1, 2001
PORTAL PARTNER PRESS October 2001
=======October 15, 2001==========
From: Robert Massa
Sent: Monday, October 15, 2001 1:01 PM
Subject: Portal Partner Press 10-15-01
The Portal Partner Press is sent each week for the education and entertainment of the people who own and operate a SearchKing hosted portal. It is intended to help you learn to better operate, maintain and market your own portal. Anytime you have a question about any item in an issue of the PPP, please visit our forums at http://forums.searchking.com and feel free to ask any questions or post any comments about your portal, about SearchKing or about internet marketing in general. **************************************************************************** *****
Portal Partner Press
October 11th, 2001
I Guess it's Official - It's War
Who are Your Customers?
Earlier this pat week, the American military began offering its products to the people of Afghanistan. We began bombing and deploying guided missiles into strategic Taliban targets. For a country who has so little to offer their own people, they now have less.
May God Bless and protect the innocent people of Afghanistan.
May God Bless America! *************************************
I didn't publish an issue of the Portal Partner Press last week for the simple fact that I have been pretty much consumed with studying and implementing stats and market segment identification. Today I want to focus on the stats. Next week I'll get into how to identify your market segment.
I'm not talking about the stats we are probably all associating that word to. As internet marketers and webmasters, most of us have a tendency to associate that word, stats, with website stats. I'm not talking about referrers and search engine placements, what browser was being used and whether visitors came to our website from a dot com or a dot net. You know, those bits of info provided by extreme tracker and hit box. I'm not even referring to server logs which tells us what spider came to what page and when.
I'm talking about graphs that tell us how our business, our employees or our projects are doing at any given time. I'm talking about a way to see trends and what to do when those trends indicate a negative direction and what to do when they indicate a positive direction. In other words, what to do if we're losing and what to do if we're winning. In theory at least, we all want to stop losing and keep winning.
I'm talking about a way of tracking numbers. Numbers that give us an idea of what's working and what's not. Numbers that tell us if we're reaching our goals or just staying still or going backwards.
Have you ever heard the old cliché, "the numbers don't lie?" Well, Webster's defines the word statistic as:
a numerical fact or datum
The old saying is true. The numbers DON'T lie. The information being supplied to create the stats can be false either by deception or by incompetence, but the fact remains that the numbers are either stable, going up or going down, and whatever direction the stats are taking, that is a fact.
To turn stats into something that can be analyzed at a glance, we use graphs, or charts. We've all seen pie charts using different size slices and graphs that use horizontal and vertical columns with a line going up or down over a specified period of time. These simply make figuring out your numbers much easier than totaling up lists of numbers.
I've selected to use the standard horizontal/vertical graphs and I recommend you do the same for simplicity if nothing else.
On a piece of graph paper, you crate a horizontal column going from left to right. This horizontal column represents time such as a day, week or month.
The vertical column, going from bottom to the top, represents the money such as income or expenses.
The most important thing to do with stats is to make them real. A graph that shows very little movement quickly gets forgotten about and soon has no value whatsoever. So, the trick to developing some kind of reality with your stats is to make sure that you SCALE the stats properly. There is a neat and easy little trick for this. The way to do your scale is to realize that every stat is different and the trick is to make your stats look more like a mountain range than a straight line. You do this by setting up your graph with 100 lines total. You then take the lowest number you can foresee that particular stat ever going DOWN to. Write that number down. (Keep in mind, the lowest number is not always zero).
Now take the highest number you can imagine that particular stat ever going UP to in a three month period if it's a weekly stat, (which I recommend if your just starting out doing stats), or 12 months if it's a yearly stats.
Now subtract the lowest number from the highest number and divide by 100. That's the neat little trick for finding proper divisions in your stats.
For an example, let's say the lowest you can imagine your sales going down to is $100 per week within a three-month range, (I suggest you keep your estimates rounded off. If you start using projections of say $12.15 to $527.34 then you better kick off your shoes or get on the calculator), and the absolute highest you can see them going up is $600 in a week then $600 - $100 = $500 divided by 100 = 50. Set up your scale at $50 intervals. This means that over that 90-day period you are going to see drastic increases or drastic decreases. Those jumps up or down can tell you what action you need to take to make those stats accomplish your goals for you. I'll tell you in just a minute ho you know what action to take when based on your stats.
If you had set up your scale in increments of say $100, your stats would go from $100 up to $10,000 and within a couple of weeks you would see nothing but a tiny movement which would resemble a heart attack patients flatline on a heart monitor and very quickly you would start to ignore the whole thing. It wouldn't seem real to you.
The next thing is to not get confused over your stats. This comes about from assigning multiple meanings to one thing. In other words, expenses going up in a business are usually considered bad. However, sales going up is good. So in this scenario we have established that lines going up can be good AND bad. This can create problems. For our purposes, we want stats going up to mean good and stats going down to mean bad. So, how do we get ourselves to know that expenses going up is good? The answer is we don't, we trick the stats.
Anything that's going down would present bad stats - we simply reverse the numbers. In other words, we start our expense stats with the lowest number at the top and the highest number at the bottom. Most vertical lines on a graph start with zero at the bottom left column. Not ours. Our expense stats start with the lowest number at the top so when our expenses go down, the stats are actually going up.
Now that we have that worked out, we can all see quickly that ALL stats going up are good and all going down are bad. If our sales stats are going up, that means we brought in more money. If our expense stats are going up, that means we spent LESS money. That is good.
Reading The Stats
Let me start by saying that you, or anyone for that matter, can make stats just about as simple or as complicated as you like. As for me, I'm pretty much a simple kind of guy, especially when it comes to math and numbers. I can't imagine much of anything being too simple for me. So the illustrations and examples presented here are in that range. Simple. It works for me and it will work the very same for you. However, if these simple illustrations don't satisfy your hunger for numbers, I encourage you to do the research and create your own conditions for reading stats. The important thing is that you set up and read your own stats. How you do it is not nearly as important as just doing it. Okay, with that out of the way, let's move on.
There are 6 major, conditions that can be read by stats. These represent the condition of your business, your employee, your project or anything you care to establish stats for at any given time. Each of these conditions can be identified and acted upon to modify the conditions. I will tell you what those conditions are and what actions you need to take for each one to handle them.
The conditions are:
Steep or near vertical down line is a condition of NON-EXISTENCE
A down line at an approximate 45 degree angle would be a condition of DANGER
Slightly down or completely horizontal line, like a flatline, would be a condition of EMERGENCY
A slightly up line would indicate a condition of NORMAL
A steeply up line would indicate a condition of AFFLUENCE
The 6th condition is a condition of POWER
It's important to note that a condition of POWER is not judged on a one-week basis. A condition of power only exists as a normal condition trend at a VERY high, sustained level. A trend means to average out up, down or level over several weeks or months, so a power condition can not be considered power until several units of time have been accumulated.
While I'm on the subject of trends, I want to make sure we all understand how to identify trends easily.
A trend is an inclination toward a general direction or course over an extended period of time. So, the way to chart a trend and make it easy to see on our stats graphs is to use dotted lines.
Our actual numbers are always reflected by solid black lines in boxes that have a vertical value and a horizontal value. Remember that the line along the bottom of our graph represents time such as weeks. The vertical line at the left of our graph represents money.
so we've got
$5------|------|------|-------|--X---| $4------|--X--|------|-------|-------| $3------|------|--X--|--X---|-------| $2--X--|------|------|-------|-------| $1------|-------|------|-------|------| wk1 | wk2 | wk3 | wk4 | wk5 (I just realized how hard it was to make a graph using WordPad, so I'm going to assume you get the idea). Now you have to mentally insert the heavy black lines connecting the x's. Once you've done that you will get a mental picture of the lines going from $2 on week 1 to $4 on week two to $3 on week 3 and $3 on week 4 and $5 on week 5. This gives you that "mountain range" look.
Now to identify the trend, we add all the numbers together so we would have 2+4+3+3+5 which equals 17. Divide that by 5, (the total number of weeks we have tracked so far on the graph), and that gives you 3.4
Now draw your dotted line starting at $2 to cover the entire 5 weeks and end up stopping at 3 dollars and forty cents. This gives you your trend and shows that you are in a condition of normal, or a slight increase in your stats over the five week period.
All right, enough about trends. On to the fun stuff - knowing what to do when you find yourself in a specific condition.
When your stats are going almost straight down, it doesn't take rocket science to know that you are headed for extinction, non-survival, bankruptcy, the fat lady singing. Like I said, all stats are different and all situations are different, so the amount of time you have before total collapse depends on each specific situation. Some may last months in this condition while others may not survive the day. The point is, at this point you are going to have to make some hard decisions whether you like it or not. Of course there is always the option of giving up and calling it quits. Take your hickey and shut the doors, but I'm going to assume that like me, many of you don't have that option and are not interested in knowing how to quit but how to survive. So, the way to handle a condition of non-existence is:
• Open communications. Talk to anyone and everyone who has even an interest in your business. Partners, family members, bankers, people who have invested in you and maybe most important of all, your customers, (assuming of course, that you have at least one). Make yourself and your business known. Gather as much data as you can as fast as you can. Ask questions of the people that have an interest in your success and find out what is wanted or needed and how and why you are not providing that.
• Once you know what is needed or wanted then DO. Do produce or present what you need to provide a solution to the problem.
Another way of putting this is to find out who would use your product and why. Find out what your competition is doing to be successful and then do what they are doing right and stop doing what you are doing wrong. And you better hurry.
The formula for handling a danger condition is much the same as handling a non-existence condition. In fact, if you are actually reading your stats and applying the formulas for handling the conditions, you will never get into a on-existence condition because you will see it coming and do something about it.
• Find the problem that caused your stats to go down and correct it. This sounds obvious but the fact is that when your stats indicate a danger condition, those stats are telling you that someone or something somewhere is not doing their job. An employee is lying to customers or just not performing as he agreed to when he took the job. A link to an order form is not working. Shipments are being sent to the wrong address. You're overcharging your customers. Someone is not answering e-mails, etc.
• Handle the situation and remove the danger in it. Fire the employee that is lying to your customers. Fix the link to the order form and set up a process where the link gets checked periodically. Find another provider for shipping services. Stop overcharging your customers and set up procedures to keep it from happening again. If someone is not answering e-mails on time and you don't know if you can get them to change their behavior but you can't fire them, then bypass them and start doing it yourself.
• Don't let it happen again.
When your stats are going down only slightly or are staying constant, you are declining and if you don't do something about it, it will only get worse. The way to handle a condition of emergency is:
• Promote! To a business it means promote. To an individual it means produce. Exactly what is promotion? Well, go look it up in a dictionary if you need to. It is making things known, getting things out. Getting yourself known, getting your products out. this is the first step to handling a condition of emergency above all other things that you can do.
• Change your operating basis. If you keep doing what you've been doing that got you into this condition, then you will just end up here again. Find something you are doing that you don't need to be doing and stop it, or find something that your not doing and need to be doing and start doing it.
• 3. Economize.
• 4. Prepare to deliver what you have been promoting.
• 5. You have got to stiffen discipline. When an emergency condition exists, it exists due to an actual emergency or someone is not following the policies and procedures you have set forth. If the condition exists due to an actual emergency, then discipline must be enforced because human beings tend to allow their focus to shift to whatever the perceived emergency is and that can't be allowed to endanger the business.
When your stats are going up at a slight increase over a period of time, you have a normal trend. When you are in a condition of normal, you handle it by:
1. Don't change anything.
2. Discipline is mild and things are smooth and steady.
3. If your stats go up, even a little, find out why they went up and do more of that without changing anything else you were doing before.
4. If a stat goes down, quickly find out why they are going down and fix it!
5. Now you just jockey these two situations. If they go down, something has made them go down. If you look, you will see what has changed to make them go down. Fix it and rock on.
When your stats go up sharply for an extended period of time, you are in a condition of affluence. The way to handle the condition of affluence is:
1. 1. Economize. Now is not the time to hire new staff or to buy new equipment. Avoid the temptation to go into debt for that new car or big screen TV. Make no future commitments. Tighten the budget and clamp it down.
2. 2. Pay every bill you got! Hunt down every penny you owe under the moon and stars and pay it off.
3. 3. Invest anything left over in service facilities. Make it more possible and easier to deliver more of your products or services.
4. 4. Find out what you did to get you into a condition of affluence and strengthen it. Don't let your policies and procedures go lax. Keep doing what you have been doing only do it better.
, Stats, Who are Your Customers?
Once you have stats in the stellar range for an extended period of time, it becomes a power trend. The way to handle the power trend is:
1. Don't disconnect. Keep the lines of communications you have worked so hard to establish open. If you start not answering the phone when the banker calls, you will soon find you are no longer in a condition of power. If you don't stay in communication with your key employees, you will soon find your stats in trouble again. You must take ownership and responsibility for all your connections.
2. Make a record of all your connections. Write down all the lines of communication you are responsible for in as much detail as is possible. Without doing this, you will never be able to disconnect for any reason and expect to continue reaping the fruits of your labor.
3. Write up your job description. Your responsibility is to write down every aspect of what you do and what your job is and how you do it. Include all communication lines, all tools you use, time schedules, processes you use in making decisions, EVERYTHING.
4. Your responsibility is also to get your job description into the hands of the person that will take care of it. Once you decide who is going to take over when you are not there, make sure that they have a written explanation of what they will need to do to do your job.
5. Do everything you can to make your job occupiable.
Once you get to this condition, you have won. You have reached your objective, met your goal and are now ready to enjoy all that you have gained. You may be quite satisfied with your position and wish to hold that position for as long as you live. you can do that now. You may start another venture since this last one was so easy. You may wish to retire and fish for the rest of your days. Whatever you want to do, you are now in a position to actually do it.
Next week we'll look into finding out who your customers really are and what they want from you and more importantly, how you can give them just what they want for fun and profit.
Have a great week!
See ya' next week. -----------------------------------------------------------------
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Have a great week! See ya' next week. Publisher -- Bob Massa firstname.lastname@example.org