Effective Action: Personal Service is Key to Great Experiences

Great customer service can make you or break you. High-quality products are important, but even more important are the services offered by you, the dealer, to ensure when the customer is paying for his or her product, that customer is getting more than just a product that could have likely been purchased down the road from another business. Be sure to set your company up for success by distinguishing it as the company with great products and exceptional personal service.

In an era where many things are becoming automated, don’t let your service become one of them. Customers and prospective customers still want that face-to-face interaction – a smile, handshake and acknowledgement that a human with a heart is listening to and hearing their challenges while thinking of ways to help. There are several ways that you and your employees can differentiate your business by providing the best personal service possible. Here are four we highly encourage you try out.

  1. Listen. Yes, this seems so simple, yet sometimes we really don’t pay attention while the customer is speaking, and yet we think we have all the answers. On my recent flight home from the Cattlemen’s Convention, my flight was delayed. However, just one gate down, there was a flight to Bloomington that was on time. I asked the airline customer service agent if I could be rebooked onto that flight. He said that airport wasn’t close to my “home” airport and argued that he could rebook me to Wichita. Bloomington might not have been close to my original airport, but when you live in Western Illinois, you know your airport options, and it was a lot closer than Wichita, eight hours away. However, this agent wouldn’t listen to me. He only would look at his computer and offer to rebook me to a place that was not feasible.
  2. Use Names. Names are the most personal possession, and when we use a person’s name it shows we care. A recent study shows that our names are so important to us that hearing them triggers an entirely different part of our brain than any other words. And when we use our own names, that makes the relationship even more personal, like when making a phone call or sending an email or letter. Wouldn’t you rather get an email or note from “Joe” instead of “The Feed Store”?
  3. Know your customers. For most people this comes as second nature, but as you grow your customer base and get busier, don’t forget that customers are people. Asking about their family, their cow herd, and new horse they’ve purchased or even their pets will spur on conversation and show that you care about the person, not just the customer. And maybe you can’t remember the kids’ names, but you read an article about them in the local paper, ask how the kids are doing. That will be enough to make a proud parent’s visit.
  4. Respond quickly. Nobody likes to wait, or even worse be put on hold. Now, there is no way to get to everyone’s request the minute they make them, but do be cognizant of the time it takes you to respond to a customer. If they are on the other end of the phone, and you are looking for a product or a person to put them in touch with, suggest calling them back as soon as the answer or person is found. That way they are not wasting their time on hold, and you are not feeling rushed. Try to return phone calls and emails each day and be prepared when you do.

“Personal service” isn’t just a buzzword created to add to your already busy life. It is an important, valuable concept that can help you grow your business. Happy customers will tell their friends and peers about exceptional service; but they will tell everyone about poor service, something you don’t want to be the topic of!

Providing personal service isn’t hard. In fact, it is something most people do every day. Just remember, it can pay off by distinguishing your business and leading to growth.

3 Ways To Make Sure You Outperform You Competition

Differentiation is what sets your business apart from the four other farm stores, feed dealers and on-farm supplement suppliers in the tri-county area. But how can you set yourself apart in the marketplace? Just think about what makes it on your 10 o’clock news each night – besides politics and viruses. Stories that are unique, controversial or innovative find their way in front of the viewer audiences. Companies that offer unique or innovative products and services that leave customers something to talk about will attract business and create consumer awareness.

Differentiation is to your strategic advantage. Here are three ways to distinguish your business from your competitors.

Make Your Offer Compelling

Steve Jobs said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

Compelling companies are leaders. They are the talk of the town, and this buzz allows the business to gain momentum and grow sales. Now, you’re probably asking yourself what you can do in your particular industry to create buzz. That’s where your innovation and creativity get to thrive. Perhaps you offer a timely promotion for your customers once a year on a product that most everyone uses. Or, you could offer a customer appreciation incentive based on volume of business or number of new customer referrals. Providing education through a producer meeting or open house often sets your business apart, as people appreciate being kept in the know on new products, how to solve challenges in their businesses and learning of new services your business might offer.

Remember, making your business stand out starts with a good product, but also needs to be complemented with exceptional service. That’s why it is important to hire and train employees who are knowledgeable that can show their passion for what they do.

Climb the Reputation Ladder

“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it,” said Benjamin Franklin.

The words spoken by Mr. Franklin could not be truer, especially in a digital world, where one wrong move is recorded and can be shared globally via text message or social media with the click of a button. Being known as a reputable company that really cares about its people – both customers and employees – is the first rung in the ladder of trust. And, building trust is the foundation to any long-term relationship. According to inc.com, “creating a good business reputation means honoring a product-returns policy; delivering on time; providing timely and friendly service; publishing accurate ingredients, as well as keeping factual records; and ensuring that goods are safe for consumption.”

Earn Big with Premium Services and Products

The problem with offering products or services similar to everyone else is that it turns your company into a commodity business. Show your customers that you’re a value-added company by explaning how your products add value. It doesn’t take many testimonials or much math to show your potential customers the ROI on a premium product like VitaFerm® Concept•Aid®. Track your customers ordering habits and remind them when they are likely low on the products that they need for the particular season they are in. Offer delivery or stay open later for “after work” pick up. All of these things might seem small, but to the customer, they add a premium and a value, making you stand out from the competition.

Distinguish your business. It’s better to stand out from the crowd, especially when you are differentiating yourself in a positive light. Be unique. Be innovative and uphold the kind of reputation that will make your customers want to come back time and time again.

Technology Can Assist With Customers Service Success

There’s no doubt technology has evolved a lot in the last decade; even the last one to five years, we’ve seen and experienced technological advances that our parents or grandparents never would have fathomed. A lot of these advances have made life and business more efficient, and as the technology continues to evolve, those efficiencies will also continue to increase.

However, when it comes to doing business, especially in agriculture and rural areas, the value of a firm handshake and face-to-face interaction can’t be replaced by any amount of technology. Yet, there are some advances that can help simplify your business and help you create more time for those personal interactions.

Customer Databases

If you don’t already, you should have a customer database system to track your customers and their orders, keep their pertinent information and log your interactions with them. Several software options exist, but if you are just getting started or have kept these details on your handy yellow legal pad for years, consider even a simple Excel spreadsheet.

Keep track of all family member names, contact information including address, phone number and email, record important dates like when they purchase particular products, when they host their annual production sale and even their birthdays. Track when you’ve communicated with them or if they have asked questions you need to follow up on. Keeping track of your communications will help you remember to check in on them on a regular basis without seeming overbearing or pesky.

Portable Technology

Keeping a tablet or iPad with you when you make a customer visit is a smart move. And with Internet connectivity getting better with 4G and plans of 5G later in 2020, the ability to access those tools will become even better. Perhaps you are visiting a customer who has questions about the products or wonders what kind of Concept•Aid® to use, you can pull out your tablet and show them the Concept•Aid® Product Navigator or other online tools. We realize that not every corner of the countryside has these capabilities, but if you do, it will make talking to a customer a little easier and help answer questions as you go.

Data Security

Some folks are just downright leery of anything that comes through the world wide web. And really, who can blame them? However, since news of data breaches have entered the mainstream media, consumers have developed a greater awareness of how their data is treated, and there is greater corporate responsibility around data privacy. New security tools are emerging for both companies and individuals, and as long as people remain aware, it is now becoming easier to do more business online with these increased security measures.

Text Messaging

An increasing amount of communication is being done via text message. Many people still prefer a phone call or face-to-face conversation, but the younger generation relies on texts to have the written reminders and the ability to respond on their time. Texting can be an effective communication tool if you are sending a reminder about a meeting or order, or if you know the person has a busy schedule, it is a good way to request a call back at their convenience. And, texts will always be there in the hand or on the wrist of the recipient.

The need for personal interaction can never be replaced, but with the help of some of these technological advances, you can work smarter and not harder. Consider technology your office assistant that allows you more time to talk to customers and potential customers. With more time to make sales calls, you will be able to reach more people and watch your business grow.

Digital Marketing Is An Efficient Way To Reach Customers

Marketing is essential to your growth as a business. Yes, many dealers rely on word-of-mouth as their number one marketing tool, but as more people become connected via their phones, tablets and even smart watches, digital marketing efforts are increasing. The BioZyme® marketing team has several ways it can work with dealers to simplify this cost-efficient method to reach existing and potential customers.

Promoboxx

Promoboxx is a digital tool that connects BioZyme’s national marketing efforts to its local dealers. The BioZyme marketing team creates social media content for its product lines each month and generates posts that dealers can publish on their own Facebook business pages. It saves time and resources of your already limited staff, and if you sign up for “auto share” in settings, the posts are automatically posted to your page.

“The biggest benefit to our dealers is that it is content that is going to marry up with what we say on a national level and because we do such a good job of pull-through national marketing, this is going to look like something their customers are going to have seen before. So, people are more likely to click on it and engage with it because they probably also like our Sure Champ® page, for example, and they are very comfortable with the look and the feel and how that content is presented,” said Ashley Fitzsimmons, BioZyme Inc., Regional Marketing Manager.

In addition to the similar look and feel to the national advertising, other benefits include the fact that busy dealers don’t have to create and plan a social media calendar regularly, and fresh content comes out monthly for each of the six product lines. For dealers that are interested in Dealer Reward Points, Fitzsimmons said 250 points are rewarded per quarter for dealers who engage in Promoboxx for that quarter.

Dealers who use Promoboxx are not limited to only the content on Promoboxx. They can use a combination of the BioZyme-created content from Promoboxx while also posting their own organic content on their Facebook page. And, if the brand has provided downloadable assets as part of a campaign, you can download the assets and publish/post them via your social channels outside of Promoboxx, so the post looks like it is an original from you.

Since BioZyme started making Promoboxx available to its dealers, dealer engagement through Promoboxx as a marketing tool has grown 270%, Fitzsimmons reported. It’s not a one-size fits all approach, and each dealer uses the tool at his or her comfort level.

Email Marketing

“I think email marketing is fantastic, and it is super underutilized,” Fitzsimmons said.

In an age where every marketing dollar spent counts, and reach and engagement matter, email marketing makes perfect sense. It is a free tool, that when used properly, can help you reach a large audience with little effort.

Fitzsimmons encourages dealers to create and build their customer email list. Once a customer database of email addresses is built, it is simple to send reminders about your in-store promotions, new products or product updates, or producer meetings. By using a platform like Mailchimp or Constant Contact you can also see analytics and determine effectiveness of your email blasts.

“Email blasts are a great way to more quickly and easily talk to your customers about the advantages of the BioZyme products or new product alerts. It doesn’t cost anything, but some time to build your customer database. It’s a really great tool when used sparingly, and we’d love to help you with it,” she said.

Website Banner Ads

A final digital tool that Fitzsimmons reminds dealers about is the use of the web banner ad. She said she has worked with several dealers who have a good web presence to create these ads that when clicked on, link to the BioZyme website for more in depth information, without bogging down the dealer’s web page with all that information.

“I’ve had some dealers who have been able to convince customers to add Amaferm® into a custom ration based off the information received off those click-throughs,” she said.

Again, web banner ads are an easy way to communicate and educate customers and potential customers about your products without spending resources and they can help you reach a potentially larger audience who is always connected to the online world.

For more information about any of these services, contact your Area Sales Manager or read more in the Online Dealer Center.

Nurturing Your Network Can Pay Dividends

Growing your business is important. Establishing a brand identity, promoting yourself and growing your customer base is imperative for growth. But, do you know what is even more critical to growing your business? Making sure your loyal customers remain satisfied and are treated with the best services and experiences possible. You simply must nurture your current network to experience growth.

Think about the last book you read or new restaurant you took your family or clients to. Did you make those purchase decisions based on an advertisement in a newspaper or did you make those decisions based on the recommendation of a person that you know and trust? Chances are you based your decisions from a friend’s recommendation because word-of-mouth messaging is so strong.

Studies show that the probability of selling to an existing customer ranges between 60 to 70%, where the chance of selling to a new customer is only 5 to 20%. Furthermore, it costs more than six times more to acquire new customers than it does to keep current, happy customers. So, keep your current customers pleased, and they will likely start singing your praises to others in their circles, who might also become your customers.

Steven Shapiro, an innovation consultant and speaker writes, “I’ve found that sometimes simply calling or writing a past client to say hello is enough. In doing so, when a new need arises, they think of me first. I often introduce clients to one another so that they learn about innovation from a peer, not just me. Sometimes I’ll send a small, personal gift. Or if I find a relevant article, I mail it. The key is not to sell to these customers, but to provide value. You want them to view you as an ally, not a vendor. And this repeated, friendly contact keeps you front and center in their minds. Should they (or a colleague) require someone with your skills, they will think of you first.”

Providing value is just one way of nurturing your network. When you provide value, your customers will remember that. Providing them a quality product that helps them reach their production goals is another way to provide value, as is delivering products, staying open later one or more nights a week and reminding customers when it is time to order certain products for specific production cycles.

A happy customer is the best marketing tool you can have to grow your business. Perhaps you could offer a customer loyalty program, where a loyal customer receives a gift or percentage off for referring a set amount of business or so many new customers. A satisfied customer will sing your praises to their friends and neighbors. However, they will likely share their discontent even louder, so make sure to keep your customers happy. Nurture your network and watch your business grow.

The Advantages of a Testimonial

It’s easy to get caught up in the everyday life of selling products to help your customers achieve their goals. But do you know what can make your marketing efforts more effective and simplified? Testimonials from loyal customers or respected industry individuals will go a long way in selling your goods and services. Testimonials are unbiased, often unprompted and come from peers in the industry that have often faced that same challenges as your prospective customers. Yes, you can relay all the benefits of a product, but those benefits become more meaningful when your prospect hears that the Rocking S Ranch improved its conception rates to 97%, especially in a year of drought.

There are several ways to incorporate testimonials into your marketing strategy. You can use testimonials in your advertising campaign. Post them to your website, even having a dedicated space for testimonials like BioZyme® Inc. does. You can feature testimonials on your social media each week using the hastag, #TestimonialTusesday. Or, often satisfied customers are glad to talk to others on behalf of your company and your brand at events like trade shows or producer meetings.

When compiling a testimonial, there are a few things to keep in mind to keep it genuine and effective. Remember, the purpose of testimonials is to create reliability and to convert prospects into new customers. Follow this 5-step approach to build up your testimonial strategy.

1. Be Selective. 

The key to testimonials is that they include specific product benefits that help prospects decide if they want to try your products or not. Therefore, your testimonials need to include specific information, not just “I like VitaFerm® Concept•Aid® and my cows do too.” Provide a testimonial that tells the benefits of the product: “We have been feeding VitaFerm® products for several years. VitaFerm Concept•Aid® plays an important role in the performance of our breeding cows and heifers, as well as our bulls. We see increased conception rates of our embryo pregnancies by 23%, and on our bulls, we see an improvement in semen quality.”

2. Add a Face.

Remember to include a photo to each testimonial to give it a persona. We might not always remember Tim Smith’s name, but when we see the man in his signature pearl snap shirt and beat up hat, we remember him as the guy who gets top dollar at the sale barn each year. Adding a face to your testimonial makes it more real and significantly increases the trust factor. Research has shown, that on web-based testimonials, adding a picture increases your click-through rate significantly.

3. Use them Everywhere.

Once you’ve got a testimonial, use it. You can add it to your print advertising, post it to your website, use it on social, make posters to hang at businesses around town, and even use it in mailers and texts.

4. Remember your Audience.

Be sure to capture testimonials for each potential customer you are trying to reach. You are trying to grow your market share in the cow-calf sector, be sure to get some testimonials from cattle producers. Perhaps, there are several horse farms in the area. Talk to an equine enthusiast who uses the product to get a testimonial from them. It doesn’t do any good to have one testimonial for one product line when you are selling multiple lines.

5. Never Be Fake.

The most important thing to remember is that testimonials are designed to establish trust and credibility. The most important rule in sharing testimonials is to use real testimonials from real customers. It’s not worth the risk to fake anything in your marketing plan, especially testimonials.

Testimonials are a great way of using established relationships and growing your customer base. Follow these simple steps to create your own testimonials and convert prospects to new customers.

Effective Use Of Producer Meetings Can Grow Your Business

Any time you get a group of like-minded people in a room to talk about solving their challenges, you will likely have a successful producer meeting. However, you can use the relationships you have already established to create an even more fruitful meeting. There are a few ways that using existing relationships when planning your next producer meeting can help build your business. Let’s explore.

  • Cooperate with another agricultural company.

Have you considered co-hosting your next producer meeting with another complementary agricultural company? Sure, the companies might have some overlap in customers, but you each will likely have some unique customers who could benefit from the other company’s products and services. Perhaps you could partner with an animal health company. And, for those young producers who are interested in show livestock, you might feature the Sure Champ® and Vita Charge® products during a youth workshop co-hosted by one of the show supply companies.

Area Sales Manager Ty McGuire said he likes to work with animal health companies who have the same goals for their customers as he does when planning a producer meeting. He adds that another benefit to cooperating with hosting these meetings is the cost savings since both companies will be sharing in the meal costs.

Building on these already established relationships gives you a leg up. It shows your potential customers that you are easy to get along with. It also provides an unspoken endorsement on the products and services you provide.

  • Encourage your customers to bring a guest.

Your customers are already likely attending, but you could offer an incentive for bringing a guest who has the potential to become a new customer. McGuire said he will go through his contacts the week before a meeting and text everyone within a 30-mile radius with a reminder about the meeting and encourage them to bring a guest. He likes to raffle off a product at the end of the meeting, which serves a dual purpose. First, it gets the attendees excited and engaged; next, it provides McGuire and the host dealer new names with contact information to follow up with.

“I like to raffle something off. It gives everyone an incentive to bring a guest. A 50-pound stress tub is the perfect raffle item. It’s something everybody can use,” he said.

  • Engage with the audience.

McGuire said he has a pretty good handle on the crowd before the meeting starts because he has either built a relationship with the customers through the dealers or met the customers during the meal. Once he starts his presentation, which he always begins by talking about Amaferm®, he will use the attendees’ names and engage with them during the presentation. He said calling them out by name and talking about their specific operation – cow/calf, club lamb, etc. – helps build trust and respect between those in attendance and himself.

  • Call upon your allies.

Word-of-mouth and testimonials go a long way in building trust and securing new customers. McGuire said he likes to have a veterinarian who either uses the products or is familiar with the products at each meeting and will extend a personal invitation to ensure his or her attendance. Veterinarians are trusted resources who will speak up about a product’s benefits and substantiate how the products work. It is also a good idea to have a well-respected producer who has had good results give a testimonial if they are attending. McGuire said he’s found he can build trust with prospects because of his own experiences in his own cattle operation.

Producer meetings are an efficient way to show appreciation to current customers and establish relationships with potential customers. Building on current relationships at these meetings makes them even more effective and gives the dealer a leg up in building their business. Like any other enterprise, use your resources, count on your relationships and use those relationships to grow your customer base.

Take Action: Creative Thinking Helps You Grow and Earn

There are several traditional methods to grow your business. However, BioZyme® offers support to its dealer network for its marketing and outreach efforts and rewards dealers enrolled in the Dealer Rewards Program for their creativity and their efforts.

Area Sales Managers, the Outreach Support Center and the Marketing Team are all available to assist dealers in their marketing and promotion efforts. Brainstorming with these groups will help you find some creative and unique ways to grow your business. You will also find resources that are readily available for your use, like online posts using Promoboxx or mailers and print advertisements.

Some of the most inventive methods of promotion are the results of creative thinking on behalf of a dealer and his or her ASM. Digital billboards, signage at local livestock auctions and targeted producer meetings focused on specific audiences are all some “out of the box” methods to help promote your business.

Year-end Planning

As the end of the year approaches, you will want to think about ways to spur end-of-the-year sales and thank your customers. This might be with a customer open house, a newsletter to talk about calving preparedness or a producer meeting to talk about products. Remember planning these in advance is always a good idea, and the BioZyme staff is available to help.

In addition to growing your business, you can also earn dealer reward points. Dealer Reward points were created to motivate and reward dealers for their participation and efforts to educate and market the BioZyme products. Points can be accumulated through the year for many of the tasks already mentioned. They can also be earned for completing the Master Dealer Training Program, going on a sales call with your ASM, after-hours dealer trainings and much more. Once you have participated in an activity, work with the staff to make sure your points get calculated.

Use the information in the Online Dealer Center to see a complete list of activities that can earn reward points. But, don’t be afraid to propose an idea that isn’t on the list. We always love to hear your original ideas and get especially excited to share them with other dealers. Those new ideas will earn you points as well.

Once you have points, you can redeem them for a variety of items, from caps and jackets representing the various product lines to gift cards, an iPad and even a show box. Points accumulate during the year and need to be redeemed by Jan. 31 the following year or they are wiped out. The rewards make great gifts for customers, employees and even nice swag to keep for yourself to wear with pride as you promote your business.

Get creative with your promotion. Brainstorm with your staff, family members and the BioZyme team that is here to help you. Take action. Earn rewards. Watch your business grow

Thinking Like Your Customer Helps Build Business

As the year winds down and you’re examining those sales figures, trying to decide how to best get over the hump and build some new business to reach your goals, one thing should come to mind: treat your potential customers like you would want to be treated. In other words, gone are the days of the hard-sell, and here are the days of thinking like your customer would think to solve their challenges.

John Jeffrey, BioZyme® Area Sales Manager (ASM) for Oklahoma and Eastern Kansas, said there are three points to consider when talking to potential customers and trying to develop new accounts. Thinking like a customer is key so you know what his or her challenges are and how the products can help, but first, you must build a relationship with the potential customer.

Perhaps statesman Abraham Lincoln would have been a great sales trainer back in his day. He once said, “When I get ready to talk to people, I spend two thirds of the time thinking what they want to hear and one third thinking about what I want to say.”

Potential customers are just like you. They value their time, want to have a relationship built on trust and understanding, and appreciate the follow-up that isn’t too bothersome. Put yourself in their shoes to start developing business.

  1. Identify a need. Jeffrey said when a producer approaches him at a trade show, meeting or even calls him on the phone, the first thing he does is visit with the person to discover the gap in his or her program. This is the foundation for a relationship built on trust and further understanding their needs. Ask the questions: What are your goals? Are you meeting them? If not, what is missing? Discovering the challenge will help put you in that producer’s shoes and understand further what the frustrations are and what supplement can potentially fill the gap.
    “You won’t get anywhere if you just start providing them with a lot of information. First, you’ve got to make them realize they have a challenge and that they need something to fix that challenge,” Jeffrey said.
  2. Consider their time. Jeffrey reminds all salespeople, that nobody owes you time, so make the most of their time when you are visiting with potential and current customers. One way to make the most of your time and theirs is to leave your phone in the car. The one exception is if you are expecting a very important call, such as receiving word on a family emergency, and then, silence your phone and explain to your client before your meeting that the only way you will take a call is if it is of the upmost urgency and that you are expecting that type of call.
  3. Follow up. “Persistence pays, but don’t be annoying,” Jeffrey said.
    He said he likes to follow up with potential customers, and though he doesn’t have a set schedule, he does like to be persistent and available to answer further questions, especially in today’s competitive mineral market. Once again, he puts himself in his customers’ shoes, and thinks about how often he’d want the follow up or how he’d want his questions answered and makes sure he is available to answer questions.

Perhaps statesman Abraham Lincoln would have been a great sales trainer back in his day. He once said, “When I get ready to talk to people, I spend two thirds of the time thinking what they want to hear and one third thinking about what I want to say.”

Potential customers are just like you. They value their time, want to have a relationship built on trust and understanding, and appreciate the follow-up that isn’t too bothersome. Put yourself in their shoes to start developing business.

Critical Thinking Can Grow Your Business

Meetings can be one of the best ways to work collaboratively to help grow your business and work ON your business, if you structure them correctly, involve the right people and ask the right questions. As Lisa referred to in this month’s letter, the best way to advance your business is in the dining room, looking toward the future, and not necessarily dwelling on the past.

Another way to look at working ON your business is through critical thinking sessions or brainstorming meetings. According to the website, www.barefootbrainstorming.com, there are several ways to make your next strategic planning session productive and move your business forward.

  1. Have an agenda. Have a list of goals that you want to accomplish during the set time of the meeting. The agenda shouldn’t be too specific, but the end results should answer the questions of who will be responsible for achieving the assigned duties or tasks.
  2. Value time. Make sure you have a start time and end time and keep track of time throughout the meeting. Time is a valuable asset, and if the participants know the meeting will start and end on time, with plenty of short breaks to check email and return calls, they will be more focused during the actual meeting time.
  3. Put away the PowerPoint. Nothing is more boring than seeing a screen of numbers and charts flash before the attendees’ eyes, only for a brief amount of time. And, the focus is drawn away from what is being discussed and rather diverted onto copying the numbers onto a notebook. Instead, print out notes, provide colorful pens, markers and colored pencils for notetaking, as the colors are soothing, and help promote creative thinking.
  4. Play. Some of the most productive meetings will include small toys or gadgets to engage all five of the senses because according to one blog site, “when we engage both our left and right hands simultaneously, we use 80% of our brain power!” The blog recommends the following for each of the senses:
    • Sight – colorful toys, pictures, and crayons.
    • Smell – Play-Doh, and Mr. Sketch scented markers.
    • Touch – tactile toys (slinkies, legos, pipe cleaners, and Play-Doh).
    • Sound – music.• Taste – candy bags including chocolate, caramels and gummy bears.
  5. Encourage participant engagement. Invite people from various teams or departments to the meeting for a fresh perspective, but let your expectations be known. Everyone should participate. And, every idea has some merit, even ones that seem a little far-fetched, can be responded to like this, “yes, and then…” building on an idea to get a different, but positive outcome in the future.
  6. Assign a recorder for all ideas. Every idea has some good merit, and it is important to keep those ideas flowing. Assign one or two people to write the ides on a big poster so everyone can see them, and when it is time to start critiquing ideas, start with positive feedback first.

Meetings can be productive, and they can be a way to start planning for growth in the future. Critical thinking is a tool that allows various perspectives to be shared, while hearing fresh ideas from different team members. Pull up a chair, make room for creativity and start planning the steps to grow your business.