Monday, August 14, 2017

The Truth about Lead Programs

This morning, I was thinking about the many jobs I had in the past.  As I was remembering each position at these companies, one position, rather two struck me and made me wonder why I did ever decide to accept these positions.
Photo by P.Lynne Designs
 As you see by the title, one of the positions was a sales rep for a lead company, and if you never had a chance (and I hope you never do) work for one, it is an interesting experience, to say the least.  
To protect the innocent employees of the company, I will call my former employer, New Leads for Me.  Like I said, New Leads for Me works pretty much like that other company, Welcome Wagon, in which businesses get leads based on new residents and homeowners.  These are not people who move into an apartment complex, but people who have bought a home.  Companies like New Leads and Welcome Wagon, bank on the idea that new residents do not know the area, and they will need some type of service (carpet cleaning, hair salon, etc.…) The businesses, introduce themselves to these new residents before they start calling around looking for services.  
So, if you have recently moved, and you get a welcome to the neighborhood package of some sort, chances are that the business card you are holding used a company like “New Leads for Me”, and you may get a phone call about their services.

My day to day work schedule….

This was my last job before working for a Temporary Worker company, then Archiver’s, a Memory Store (which the online store shut down in March 2017), but in my head, I can still hear the motivator (I guess that what he called himself) as he bellows out the words, “GOOD MORNING, NEW LEADS”.   (at which I and the other employees are to clap and cheer that we were happy to be here).  This guy makes the announcements, sets a goal for the newbies, and tells everyone to have a great selling day.
Next, if you are a being trained, you go to your training room, everyone else goes to their cubbies. You put on your headset and start calling.  There is a regular customer service area, as well as a quality assurance area.  Customer service is for people who are having problems with their accounts, while Quality Assurance made sure everyone from the two departments was in compliance with the company and national government policies.  As you can tell by now, I was on the sales floor.  I do not want to bore you with the other day to day operations, except to say, when you are cold calling a company, and you get a sale, they celebrate it, and you get your commission in your next two-week check.
I hated it, and I was plotting to get away from New Leads, but they beat me to it.  I got home one day, after a long day of work, received a phone call from my supervisor, Stephanie, and she thanked me for being part of the team.  After she told me what was going on with my employment, I let her have it, with all the anger I had in me about this company, and what I hated about the position I was about to lose anyway.  Forget about the good reference I should get from her.  This is how you do not get your next position with a new company.  I do not recommend it.
I also do not recommend working for this type of company.  This leads to my title, but first, you may be wondering why I am talking about it now in 2017, instead of 2002 when I was let go?  First, blogging was not really a thing back then. Second, writing was not my thing back in 2002.  I was a happy person looking for her next 9-5 job.  Last, I was finishing my marketing degree at Franklin University, which I graduated from in 2003.

What are lead programs are to the customer?

I explained briefly what is a lead program.  My example is this: You are a new company looking for customers.  I will use my businesses, P. Lynne Designs, and Longaberger as an example. (Because I have shortcuts in MS. Word to type the company names faster and I will not get complaints if I use another company, LOL)
I may not need a lead program like New Leads for neither company.  Longaberger has a lead program for consultants if they need new customers, and since New Leads only provide leads from new residents and P. Lynne Designs is looking for brides (although I will accept anyone), it may not be the service for me.  Let just say for now that I need them.
(c) 2017 P.Lynne Designs
First, I am on their calling list.  There is a website for people to use.  There is an 800 number for companies to call, and you cannot apply on the website.  By the way, they have moved from their former location and is now called New Leads Communications, but they pride themselves of cold calling your company. I will concentrate on the cold calling aspect of the sales floor.
They will ask for the owner or CEO of the company, and the rep introduces themselves and who they represent.  At this point, I can turn them down, but I need leads (customers), so I continue with the call.  The rep asks what does my company do, and I explain that Longaberger sells home goods of baskets and pottery to people who like to organize and entertain, and P. Lynne Designs sells stationery goods like invitations, note cards, scrapbooks, and freelance writing.  At this point, the rep (who is now Mandy), asks what areas of the country would I like to concentrate on to get my new customers.  I would tell her something in the Columbus, Ohio 43215 area.  This is downtown, and I can attract residents as well as other business who may be looking to collaborate with me and bring customers over to my businesses, and I would do the same for them.
Mandy goes into the database of new residents and pull several names and gives me a quote.  At the time when I was a customer (which was for 6 months), I was quoted a price of $7.50 per month, which is not bad if you have the budget for it, but some lead name list can grow to as much as $200 or more.  This is the first thing you need to watch for because it can add up quickly, especially if you are starting out in a business of any kind. 
What can you do with leads?

Some ideas for leads:

·         New campaigns
·         Mailing list
·         Offer coupons and other discounts for a first order
·         Recruiting for a new team* (*Longaberger and other Direct Selling companies), although it is not recommended that you use the leads list for that purpose by any reparable direct selling company, your products should speak for themselves at your parties and through your hostess and your presentations.
·         Wedding, baby, and new home registries.
·         When a customer only wants one type of product in your line.  This is mostly for businesses who have collections.  The customer does not have to be on your main list, but a more specialized list.  For instance, I have a customer on my Longaberger mailing list who only buys the baskets.  She does not want to know about the pottery or even anything from my other business.  She loves the Horizon of Hope Collection specifically.  So, when a new piece comes up, I let her know about it.

Why am I against lead companies?

I am not totally against lead companies.  They can be quite helpful if you are willing to pay a one-time fee for it.  Most companies like New Leads, however, do not want a one-time commitment.  I am letting you know now, but there is a way to do this without paying the monthly fees.   It is called “try it before you commit to it”.  This is not getting out of paying for the list.  I do not condone that move at all.  You pay for the one list, but before your next list comes, and it will say it on the invoice when the next shipment of names is coming, at least it should, you cancel the account.  You need to do a little research, like reading the website first.  There may be some hidden costs behind getting your first list.  You may have to commit to the first 4 lists, for example, before canceling the contract.  If you are not willing to pay those costs, do not call, and do not buy when prompt. I am letting you know up front that this may happen.  These companies already know what might happen, and they may talk you out of canceling. Be firm and give the reason, that it is not working out for you.

There is a total out for lead companies….

Put a contact list on your website or blog if you have one.   It is as simple as “If you find my information helpful, and you would like to know more, feel free to sign-up for my mailing list.  I will send you a newsletter and other goodies to your inbox”.

Tip-feel free to use that wording too. 

I use MailChimp for this, but there are many services out there for you to collect names. You can also use MS. Excel or MS. Access for this task as well.  Keep in mind of the last two, unless you are a programmer, they will not automatically send out the materials, however, you can still start out in these programs (and others like them), and when you are able to include an online program like MailChimp in your budget, you can download your current mailing list into MailChimp without having to reenter every name in manually. 

Tip:  When I set up my mailing list for the first time, I used the wording, “I dislike spam as much as you do.  I will not send your name to any third-party companies.”  This assures the new customer that you will not be sending your mailing lists to anyone, and their name and information are secure in your database.

What does that mean for writers….
Many of the tips work perfectly for you, especially if you have a freelance business, and write and publish books.  It works for bloggers as well, especially if you want repeat customers.

Takeaway for you:  I am not totally against these companies, but you do have to watch them.  Many of these companies can and have been scam companies whose sole purpose is to collect and sell information.  Read all information on any company especially if that company is exclusively online.  Check consumer reports, reviews, everything before committing to a lead company.  Create your own mailing lists.  If you do not have the time, hire someone to do it for you (a senior, teen, or virtual assistant).  They can also maintain it for you as well. This post is for anyone who reads it, and I am no expert on the subject.  I am a person who had a couple of experiences with these companies, both as an employee and a customer.  If you must hire a lead company (and that is what you are doing when you receive leads each month), take it slow and find a way out if it is not working out for you.  

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Technical Thursday: It Is not that type of Technical Thursday

One day, I will have another lifestyle blog so I can relieve this one.  What is the hold-up
?  Glad you asked, let see:
·         Panicky sister with no car, again
·         Aging parents
·         Creation of products
·         My health
·         Organizing my home to live in and eventually move
You name it.  No really, I am ok with all this busyness. It keeps me on my toes and keeps my writing sharp.  After all, you cannot write if you do not have something to write about, right?
Some may ask, why don’t I write at night?  Well, it is simple as during the day, I have the above mentioned, plus, my body is the type of body that when the sun goes down, so does my brain.  I think better during the day, and I am finally in the process of switching my schedule to designing at night. 
I am a handmade, content, and direct selling person.  What does that mean, you may ask?
I have mentioned this several times, but the handmade portion is graphic design, cards, stationery products (note cards, invites, RSVP products), and scrapbooks and journals.  This is what P. Lynne Designs started out as.  It was the beginning of a beautiful and not so beautiful relationship.
The content portion is these blogs and freelance writing.  I fell into this portion of my career.  This is how you get to find out about my passions, my hang-ups, my heart aches, and my inspirations.  This is where you find out how I feel about Disney, Abby Lee Miller, and Cricut die cutting machines for starters. This is where you find out about latest hang-ups I have about the treatment of others for ALL races.  This is where I have figured out that I was doing too much in this area and had to cut it out (no more hang-ups about these things, only happy outcomes).
Even turtles know when they are stuck.
(c) 2017 P.Lynne Designs
Direct selling, which is separate from the other two is all about Longaberger and its products.  This is where I first got started thinking about selling anything.  Sure, I sold the typical Girl Scout cookies, magazines, and other products for high school. Who hasn’t, but Longaberger was the first as an adult.  I was not crazy about the jobs I had in the past and that’s ok.  I was still working REGULAR 9-5 at the time I started.  I will be completely leaving Longaberger by June 2019 with a backup “B” plan. When you get your feet wet of selling your own products, the rest seem to slowly go away, and that’s happening to me.  I still love the products, but I feel I can do more in the entrepreneur area.
So, what is the “Technical Thursday” about anyway?  This is something that I have been working on all summer.  Today is all about (sort of your takeaway for today):
1.      Find your why.  It may take the whole season (like summer) to find out why you do what you do.  You may have to do this several times in your life.  That is ok, everyone is always transitioning into someone else.  You are different from you were when you were 2, 10, 40, 60, or even as a senior.  It is good to re-evaluate yourself. You have different likes throughout your life.  Nothing stays the same.
2.      Once you find it, ask yourself, “do you want to stay in that space?”  Some people get content when there is something that is familiar to them.  It is like an old comfy sweater.  It may have holes in it, it may not fit anymore, but they love it the same way.  I have a pair of pajama bottoms like that.  Sometimes you must say to yourself, “do I want more?”, and toss them away.  You will miss the old ways at first, but as you get comfortable with a new way of doing things, you may enjoy it. If not, change it.
3.      Give it a test drive.  Try the new way for a few weeks, or give yourself a goal of trying it for 6 months to a year. If you find out that you are dissatisfied with it, tweak it, or try a new way.
I am learning how to:
·         Saying “no”.  It is not that I will not do anything for anyone, and it depends on what it is.  I am saying “no” to people’s pity parties, whining, accusations of things I did not agree to do in the first place, and things like that. 
·         Saying “Yes”. I will do things that benefit my business, but it will also benefit that person I am saying yes to.  I had two friends who needed invites for their parties this past month. I did them because it benefits them, and I get to dust off Photoshop and have something for my portfolio. (They did pay me, by the way). I will comfort someone who needs it. I will give encouragement and will help a friend (or stranger) in need.
·         Not be a pity party myself.  I realize that I am a single person with no kids (still working on both), and my time for adopting someone is winding down (I think the maximum age for adopting children in the state of Ohio is 54 or 55).  I also realize that building things around the house has never been my strength (even though I have managed to put up a shelf or two around here).  I am always ready to whine about something, but now I think about “does it benefit for anyone to hear about it?” If it does, fine, they may have a solution for me, I need to ask nicely and use my “big girl voice”.  If not, shut up, and figure it out myself.  Nothing gets solve on a whine anyway.  (Not even with the drinkable stuff, LoL).
·         To constantly move.  It is easy to sit at the computer and do nothing (read social media, play games).  I have things to do and people to see.  Yes, when I am in pain, it is easy to do, but if I do not move around, it will be worst, plus I have bills to pay and money to save.

So that is it for now.  Technical Thursday is all about you and what you can bring to your world and to others.  I decided not to preach to you today, but have a sensible post that explains a few things to you, and how you can make things a little better for you and yours.  (Oh, I am going to be dinged so bad by Grammarly and Word on that last sentence, but I am leaving it in).  I will pick back up to my usual writing starting in the middle of September. I am still in vacation writing mode. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Summer Saturday: Poetry

Happy Saturday Morning, everyone!
One of the African Dancers performing at my family
Reunion banquet last Saturday
(c) 2017 P.Lynne Designs
I know it is late, I have not posted in a while (August post coming soon, I promise).  I am not excusing the lack of posts, except it is summer.  OK, so it has been a couple of weeks since I posted anything, but again, it is summer. 
I have been to my family reunion last weekend, and if you follow me on Instagram (  same username as my Twitter account), I have posted a couple of pictures there.  Me and my family went back to Alabama, where both of my parents are from (remember, I am a Northern Baby, born here in Columbus).  My father had surgery but insisted on going. (Do you have men in your family like this?  All I can say is Uggh!!) My brother drove there and back.  My nephew, is at the typical age of 6, going on 7 at the end of the month (who actually is 17-year-old in a child’s body, LOL), was good.  Never complained, except a couple of times was a real trooper, being the only kid in the van.  We rented the van, a Chrysler Suburban, rides like a dream, and I had the pleasure of having the whole third row to myself.  My only wish was that I was put on the driver’s list of people driving (having only driven an SUV once). 
We stayed with my aunt in Madison, AL, 2 nights, the hotel the rest of the nights.  I am not going to tell you all of my adventures of last weekend.  Next stop…The Islands.
Why am I posting?  A Poem
This is a short post tonight.  I was trying to find something to write about.  Tip:  sometimes you have to let inspiration take control. 
I do not write poetry.  I probably can if I let inspiration take control of the situation and I am not patient on some things.  So tonight, I was reading a Facebook post, and a friend of mine found this poem about being a black woman.  I read most of it, and I thought, “where has this poem been all my life?”
It talks about what’s wrong with being a black woman.   I have often thought why I have to make an excuse for being born a black woman.  We are often the low person on the totem pole for benefits, pay, and other things.  People always think that when I am upset, I am going to beat a person up.  I am upset, how do you think I am going to react to something that was done against me?  I had an incident that blew up in someone’s face. 
I was getting off from work in December 2006.  It was the holiday season, and I am tired from working (my hours were from 3 PM-8 PM).  I was working at Archiver’s which was a scrapbooking/crafting store.  I walked to my car, and at the same time, two ladies were walking towards their car.  I had a tote bag with me and had put it on the passenger side of my car.   The driver of the other car looked at me and screamed, “you parked too close and you better not hit my car with that door”, or something to that effect.  I told her that I did not hit her car, and I was rushing to get to the driver’s side of my car.  She thought that I was rushing to hit her.  I was not paying attention to her at all.  She had threatened to call security on me.  Her friend tried to calm her down.  I was only trying to get away from her.  Now, I had a hard day, and I had parked the car in that spot 3 hours before I went into work, so I was in the mall area from 12 NN.  I had not moved my car, and I do remember that her car was not parked there before. So, in essence, she was in the wrong, but since she saw I was African American, she thought that maybe she would provoke me, to make a scene, which did not work in her favor.  Maybe she too had a bad day, not getting what she wanted from the stores she shopped at?  Who knows, all I know is I wanted to get home, decompress, and get ready for the night.  I found myself 5 minutes later, sitting on the side of the freeway, crying because this woman decided to pick on me and my spirit.  A freeway officer pulled up behind me and asked me if I was OK.  I told her “no”, and explained to her what happened in the parking garage.  She talked to me for a minute, and that was the best 2-minute conversation I had with a police officer.  She told me to take my time to compose myself before going back on the highway.  I stopped by my parent’s house before going home.   After leaving my parent’s house, I went home, took a hot bath, and forgot about the day.
I should never have to explain myself to anyone who is in the wrong.  I know that now and should never have said anything to that woman who was leaving with her friend.  I thank God that I kept my temper in check and security never came to her supposed rescue.
The Poem is called “What If I’m a Black Woman”.  It was written originally around 1996 and the author is unknown, but I imagine that is was a black woman who wrote it.  Enjoy reading it, and I will talk to you later.

What If I Am a Black Woman?

Is it a disease? Well, if it is, I sure hope its catching
Because they need to pour it into a bottle,
label it, and sprinkle it All over the people
men and women who Ever loved or cried,
worked or died for any one of us.

So...What if I am a Black woman?
Is it a crime? Arrest me!
Because I'm strong, but I'm gentle,
I'm smart, but I'm learning,
I'm loving, but I'm hateful.
And I like to work because
I like to eat and feed and clothe
and house Me, mine
and yours and everybody's,
Like I've been doing for the past 300 years.

What if I am a Black woman?
Is it insane? Commit me!!
Because I want Happiness, not tears;
Truths not lies; Pleasure not pain;
Sunshine not rain; A man not a child!

What if I am a Black woman? Is it a sin?
Pray for me! And pray for you too,
If you don't like women of color
because we are... Midnight Black,
Chestnut Brown, Honey Bronzed,
Chocolate Covered, Cocoa Dipped,
Big Lipped, Big Breasted, and BEAUTIFUL
all at the same time!

So what if I am a Black Woman?
Does it bother you that much because
I want a man who wants me...
Loves me and trusts me, and respects me
And gives me everything because
I give him everything back, PLUS!!

What if I am a Black woman? I've got rights,
same as you! I have worked for them,
died for them, played and laid for them,
On every plantation from Alabama to Boston and Back!

What if I am a Black woman?
I love me, and I want you to love me too,
But I am as I've always been,
Near you, close to you, beside you,
strong giving, loving,

For over 300 years, Your Black woman...Love me!

Now, enjoy a video I took of this group who performed for us last Saturday: