Apr 10, 2019

I Remember: Reflections with a Theme

Many of us have given more than a passing thought to writing up our life’s experiences for our busy children, who never had time to listen, or our grandchildren who may someday be interested. But Luda Shuster has done more – she has labored for months to craft 7 connected tales of remembrance and illustrated them with pictures from the family album.  This slim volume captures life’s wisdom in written snapshots to which we can all relate.

Here’s what an early reader, Evelyn Preston of Active Over 50 Magazine had to say:

“Luda Shuster’s packed portraits of her family is proof of poetic prose; emotion, story, background and theme weave through clearly and cleanly to leave the reader edified and satisfied, yet amazed that the big picture of a life is so succinctly and charmingly packaged in her finely drawn memoir, I Remember.”

This collection includes reflections on Luda’s Jewish parents, legal professionals practicing in Stalinist Russia of the 50’s (My Na├»ve Parents), reflections on important childhood relatives, the family and personal impact of Chernobyl (Nature Girl) and my favorite selection dealing with the impact of time on our family connections (The Saturday Visit).

Service for Profit’s publication team assisted in this project, providing editing, page design, and cover design services. I Remember by Luda Shuster is available in paperback and eBook formats on Amazon, Barnes & Nobel and other book re-sellers.

Mar 28, 2019

Financial Adulting – Read all about the stuff you SHOULD be doing, and if not, HOW to fix it

We’re happy to congratulate Aaron Rubin on the publication of his first book: Financial Adulting – Take Control of your financial Future. Just released in March, with the help of our Service for Profit Publication Support team, this 200+ page volume is full of useful information for those just starting out on, or well along in their life financial journey.
As a California attorney, Certified Public Accountant, and Certified Financial Planner© Aaron Rubin has seen it all, and many times it's not a pretty picture. Rubin provides practical advice about budgeting and saving, taxes, investments, insurance, and estate planning. He tells you what to avoid, what to focus on, and isn't afraid to call out those who may not be looking out for your best interests.
Rubin also connects with readers through shared experiences. He acknowledges his own shortfalls and tells stories out of his own life (some amusing, and others cringe worthy). We all make mistakes and feel foolish at times, but it's from these mistakes that we can learn and grow.
Adulting can be scary, particularly when it comes to our finances, but with practice (and some decent Chardonnay), you will be amazed how well you can navigate these tricky waters.

Here’s what other readers are saying:
Effective financial wisdom from a true specialist who combines his many years' experience and expertise as a tax professional, CPA, and financial planner to give pragmatic advice to young adults. What a plus that this well-written, solution-oriented "how-to" moves easily all along its wealth-building journey. The perfect gift for graduates. And consider a copy for yourself to find some unique strategies within a worthwhile and entertaining refresher course.
--Evelyn Preston: 25 year investment professional, Author of The Money Ladyand financial columnist for Active Over 50 senior magazine
In "Financial Adulting," Aaron Rubin provides great advice, presented with wonderful humor and sincere compassion. You might find that growing into an adult is not all bad.
--Meir Statman Glenn Klimek Professor of Finance, Leavey School of Business Santa Clara University Author of Finance for Normal People, and What Investors Really Want
The book is available on Amazon and Barns and Nobel. 

Sep 20, 2016

Why are Professional Services so Difficult to Sell? Making a Case for Value

I watched with disgust and dismay as the recent publicity unfolded about Wells Fargo Bank and the appalling breach of ethics apparently perpetrated by 5000+ bank employees against its customers – all apparently in the desperate attempt to meet sales quotas for financial services ?

Why were these services so difficult to sell that bank employees had to resort to fraud to meet their individual sales objectives? Was it a simple matter of excessive quotas or is there something inherently difficult about selling financial services?

Many will be talking about the Wells Fargo fraud for months. They will focus on management, sales culture, and all manner of possible influences. But I think something more fundamental is at work and something with which all of us who sell professional services need to contend. In a recent article about general issues of service marketing, Kevin Johnson, a financial writer for the Houston Chronicle, identified this problem: “[The difficulty in selling a service is that] the people you pitch to may not be able to visualize what you do. …, but even [after you explain the benefits] … you may have to repeatedly articulate why your service has value.“ 

I sometimes find it difficult to help my customers see the value of the services I offer. It is a real challenge to paint a word picture of future benefits that is vivid enough to overcome the reluctance caused by the need to part with significant cash to sample or “try” these services.

One place I look for answers: the masters of word picture creation: Advertisers. Since the early days of newspapers, advertisers have been painting great word pictures in an effort to inspire people to buy all sorts of goods and services. Their newest territory was opened with the advent of the Internet, and online advertising is growing rapidly.  

When I recently looked  for nuggets of wisdom that I could use in my services marketing challenges I found one fairly quickly in a Wordstream blog post by JonathanDane . In his post, Jonathan describes ideas that make AdWords campaigns effective, but I think one of his ideas also recommends itself to those who sell professional services because they help us make “our word pictures” vivid:

"Advertisers sometimes lose sight of what their customers are truly looking for. I call this “The End Goal:” or what people ultimately want to accomplish with the help of your product or service."

Instead of justifying the value  to Mr. Bank Customer of online BillPay with overdraft protection and deposit processing via mobile device, by telling him,  “he’ll save on postage” or “he’ll enjoy the convenience of using his computer to pay his bills,” it’s more compelling to focus on the End Goal, e.g.,  “You’ll never pay another overdraft fee, and never again have to visit the bank.”

Now that’s a word picture I could get behind. 

Apr 10, 2014

Emergency Health Care Advocate Service – a growing need filled by a newly launched service

I’ve always felt that service developers and deliverers can be the most creative marketing people in business. As a group, they are remarkably adept at recognizing market needs and creating and launching services to meet those needs.

Last year when my mother was taken to the ER by ambulance, the facility where she lived, which was about 40 miles away from me, did not notify me. The first I heard of it was when the ER called and said, “Your mother has been brought in for treatment, and she‘s upset and asking for you. Can you give us a little medical history?” As I left an appointment to drive to the hospital, I remember thinking, “I wish she had someone with her to calm her and make sure that she gets the attention and treatment she needs in that busy ER.” 

Fortunately for my mother, when I arrived an hour later, all was well. But what if she’d had no nearby family? 

In fact, today many elderly people live on their own and far from family members and cannot count on friends, who also tend to be elderly, for help in a crisis.  Since Janis Carney is an attorney specializing in elder care, she was well aware of this dilemma, which, with an aging population, will only grow greater. In 2013, she created a company, EASE Plan Inc., to provide 24/7 patient advocacy for elderly patients in the ER. Her plan, which for a monthly fee offers Emergency Advocacy Support and Education (EASE) to enrolled members, seems to strike a welcome chord in Santa Clara County (SF Bay Area), where she launched the service.

“As a doctor for 20 years, I know how complicated the medical systems has become,” says Dr. H. A. Satri Sukhdeo of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, in Palo Alto, CA. “Patients can easily get lost in the healthcare system, and [it] is especially dangerous for them when they end up in the ER. These patients need an advocate,” One of every five members of the Boomer generation and almost 1 in 3 of us over the age of 75 will visit a hospital emergency room at least once this year. Demand for EASE Plan services seems likely to grow with the shifting demographic.

Current clients are finding that Ease Plan offers significant benefits.  “I have two grown children, but neither of them could be here in less than 5 hrs. if I had a medical emergency. I felt bad when my own mother had a medical emergency and could not get medical attention quickly. I signed up for Ease Plan as soon as I heard of it,” Said Linda C., Ease Plan client.

The service not only supports its clients in the ER but also helps them organize their medical information, be clear on the services to which they are entitled, and, generally, be more effective consumers of healthcare even outside of the ER.

“My mother needs 24-hr. care and is in a skilled nursing facility. Unfortunately, I have found that without a professional care advocate, she does not receive all of the care she should be getting. Our [Ease Plan] Care advocate has been a tremendous help to mother and to me,” said Connie F., another Ease Plan member.

Nov 30, 2013

Winning the attention of your prospects and customers

Jerry Kroth wrote a Thanksgiving message and I can’t get it out of my head. Dr. Kroth is a retired Counseling Psychology professor from Santa Clara University. Besides being a very competent teacher, he has a flare for writing, and has indulged his interest by publishing 15 nonfiction books since 1980 that Amazon considers still in print and available 

As a lecturer he might have been able to reach from 20 to as many as 300 students in each session, but being a published author gave him a potential worldwide audience. Then about four years ago, Jerry discovered the power of YouTube, and began creating video podcasts to expand on the ideas in his books, tailoring them to an audience who either doesn’t read, or just doesn’t want to take the time. Although past offerings were viewed by less than 1,000 people, his latest YouTube offering, The JFK Assassination: What Really Happened now boasts over 200,000 viewers.

As Jerry, who is clearly surprised with the mass appeal of his message, wrote in an email to family and friends, I realized that more people watched my one hour long video about the JFK assassination, than ALL the students I ever taught at my university in over 37 years of teaching. Can you imagine that! So I am sort of quietly celebrating something in the quiet of my own office. I'm 72, and I see 200,000 viewers, and I kind of wonder what it all means.”

I think Jerry’s experience of having a piece of work go “viral” is a heady thing. No doubt the topic, and the timeliness of the publication of the video and the book contributed to its broad appeal.  It is hard to realistically aspire to audiences of 200,000 without significant self-promotion, unless you have those kinds of factors working for you. But there are a few things business writers and creators of content can do to increase the rate as which audience members “share” with their friends, and to do a better job of winning audience attention for their message:

1.       Come up with a great story to tell. Storytelling as a marketing device is nothing new. There are marketing pros that are known for their mastery of this business art form, such as Nancy Duarte  and Michael Margolis. Some people object, saying that their message doesn’t lend itself to storytelling. But I maintain that it is a surefire way to engage with the reader (and the target) of your content. So make the effort.

2.       Master the format the audience prefers. If you look at Jerry’s video, you will find it well produced. Even though it is based on content from his latest book, Coup d'etat: The assassination of President John F. Kennedy, I have a bet with my wife that Jerry has not sold 200,000 copies of his book. Rather, I believe it is the video that has captured the imagination of the public, partially because of the accessibility of the medium. It is convenient to watch, and well produced. If you know your audience, you’ll shape your format to their preferences.

3.       Make sure your content has what I call a “you see Timmy…” moment. Like many of my generation, I was an avid fan of the TV show, Lassie, when I was a kid. You may remember if you’re old enough, the TV show with a Collie as the star. Timmy was the small boy of the household. Each episode had Lassie performing some feat based on innate animal wisdom that frequently confused Timmy. The last five minutes of the show frequently featured a heart-to-heart with Dad, when he explained the WHY of Lassie’s actions.

I believe for most content to be widely accepted and shared, it needs to make a point, a recommendation, or an assertion. It can’t be just about reportage. I believe you must offer a new insight or pose a thought provoking hypothesis. Take a stand in your message.

There is so much content being thrown at people these days. The Internet has removed the high cost of reaching large numbers of potential customers, and people are making instant decisions about what to read (or view) and what to ignore. Win their attention by focusing on: 1) a great story; 2) audience friendly content; 3) and a message with a point of view.