Most of us have, at one time or another, said something like “Now I’ve seen it all”. Usually just after some amazing event. That event could be good or not so good, but it is so out of the ordinary that it drags the exclamation from us. Each time we say it we have experienced something more amazing than the last. I think I’ve found my all-time winner.

Let me give you some background. About 30 years ago I received a very impressive letter. Back then it was a real letter – each page was a different kind of very expensive paper, each had very expensive printing ink, and it looked like it really did represent a gentleman from Nigeria trying to “liberate” a few million bucks. (Just so you know: I turned it over to the authorities).

In the time since then I have, like you, received many such offers. Usually in a poorly written email that looks nothing like it has come from a person of means. I’ve apparently won several lotteries – I don’t recall buying a ticket so I can only assume one of you kindly bought me a birthday present or some such. As soon as I receive the winning tickets I’ll split it with you.
Given these scams have been around for so long I am amazed that there are still people who send many thousands of dollars away because they have received an offer of this kind. Now back to my all time winner.

My Facebook feed had one of those “What’s your other name?” posts. This one identified your Star Wars Storm Trooper Id Number. The rules were:
1. The first 16 digits of your credit card number,
2. Followed by the expiration date of the card,
3. Then the three-digit number from the back of the card.

Now I know you’re thinking the same as I was. That gives everyone all the information they need to use that card to purchase, well, anything they like. I went to make a comment to that effect and saw that some had indeed given information that looked like their real info. Others had already commented that they hoped that this was fake information, and one had said that his friend had just paid for his subscription to an adult magazine.

Search the internet for “storm trooper id” and “credit card” and you are sure to find it.

Then I thought: Why would someone fall for an offer like that? The answer of course is that they don’t know any better. Then that reminded me of many people who own a business. They act in strange ways, ways that can only result in added expense if not complete failure of the business because they don’t know any better. A case of what you don’t know really can hurt you.

I can’t do much for people who want to help liberate hidden fortunes, who believe that they have won a lottery they never bought a ticket in, or that it is a good idea to publish their “Storm Trooper Id”, but I can help business owners who don’t know. Even those that think they know.

Consider these situations if you sell things to your market:
• You seem to be constantly reacting to events, and those events are somewhat out of control,
• You have too many unhappy customers,
• You are working so that your staff can be paid (and maybe be paid more than you take home),
• Your customers don’t think to refer your business, or
• Your advice is often ignored.

If you recognize more than two of those situations in your own business then there are some issues that are causing you grief.

If your business is providing advice, guidance, or consulting to your clients then consider this:
• Do many of your clients ignore your advice?
• Do your clients only tell you half the story, or worse: describe a problem that doesn’t really exist?
• Have you been surprised part-way through a consult when some vital information was casually mentioned and that meant you had to redo some or even all of your investigation?

If you recognise any of these situations then you are wasting a lot of time that can’t be recovered. At least your reputation is that you take a long time to get the answers, at worst: it’s all your fault that the solution didn’t work.

In each case you can avoid those traps by using the BPI Brand Assessment. It asks simple questions that are easy to answer, and your report is available for download immediately you complete the easy questionnaire. The report describes problems that exist in your or your clients’ businesses, and it also provides guidance on the most pressing problems and what to do to improve them.

Let us know what you think in the comments, and feel free to share this with anyone who you think needs to know.