Friday, November 30, 2007

Just-a Swingin'

Thank you so much to Scott Ellis,, for sending me this extremely accurate portrayal of my world... Happy Friday, people! Only 25 shoppping days left 'til Christmas!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thought for the Day Thursday

A consultant walks into a bar and says to a business owner, "Do you want me to lie to you about your marketing strategy for $400 an hour, or tell you the truth for $200?" The CEO says, "I'll take the truth for $200."

"Okay," says consultant, "the problem is that having you try to control your corporate messaging is like having an earthworm try to juggle... How's my premium pricing option sound to you now?"

MORAL-- "You can't handle the truth!!" Jack Nicholson as Colonel Nathan R. Jessup in A Few Good Men

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Coming into Focus???

"Focus groups should be abolished," says Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and Tipping Point. Gladwell's statement, although controversial, rings true from certain marketplace experience. Everyone knows that consumers make purchase decisions emotionally and then justify their purchases logically. The problem with traditional focus groups is that participants think about their responses and what their answers should be. Therefore, the snap judgment, the hunch, and the emotion of the first impression are lost in all of the cogitating that goes into a focus group response.

The Aeron Chair by Herman Miller has become a cultural and commercial sales phenomenon. Gladwell pointed out in his breakthrough book Blink that it continues to be one of the best-selling office chairs in history. Had executives at Herman Miller followed advice to scrap the design based on extensive focus group testing, they might not be enjoying such record sales. Despite only moderate scores on comfort and extremely low scores on its aesthetics, Herman Miller went ahead with the introduction of the Aeron Chair. As a result, the company broke all sales records and still continues to reap huge rewards over a decade later.

Matching the promise of your brand with the priorities of your market is a huge advantage if your goal is to be the leader in your business category. Now the critical question is: "What are the customers’ priorities?” I believe that typical focus groups are ineffective at gauging what is really important (emotionally) to customers when choosing a product or service. The bottom line questions are "What's in it for me? How is this going to make me smarter/ more powerful/ more influential/ more popular/ sexier/ etc.?

Understanding your customers' and prospects' priorities before writing and designing communications to them is fundamental to marketing and sales success. Do you have a method for learning what your customers really think about and care about?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Importance of Internal Marketing

While most companies allocate resources to understanding and communicating with their external customers, few make the same investment in time, energy, and money in communicating with their internal customers—their employees. Internal communications is traditionally viewed as the sole province of the Human Resources department, but it's essential to recognize the importance of marketing to internal customers.

Although external marketing remains the most important business development task, it is essential to sell inwardly toward a company’s people. When employees understand and commit to the value proposition of the company and its brands, external marketing becomes more effective, because the employees become product champions.

Internal marketing is becoming increasingly important as the pace of change accelerates. Many companies are undergoing some form of transformation through mergers, alliances, or downsizing. The need for communication is stronger in these circumstances.

When companies also change their brand, their name, or their values, it is essential to communicate the change to all stakeholders including employees. As companies empower staff to build stronger customer relationship, internal marketing underpins the drive for greater involvement, commitment, and understanding.

Constant organizational change can loosen the ties between employer and employee. Internal marketing can bring the parties together with shared goals and values. Internal marketing helps the process of knowledge development by building understanding and commitment to personal development.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Yes, I took some time off...

As you can tell from the dates on this blog, I took all of last week off for Thanksgiving. Nothing rejuvenates the brain and gives fresh perspectives like quality family time. Which got me to thinking about the concept of having time and how an entrepreneur needs to make the most of each day.

In order to "ease" us all back into the swing of things (even though it really is a downhill coast until January), I offer the following insight:

Friday, November 16, 2007

PR can equal unPRetty

Chris Anderson, the editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine and author of “The Long Tail,” ignited an online PR firestorm recently by posting a list on his blog of 300 PR people who had sent him unsolicited and unwanted PR pitches, saying that he had unilaterally and permanently added them to his blocked senders list.

I don’t approve of Anderson’s action — I’m sure he has better things to do than complain about PR. But his post does blow the cover off one of PR’s not so pretty secrets: selling PR to internal and external clients on the basis of quantity, not quality. Justifying your budget and importance by saying “we pitched the story to 200 reporters” has been exposed as a fraud, if your target list includes journalists like Anderson who are going to hit delete the second they see your pitch (or worse, simply block you from even reaching their inbox). You’ll have more long-term media relations success if you pitch quality — targeting the right journalists, building relationships, only sending them newsworthy stuff — over quantity.

Try a new approach... pitching to bloggers. they’re not mainstream media. Among the differences is that they have unlimited space to say whatever they want, including using their blog to blast PR people. Mainstream journalists are probably just as fed up with getting spam pitches as Anderson, but they aren’t going to waste precious ink or air time complaining about it.
Bloggers are the ultimate niche media. Every one of them has their own unique point of view and audience. It’s a waste of time and resources to send them blast email pitches. Scratch that strategy off your list. Instead, if you really want to reach a blogger’s audience, read their blog thoroughly, leave comments on their site, and then pitch them something customized for them alone.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Embracing Objections

If you find yourself constantly dealing with or dreading objections late in the buying cycle then there's something you're not doing early in the buying cycle: you're not creating objections. You should be.

Embracing Objections:
Stress is caused by the things you don't do. One of the largest sources of stress among those who do not see themselves as natural salespeople is the conversations they are avoiding. An objection is a little like bad news in the investment world: if it exists, you want to hear it as soon as possible. If you ignore it, it only gets worse.

The Race to Object:
Once you become aware of the potential objection consider yourself in a race to see which party can first serve it up to the other to address. Let's say that you, the buyer, beat me, the seller, to the price objection - you get it on the table first. I can try to convince you that the objection is not real, or I can share my concern and try to hand it back to you. “I have the same concern. Reengineering your entire business development approach is not a trivial investment. It's a sound investment, but my experience is that of firms the size of yours, not all can afford my fee, which I require in advance.”

The Common Mistakes:
The wrong way for me to respond to your objection is the way I typically responded throughout the early part of my career: defer (“Let's not worry about price right now – I'm sure we can work something out if we get that far,”) cave (“I might be able to lower my fee,”) or shamelessly convince (“You really need to make this investment. Isn't there some way you can come up with the money?”)

It may seem counterintuitive to create objections when you see yourself in the business of overcoming them, but look at it this way: the objections are there anyway, and somebody has to address them. Why not ask the client to do it?

Just ask early. Start looking for reasons why it might not make sense to work together as early into the relationship as possible and then ask the client to address them before he asks the same of you. You'll find out which objections can be dealt with and which might be cause to part company.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How NOT to Launch a New Product (or Business for that matter)

You've built the better mousetrap, now you're expecting the proverbial path-beating to your door. Here are some classic mistakes companies make while getting ready to launch.

1. Don't plan the launch until right before the release date-- Nothing is more disheartening to a PR or marketing consultant than to have a client call and say, "We have a great new product ready to launch next month. Can you develop a plan by next week?"

2. Carve your launch plan in stone-- Few new product introductions go exactly according to plan. Manufacturing snafus occur. Distribution gets delayed. Be sure to build flexibility into your launch plan. Always ask the unpopular question, "What if the launch date gets delayed?"

3. Put the head honcho in charge of the launch-- Brand managers or product managers are best suited to take primary responsibility for the launch process—not senior personnel whose multiple and competing duties can impair focus and tactical expertise. The involvement and support of the CEO, president and other senior leaders are critical to the success of a launch, but not on a daily basis.

4. Don't educate employees until after the news breaks elsewhere-- Your employees are your most important word-of-mouth brand ambassadors. Educate them about the launch plan and prepare them to talk about the product with their family and friends so they can begin to build the buzz.

5. Use the same forms of media you've always used-- The number of potential media outlets that can talk about your new product grows daily. Don't just dig out the same media list you used for your last launch. There are 6,200 magazines and 240 television stations available today, with hundreds more being introduced each year. Don't overlook Internet media outlets that might not have existed when you executed previous launches.

6. Skip the crisis plan-- The number of things that can go wrong when a new product hits the market is limitless. Brainstorm all potential pitfalls to ensure your plan provides remedies for what might go wrong. It's always better to have a crisis plan in place rather than trying to create one while facing a major issue that could tarnish your brand.

Monday, November 12, 2007


A quote from a U. S. soldier's blog while stationed in Iraq:

"Trying to make sense of this place is like trying to move a mountain by smashing your face into it."

Thank a REAL hero and their family today.
Be thankful for all our nitpicky little problems in the business world.
Free enterprise isn't free, and the servicemen/women pay the toll.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Can Entrepreneurship be Taught?

excerpts taken from BusinessWeek online article by Stacy Perman

"If I go into any social setting, people always wonder how can you teach entrepreneurship," says Richard Goossen. Goossen, a lawyer, businessman, and academic, has founded startups, acted as strategic adviser to high-growth companies, written three books, and spoken extensively on the subject of entrepreneurship. So, he decided to explore the topic further.

He rounded up a group of entrepreneurship experts ranging from Peter Drucker (, 11/28/05) to Rita Gunther McGrath to Karl Vesper. He culled their insights, broke them down, and published the results in his most recent book, Entrepreneurial Excellence: Profit From the Best Ideas of the Experts (Career Press; 2007). "My motivation was to talk to the top researchers and instructors in the world who teach something that a lot of people think can't be taught," he says.

Goossen came to the conclusion that while there are several elements that can be taught to enhance the knowledge and success of entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship is something one can learn only by doing. "With law or accounting,you can teach a set of principles that a student can master to become a competent practitioner," he says. "But teaching entrepreneurship is tough. In a class it's hard to predict who will do well and who will not."

As a result of his research, Goossen has come up with three entrepreneurial elements that can be taught:
1. General business knowledge—what he calls "the nuts and bolts of management principles and strategic thinking."
2. General entrepreneurial principles. You can lean from what other people have done and where they made mistakes.
3. How to be alert to opportunities in certain fields in a general sense.

What can't be taught, on the other hand, is what Goossen calls "venture specific opportunity principles." By that he means the ability to understand and see specific niches in a market and recognize whether it will be successful or not. "You can't teach someone how to know what will work and what won't," says Goossen. "You can't even duplicate the set of dynamics of a past success."

It seems to be an inate gift. Take it from the daughter of a 40-year career Texas Instruments dad and a 40-year career schoolteacher mom, I should know... the first entrepreneur in my family.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Time Keeps on Slippin', Slippin', Slippin'......

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) once said, "I wasted time and now time doth waste me."

Don't waste the MONEY HOURS: the hours in a sales day when you can talk with prospects and/or customers… the most valuable hours of the day, make the most of them. Schedule reporting, email/faxes, and reading documents between 6am--9am and 6pm--9pm.

Sounds like a no-brainer, but you'll look up and you'll been pulled into an email exchange with an internal employee for over an hour... mid-morning. Ugh. Waste of your time and theirs. Establish these boundaries and watch productivity soar.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth

or... What is your return on "marketing integrity?"

A Yankelovich study a few years ago found that as many as two-thirds of Americans believe that businesses would take advantage of the public if those businesses did not think they would be exposed. As many as one-fourth of Americans agreed that there is literally nothing that business can do to recapture their trust once it is lost. ("State of Consumer Trust," 2004).

Most marketers may be honest in the sense that they do not blatantly lie or intend to mislead, but the definition of "honest" is shifting to a higher realm since customer loyalty (and trust comes before loyalty) is at a premium. Traditional Return On Marketing Investment is calculated using Gross Margin generated by marketing efforts (GM), minus the Marketing Investment (I), divided by that investment: ROMI = (GM - I) ÷ I. The calculation for return on marketing integrity is identical, except that investment is replaced with marketing integrity.

Simple enough to explain, considerably more difficult to measure. An example would be a company investing significant man hours and dollar expenditures ensuring that every marketing claim is ruthlessly checked with R&D for accuracy, then any attitudinal or behavioral gains among customers can be at least partially credited to those investments.

Now, why would a business make these extra efforts? Yes, everyone wants more customers, but is it really worth the time and effort? Yes, for several reasons:

1. Measuring the impact of integrity can help marketers learn some of the reasons why customers are buying in the first place... revealing why they remain loyal will lead to increased profitability.

2. Tracking integrity may uncover new ways to attract more new customers... discovering what your company's unique value proposition is (in your customer's eyes).

3. By regularly comparing integrity performance and financial bottom-line impact, businesses may be able to significantly reduce the unforced integrity erros that have cost other companies brand equity and sales declines... i.e. was "New Coke" really new?

4. Maintaining a sense of marketing integrity can protect brand image when a company is under scrutiny... ex: Enron; 'nuff said.

During a credibility crisis involving the troubled General Re acquisition, Warren Buffet once observed, "Berkshire can afford to lose money, even lots of money; it can't afford to lose...even a shred of reputation." If the Oracle of Omaha can't afford it, neither can the rest of us.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Why I Love Park Place Motorcars

Bought a new car this morning. My second purchase at the same dealership. Park Place is just about the last place in the world where every personable exchange, product, and service is completely customer service oriented. Here's to a really admirable company... you have a customer for life!

Friday, November 2, 2007

A Funny for Friday

How much does this remind me of everything involved in the consulting world?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

"Thought for the Day" Thursday


Happy November 1st