Advertising has been a one-way conversation for a long, long time.

As this video shows, somewhat sarcastically, that’s not cutting it anymore.  Well, not with members of your target market.

After you stop laughing, ask yourself . . . “Is this possibly what MY firm is doing?”

Intentional or not, it’s far too common.

You want to have a TWO-way dialogue not a one-way shouting match with prospects.

They have alternatives . . . do you?

Gap?  Yes.  The gap between what you think you’re doing and how your customers / clients feel you’re doing. Maybe you don’t have one.  Kudos.  Unfortunately, odds are you do have a gap.  Fortunately, you can correct that.  But first you need to know if it exists.

In a recent research study (Delivering On The Promise) conducted by Accenture, it was noted that a serious disconnect exists between business executives and their clients / customers.  Apparently 75% of the executives surveyed perceived their own customer service as being “above-average”.  Unfortunately, 59% of their own customers felt the service experience they were getting from these same firms was, “somewhat to extremely disappointing”.

Lynn Hunsaker posting at ClearAction’s Customer Experience Optimization blog cited a CMO Council Customer Affinity study where about 50% of the surveyed companies believed they were “extremely” customer-centric.  At the same time, only 10% of the customers surveyed felt the same way!


This obvious perceptual difference is significant and serious.  Significant in the the ‘GAP’ it suggests is huge.  Serious in that it exists at all.

Can you tolerate such a lack of connection to your marketplace?  Not for long.  And not for anything good.  I’m reminded of Marie Antoinette’s famed line, “Let them eat cake” when referring to the French people who, suffering so badly, rebelled and overthrew the monarchy (and, Marie’s head, too!).

Your business competes not only for prospects and their money.  You also compete for their attention.  And, their loyalty to your brand.  The way you earn that is by delivering on the expectations of your marketplace.  And how do you learn those?

You ASK!

Survey your customers.  If you don’t have customers or clients . . . talk with prospects!

Whatever you do . . . stay close to your marketplace . . . closer than your competitors and when you learn what people want from you . . . GIVE IT TO THEM!

I was on a telecall last week sponsored by my good friend, Carl Utter, President of The Training Group in the Philadelphia, PA area.

During the introductions of who was joining us on the telecall, a client of Carl’s mentioned that he worked with “NFL players” and that he was a financial advisor.

My ears perked up!  Here’s why . . .

Just recently, I was talking to someone else and she told me that she wanted to work with . . . “Professional Athletes”.

In that moment, I was able to make a key connection — that’s subsequently lead to a preferred introduction between my friend and Carl and, I hope, that will lead to a preferred introduction to his client, Fred . . . yep, the one who works with NFL players.

When you’re talking with people, make sure they know WHO you can be of service to . . . and make sure they will know WHAT constitutes a ‘person-of-interest’ to you . . . when they come into proximity of one!  If you don’t . . . you may miss out on some opportunities that you won’t want to miss!



I am sharing this to help you deal with the growing mentality that is permeating the mindset of entrepreneurial souls in this challenging economy.

If you’ve been in business any amount of time you’ve undoubtedly been exposed to what is euphemistically known as . . . the ‘Elevator Pitch’.


That’s your brief response to a stranger who asks, “What do you do?”

Ideally, your pitch or ‘Talking Logo’ is short, sweet and likely to cause a qualified person to then say something akin to, “Really?  THAT is what you do?  Fascinating! . . . Tell me more!”

In common practice, you follow a simple formula such as:

  1. Target Market . . . e.g. “I help _______________”
  2. Meaningful Outcome . . . e.g. “to stop having to . . .” or, “to be able to . . .”
  3. Resource . . . e.g. “By means of my . . .”

If the person doesn’t ‘bite’ on what you’ve said in the first two steps, they’re not qualified and you don’t ever have to share what you have to say in step 3 because, well . . . there’s no reason to do so, is there?

Sometimes, you’ll want to give a little longer explanation of what you do.  And that brings me to the real subject of this post.

Beyond The Basics

OK, now just for fun, I’d like to introduce you to Karrie Kohlhaas.  Karrie is the founder of Thoughtshot Consulting in Seattle, WA.

I had the pleasure of meeting her on a social network for businesspeople called (definitely check it out!).

Below is what Karrie has on her profile and boy does it address the question, “What do you do?”.  What I’d like you to notice though is just how powerful her words are . . . they are clear, concise and paint vivid images for anyone who hears them. See for yourself.  Picture Karrie standing at a business meeting and delivering the following message to ‘introduce’ herself to the room:

I blast through barriers with independent business owners, streamlining their growth so they can move faster and easier. I work with clients to create structures and systems that cause a shift from overwhelm to profit, from scrambling to strategy. The work is unorthodox and the results are dramatic. Clients who work with me consistently report their highest income levels to date.

My background, providing cutting-edge consulting to Fortune 500 companies, translates into keen insights for business development, strategy, organization, marketing, branding and growth.

If you have a business you want to grow or an idea for a business you want to start, I’d love to hear from you. I am not a cookie cutter consultant, nor a feel-good coach. I combine cultural anthropology, brain studies and business and my commitment is that my clients produce tangible results.

If you’d like to know more about Karrie, here’s her website:

WOW!  As you read the carefully chosen words and phrases Karrie uses, did you feel the rhythm she was weaving for you?  Were you intrigued?  Did her words fixate you?  Did they transform who she is in your mind?  Did you notice she speaks about the outcomes she produces / her clients want?  I bet the answer is YES!  And that’s good.

When you have an opportunity to share more than a brief elevator pitch, consider the lesson Karrie is giving you here . . . choose your words to paint strong, vivid images that will not only attract and qualify people for your business but make them feel excited about working with you, too.

If you’re wondering why there is an ‘old’ school that’s been around long enough to be ‘old’ in the first place . . . check this out.

It’s a short video on the fundamentals of good marketing for anyone in the B2B marketplace.

After you hear the message, based on an ‘ancient’ advertisement that’s still as relevant today as it was ‘back in the day’ . . . think about how you’re using the modern social media of today to answer the questions this fellow is posing.

You’ll do more business when you do!

Alas, it’s time to say good-bye to an old friend . . . “Forward To A Friend” to be exact.

Sending outbound email you hope will go far depends on your first-level recipients having easy ways to ‘share’ your message.  Until recently, the favorite method to do this involved offering a ‘Forward To A Friend’ option in your email.  But that is changing.  Rapidly.  Likely forever.

As this chart shows, Facebook is THE most popular option to use in this regard followed closely by Twitter:


While it’s not exactly, “Hasta la vista, baby!”.  It’s more like, “Move over . . . there’s a new option in town that’s taking over”  I’m talking about: SWYN or “Share With Your Network”.

An increasingly attractive way to promote your email is to offer not just FTAF (Forward To A Friend) but SWYN (Share WIth Your Network) as an option in your outbound email.

It makes sense.

With the same effort that it takes to send an email on to a friend (one person) you can use the increasingly common convention to post and share any email with your ‘social network’ via links from LinkedIn, facebook, Twitter, etc.

Read more

I write a monthly column for The National

This is an online weekly publication with all kinds of great information and great contributing writers and tons of really excellent resources for business people.  But . . . as a writer, I still have to help myself get the word out.

Enter a little bit of self-promotion!

I graduated from The University of Connecticut.  On LinkedIn, like many schools, there is a group of UCONN alumni.  About 4,000 or so strong.

When I write an article, I let people know about it and this group is one of many venues to do that . . . as this image proves: (I”m the most popular article here in case you can’t read the image).


I also happened to have one of the most popular (measured by ‘views’ of my article) articles at The National Networker the same week as I began to post news of my article in various venues online.  Coincidence?  Hardly!  It all happened . . . by design, not by accident.

Here’s an email I received from Adam Kovitz — the publisher of The National Networker shortly after I decided to see what would happen if I promoted my week 1 article even though the current issue was already in week 3.  In other words, I was competing with a 3 week old article against more current articles:

Yes, my week 1 article became so popular that I made it into the ‘top 5’ articles in week 3 — even though my article came out 3 weeks earlier!  And, not to brag, but I managed to attract more views than Dr. Ivan Meisner, founder of BNI pulled in that same time period.  Not too shabby!

I’m sorry to disappoint you Adam, but there’s no ‘Voodoo’ involved.  Just basic online PR techniques that anyone can learn and use . . . simply, effectively and very affordably.

If you’ll do a few simple things with your online media opportunities, you can get yourself some meaningful visibility with people who may be interested in what you’re doing.  Once you get visibility, you’ll get traffic and getting traffic . . . well, you know where that goes . . . straight to your bank!

To learn more details on ‘How To’ do this same thing for your business, come to Session 7 of The Marketing Club where we discuss and show you how to use PR and Word-of-Mouth Marketing to get you and your business noticed so you can get more clients.

Years ago, as a financial advisor (CLU, ChFC) I learned firsthand that most people spend more time planning how they’ll spend a one week vacation than how they’ll spend their retirement years.  I don’t think that’s changed all that much despite the recent market fluctuations.

evaIn marketing a small business or professional practice, it’s not much different. People don’t prepare for marketing as much as they ‘just do it’.

Now Nike’s tagline notwithstanding, that’s just asinine. And no different than focusing more time on planning your one week vacation than your retirement years.

Seth Godin made a great post on this very topic.  He argues that business people are like ‘kids in a candy store’ gazing at all the ‘goodies’ — the myriad choices of marketing tactics that are readily available to us all . . . Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc..  Seth’s not saying there’s anything wrong with these marketing options (there isn’t).  But he admonishes us all to remember that they’re tactics, not a marketing strategy.

Tactics are supposed to support your marketing strategy.  And if your strategy isn’t already in place . . . then using any marketing tactic is akin to launching a rocket but forgetting to add the astronauts before lift-off!  You’d scream if NASA did that, but in your own business . . . you may be doing precisely that if you haven’t chosen your marketing strategy before your marketing tactics.

It’s not the ‘quick and dirty’ approach to marketing (which is appealing, I will admit!)  . . . but defining and articulating a viable marketing STRATEGY before you begin to consider which TACTICS you’ll use to implement and communicate your strategy is going to set you apart from your competitors and . . . far more successfully, too.

When it comes to MEDIA . . . that carries a MESSAGE . . . to a target MARKET . . . this is an excellent example of what it’s all about:


This is a company that makes hair waxing products for the uh, ‘hairy’ body parts that their customers would like to make less so.

This gentleman was hired to walk the beach in Vancouver, British Columbia and distribute free product samples, answer questions and have his picture taken with interested people.

Nice work . . . creative but aligned with the market it seeks to attract.  Good show, Parissa!