“What does a good advisor do?”


“Ask better questions . . . than the client knows to ask”

It’s become painfully obvious to me that I, myself, need a good advisor to help me with a challenge I’m having with something.

Why so ‘obvious’?  Simple.  I’m running out of time to live with the situation ‘as is’ and I’m all out of insights as to why I’ve got the problem in the first place.

When your clients experience a similar situation . . . where something ‘isn’t right’ in their world . . . and they’re clueless about both WHY that’s happening and HOW to correct the situation, you become the knight on the white horse . . . riding in with your insightful questions to shed light on the cause that calls for a cure.


Many times, you won’t even need to have the answers.  If you do, that’s a double bonus. But even if you’re only able to ask your client the questions that reveal the underlying cause or causes for the distressing symptoms (what clients call ‘the problem’) . . . then you’re providing significant value to your clue-less client.

As the surgeon told her patient who asked her to breakdown her bill, “Ok” she said.  “For the incision, surgery and suturing . . . 1% . . . knowing where to operate and why . . . 99%”.

And THAT . . . is why asking insightful, revealing questions . . . that are the first step in getting your clients what they want . . . is PRICELESS!

I was talking with someone about creating a tagline for her business.  I asked her to show me what she’d come up with as possibilities.  She did.  Then I did the ‘Logo Test’ on her possible taglines.

John Jantsch, Founder of Duct Tape Marketing long ago came up with a great way to ‘test’ a core message or tagline for your business.

“Slap any competitor’s logo over your tagline. If it works, then you’re not more distinctive than any competitor . . . as your prospect sees things. You’re also no more likely to be memorable to your prospect, either!”

There’s an expression, “Saying something that appeals to everyone in general is appealing to no one in particular”.

Focusing on a ‘valuable benefit’ of interest to your target market is what you want to be doing.  But if that’s all you do, then you aren’t focusing on any unique selling proposition that can help you to be:

  1. valuable,
  2. distinctive, and (therefore)
  3. memorable

And isn’t that what a tagline is supposed to be?  Yes!  It’s a way to say something valuable, distinctive and valuable to your prospects, clients and centers-of-influence.

I understand you have a legitimate profit motive (and you must be in business for a profit or you’ll be working for someone else!).

That’s why I respectfully urge you to honor what is both:

  1. important to you / your passion and,
  2. attractive to a certain kind of prospect

who, all things considered, may consider your business to be THE ‘preferred provider’ in your category because they remember that you offer a good experience (like all your competitors claim, right?) AND ALSO a business that stands out for something that’s unique to you and meaningful to them.

“Me-Too” marketing — saying something any other competitor can say as your tagline — isn’t terribly difficult. You see it being done everywhere, everyday. It’s easy.  Too easy.


It’s just not distinctive AND valuable. Therefore, it’s not that distinctive and memorable.  And that’s not helpful to you, either.

I hope you weigh this advice to incorporate BOTH your passion in how you do business AND your unique selling proposition to your target market.

It will help you generate revenues AND profits and make it possible for more and more like-minded people in the future to see you as THE preferred provider in your category.


Scott Ginsberg has a calling. To be “That Nametag Guy”.

His mission is to help others be more approachable.  Why?  Because when you are, you are likely to be more successful.

Scott’s successful, too. Very, very successful!

What started out as a ‘happy accident’ — forgetting to remove his nametag after a meeting . . . has put him on a collision course with greatness.  The genius in his strategy was intentional, though.

If you’re seeking to understand the power of FOCUS . . . of dedication to a singular idea . . . check out Scott’s story below:


In a ‘me-too’ world, it pays to find a niche and . . . GO FOR IT!

I seriously doubt you’d want to promote the fact that your business was mediocre at best . . . and probably “Pretty sucky” at worst.

But that’s precisely what a hotel in Amsterdam, Holland is doing and . . . it’s doing quite well, thank-you-very-much!

If you’re in the hotel business, you’d think that’s got to be the worst review you could get, right?  WRONG!  It turns out the management of this hotel (The Hans Brinker Hotel) is delighted with that kind of review.

Why?  Excellent question.  And in the answer is a great lesson in marketing and positioning for YOU to apply to your business.

If You Can’t Be All Things To All People, Be Something Special to a Special Group
This is a fundamental truth in marketing your business or service.  Pick a niche.  Find a market segment.  FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS!!!

hotelThe Hans Brinker Hotel is probably NOT the ‘worst’ hotel in the world but, as Seth Godin wrote in his book ‘Edgecrafting’, there’s real value in being seen to be at the extreme edge of whatever you do.  In tough times, bargain-priced items and luxury-priced items do well.  It’s the ‘middle ground’ items that seem to suffer the most.  I’d argue that anytime you have a position that isn’t ‘edgy’ you’re going to be seen as ‘vanilla’ and your competitors will be ‘chocolate chips’ — they’ll stand out . . . against your business or service as a nondescript background.

Now apply that to the way a business is positioned . . . is presented to be something and, at the same time, something it’s not ever going to be.

Realizing that it could never compete on common metrics of Amsterdam’s luxury hotels, it went to the extreme . . . in the opposite direction.  With rooms suggesting a military barracks more than a hotel in a top European city, The Hans Brinker Hotel went for the ‘gold’ . . . where the gold is not typically found.

Knowing they would most easily and likely appeal to a decidedly ‘low-cost’ traveler, by accepting themselves, they also uncovered their ‘ideal’ market.  Namely, youthful college kids traveling through Europe with a backpack and only a (relatively) few bucks or guilders to spend on their nightly accomodations.

“Tell The Truth . . . It’s Good For Your Soul . . . and Balance Sheet”
By being truthful . . . that it’s not the MOST luxurious hotel in Amsterdam, The Hans Brinker Hotel gained a bizarre benefit . . . it’s actually more rather than less attractive to the very market it’s best designed to attract!

Students seem to relish the ‘bragging’ rights they get simply by having actually stayed at the hotel.  Probably like getting a merit badge in the Scouts.  Only more roughing it, apparently!  This is an essential key to viral marketing of the hotel and, as proof of the efficacy of this, many of the hotel’s guests first learned about it from their friends and other youthful travelers they met during their travels while in Europe.

If You Set Expectations Appropriately . . . People Don’t Get Upset With You
Ok.  Let’s say you’re in the target demographic for this crazy hotel — you’re a college student on summer holiday with a backpack and yearning for memories you’ll tell your grandkids about one day.  You’ve heard you’re staying at the ‘worst’ hotel in the world when you get to Amersterdam. You’ve heard the rooms are spartan.  The food is allegedly only passable, the amenities are often lacking or missing entirely (one ad for the hotel reportedly says, “If you want toilet paper, bring your own!”).

Then, you arrive (no doubt with a roll of TP in your pack) only to find that . . . yes, it’s not the most upscale hotel you’ll ever be in but, y’know what . . . it’s not all THAT bad, either!  By helping to lower the prospects’ expectations, The Hans Brinker Hotel has managed to actually make you feel good about the schlock conditions of the place.  And, despite your worst fears, the food in the hotel canteen is actually ‘not too bad’.  You’re hooked.  You’ll tell others you meet in Cologne or Paris or . . . and the future of this little ‘shoddy’ hotel looks brighter and brighter.

The ironic thing is that this hotel’s been growing their guest count and revenues on a steady basis ever since the word started getting out with the help of an advertising man named Erik Kessels.  “It wasn’t too challenging . . . the only requirement the owner had was to help him stop the guests’ complaints”.  By embracing the very reason why people complained and RE-positioning the Hans Brinker Hotel around it . . . the very same weakness became the hotel’s #1 strength and market attractor!  That, is very, very cool.

The Extreme Experience . . . Became a Book!
the-worstThere’s now a book out that details the story of this benign little traveler’s hotel.  Yes, the story of the hotel is that much of an inspiration — even if the rooms and food and fellow guests are touted not to be so good.  Imagine.  Take an extreme position.  Find the angle to promote.  Promote it (uh, heads up folks . . . that still takes some funding to pull off!).  Enjoy the activity you generate as a result.  Amazing.  Amazing and true!


  1. Don’t try to all things to everyone  . . . BE YOURSELF — flaws and all — there’s a market for everyone . . . you just have to find it
  2. Once you’re clear about who / what YOU are . . . your ideal market will begin to be seen with increasing clarity
  3. However you position yourself, go for the EDGE . . . the EXTREME EDGE . . . to STAND OUT from the crowd of ‘me-too’ competitors
  4. If your MESSAGE is aligned with your MARKET . . . your MISSION will be ‘magical’ to the very prospects you want to attract

Until next time . . . All the best,


I just had the pleasure of interviewing Curtis Lewsey for an upcoming article I’ll be writing for The National Networker.

Curtis is the co-author of a new book:  Appreciation Marketing

He makes a great point about marketing in general.

Most marketing is about ‘getting’ something from your prospect.  A response.  A sale.  A referral.

Curtis contends there is far more value in ‘giving’ someone something that demonstrates they are important to you.

A personal note to follow-up a connection.  A personalized gift reflecting a thoughtfulness that’s all too uncommon these days.

It’s not the magnitude of your action.  It’s the thoughtfulness behind it.

A good lesson.  A timely lesson.


Learn more about Curtis’ new book Appreciation Marketing — you’ll thank me for letting you in on it!

There are two basic strategies for creating loyalty in your customers or clients.  Good pricing or good service.

Both will attract and keep customers.  But of the two, service is better.

People who are loyal to certain companies — e.g. WalMart — because of their low prices

Others are loyal to certain companies — e.g. Nordstrom’s — because of their excellent customer service.

The point is that if you choose to use low prices to build customer loyalty, you’re in a precarious position.  It’s easy to lose the ‘good price’ position in any marketplace.  Someone once said, “There’s always some idiot who’s willing to price themselves out of business faster than you are”.

I like that!  It’s also very true.

But if you position your business on ‘service’, that’s far more sustainable. It is also a safer strategy to differentiate your business or practice. And, it forces you to help people focus on the VALUE you provide rather than the PRICE you charge to enjoy it.

Let’s face it . . . if you focus on customers who want a ‘low price’ they will be loyal to your price, not you. If you focus on providing good service, customers will be loyal to you and challenges to your price will be few.

smilerBottom Line:
You can be the ‘low price’ leader . . . for a while.  Or, you can be known for ‘good service’ and ‘fair (not low) prices’.

Which approach you choose will have a huge impact on your ability to generate and sustain a profitable business operation.  THINK ABOUT IT!

If this wasn’t so true . . . so sad . . . so pathetic . . . it would be funny.

What’s TRULY pathetic . . . is that these alleged buyers are getting reinforced to ask for . . . and expect so many people — in sales and in professional capacities — to go along for the ride.

I just read in a legal marketing forum that more and more lawyers are being asked — by their clients — to ‘adjust’ their fees . . . downward.  Or, else!

If you can relate, maybe you should get back in touch with the basics of selling . . . on the value you provide, not by the hourly fee you charge.

If you’d like to know someone who can help you with this . . . talk to me.  I have a relationship with TEM Associates a leading franchisee of Sandler Training who are excellent at helping professional service providers — like you — maintain profit margins and . . . their self-respect.

Interested?  Call me and I’ll set up an introduction for you . . . 860-798-6964.

Until next time!


Some facts and figures on the Duct Tape Marketing and the Duct Tape Marketing Coach Network

• The network of Duct Tape Marketing coaches has representatives in the United States, Canada, Australia, the UK and Hungary

• The Duct Tape Marketing Book has sold over 50,000 copies in hardback, paperback and Kindle editions and has been translated into Portuguese, Thai and Korean

• The Duct Tape Marketing website receives over 10,000 unique visitors each day

• Duct Tape Marketing Content is featured by Dell, Hewlett Packard, Sage Software, SAP, Intuit, Microsoft and American Express

• John Jantsch is frequently quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and CNN Money and is a columnist for Entrepreneur magazine

• Forbes magazine calls Duct Tape Marketing their featured favorite for both small business and marketing

• The Duct Tape Marketing Blog is ranked fifth overall for marketing by the Advertising Age Power 150 and has over 130,000 RSS subscribers

• The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast was named as a “must listen” by Fast Company magazine

• Over 3,000 Ultimate Marketing Systems have been sold and more than 10,000 small business owners have worked with the Duct Tape Marketing System at some level.

• Marketing Plan Pro powered by Duct Tape Marketing is the world’s leading marketing planning software with over 5,000 copies sold annually

There’s inspiration in every day and in the most (apparently) mundane actions.

But whatever ‘it’ may be, the ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ and appreciation for things that reflect core values of being human are central to us all.



picture-30OK, I kid you not . . . this is REAL!

Bank marketing — and the messaging that is a key part of it — may never be the same again.

Enter Redneck Bank.  They decided (wow!  a conscious decision and action!) not to be another ‘pretty face’ in the crowd of banks vying for customers’ deposits.  So they broke away and are using messaging that’s appropriate to their position.  

Years ago, AVIS rental cars chose a message to help differentiate them from HERTZ rental cars.  Remember?  “We’re number 2 . . . we (have to) try harder”.  Implication.  “Hertz . . . they’re number 1 . . . they could give a hoot about you”.  That was powerful then.  It’s powerful now.  So is what Redneck Bank is doing against all the “me-too” banks.

How can you use the power of a message to help you stand out from the crowd of your competitors?  Work on that one . . . and when you get an answer, run like you-know-what with it . . . all the way to YOUR bank . . . Redneck or not!