This post is provided courtesy of my distinguished colleague, Kurian Tharakan.  Kurian lives in Edmonton, Canada (Brrr!) and is one of the newer and brighter stars of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.  I am so impressed by his experience and insight that I asked him to share some of both in today’s post.  Check out his website before you go . . . Enjoy!   


It may surprise you to know this, but most people simply do not spend every minute of every waking moment thinking about you and your amazingly wonderful product or service. It would be great if this weren’t true, but most people have other more mundane things on their minds: mortgage payments, the boss, the kids, career paths, vacation plans, in-laws, etc.

It is therefore imperative to understand that for maximized sales revenues you will have to “CUE” people to “REMEMBER” positioning and feature/benefit elements at the most critical time: THE BUYING MOMENT. Everything that happens before this only serves to “prime” the sale. THE BUYING MOMENT is the true test of your marketing campaign. As well, it will be an all-or-nothing response from the customer: either they buy or they don’t! Your advertising and promotion campaigns are meaningless if the customer cannot remember what your offer is supposed to be about at the buying moment. A classic example of this is the tale of Energizer vs. Duracell batteries.

Do you remember the cute little Energizer bunny? You know, the one beating the little drum in all those television commercials that keeps going, and going, and going, and, well, you know…going. The point is clear: Energizer batteries last a long time. However, in market research tests on memory recall, most people could not remember which brand of batteries the little bunny represented (in fact a lot of people thought it was Duracell). So at the till, where all marketing efforts are supposed to converge and produce results, the expensive promotion and advertising campaigns of Energizer weren’t being much help.

What was the solution? Aid the memory recall process. Energizer started placing a picture of its bunny on all of its battery packaging. This made it much easier for the customer to RECALL that this was the same battery advertised in all those commercials.

Always make it easy for your customer to say “yes” by not only providing critical information about the purchase decision at the right time, but also by assisting their memory recall process with memory cues.

I’m reading a research brief from The Center for Media Research . . . about the effectiveness of various marketing ‘tools’ or methods.

As you can see . . . the MOST EFFECTIVE means of generating new business opportunities are:

1.  Referrals . . . 59% of respondents agreed

2.  Networking . . . 57.4% 

2.  From Existing Clients . . . 57.4% . . . a TIE with ‘networking’

3.  Presentations or Speaking . . . 24.6%

While the world of marketing media has grown more digital and online . . . the prominence of ‘direct’ marketing . . . and building ‘personal’ relationships . . . has not gone out of favor!  Don’t forget this! 

I just received an email from a dear friend . . . Kathy Vincello who helps smaller business owners manage their finances as a QuickBooks Advisor and VFA (Virtual Financial Assistant).

Whatever you do . . . I hope you realize the IMPACT you have when you exchange value with a fellow business owner.

Here’s what she just sent to me . . . WOW!

When you stop and think about it . . . it’s so true.

I recall a very wise mentor of mine who once said, “If you can infuse the majesty of what you’re doing into the mundane  actions you’re required to do . . . you will never feel you are stuck doing ‘little’ jobs because EVERY job is . . . magnificent!”

Well said, Kathy . . . well said.  ‘-)

By the way, if you (or, someone you know!) ever needs a truly quality individual to handle your virtual bookkeeping needs . . . just call Kathy and you’ll be very glad you did . . .

To me, the word Professional means “Worthy of Trust and Respect”. Without these qualities you’re unlikely to be an effective agent of change and growth in your company.

So here are five (5) qualities that correlate with being a pro . . .


1.  Competence
You could call this ‘Knowing Your Stuff’.  And while it’s important to know enough to be competent, it’s also about being confident enough to know what you don’t know and being able to admit that.

In my first job, I felt compelled to ‘have all the answers’ . . . until a senior associate replied to a client, “Y’know that’s a good question.  I don’t have a clue . . . but let me do some digging into it and I’ll get back to you”.  After that, I found it was a ‘strength’ not a ‘weakness’ to accept and acknowledge my limits and commit to learn what I didn’t know but needed to know to grow (what else!) “more professional’ to my clients.

2.  Conviction
As the recent election showed, differences in position or opinion are perfectly acceptable.  If you prefer one candidate over another, it’s because someone had a clear position on what’s important and they didn’t compromise their values to please people or gain a short-term popularity (which you know won’t last!).

3.  Commitment
You know the term, “Keeping your word”?  Well, people do prefer to work with / support / follow people who do what they say.  As one staffer at a client told me, “I may not always agree with or like what ______ says we’re going to do, but I know she’ll do it and back me up if I do the same.  I can rely on her to create ‘no surprises’ and I really find that attractive!”

4.  Transparency
This suggests a lack of pretense and that’s what the famous JOHARI Window reveals — that organizations where people are transparent have the smallest facades and ‘blind-spots’ — two factors that correlate with highly effective organizations where communications and productivity are generally very, very high!

5.  Endorsement
This is what you DO when you ARE someone who endorses others on your staff.  I used to fly with a great pilot — John H. Phillips, USAF.  His greatest compliment to me was, “I’ve got your six”.  That was an endorsement that, if the you-know-what should hit the fan . . . I wouldn’t be alone.  That kind of support would make me march into the gates of Hell for John –– as I knew he’d do for me.   If you can instill that kind of esprit-d-corps in your staff, your competitors won’t be getting much sleep!

This post was inspired by a great post by Sharlyn Lauber  AKA the “HR Bartender”

Being a ‘professional’ isn’t what you say you are, it’s something you DO . . . and these 5 qualities are useful benchmarks to judge how well you’re doing it.

Well, here we are . . . one day after Hurricane Sandy left our area (NY/NJ/CT) but only after leaving a trail of destruction and tragedy behind her.

During this difficult time, I have received several emails that sought to ride-the-coat-tails of this significant weather event.  Most were sad attempts to be cute but, in the end, were either horrifically boorish or downright cloddish and insensitive.

A high-visibility news event offers you an opportunity to leverage the heightened focus of existing media coverage to make your message relevant by relating your message to the ‘news’ factor of the event.

Unfortunately, when a news event is a disaster — natural or man-made — there’s a significant risk you’ll be seen as ‘crass and insensitive’ if you seek to relate your message to it.  One email I received today said, “Like hurricane Sandy, our sale prices will BLOW YOU AWAY!”

Obviously, there’s a fine line between relating your message to a major news event in a positive manner and ‘going too far’ with your message.  But it can be done.

Here’s another email I received today from American Express:







As you can see, it’s very much about their interest in the well-being of myself and my family.

It’s sensitive to the potential difficulty this hurricane may have created for people living in my area.  It’s not selling.  It is a sincere reflection of regard . . . for my well-being.

It is the way you can safely piggy-back on a major news event that has the distinction of being a ‘disaster’.

Promoting yourself around a news event that is also a serious disaster is best done by focusing on your clients’ well-being and not your ‘Storm Special’ offer! 

Whether you love the tragic-comedy Lifescapades of Lindsay Lohan or not, you have to admit that she’s getting a LOT of media coverage lately.

In fact, all that media coverage has not been lost on the good people at Goodyear Tire.  Yes, the people with the blimp.

Lindsay — You’ve Got Mail!
It seems that, following the recent episode in a NYC parking garage where Ms. Lohan allegedly hit a pedestrian while attempting to park her Porsche — and the media that went nuts like a bunch of sharks in a feeding frenzy, good old Goodyear has taken it upon itself to help save the world (or, at least make it better) by offering driving lessons to Lindsay and Amanda Byrnes.

OK, That’s Funny.  But Goodyear is Totally Serious!  
How serious?  Serious enough to send her publicist an actual letter in which they offer Lindsay FREE DRIVING LESSONS with a professional driver at the Goodyear headquarters.  And, oh yes, they guarantee there will be “no paparazzi allowed”.  You can read the actual letter by clicking here

Naturally, the letter does a nice job of promoting Goodyear’s local dealers and tire products.  (Why not, it’s THEIR letter, right?).

Listening for the BUZZ . . . Attracts the GREEN!
Goodyear’s PR people were smart to jump on this ‘current event’ (Linday’s notorious driving reputation) to raise Goodyear’s AWARENESS to a nice level using the very same media who were covering Linday’s latest lifescapades in the first place!

What’s Good for Goodyear Is Good for You, Too!
If you’re lucky enough to have an in-your-face media fiasco like Linday produces predictably and periodically, you have a readily available source of inspiration for a ‘newsy’ angle on which you can build a story for your brand, company, product or service.

When you do that, you are also likely to gain the attention of the media and all the good things — increased brand awareness and probably increased website traffic (to name just two things of many!) that go with that.

PR is a great way to raise the public’s awareness of your business and brand.  The secret to PR that doesn’t end up lining birdcages in Baltimore is to piggy-back off of some highly touted and visible event that everyone seems to know about and leverage that media coverage into a highly visible PR opportunity for you.

There is a wise and seasoned professional colleague of mine . . . named Kyle Hunt.

Kyle’s based in Michigan and he’s the owner of Remodel Your Marketing.  He specializes in working exclusively with clients who are  in the remodeling business and related trades — painters, carpenters, builders, electricians . . . well, you get the idea.

Kyle is undoubtedly one of THE best marketing advisors to trades people that I know.

Kyle is someone who ‘Walks his Talk’.  He practices what he preaches to his clients.  And there’s great wisdom in how he does that.

One of the basic marketing objectives is to seek to be attractive . . . to the kind of people you want as clients.  And, of course, the corollary to that would be to know the kind of person you do NOT want to attract.  That suggests you should have an ‘Ideal Client Profile’.

Your Ideal Client Profile
Often, when we talk about a ‘profile’, we mean the demographic and psychographic factors that correlate highly with the kind of people who can best understand what we do, desire the benefits we offer, afford the fees we must charge and (sooner or later) buy what we offer.

This is NOT that kind of profile.

The profile I want to introduce to you now — and use Kyle’s own profile (below) as an excellent example — is more of a profile that allows your prospects to self-qualify or, self-DISqualify themselves as being viable candidates to work with you.

Below you can see the “7 Characteristics” that Kyle uses to help people determine if they might be a good ‘fit’ for Kyle and vice versa.

Knowing WHO you do NOT want to work with is as important as knowing who you do. Effective marketing honors the truth that . . . “You can’t be all things to all people”.

So Kyle brilliantly just ‘puts it out there’ for all to see and use to determine if they’re even QUALIFIED to be one of Kyle’s clients.

It’s not hubris to do this, it’s brilliance!

When you know who you want (or, don’t!) as a client . . . and can communicate that to others . . . you’re far more likely to end up with clients you’ll like! 

I’m compelled to comment on something I’m noticing with an increasing and alarming regularity.

It’s a variation on the biological imperative to choose, when faced with a serious threat to your life, between ‘flight’ or ‘fight’.

As we’re now well into the second half of 2012, I’m observing that a number of smaller business owners are making a decision (intentionally or not) on how they’re responding to the challenge of our rather challenging economy.

Basically, there are two (2) camps of thinking that seem to be emerging:

1.  owners who are ‘doing nothing new’ to build their business, and

2.  owners who are choosing to ‘do something’ to build their business in this economy

If you’re choosing to ‘hunker down’ and ‘stay the course’ in the hope that you’ll ‘survive the storm’ you are making a risky choice between action and in-action. If you have a lot of money in savings, you may be able to afford to exercise that choice.  But not all of us have that option.  Even worse, many owners are exercising the ‘do nothing new’ option — whether they can afford to or not.

Other owners who decide, as Hamlet once said, “To take arms against a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them . . .” regardless of their resources, are far more likely to not only survive the economic conditions we’re in at the moment but thrive better than most when it ends, as well.

Quick diversion . . . when I was a pilot-in-training


there were certain times (during instrument flight training) that you learn you must ‘trust the instruments, NOT your body’.  Why?  Absent visual cues (like the horizon) when you’re ‘in the clouds’, your equilibrium becomes unreliable very quickly.

You ‘feel’ like you’re leaning to your right side so you ‘correct’ to the left.  That ‘feels’ correct — to your body. In fact, you ‘feel’ you’re flying ‘straight’.  But you’re not.  You’re actually in a left bank and turning to the left rather than proceeding on a straight course.

Eventually, relying on your ‘feelings’ rather than your instruments, you’ll find yourself in what is known to pilots as the ‘graveyard spiral’.  Your shallow turn to the left actually reduces your aircraft’s lift factor (it’s aerodynamic stuff and I won’t bore you with that!) and, as a result, you begin to lose altitude.

Whether you can read your instruments for instrument flight conditions or not, even beginning pilots learn to watch their altitude / altimeter.

When you notice you’re losing altitude, the ‘obvious’ response is to “pull back’ on the stick or yoke.  When you’re in level flight, that raises your plane’s nose and makes your aircraft climb.  Hence, you gain altitude.

But once you’re in a turn, however slight, pulling back on the stick only tightens your turn. Ironically, that ‘feels’ the same (to your body) as when you’re climbing — you feel yourself being pushed down into your seat.  But it’s not gravity making you ‘feel’ that sensation; it’s centrifugal force (you’re in a turn, remember?).

At this point, non-instrument trained, inexperienced pilots notice that they’re losing altitude more rapidly.  So they ‘pull back’ on the stick (again!) hoping to re-gain valuable altitude.  But it seems to work in exactly the opposite manner.  The more they ‘correct’ for their altitude loss, the more altitude they’re actually losing!

Eventually, this becomes a viscious cycle that makes the aircraft (and, the hapless pilot and any unfortunate passengers) enter such a tight turn that either the aircraft suffers structural damage and is lost or, the plane is flown all the way down into the ground (or, the sea as happened to John F. Kennedy, Jr off Martha’s Vineyard, MA a few years ago).

OK, back to 2012’s ‘interesting’ economy . . .

If you, like most of us in entrepreneur-land, find this economy isn’t the same as it was a few years ago (AKA ‘The Good Old Days’), your response to it may not be all that different than the pilot who doesn’t understand the ‘best’ course of action under deteriorating flight conditions.

Today, while the ‘natural’ inclination of many business owners and solopreneurs is to ‘do nothing’ different than you have done in the past, I submit that may be just as deadly as pilots who do the wrong thing at the wrong time in flight.

What is called for now is action, not IN-action.  But appropriate action.  And that would be . . . to proactively market your business in a manner that reflects:

1. a candid, honest understanding of your business — strengths AND weaknesses,
2. the marketplace you seek to attract and serve, and
3. a proven and systematic plan for taking coordinated actions to build your business or practice services . . . effectively

Doing ‘no thing’ IS a decision.  And, it may be the best decision you can make. At times.  But it’s usually not a deliberate decision as much as it’s a default decision because many of us are simply not being proactive about the ‘sea of troubles’ on the horizon that are waiting for anyone who’s in business in 2012.

My Respectful Recommendation . . . Do Something . . . By Design, Not Accident

As tempting as it is to ‘do nothing’ and ‘hope this economic storm blows over’ that strategy is just as deadly to your business as a ‘graveyard spiral’ is to an inexperienced pilot.

As difficult . . . scary . . . unsettling . . . makes-me-feel-like-throwing-up . . . as it may ‘feel’ to you . . . DO SOMETHING to make your business what you want it to be . . . by design, not accident.

Staying the course, given the current economy, is probably not the best course of action you can take these days.  Remember the old saying, “Doing what you’ve always done isn’t going to get you anything different”.  Today, that can also get you killed.  Times have changed.  We must change, too.  Or, suffer the consequences.

Doing what you did to build your business in the past may need some adjustments to make your business remain successful in these turbulent days.

Yes, you risk making a mistake when you do something new.  And none of us want to make mistakes.  But remember that doing nothing is still a decision to do something — ‘nothing’.  And doing ‘nothing’ has it’s own consequences — positive and negative.  But they’re not consequences you’re creating.  They’re consequences you’re being forced to accept because you’re abdicating your personal responsibility to make decisions and take actions critical to your own success.

No one has ‘all the answers’ to this economy or the best ways to respond to it for your business.  But please . . . don’t do no-thing because you didn’t already consider doing some-thing else.  At least make doing no-thing a deliberate and thoughtfully considered decision.  It might be the correct course of action for you and your business.  But for many, like Hamlet said, “taking arms against a sea of troubles . . .” will be far more likely to end them.

So . . . do your homework . . . seek the counsel of your trusted advisors . . . then do some-thing to market your business or practice.  Yes, even if it is no-thing.  But do it deliberately.  You and your business will come through these challenging times and yes, you WILL be better for it when (not if) the economy eventually improves.

Life is what YOU make it.  Choose wisely.  Act decisively.  And, enjoy success . . . because you’re worth it! 

Do you know what 90% of your prospects and customers do? They ROBO.

So what does ROBO stand for?

Research Online to Buy Offline and it’s one of the most important dynamics that local business needs to understand in order to gain a competitive local advantage.

In conjunction with Small Business Week in the United States Duct Tape Marketing Founder, John Jantsch is presenting a live webcast where he’ll present . . .

5 Ways to Use Your Online Presence to Drive People Into Your Stores Meetings Presentations and Offices.

We’ll stream the event from a recording studio with multiple cameras and slides so the experience will be a lot like attending an in person event at a conference.

The event is being held Wednesday, May 23rd at Noon, EST 

You can join the thousands of small business marketers that tune in via the web, or . . .  you can join a group of CT businesspeople hosted by Farmington Bank and SellMore Marketing — your Duct Tape Marketing Consultant in your area.

Either way, this is must know information for local businesses.


When you enroll you will automatically receive the recorded version after the event — even if you can’t attend in-person!

Every contact you make with a client or prospective client is a ‘Moment of Truth’.

You either make or break it . . . depending on how well you respond to the situation.

Much like our friend here on the right . . .

A Tail of Getting It Right
Recently, we had to take one of our cats to the Veterinarian for a dental cleaning.  While we love and trust our Veterinarian, we were a little apprehensive about this procedure because our pet would need to be anesthetized.

As a safety measure, our Vet did need to draw blood to analyze it as a way to make sure our cat could safely undergo the anesthesia and the dental procedure.  We expected that.

Surprise! . . . It  Isn’t Always a Good Thing
When we picked up our beloved Jake at the end of the day we got a surprise.  Actually a couple of them!  The bill for the dental cleaning was significantly higher than we expected.  Only a few months earlier, his sister Jasmine had her teeth cleaned and the bill was about half of what we were being charged for Jake.

The fee, while a surprise, didn’t concern us as much as the basis for the fee.  It seems there was more than one blood test performed.  That made us question if something had been ‘discovered’ from the first blood test that suggested a problem with Jake’s health.  In addition to that, there was a charge for “ICU services” and ‘hydration with lactated Ringers Solution’ that seemed odd and created a lot of consternation in my wife and I.

After sharing our concerns with our Vet and her practice manager, our fears about Jake’s health were allayed and the billing was adjusted.  Why?  Because it was the ‘right thing’ to do.  As a result, we’re even more pleased with our Veterinarian and her practice manager.

Look, things do happen.  That’s life.  But remember — it’s what you do AFTER things occur that is most telling about Y-O-U.

When The Bloom Goes BUST!
Also this week, a new garden shop opened in my town.  

They managed to get a nice piece written up and published in a local paper. The former owner had passed away.  A subsequent buyer tried to rekindle the magic but shut the doors within a year.  So now this newest owner seemed to suggest a ‘turnaround’ was about to happen.

Hello?  Is Anyone There?
The Garden Center’s ‘Grand Opening’ was last Sunday.   On Tuesday, my wife called to find out their operating hours.  No one answered the phone.  No machine.  Nothing.  So she went there to buy some products for the garden. Incredibly, there was no one at this ‘brand new’ Garden Center.  It was locked.  No staff.  Nothing.

Joyce then proceeded to go to a nearby competitor and bought what she needed.  When she told me what happened, she concluded with, “. . . and if they think they’ll ever see my money, they have another thing coming!”.  They lost a customer before they were open a week!

Good management is the basis for great marketing.  Promoting a firm that makes a customer or client mad, sad or scared is a guaranteed road to ruin!