There’s such a DIFFERENCE!

Skilled Expert:  Going DEEP
Like most of us, you probably began your working career in some field — e.g. law, accounting, financial planning, etc. and developed a professional reputation and regard for ‘knowing your stuff’.  Expertise in your primary field is a foundation . . . on which to build your professional reputation and regard.  But it’s not enough if you aspire to build a long-term, trusted advisor relationship with your clients.

Valued Advisor:  Going WIDE
Building on the foundation of being really, really good at what you do — i.e. ‘solving problems for your clients’ —  you’ll next want to gain knowledge that is not directly applicable to the field of your primary expertise.

The primary value — to you — of gaining an education about topics outside of your primary expertise is so that you can see things from an entirely different perspective — unlike a skilled expert who ‘knows it all’ . . . and not much else.

An Example:  “Learning To Fly”
Some years ago I had the privilege of learning how to fly.  Fortunately, I also had the aptitude to do so effectively.  While not critical to my later work as an advisor to salespeople and managers in the financial services industry, my pilot training proved to be an ‘edge’ that other ‘equally skilled’ experts did not enjoy.

At one point, an agency manager I was working with asked me, “How will I know that my training of a producer on some skill was adequate?”  What he really wanted to know was, “When can I ‘stop worrying’ about my producer and ‘assume’ she’s developed the competency I’ve been training her to have?”.

It was a good question.  Fairly common, too.  Because of my earlier flight training, I recalled — and shared — what I learned on the day I ‘soloed’ my training aircraft.

Aviation Navigation and E-6 Flight Computer

It was a cold January day in New England.  Snow squalls were coming in from the west.  Grey, overcast day.  The kind you like to think about while you’re on a Caribbean cruise!

“Today’s your lucky day, Bill!”
My flight instructor had me doing the usual take-offs and landings (known as ‘touch-and-go’) in the airport’s landing pattern.  Nothing too eventful.  I felt I was doing OK.  “Make the next landing a ‘Full Stop’ . . .”  I wasn’t sure why.  I soon found out, though!

We taxied back to the hangar area.  My instructor opened the door and said, “Bill . . . you’re ready . . . do three take-offs and make a ‘full stop’ after each.  Taxi back to the active (runway) and do it again.  I’ll be watching you from the hangar . . . don’t worry, you’ll be fine.  Now GO!”  With that, he got out of the aircraft and walked off toward the hangar area.  I was not expecting that!  But I felt excited at the thought that today I would fly the aircraft all by myself.  Woo hoo!

The three take-offs and landings were (with one exception) ‘uneventful’ and (obviously) successful.  After my third landing I taxied back to the hangar area.  I got out of the aircraft and asked my instructor, “How did you know TODAY . . . was THE day to let me ‘go solo’?”

He told me, “Well, I sit in the right seat and I observe you.  I want to see if you’re able to hold a steady heading and altitude.  If you do, that’s evidence of your SKILL.  If you stop holding either one, I want to see if you notice.  If you do, that’s evidence of your AWARENESS.  Finally, I watch to see if you correct the situation by using the controls and power to restore your heading and altitude.  If you do, that’s evidence of your MASTERY.  Once I know that you can:

1.  make the aircraft do what it’s supposed to be doing,
2.  spot it when it’s not, and
3.  correct in a timely manner . . .

you really don’t need me to sit in the ‘right seat’ and today . . . you demonstrated all three factors so . . . I got out of your way of becoming the pilot I know you’re going to be”.

Wow!  That was brilliant.  I shared both that story as well as the lesson it taught me . . . with my agency client.  Technically speaking, learning to fly had ‘nothing’ to do with getting his producer to generate more revenues for the practice.

But it had a lot to do with helping my client become more effective as an agency manager whose success reflected the quality of skills his producers were learning from him –– just as my own piloting skills reflected my talented and caring flight instructor from many years before.

Go deep AND wide.  Deep = expertise in your primary field.  Wide = broadening experiences in other (often unrelated!) fields. You’ll be more of a Valued Advisor and . . . more difficult to replace!

Qualifying imageThe second function in your client development process is . . . QUALIFYING.

Having The Right People Is a Good Thing
As you know, the real difference between your potential and your profits are the people you serve.

In terms of people, there are two key factors you’ll want to use to help you decide who is ‘qualified’ to take your time, money and energy for your business or practice.

1.  Can someone BUY the products and services you offer?
2.  Can Someone REFER or INTRODUCE you to people who can?

That’s it.  Don’t make this complicated, my friend!

“Can You Buy From Me?”
This is an obvious criterion.  If you’re not connecting regularly with people who will, sooner or later, want the kind of products and services you offer, you’ll never generate any revenues.  And that’s unacceptable.  So knowing whether someone can buy what you offer is a key to your success.

“Can You Refer People To Me Who Can Buy My Products or Services?”
Next to finding you have a viable prospect for your products and services, learning that someone is willing and able to refer people to you (or, introduce you) to people who can best understand, desire and afford the services you offer, is the next best thing.

People who are referring others to you are demonstrating their TRUST and RESPECT in you. That’s not to be taken lightly. Nor is it earned easily!

Ideally, you want to find people who will both BUY and REFER.  But at least one of these two criteria is required to have someone ‘qualify’ to get into your Client Development System.

So Again . . . WHY Are You Qualifying People?
Building your business or practice requires clients –– and the revenues they suggest.  Clients come from people who’ve come to know, like and trust you.  Some of these people may need your services themselves.  Others, for any number of reasons, may not need the products and services you offer.  But they may still be able to refer people to you who will.

Regardless of what someone may be able to do for your ‘bottom line’ . . . if you can’t see how they can help you by buying and/or referring you to others who can . . . you don’t let them ‘in’ your Client Development System.  Period.

Building relationships is the basis for building revenues.  However, if you’re working with people who cannot (or, will not) buy from you and/or refer to you . . . you’re burdening your social relationships with a business expectation that’s simply not going to happen. Don’t do it!

So it’s a NEW YEAR . . . and you may have made a resolution to use your social networks more in 2012 than you did in 2011.  Good for you!

Keep It Simple . . . Join Groups and Discussions / Make Comments and New Friends
While there are many things you could do to leverage LinkedIn, a very basic (i.e. easy-to-do) tactic that is also highly effective is to:

1.  Join / Explore relevant groups that interest you
2.  Observe what people are talking about in the group’s Discussions
3.  Comment when you feel you have something to contribute
4.  Follow-up any meaningful response with a direct message
5.  Invite the other person to connect with you

This is a very basic and DO-able process that will help you build your LinkedIn network with people whom you have connected to in a meaningful manner.

An Example:
Recently, I saw a post by someone in a group where I’m a member, made a comment and received a very nice response.

Here’s a follow-up message I received from another (new) connection after we connected on LinkedIn:

This happens far more often than most people realize. If you’re so inclined to grow your LinkedIn network, do it gradually.  Set a goal to find and comment on someone’s post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  When someone responds, if it feels right to do so, invite them to connect — and cite the common connection you both shared.  Slowly but surely your LinkedIn network will grow — as will the opportunities your LinkedIn community generates for your business or practice.

Growing Your LinkedIn Connections isn’t hard . . . just do the ‘basics’ consistently! 

Occasionally, far too rarely actually, I come across a truly brilliant marketing campaign that benefits not only the marketer but everyone else involved.

Enter . . .  the Fourth Annual Holiday Feed It Forward™ campaign of

Here’s the Deal . . . 
Each year around the holidays, enables anyone to ‘give away’ $10 Gift Certificates to anyone they like . . . as a gift . . . absolutely FREE!

How / Why It Works . . . is a firm that helps roughly 18,000 restaurants generate customers. It does this by allowing people like you and me to buy its ‘gift certificates’ at a discount and these 18,000 restaurants honor the ‘face’ value of each certificate.  The restaurants get more traffic, consumers get a good value (and, hopefully a good meal) and gets a nominal fee for each transaction

That’s smart.  Afterall, each participating restaurant only incurs a ‘cost’ of sales (the discount and fee) when this promotional tactic actually pays off.  I love anything that changes the ‘pay now and pray later’ marketing media into one you only need to pay for when it actually works!  That’s what does — very nicely.

The 2012 Holiday Gift-Away . . .
For the last four years, to help all the parties in the equation — restaurants and consumers — Cary Chessik, CEO of has allowed anyone to give a ‘gift’ of $10 to people they know as a simple act of ‘feeding it forward’.

This is altruism and commercialism as it helps Cary’s restaurant clients by putting ‘butts in the seats’ for them.  At the same time, it provides people like you and me with an opportunity to say, “Thanks” to many people in our lives in what may find this is a time that’s more financially difficult for more people than we may ever know.

It’s 100% legit — I’ve used this myself already — and I hope you would use this opportunity to give a $10 Gift Card to up to 40 people each day between now and Christmas.

Marketing makes a difference in the lives of people by connecting us all.  Use this ‘Feed It Forward’ opportunity to do the same with people in your world . . . all you’ll feel is good . . . and appreciated! 

Listen Up!  Marketers talk incessantly about ‘The Funnel’ . . . the iconic image that suggests the ‘Prospect Pathway’ that begins with a ‘lead’ and ends with ::::::drumroll:::::: a customer or client.

The problem is, this is so myopic!  The notion of a ‘funnel’ implies that, once you reach the bottom and generate a customer, the process is over.  FAR FROM IT!!

The FUNNEL . . . Isn’t Really A Funnel Afterall
In your business the ‘event’ of making a sale to a new customer or client marks the end of the initial ‘chase’.  But it also marks (or, should!) the beginning of the ‘real’ relationship between your firm and your new client.

The Story of The Daily Rose
I have a cousin — Bill Murphy of Washington, DC.  He’s quite the fellow.  His wife, Sharon is quite the lady, too.  They have a big, wonderful family and operate a foundation (Mary House) in ‘the city’ that provides homes to families who have been battered by bad spouses or cruel governments (think Bosnian refugees). President Bush even recognized Bill as one his ‘1,000 points of light’.  So yeah, he’s a cool guy.

But here’s why Sharon and Bill have such a great relationship.  Every day, and I mean EVERY day since they were married (and they’re grandparents now, too!) . . . Bill gives Sharon ::::drumroll:::: a single rose.

There’s Light at The End of The Tunnel
What Bill recognizes is that there’s a BIG difference between a ‘wedding’ (one-day, one-time event) and a ‘marriage’ (the ongoing, day-in, day-out stuff!).

Getting married isn’t that difficult.  The challenge is to honor the relationship you’ve started . . . so you stay married!  Like Bill and Sharon Murphy of Mary House in DC.

The Lesson to Take-Away 
Like a marriage, the relationship you formalize with a new client  (marked by an ‘event’  — i.e. the first sale) holds the FUTURE POTENTIAL to give you many, many more sales.  IF . . . you’ll honor and cultivate the relationship you’ve started with your new client.

That may not  require a daily rose (but what a great idea, no?). But it does mean nurturing your relationships with clients, prospects and COI’s, too.

Keeping those who have demonstrated that they value what you offer . . . keeping them thinking of you first, foremost and most favorably the NEXT time they need what you offer . . . is what relationship building is all about.

The Duct Tape Marketing ‘hourglass . . . is our image that recognizes there’s far more than a single sale involved . . . there’s a lifetime of repeat sales . . . waiting for you if you just honor the relationships you start.

This is either:

A) a really bad trip on an illicit drug
B) a ‘worm hole’ somewhere in Space
C) what Alice saw upon entering Wonderland
D)  a Marketing Hourglass — top view looking down

The answer is . . . “who really knows?”

Personally, I like to think it’s a worm hole in Space!

Like a worm hole, the Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass™ suggests that one side of the funnel, is going to be a mirror image of what you’d find on the other side.

The Traditional Funnel
The typical sales / marketing funnel is depicted as being wide at the top and narrowing at the bottom. That metaphor suggests how you put a lot of prospects in the top of the funnel — thanks to your lead-generation tactics — and then work those leads until you ‘squeeze’ clients out of the other end.

Duct Tape Marketing’s Upper Funnel
In our Duct Tape Marketing hourglass, we have a ‘mirror-image’ or ‘double’ funnel.  It recognizes that you go to work getting people to know you, like you relative to your competitors and trust you (your brand) sufficiently to try you — i.e. find a way to work with you at some level involving, initially, no or little risk.

Duct Tape Marketing’s Lower Funnel
Once you have a client, our funnel continues — to expand — suggesting your new client relationship is adding to a growing base of brand advocates and referral partners whose lifetime value to your firm is realized in the form of up-sells, cross-sells and re-sells as well as referrals to others who can best understand, value and afford your services.

Our marketing hourglass vs. the traditional sales funnel  focuses intensely on building relationships as well as transactions.  If you do that, you’ll generate more revenues!

This approach also requires special attention to the use of systems and processes that move your prospects along the path of know, like, trust, try, buy, refer and return.

In The Last Year . . . Have You Referred Us to Others?

There’s an old adage, “Actions Speak Louder Than Words”.  I like this one, too: “Clients Vote With Their Wallets”.  Both are very true.

The value of knowing that your clients are referring you to others / others to you is a SYMPTOM or EVIDENCE of how well you’re performing for your clients and how committed your clients are to you.

No business will please everyone 100% of the time.  But you can assess your performance periodically and use the likelihood of clients referring you as a benchmark of the experience you offer your clients.

Frederick Reicheld, a partner in the prestigious consulting firm Bain & Company, developed what he calls the Net Promoter Score.  This is a metric reflecting the overall effect you’ll enjoy (or, suffer!) based on how many of your clients will (net of those who won’t) promote you and your business to people in their networks of influence.

Learn your Net Promoter Score . . . and make it move ever higher! 

Emil Brolick, the new CEO of the fast-food restaurant chain Wendy’s,  has some excellent observations on his new position and the challenges he’ll be facing as the CEO.

Vision . . . is Always a ‘Good Start’ 
“A leader has to bring a vision to an organization . . .” Agreed.  But you also need the strategies to achieve the vision or your vision won’t happen and your staff will feel disengaged very quickly.

Keep Your People Focused and Involved 
I’m fond of saying, “The difference between your people and your profit is their performance.” Management is often defined as, “Getting things done through other people”.  Those ‘other people’ are your staff.

Communicate Your Expectations
If other people are to help you carry out your strategies, they must ‘buy in’ to your vision. They must also understand — and that’s your responsibility — what their roles require and how they support the achievement of the strategic vision you have created for your business.

Appreciate Your Employees
As the leader of your firm you want to recognize your staff as the essential asset they are. Also, make sure they know that the performance of the business reflects their collective performance. “All for one and one for all” is very true.

Brolick says it well . . . “A leader has to define reality and give hope”.  Amen, Emil! 

“I don’t know” isn’t the end of the world
When I was starting out in business, I was reluctant to tell a prospect, “I don’t know” when I was asked a question about how taxes, policy provisions or  business law would affect them.

As I ‘matured’ in my career, I learned to get real — real comfortable admitting, “I don’t know” to many of the questions I was being asked.

Be ‘OK’ being ‘Not-OK’
Social psychologists have proven over and over again that your ability to openly acknowledge that you are NOT perfect . . . that you don’t have all the answers . . . actually makes you more attractive to a prospective client.

Seek to demonstrate . . . “Credible Candor”
The fact is . . . your ‘trustworthiness’ factor goes up whenever you exhibit what I call, “Credible Candor”.  This means you say, when it’s true, “I don’t know”.  This makes you more ‘real’ (i.e. less ‘plastic’) and, therefore highly attractive to prospects.  Just be sure you add something like, “. . . but I’ll make sure I find out for you!”.

What you DO is more telling than anything you might SAY to a prospect or client.  Behavior that reveals you’re not perfect in every way – makes you seem  even more perfect to others.

Be Human . . . you’ll reveal your imperfections . . . and become more attractive 


I just read a great post by a Marcus Sheriden.  Marcus is in the pool & spa business serving the VA and MD area. He’s been through some rough times in the last few years.  He was embezzled out of over $200K in 2005, the economy tanked in ’08 and (oh, yes!) the IRS  actually put a lien on his home to help ‘get his attention’.

Inbound Marketing . . . to the rescue
In 2009, Marcus started using Hubspot to attract interested people to his website.  And his business is doing very well — even though many others in his industry have closed their doors.  He owes it all to learning how to be a business that attracts prospects to him — AKA ‘Inbound Marketing’ and using the Hubspot platform to do that easily and effectively.

The Magic Number: “30 Page Views”
Marcus discovered something very interesting using Hubspot’s built-in website analytics.  Specifically, he’s seen a positive correlation between:

•  the number of website pages someone visits, and
•  their propensity to buy a pool from him

Marcus learned that if a prospective client has at least 30 unique ‘page views’ they present his company with an 80% or better chance of buying a pool.  And with over 600 pools sold and installed by his company, Marcus’ insight is worth noting!

The more familiar prospects are with your business, the more likely they are to buy