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!


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!

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.

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.


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,


untitledOn Saturday I was with a fellow business owner whose business has, after a very profitable and productive lifetime, reached the proverbial end of the road.  

Out of human decency, I’m not going to identify this business.  That’s not why I’m posting this.  

The owners are a husband and wife.  The business was started by her parents.  Then it was passed on the to next generation.  The wife recognized my wife and me when we came in the store.  She had tears in her eyes. The recent economy has hit their target market pretty hard.  They offer an upscale service.  Apparently, even the ‘deep pockets’ out there are holding on to their money.  That’s killed the business.  The market crash and credit tightening has caused this situation to become untenable.

I feel badly for this couple.  They’re really wonderful people.  

Tonight on the evening news, Brian Williams had a story about the people in Elkhart, IN who, as a town, have had their financial legs cut out from under them due to economic changes.

Signs of the times we’re living in.  It’s not nice.  Not easy.  

My argument . . . ALWAYS be asking, “What business am I in?”  and be ready to adapt!

I just discovered a business called Snip-Its.


It’s a childrens hair salon designed to make getting your child’s hair cut a truly fun adventure.

It began when Joanna Meiseles, (the granddaughter of the famous Hollywood comedy star, Jack benny!) wanted to find a way to make getting a child’s hair cut something that won’t make you want to pull your hair out at the same time.

In The Marketing Club, we constantly seek to help you align the way you do business with the expectations of the market segment/s you want to attract as clients.  That’s ALIGNMENT.

In Joanna’s case, her target demographic is a child. And what do kids love more than anything else?  Yep.  Having fun!

So Joanna has created a themed environment that, from the moment you walk into it, screams ‘FUN’!

Her staff are trained specifically to be able to understand and respond to the unique needs of younger children.  Joanna also created a cast of characters who make getting your hair cut a truly fun experience.

Does this cause Snip-Its to stand out . . . to be differentiated . . . from any plain old hair salon?

What do you think?  (Of course it does!)

Click here . . . and see for yourself what a great example of ALIGNMENT looks like when it’s done well and with a passion!

In Session #2 of The Marketing Club, we discuss this issue in far greater depth and detail.  

But what it comes down to is this . . . “Who REALLY cares about the BENEFICICIAL DIFFERENCE you can create for them with your business product or service?”

For example, consider someone I call “The Midnight Dentist”.  dentistThis is a dentist who, upon graduation from Dental School, decided that he didn’t want to join an existing dental practice as a ‘junior associate’ and hope to (one day!) become a partner.

Only problem is, equipping a fully-equipped dental office and operatory is rather expensive.  Far more so than our ‘Dr. Midnight’ had to invest while struggling to pay off the student loans he incurred during college and dental school.

Solution?  He goes to a local dental group with a great proposition.  “Let me use your office ‘after hours’.  I’ll pay you a percentage of my billings as rent”.  The ‘daytime’ dentists realized they were making no money ‘after hours’ so they agreed.  

Then, Dr. Midnight approaches the local factories and tells the employees “I’m a dentist who specializes in people who work second shift and know what hard work is . . . and I’m open from midnight to 6 AM!”.  

Long story short, the young dentist soon had a thriving practice working with largely 2nd shift factory workers who he knew these factory workers, “. . . can never  find a dentist who’s willing to accommodate our work schedule!”  

Oh yes.  Market research?  Dr. Midnight’s father worked second shift in an auto factory in Michigan!  See, researching your ideal market pays off when you want to attract it to you!

A little odd?  OK, I’ll grant you that.  But seriously . . . look at the lesson here:  if you find a market that you’re suited to work with and you can communicate why you’re attractive to the members of that market . . . you’ll probably do very, very well!”

If you’d like to learn more about how to identify and attract your ‘ideal’ market for your business, products and services . . . come to one of our weekly webinars on the topic.  You’ll be under no obligation to do anything other than show up and, I hope, learn something of value to you.