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With one foot in ICE water and one foot in BOILING water . . . on the average . . . you should be pretty comfortable!”

One of the things I remember from my college statistics class was that an ‘average‘ is a theoretical construct abstracted from empirical reality.

Practically speaking, it doesn’t reflect in any accurate way what’s really going on in your world — i.e. ’empirical reality’.

“Statistics Lie”
That’s 100% Incorrect. Statistics don’t lie any more than guns kill people.   But people do use them to present reality in a way that may invite you to either misunderstand or (more likely!) misperceive the ’empirical reality’ that they’re based upon.

The 80 / 20 Rule — AKA “Pareto’s Principle”
Pareto was the Italian economist who first suggested that “80% of any result is generated by about 20% of the effort required to get it”.  This ‘rule’ of input and output has been applied to almost everything.  In business, you often hear, “80% of your profits comes from 20% of your clients”.  That’s accurate — until you dig deeper!

Pareto’s Principle reflects a Statistical AVERAGE Not an Empirical Reality!
In advertising, you hear, “50% of every dollar spent is wasted” followed by the collorary “So I have to spend a buck to see any value”.  That’s consistent with the “80/20 Rule” — only in that case, it’s more like the “50/50 Rule”!

Even if the 80/20 rule is ‘technically correct’, it can be ‘practically in-correct’.  Why?  Because is SIMPLIFIES the situation and that is what causes the 80/20 rule to be dangerous if you take it on face value.

Pareto was a Pessimist!
What I mean is that when you examine which of your clients are contributing to your ‘bottom line’, you may find what MIT lecturer, Jonathan Byrnes points out in his book “Islands of Profit in a Sea of Red Ink“.  Byrnes argues that your practice has a relatively few ‘super profitable clients’ who cover for the ‘grossly un-profitable ones’.  So while the 80/20 Rule may appear to be true, in reality, your profits are more likely to reflect the “99.9 / 0.01 Rule”.

KEY POINT:
Identify your SUPER PROFITABLE clients and cultivate relationships with them! 

When you think about what makes for a valued relationship between two people, I think EMPATHY has to be a key factor.

Empathy Invites Emotional Engagement and Commitment
Jane Wurwand, Founder of Dermalogica wrote an article and cited author, Daniel Pink who argues that empathy is a right-brain quality.  Jane feels empathy is more ‘feminine’ than ‘masculine’ and it’s why, more often than not, highly successful business people seem to possess this quality and exercise it liberally.

Empathy Is a Key Factor in Business Success
Wurwand’s article reminds us of how both the masculine quality of ‘assertive energy’ as well as the feminine quality of ‘connective energy’ are necessary for reaching effective decisions and building consensus to implement them effectively.

Gertrude Bell’s Legacy:  Rim-Walker
Gertrude Bell was woman ahead of her time.  A graduate of Oxford University in England, she was an advisor to Arab kings, European heads of state and spoke several dialects of Arabic.

Her ability to connect with her clients was incredible.  She knew how her clients saw the world because she lived as they did.  After graduating from Oxford, she learned Arabic by living with the Bedouin tribes in North Africa for several years.  When King Faisal of Iraq (it was 1921) sought her counsel, she not only understood Arab culture, she spoke his language.

If western culture was in one ‘bowl’ and arab culture was in another, Ms. Bell was able to ‘walk the rims’ of each — seeing what both had  to offer (or, protect!).  Her role as advisor and liaison to powerful world leaders resulted from her being highly effective at providing empathetic counsel and using it to gain consensus from extremely disparate parties.

What You Can Learn From Happy Clients
Ask clients of highly regarded / desired advisors, “What do you like most about your advisor?”.  They’ll tell you.  Usually, it’s some variation on “S/he understands our business, our culture, our industry, our competitors but most of all . . . me”.

This makes it easy to ensure any recommendations you may make will be more acceptable and more likely to be implemented. But it all hinges on your ability to understand your client’s world, hopes, fears, concerns and desires.

KEY POINT:  
Get out of your world long enough to get into your clients’ world and business

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.

KEY POINT:
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!

doctor patient meetingTheoretically, you could walk into a Best Buy store and buy a Sony flat-screen TV.  The location of the store really doesn’t matter.  The salesperson who helps you shouldn’t matter, either.  And THAT . . . is a big reason why Best Buy refers to the people it serves as ‘customers’ and not ‘clients’.

It’s a Matter of Balance
When the solution being sold is more or less understood and tangible in nature — like a flat-screen TV is a ‘solution’ to not experiencing the Super Bowl in an exciting manner — it’s easy to see that buyers of that solution are more likely to be viewed as ‘customers’ than ‘clients’.

But when the solution being sold is more reflective of the applied expertise and insight of the provider of a problem-solving service — like the physician counseling her patient in the above image  . . . then the relationship is less ‘customer’ and more ‘client’.

Advisors . . . Have Clients, Not Customers
When a solution requires an accurate assessment and expert insight into the buyer’s needs and situation . . . as well as the technical aspects of the solution being rendered . . . the relationship is decidely more ‘client’ than ‘customer’.

Consider the fact that if you were about to undergo a surgical procedure, you might be unhappy if you discovered — as you’re being wheeled into surgery — that your regular doctor had to leave on a personal emergency and ‘some other’ doctor would be performing your surgery.  Granted, the ‘other doc’ is licensed by the state to practice medicine and has staff privileges at the hospital but the fact that you don’t know WHO this replacement doctor is . . . might be unsettling to you.

KEY POINT:
It’s your personal relationship with someone — as well as the technical expertise of whatever solution you offer — that makes you an advisor. And the people who seek you out for the solutions they want and you offer . . . are clients rather than customers.

Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
One of many changes I’ve seen this year is the movement toward marketing that focuses on ‘Inbound’ strategies and tactics vs. ‘outbound’ strategies and tactics.

It’s kind of cute . . . but also accurate to depict the ‘old’ with the ‘new’ marketing along the lines of the famous Apple vs. PC commercials . . . Enjoy!

OUT is ‘Out’ and IN is ‘In’
In 2012, we live in a robust web-based world — based on the fact that tweets, texts, email on your smartphone, and even McDonald’s has free WIFI.  You may or may not like that but . . . you can’t really ignore it, either.

The fact that we’re so digital has irrvevocably changed the world as we (once) knew it.

Marketing  . . . Then and Now
Not too long ago, if you were going to ‘do some marketing’ . . . you were likely thinking about running ads, making phone calls (cold calls!), sending out direct mailings, attending trade shows and the like.  Without a web-based medium (i.e. the Internet), what other choices did you have?  None, really.

Today, the options and expectations for marketing your business have changed.  Seriously changed!  The name for the new approach is ‘Inbound’ (vs. outbound) marketing.  This refers to being found — online — by people who want and are searching for what you can offer and/or do for them.

KEY POINT:
It’s a ‘Brave New World’ . . . are you planning to be in it?

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 Restaurant.com:

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

How / Why It Works . . . 
Restaurant.com 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 Restaurant.com 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 Restaurant.com does — very nicely.

The 2012 Restaurant.com Holiday Gift-Away . . .
For the last four years, to help all the parties in the equation — restaurants and consumers — Cary Chessik, CEO of Restaurants.com 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.

KEY POINT:
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! 

One of my Duct Tape Marketing colleagues, David Smith from Boise, ID and I were kicking around ideas on how to get and craft a good review — to support local marketing — a program David’s delivering to a group of Idaho business owners.

My input, while not the most academic, may be of some help to you as you consider the same issue:

Be Real . . . Be Counter-Intuitive . . . Start Off Negative
I find that ‘glowing’ reviews, i.e. overly positive are dismissed more quickly and easily than clients will like.  An idea I picked up from a friend and colleague, Sean D’Souza is:  “Lead with a negative”.  The CREDIBILITY of what follows is so much greater and it won’t seem like it was written by groupies on drugs stalking their favorite rock band.  e.g.
“When I first heard about ‘Duct Tape’ Marketing, I thought, “What The Heck?”  Then, I thought, “Oh boy, here we go again!  Just gonna be another BS way of saying what everyone else is saying we ought to do only they’ll charge a lot more for it.”

That’s real.  It’s what your prospects are probably thinking.  So JOIN the conversation in their heads and THEN . . . bring them to know something you know that they probably weren’t thinking about . . . eg. “Well, BOY, WAS I WRONG!  Dave Smith, the local Duct Tape Marketing consultant met with me and my team last week and I had to say, “Wow” . . .”  

See what a credible impact that makes vs. a sugar-coated, lop-sided but utterly bland compliment that doesn’t stand out in a meaningful way?

Be Specific!
The other thing I believe is important to include in a review is SPECIFICITY of a VALUED OUTCOME.  The luke-warm (i.e. ‘safe’) comments are useless because they sound like what everyone else is saying.  e.g. “ABC’s food tasted great and the service was good.” (Well, I’d sure hope so!)

You’d be better to focus on a specific ‘outcome’ enjoyed from using (consuming) your product or service –e.g.  “We used to have WWIII on our hands trying to get the kids up in the morning.  Now, thanks to Tasty Chew Cornflakes, our kids are waking US up to make sure we’re in the kitchen for breakfast!  Kind of refreshing, actually.”

Help People Give You a Great Review
It’s always helpful to end a review with a RATING and a CALL-TO-ACTION.  Let your reviewers be your promoters — e.g.  “Overall I’d give these guys a 9 out of 10 (and I never give anyone, anywhere a ’10’)  so the next time you’re hungry in the KC area and the family wants to go out for a bite, be sure and put Oklahoma Joe’s on your ‘short list’ of ‘must-know-gotta-go’ places and get yourself a REAL pulled pork sandwich for a change”.

NEVER ‘Write’ Someone’s Review  
You do, however, want to explain the ‘structure’ and provide an easy way to invite them to ‘bullet point’ their key points.

You may want to say, Hey, can I write-up what I think you just said to me . . . and see if you approve the copy or would like to make some edits?”  That’ll work every time!

KEY POINT:
People love being editors vs. writers.  If you make their ‘job’ easier, you’ll make your reviews even better.

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.

KEY POINT:
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.

In a recent article in the prestigious Harvard Business Review, David Edelman of McKinsey & Company argues that publishing a regular flow of quality, market-centric content has a funny way of generating a regular flow of revenues.  Of course, he warns, not to do so . . . is a choice made with potentially perilous consequences!

Four Ways To Publish Content

EDUCATION / ENTERTAINMENTSears posts cooking videos on Youtube, Macy’s and Target also have topical treatments (i.e. content, content and more content!) on topics they believe appeal to their market and will cause sales of their products.  Seems to be working!

PROBLEM-SOLVINGWilliams-Sonoma offers content on how to best choose food and wine, Home Depot offers DIY videos on all kinds of topics.

SOCIAL PROOFLL Bean hosts ‘stories’ from actual customers and many bloggers are being encouraged to create content about topics that lead readers to (DUH!) learn about and purchase products these firms offer for sale.

RELATIONSHIP BUILDING / MAINTAINING– perhaps the most challenging because it requires robust monitoring, ongoing analysis and immediate response.  This is also the most potent and measurable means of marketing.  Best example?  Amazon.com

KEY POINT:
We advocate the publishing model as a key to modern marketing for many reasons.  Here’s why — it works!  Try it.  You’ll like it, too! 

Yesterday, we talked about the value of creating remarkable content that Google loves and regards highly.

Quality content will definitely help you attract visitors to your website, blog or landing page.  But it’s only a start. Even the best content alone won’t increase revenues for you.

More Keys To Inbound Marketing Success
Inbound marketing is deemed effective when it does the following for you:

•  Attracts qualified visitors — aided largely by your remark-able content
•  Encourages them to engage and interact with you
•  Positions your company favorably against your competitors
•  Cultivates a relationship with you over time, and (should we ever forget!)
•  Generates revenues for you

Key 2: Encourage Engagement and Interaction  
Did you ever have a teacher who would call on you — at random: “Chris, what do YOU think about what Jane just said?”.  I have!  And it sure kept me on my toes in her class.  That’s what you want your visitors to do after following your content back to a post or landing page.

Some good ways to do this include:

•  Comments — allow and invite feedback from your readers to your blog posts
•  Polls & Surveys — invite voting on topics you can address — and post the results!
•  Video — short, focused ‘treatments’ build your reputation as an expert in your field
•  Audio — like video — remember: “short and sweet” . . . is hard to beat!
•  Whitepapers — focused content rendered into a ‘Report’ or ‘E-Book’ — very popular

Whenever possible, make your content relevant and download-able.  Why?  Because it helps you learn who’s been attracted to you and would like to get to know you better!  We call this ‘conversion’.  It’s why you have ‘landing pages’ where visitors can voluntarily (that’s key!) exchange their information for yours.

KEY POINT:
Attracting visitors with relevant and valued content is a good start . . . providing further options to engage with you helps boost your conversion rate (visitors / registrants) and THAT . . . fills your database of people who are getting to know, like and trust you.  From there, you can make offers, close sales and collect revenues . . . by design, not accident!