Hawks . . .  Attacks . . . and Lead Conversion
I live in the country.  Deer, fox and other critters are frequent visitors on our property.  We also have a family of red-tailed hawks who patrol regularly — mostly in search of a quick meal due to our abundant supply of field mice.  The hawks are amazing.  Graceful.  Powerful.  Skilled aviators.  Deadly hunters.  I first see them flying in slow circles over our property.  Suddenly they swoop down to catch a hapless mouse and be off again before you know anything happened.

Hawks Not (Always!) Needed
Recently, my wife and I were seeking to buy some new furniture.  We visited a couple of stores.  But we didn’t buy.  The salespeople would ‘hover’ over us — like hawks seeking a snack — and it didn’t go over well with my wife.  She was a ‘looker’, not a ‘cooker’ . . . i.e. someone who was ready to buy.

In the end, we did find a furniture store that had a ‘no hawks’ policy.  We dropped a lot of money within 10 minutes of arriving there.  Why?  They didn’t hover and they didn’t go for the kill.  They sized us up and acted . . . appropriately.

Don’t Treat Prospects Alike
In marketing — and selling — it’s important to learn what someone wants from you and how they want it.  You can’t treat all prospects alike because, well . . . they’re not all alike!  Some are ready to buy today.  Some are not.  You must discern which is which and act accordingly.

Don’t treat all prospects alike — treat them appropriately  

Being crystal clear about WHAT your business does and WHO you serve is a key to attracting the interest and response of people who could do business with you.

A business is in one of 4 ‘Clarity Categories’ based on the mission and market it serves.

MERCENARY — this firm is focused entirely on providing its customers with anything they want but at the expense of what matters to the firm’s owners. Mercenary firms are ike the character whose coat reveals pens on one side while revealing watches on the other.  These firms do very well financially but they fail to fulfill the owners personal sense of purpose.

MARKETEER — this firm perfectly aligns both its mission and market.  It first finds and honors its mission and then finds the market that finds its mission attractive and affordable.  In the end, this is what we all aspire to be in our business . . . personally fulfilled in what we do and financially profitable for doing it, too.

Balancing your MISSION and MARKET . . . builds your business value

From time to time we all benefit from a little bit of ‘wisdom’ from people who know what they’re talking about . . . if you agree, this might just be your lucky day!

“Thanks” to our friends at Hubspot for this beautiful slideshow of marketing wisdom!

Many people don’t think of management as a marketing strategy or as a key to growing revenues  But it is.

I recently changed a banking relationship from one bank to another.  The new manager, Bill McDougall was a big factor in my switching.  But it wasn’t until today that I realized why I’m glad I’m now with Farmington Bank.

While in the bank I casually mentioned in front of a teller that my ‘transition’ to their bank was not as smooth as I had hoped or expected.  Not a deal-breaker.  I wasn’t a ‘flight risk’.  And I probably shouldn’t have said anything in front of the bank teller.  But I did.

Later that day, I got an email from Bill who said, “I heard you had some challenges.  Let’s talk.  We’re committed to making sure our customers are happy”.  No defensiveness.  Just regard for my experience and for the experience the bank could use to improve their performance with other customers.  WOW!

I reflected on this. The more I did, the better Bill and Farmington Bank looked.  Here’s why . . . Bill’s email reflected a sincere regard and CARING for me as his customer.  The fact that his tellers LISTENED to what I’d said (another form of caring!) and then SHARED that information with Bill (a reflection of TRUST in Bill and of their RESPONSE-ABILITY to act in a proactive manner on behalf of the customer and the bank) are all good signs.

OK, Farmington Bank isn’t perfect.  Neither am I.  Who is?  But a bank with a culture that:

  • has and honors a commitment to its customers,
  • recruits people who can demonstrate that commitment with their actions
  • encourages people to create a WOW! experience
  • has managers whose leadership encourages trust in their staff

Is pretty darned amazing!  You may not be near Farmington Bank.  But you can learn some great lessons in marketing by seeing how they manage their customer’s experience.  Now THAT . . . is a great basis for differentiating any business — including yours — from its competitors.

Caring is the unconditional regard for your customers that manifests in action on their behalf

Each year, as the Discovery Channel’s award-winning program, “Deadliest Catch” ends another season, there’s a sort of ’roundtable’ of the captains of each ship.  The highs (and, lows) of the past season are reviewed, jokes are made at the expense of others and oneself.  In all, it’s a time for reflection, sharing and caring.

Last year, Phil Harris, the captain of the Cornelia Marie died.  This season, his two sons have committed to carry on the family tradition of crab fishing in the Bering sea — just as their father did before them.

But they’re new to being ‘in charge’.  They have a lot to learn.  So they brought on a captain to operate the boat and teach them the ropes.

At the roundtable, the other captains were asked by the host, “What do these new captains need to know to succeed?”  Each captain expressed pretty much the same idea – “First, learn to run the boat.  Then,  learn to run the business. They’re NOT the same thing.”

Operating as a practitioner is not the same thing as operating as a business owner!

There’s a two edged sword to being a ‘marketing’ consultant.  The up-side is that it makes you very likely to be engaged in a conversation about (what else?) ‘Marketing’.  The down-side is the same thing.

Here’s my challenge with this –– to truly address a marketing symptom — e.g. “insufficient sales”, you usually need to go beyond the obvious.  Far too many small business owners believe that a ‘Magic Bullet’ (i.e. a tactic) will cure their symptoms.  It won’t.

First, file ‘Magic Bullets’ with ‘Santa Claus’ and the ‘Tooth Fairy’ — they don’t exist in reality.  Second, accept that most marketing ‘issues’ have their roots in bad management.  Why?  Because inept management does encourage and support bad marketing practices.

But the basis of the consequential damages . . . ‘insufficient sales’ is often not cured by making a better call on some marketing tactic.  It’s more likely to be fixed when the management team begins to manage the business more effectively.

To fix bad marketing . . . fix the way you’re managing — it’s more likely to work!

Today was a noisy day in our home.  Hardwood floors in our living and dining room had to be replaced because of a hard winter and our first experience (not pleasant!) with ice-damming.

The man who installed our new floor was a true artist.  What I found most impressive was how he laid out the floor almost completely before beginning to actually install and nail the boards together. “It makes it go faster and better when you know what you are going to do BEFORE you do it”.

Laying Floors and Marketing Planning
There’s a lot they have in common.  Thinking about your mission and market, your messages, your media, your methods and how you manage your business operation (yes, a key part of marketing!) is similar to laying out a floor — both go ‘faster and better’ when you plan them before you do them.

Marketing is a process that is best done in a planned and step-by-step manner.

Last evening, I attended a meeting of a trade association in CT — The CCRS.

My friend Carl Messina, President of Positive Impact Enterprises, was the main speaker.

After he spoke, a panel discussion of shop owners, vendors and one representative from the insurance industry was ‘on stage’.  What impressed me to no end was that these business owners really knew their numbers!

At one point, their discussion focused on what percentage of gross sales a certain kind of product (paint) involved in the auto collision repair service these firms provided should be.  I learned that paint product represents, on average, only 6 – 8% of a typical repair job. That’s a small margin to cover a bad call on your pricing or if you mis-manage your materials costs.

Your marketing is no different.  Do you know YOUR marketing numbers just as well?  How many impressions create a response?  How many responses does it take to generate a client?  If you don’t know your numbers, you may be marketing inefficiently.  Not a good thing.

Knowing your numbers means marketing profitably!

It’s not easy!  It’s not fair!  I don’t wanna do it!  Why are you picking on me?  You can’t make me do it.

Sound familiar?  The lovely moments of pre-adolescent children developing an individual personality.

Actually, no.  The comments made by clients who want the results but not the responsibility of doing what must be done to generate results.  I call this the ‘I would rather write a check than break a sweat’ personality.

Nothing wrong with it.  As long as you recognize it and are will to pay ‘somebody’ to do what ‘anybody’ could do.  But if ‘nobody’ is left to do it, it won’t get done, will it?

If you see yourself in this same role as a marketing client (or, any other kind for that matter) it’s OK.  Just own it.  Then find a way to do what must be done to get the results you want.

Somebody must do what’s needed.  If not you, then WHO?

Andy Sernovitz is a genius.

He’s also the author of this great book (revised) that’s truly ‘New and Improved’.

What I like about Andy and his company (Gaspedal — is that cool or what!) is that he’s got a SINGULAR focus.

You never wonder, “What does Andy do?”.  It’s clear as a bell.  He helps his client companies generate and leverage Word-Of-Mouth as a means of promoting their business, products, services, brand and . . . as a result . . . generating more business and profits for his clients after they spend time and money with Andy.

This is a good guy, folks.  He’s got great ideas.

Do yourself a favor and buy this book.  It will change your business.  And only for the better.

Buy this book!