Tag Archives: marketing

Analysis, Anxiety, Action

Yacht“He seemed to understand my business, but…”

I was sitting with a CEO of a $4 million business several months ago. Call him Jay. Like many small business owners looking for continued growth, Jay was wrestling with a thorny decision. He had contracted with Kevin (not his real name), a marketing consultant, to develop a comprehensive marketing plan for the business. At the time of our discussion, Kevin had just presented a plan that consisted mainly of an analysis of the business’s current situation: markets served and unserved, competitive strengths and weaknesses, market position, and so forth. Jay found the data informative, but kept pushing Kevin for detailed recommendations – suggestions for reasonable sales growth goals and action steps both short- and long-term to achieve those goals. Kevin seemed to be dodging that question, instead hinting that Jay could contract with him on a retainer basis to guide the implementation of the plan over the upcoming months. Jay was wary.

This situation is not unusual. It’s not really a communication problem as much as a perception problem. Both Jay and Kevin are focused on “results”. However, Jay’s mindset is that of an entrepreneur; Kevin’s is that of an analyst. For Jay, achieving consistent growth is the result. For Kevin, defining the market and competitive situation is the result.

Stated simply, Jay wants to be reasonably confident that “If I do this, then I’ll achieve that.”

This difference in perspective is why consultants have such a challenge selling small-to-midsize businesses on their services. When they fail to secure a contract, they chalk it up to the assumption that the entrepreneur didn’t really have the money to spend anyway. But they are often mistaken, and they’re missing an opportunity to participate in this market.

In Jay’s most optimistic view, Kevin has opened the gate to the lock that can elevate his yacht to the next level. Now Jay wants Kevin in the boat, as his “marketing first mate”, for the next part of the journey.

A key to unlocking the door to a win-win consulting agreement is the willingness of the consultant to be paid on a sliding scale, proportional to the successful achievement of longer term goals.

Agree or disagree?

 

Can you hear them now?

The CEO is ultimately responsible for the creation of efficient processes for the business.

Airborne

I find myself on an airplane a few times each year, and I’m always critically observing the many processes involved in air travel.  Everything from my online purchase of the ticket to the claiming of my luggage.  And it always occurs to me that my clients are examining my processes in a similar, critical manner.

If you gave each of your customers/clients a grade card to fill out, how would they rate your company at each touch point in their relationship with you?  Why not at least create the grade card, listing all those processes that involve interaction with your customer?  Then, if you have the courage, start handing them out and asking for feedback.

Constant Connection

Cell phone can hinder CEO productivity.

Cute, but distracting

Near the start of a recent peer advisory board meeting, the CEO to my right was noticeably jittery.  I asked him if everything was OK, and he explained that he had decided to leave his cell phone in the car for the morning.  He believed it would be a good idea to get away from it for several hours to devote his full attention to the meeting, but he was definitely showing some physical signs of withdrawal. Continue reading

Your Business Should Be Like Spaghetti Sauce

Product Customization

Spaghetti Sauce

Have you discovered your formula for success in business?  Does it include focusing your resources and efforts on being truly outstanding in your industry? If so, great!  However…because we humans are so complex, and because you are doing whatever you do for other humans, being outstanding in your line of work is not enough.

Author and speaker Malcolm Gladwell describes the success of Howard Moskowitz in helping Prego spaghetti sauce achieve leading market share in the U.S.  The secret was not in developing the single, best-tasting sauce on the planet.  It was in realizing that tastes vary from individual to individual.  Prego’s success came from having over 30 different sauces so that each consumer could discover one that delighted.

No matter what product or service you offer and deliver, Continue reading