Nice Problem to Have

By | Follow-through, Marketing, Strategic Planning, Systems | No Comments

spinning-platesHow many marketing methods do you have spinning right now?

About a year ago, I met with a successful business owner. As we started talking about his marketing, the list of systems he had working for him kept getting longer and longer. He had about 15 methods that all were bringing him highly qualified leads.

While there were some systems he recognized that needed some tweaking or refreshing, he had approached me because his client base was becoming too big and he did not like turning people away that he could help.

Nice problem to have.

So how do you get so many plates spinning at one time?

The short answer is one at a time.

But its not always that easy.

Business leaders are frequently bogged down with too many ideas, unsure of the best place to start with each idea, and often dissatisfied with partially (or poorly) completed projects.

Really, a marketing plan is meant to clarify all these ideas and half-completed projects. You start with creating a schedule of projects that will create several promotion systems to get your target market’s attention, qualify customers, and move them to the sale.  Many of these promotion methods converge into a single sales process called a funnel.

Tis the season to review how your 2013 marketing did and develop your marketing plan for 2014.


To get a jump on the process, I will be holding a Marketing Plan Starter webinar on October 18th at 12:00.

Be part of it and sign up here.

You can also email me with questions at dmitchell(at)

Stop satisfying customers. Amaze them


By | Follow-through, Marketing, Operations | No Comments

Quickly write down how you are different from your competitors. (Don’t cheat by looking ahead)

Did you use any of the following three words?

  • Quality
  • Service
  • Cost

Most businesses say something like “we provide the best quality with great service at the best price.” They don’t have any other way to explain it.

If that is what everyone is telling their Stop satisfying customers. Amaze themcustomer, the only way a customer has to define the difference is the cost. When you are defined by cost, you become a commodity and are now involved in “Price Limbo Competition” – how low can you go? The business that wins the race to the bottom of the price race is the biggest loser.

So – what is the #1 way to differentiate yourself?

Here it is. It’s simple. It will require more work on your part.


Create an amazing experience.


Forget quality.

Forget service.

Forget price.

I am not telling you to give crappy quality or service.  What I am saying is that you SHOW quality and service through an enhanced experience for your customers.

The first step is to remove what frustrates your clients. One of my favorite examples of eliminating frustrations is Oil Can Henry’s. They have eliminated the dullness from getting an oil change. You stay in your car and enjoy the most current periodical of your choice (which is available for you to buy and take with you.) No need to sit in a dingy and cluttered 10X10 room with outdated magazines that don’t interest you anyway, cold coffee, or another re-run of Jerry Springer on a TV that doesn’t change channels.

What is the biggest discomfort you can eliminate from your service?

For two more ways to create a great experience – check out FREE eBook, “3 Easy Ways to Get More Referrals,” on the right-hand side of this page.

What do you plan to change for more referrals?

Word of mouth marketing lining people out the door

Referrals and Word-of-Mouth

By | Marketing, Operations, Systems | No Comments

Great word of mouth marketing gets them lining up out the door.There is a GREAT taco place just around the corner from my office. The good news is they have some incredible food, great service and not too expensive. The bad news is that they are so easily accessible, that I eat there too often; and even though they are delicious, it’s not the best choice for my weight management.

There is something else about this place: lunch has a line out the door every day, rain or shine.

They do not have a website and I have never seen any advertising. The only advertising I have seen is their Facebook site. So how do they do it?

They have a simple recipe:

A Great Experience: Going to this taco place is more than just getting great tasting food. The décor, environment, the people, even the selection of drinks (home made horchata or Jarritos sodas) and sides give their customers a feeling of stepping into a Latin-American taqueria. It’s more than the food – it’s an experience that gives you a mini-vacation.

Consistency: I know exactly what I am getting when I get my favorite dish. It doesn’t matter who is at the register or who is cooking that day. I always get what I want.

Encouraging Word of Mouth: They are involved in their community. I frequently see posting about activities in their church and charity events they are supporting. They are also located close to the largest employer in the area – allowing employees to easily walk to their mini south-of-the-border vacation.

The most important marketing you can do is to keep your customers coming back. Give them more reasons to come back to see you and bring their friends– besides price.


If you are interested in creating an incredible experience that keeps them coming back, let’s talk.

With the information age, we find ourselves looking for a new way to do it - without actually doing it.

Too Much Content

By | Accountability, Follow-through, life style, Marketing, Motivation | No Comments

With the information age, we find ourselves looking for a new way to do it - without actually doing it.OK. I’ve had enough information over-load. I find myself constantly looking for new ideas, new ways of marketing, new ways to deliver my service that will move my business and my life-style forward in some incredible leap.

Each of us reach our “plateaus” – those stages where we have reached a wall and can’t seem to climb it, go around it or even go under it. It feels like you are just beating your head against the wall and can’t get past it.

The key to getting past the wall or moving off the plateau is more simple than you might think. And even I struggle with it:

It’s implementation.

I have seen in many of my clients that they have one of two problems. One problem is they have a hundred strategies in various levels of development, but none of them completed. The other is that they continue using the techniques that have taken them this far, but don’t make the adjustments necessary to continue growing. As Dan Sullivan says, “The skills that got you out of Egypt are not the same skills that will get you to the Promised Land.”

So how do you break those plateaus? How do you get beyond the wall?

The first is complete implementation. Pick one strategy and develop it, launch it and tweak it before moving on to the next one. Rather than starting a new business line, why not figure out how to make the current service/product more efficient, satisfy needs better, reduce your cost or increase your revenue? Rather than looking for a new marketing method, why not develop the marketing efforts you currently have to create more sales?

The second is to stop doing what isn’t working. If you are still doing the same things and can’t move forward, it might be time to start teaching your team to take over some of your tasks (delegation) to free you up to begin taking your business to “The Promised Land.”

Either way, you need someone to walk you through it. You can’t do it by yourself.

You already know what you should be doing, now get someone to help you organize your thoughts and make a plan to follow-through.

Let me know if you are ready to break your ceiling:

Approaching a team member with the wrong kind of authority can be counterproductive

No authority

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Approaching a team member with the wrong kind of authority can be counterproductiveI once called an employee to my office for a disciplinary conversation. I don’t remember the specifics now, but I do remember sitting and scratching my head afterwards. It seemed like what I was saying had very little impact. I had my director in the office with me and I asked her what was wrong.

Her answer: “You said all the right things, but it was as if she couldn’t hear you – like there was some kind of barrier.”

Looking back on it now, I know exactly why this disciplinary meeting fell short.

First, the employee did not believe I had formal or positional authority. She believed I wouldn’t (or couldn’t in this situation) follow-through. I held little true authority on firing in the organization. Several times I had gone to terminate someone and had backed away from it myself or had Human Resources tell me that couldn’t. We also had a very strong union and the many of the staff were quick to “union-up” anytime there was discipline. Often the negotiation in the room would cause me to down-grade the level of discipline, which further diminished my authority in the eyes of the team.

Second, I had not established a relationship of trust. Even if I could not fire her, we did not have a relationship where we respected each other’s insight and point of view.

Since that fateful day, I have learned (mostly by doing the wrong things) how to develop a relationship of mutual respect based on the five sources of authority:

Positional – based on your official position in an organization

Coercive – based on your ability to punish

Expert – based on the expertise the group believes you have

Reverent – based on the ability to influence a person or group through charisma

Reward – based on your ability to provide positive reinforcement

Here is the kicker: The team grants you authority. You can work to establish a type of authority by demonstrating your ability to penalize, reward, influence or convince. But, if the team does not recognize that authority, you have little influence. This happens in parenting, too.

If you are not being effective as a leader, it may be because you are implementing the wrong kind of authority. On the other hand, you may not have established the right kind of authority that your team needs.

If you’re having a hard time moving your team forward, let’s chat:


Don’t Abdicate

By | Accountability, Hiring, Leadership, Leverage, Operations, Systems | No Comments

Ever delegate something only to discover it never gets done? How long did it take to discover that the task was not completed? Was it because the person failed or because you did not create a way to follow-up and make sure it was done?

As a leader you have a tendency to delegate it and forget it, without responsibility or follow-up. Michael Gerber in his book The E-Myth, calls this abdication. It’s a roll of the dice if it gets completed.

Delegate, Don't abdicate wither it wont get done, or it wont get done right.Some of the first things you’ll want to delegate as a leader are the things you don’t like to do or that you don’t do well. Because you don’t like the task or don’t know how to complete it ourselves, you hope that the task gets completed without your involvement.

This is why a system of follow-up and accountability becomes essential to leading your team. You’ve heard “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” – if you are not measuring the progress of your delegated tasks, you are sure to be blind-sided by the fact that it was never completed.

If you are ready to start delegating and having the task done right and on time? Get on the call here.

Most of us struggle with accountability

You know you hate it.

By | Accountability | No Comments

Most of us struggle with accountabilityWe all struggle with accountability. We do not want to be held accountable because we know when we could have done better and fell short. We do not want to hold others accountable because we want to avoid the potential conflict that may arise from differing views of performance.

Even for a one-man-army business, creating systems of accountability – for ourselves and others – will accelerate your success.

Here is a quick process create an accountability system:

Define what “winning” looks like. This moves beyond the standard job description. Each person should know what they are expected to contribute and how they will know if they are doing it well. Don’t negotiate on these. Either they win or they don’t.

Set times. How efficiently do you expect your team members to complete it?

Have consequences and awards for winning. Communicate this before they begin.  Consequences should be enough to hurt while rewards should be enough to motivate.

Track everything. You can’t know if it is being done and make course corrections if there is no method of tracking.

Be bold, but caring. With the exception of just mean people, nobody likes confrontation. We will often tolerate poor performance until we reach a boiling point. Then we blow up; making the problem worse. By using the tracking above, you can frequently let them know when they are failing. Sit with them frequently enough that they can make course corrections. This is the kind way to keep them accountable.

If you need to accelerate your success, get some additional accountability in your business; start a mastermind or get a coach.

Getting It Done

By | Hiring, Leadership, Leverage, life style, Operations, Stress Management, Systems | No Comments

If you were to watch my 10-year-old son eat, you would think we only fed him a few times a week. He often acts like he is starving to death. He will sometimes shove so much food in his mouth, he can’t completely close it. He is in such a hurry to eat he makes a mess of his clothes and the table, chokes, and actually takes longer to eat.

As entrepreneurs, we tend to do the same thing with our to-do lists and the commitments that we make to customers, suppliers, our families and to ourselves. We take on so much, we end up making a huge mess, burn ourselves out and take longer to get the list done.

However, much of this “over-stuffed to-do list” is born out of necessity. In order to stay competitive and fulfill expectations, we commit to early mornings, late nights, skipped meals and then neglect our personal well-being and relationships.

Eventually we have to get it done, and getting it done requires time. I see many of my clients suffer from the over-commitment dilemma. There is one solution, however, that is the most over-looked: Delegation.

The problem that most entrepreneurs have with delegation is that they wait too long before they begin thinking about it – and when they do, they do not have the right people or systems in place to ensure that the job is done as well or better than the leader herself would have done. The result is that it just seems easier for you to do it yourself – creating the vicious cycle of overwhelm to start again.

Break the cycle:

The first step is to create a list of everything you are currently doing yourself. Next, sort this list into three categories: outsource, hire, and keep.

The question now becomes what can you afford, both emotionally and financially, to remove from your list and forever place them on the “outsource” and “hire” lists?

Ask yourself this question: What will allow you to increase your cash flow the most?

Is it someone to do the technical work that will allow you to do more bids? Is it sales that will allow you to do more of the technical work that can only be done with a license or specialized training? Or is it the office work like bookkeeping, data entry or answering the phone that will allow you to generate more sales?

Get off the overwhelm cycle here:


contact your clients directly and use a CRM

Make the Call

By | Contact Manager - CRM, Follow-through, Marketing, Systems | No Comments

No matter how much advertising, direct mail, networking, social media, search engine optimization, or email marketing you do, it will never be as successful as you would like without directly contacting your customers.

Marketing can create interest, expose a need or even generate demand. It can help you create buzz, hype and awareness. However, people prefer to buy from people – especially if it’s a big ticket item. You may make a few sales, but without direct one-on-one contact, most people won’t follow through to the purchase.

contact your clients directly and use a CRM

So what does that personal follow through look like?

At the very least, it includes a phone call. At the very most, it means many phone calls and several face-to-face interactions.

Just like everything else, there is a system to it. In any business, having a database of leads, customers and referral partners is a necessity. These database programs are called Contact Relationship Management (CRMs).

But here is the catch; they only work if you use them appropriately. Creating tasks and managing the contacts is your responsibility. Following up on tasks and making the calls can drastically increase your sales and shorten the decision-making process for your customers.

Here are a few systems that i have used or my clients have found useful for keeping track of who to contact, when and in what way:
Price: Free for up to three users and limited features.
Overview: A simple system that allows you to move contacts from leads to clients. Create tasks and simple campaigns. There are premium levels that allow you to add

other features.
Price: Free for up to three users, 200MB of storage or 2,500 contacts
Overview: Another simple, straight-forward system for keeping contacts. This is specifically designed to use with Gmail, Google Contact and Google Calendar – but only for paid use. Integration with Mail Chimp is also available for email

Price: $5/user/month
Overview: This is the mother of all on-line CRMs and the most used. With the basic level of service there are some great features available at their lowest level including email integration with Outlook, Gmail and Google Apps, Mobile access, and Content library. Integrations with Constant Contact and iContact are available at premium levels as well.

Price: $201.99 one-time download.
Overview: This is the ORIGINAL contact managing software. ACT is very robust and best for hard-core marketers. Very customizable and very powerful. Integrates with most emails and allows you to create a custom experience from lea
d generation to sale and sale follow-up. Additional add-ons available for email marketing and mobile use. There is a large learning curve to ACT, however.


Price: $199.00/month
Overview: Another premium CRM that allows you to automate much of your on-line and email m
arketing as well as follow-up calls. The power of InfusionSoft is the ability to create multiple lines of marketing processes that sends predictable and customized emails based on how the lead/customer responds.


If you are not “Tech Savvy,” using a simple note-card system (like the OneCard System) can be just as effective. There are fewer bells and whistles, but it is inexpensive, simple to use and easy to set up.


Find out which is best for you and how to set it up:


Know where you are and your limits

The Lure of Branding

By | Marketing | No Comments

Know where you are and your limitsHave you ever caught yourself trying to play the same game as many of the big players? Large scale branding that does not carry any call to action to “get your name out there?” Or expect people to go to your website and sign up for your services/products on line like you were Amazon?


I bet you’ve tried it and then became frustrated when it did not have the ROI that you had hoped. Here is what is wrong with trying to market like Big Business:



  1. You do not have the cash flow for marketing that does not have a direct link to sales. Coca-Cola had a $2.9 Billion marketing budget in 2010. This does not include marketing budgets used by independent bottlers licensed to sell Coke products. That $300 billboard that only has the brand name on it is a very small drop in the bucket.
  2. What you see now is a company many decades in business. Comparing your one burger stand to McDonalds and trying to copy their marketing is like my son seven-year-old trying to train with me for the next marathon. Someday it can happen – but today is not that day.
  3. Most large companies already have strong brand recognition and established trust with the market. What percentage of your market would recognize your brand or company name by sight? The Coca-Cola logo is recognized by 94% of the world’s population.


Here’s the kicker: none of the large businesses got there overnight. It took time, expense, great word of mouth, and constant vigilance.


So the next time you think about “branding,” remember that your brand is your reputation in the market. You customer’s experience with you, your team and your product will help them remember your name far better. A logo alone rarely sells anyone.


Develop marketing that helps to develop knowledge of you and your business; marketing that can be traced to sales and shows a definite ROI.


Are you ready for marketing that can be linked to sales?