Marketing is the first building block of business

Why so much marketing?

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Marketing is the first building block of businessEvery business leader I have ever met is looking for hoards of people flocking to their business. They hope that demand for their services will keep them from having to worry about cash flow, making payroll, finding good employees, or having a great product to begin with. It would be their dream, come true.

Marketing is the first “Building Block” that I often focus on for a couple of reasons.

First, a business cannot be a business until enough sales are made to support it. Until that moment, it’s only a hobby.

Second, marketing is the most misunderstood area of business. Most leaders believe marketing means a better ad, a more aggressive sales team, or placement in a “big box” store. Marketing has much more to do with identifying the people who need you, developing a product that gets them excited, and then strategically communicating with them in a way that leads them towards the sale. Much more complicated than buying advertising or making sales calls.

In a nut shell, your marketing challenge is to first get a very clear definition of your market. After you know who, you have to discover what your market really wants (not just what they say they want), communicate your value, separate yourself from your competition, create a strategy that connects all your marketing efforts, develop a system that gently walks them through their purchasing decision and finally over-fulfilling on your promise.

Overwhelmed yet? Don’t be. We can walk through creating your marketing building block together. The is to have a systematic way to walk that path.

Before you get too far, remember my “Marketing Manifesto here:  “Yelling Is Not Selling”


Content will help you develop a relationship with your customer.


By | Marketing | No Comments

Content will help you develop a relationship with your customer.We are becoming more jaded and blind to the marketing around us. Even outside of the holiday season, advertising is becoming more intrusive into our lives. In a 2007 interview with the NY Times, Pablo de Echevarria, VP of Marketing with Perry Ellis (a men’s clothing company) said, “We’re always looking for new mediums and places that have not been used before — it’s an effort to get over the clutter. But, I guess we end up creating more clutter.”

So how can you, the small business leader, cut through all the clutter? What chance do you have against billion-dollar marketing budgets?

Develop a relationship with your customer.

People are no longer satisfied with the pure transactional nature of business. They yearn for a closer connection. They want to know the people they buy from; to trust their judgment. The popularity of blogging and social media is evidence of the craving for a closer relationship with the people they do business with. People now demand to see value before they let go of that hard-earned dollar.

In advertising, the relationship you build with your customer is through your content. By creating content in all of your marketing, you are establishing a dialogue that will set the stage for your initial contact with them. Your webpage, your newspaper ad, your radio or TV spot, social media, brochures, and even the yellow pages determine the relationship and set the expectations and level of trust they will have with you and your business. So why not grease the skids to make the “first date” with your new customer a good one?

One quick warning. Your marketing should have relative content – content that creates a connection, educates, and gives us value before we buy. A run-down of statistics or a list of features does not create a relationship.

If your marketing is missing relative content, you are missing out on the relationship that can garner you long-time, loyal customers.

Without knowing it, you may have broken some unwritten rules of etiquette. Here are a few I have discovered in my experiences that might be affecting your efforts.

Social Media Etiquette – 8 things you may be doing to lose friends and fans.

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Without knowing it, you may have broken some unwritten rules of etiquette. Here are a few I have discovered in my experiences that might be affecting your efforts.

Google, “How to get more Facebook Fans” and you will get thousands of articles. With all the information out there, you might expect all business owners to have thriving Social Media presences. Sometimes, however, that just isn’t the case. Without knowing it, you may have broken some unwritten rules of etiquette. Here are a few I have discovered in my experiences that might be affecting your efforts.

  1. Starting a page, inviting friends with NOTHING TO SHOW! Personally, if I am going to like a new page, I would be much more likely to join an active community – or at least one that has the appearance of community. Be sure to populate the page with articles, information, blog posts, etc. to show new viewers what they might expect from liking your page.
  2. Starting a page, inviting friends and NEVER posting. Because a Facebook page is all about engagement and creating community, you MUST be active. Daily posts are a good standard, and a great habit to develop.
  3. Over inviting, when you are holding an event.  When you are having an event, create an event and invite those people who might be able to attend. And, by that, I mean – if you are having a networking event in Seattle, don’t invite your friends that live in Albuquerque.
  4. Over promoting when you are holding an event. Something that starts to look like spam is when you send multiple Facebook messages, or post on multiple friends walls. Be warned as you can easily be reported and lose posting privileges.
  5. Using only your personal page to post your business information. Not only does using your personal profile for your Business violate the Facebook Terms of Service, but it’s also just downright annoying if all you ever share is business information. A Business Page is the perfect place to share sales, new products, etc.
  6. Using only tools to post. Studies have shown engagement on Facebook decreases by over 70% when you use tools anyway. If you want to engage with your Facebook audience, come to Facebook! Feel free to use tools to post to Twitter and LinkedIn! People aren’t necessarily expecting to have a conversation on those platforms.
  7. Creating more pages than you need. I have one connection that starts a page for every activity she participates in and then bombards her friends with invitations to like each page.
  8. Posting the same exact message from your personal account and your business page. Once in awhile, this may be acceptable, but I’ve seen people (who use automators, mostly) who do this with every post. Chances are, they will unlike your page, block it, or unfriend you entirely. None of those are great results for anyone hoping to grow their business.

If you wouldn’t do it in real life, it probably isn’t good for Social Media. Just think of any of these above things in a party setting…wouldn’t that be bizarre? (But, it might make you smile right now just thinking of it.) How do you react when you see content and activities like this? I would love your feedback!

Tracey Warren is a Social Media Expert and owner of Ready Set Grow Marketing. You can read more blog posts from her at

Build a Better Mousetrap? Don’t Forget The Marketing

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Just having a better product does not equal great sales

The old saying goes: “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” Unfortunately, this saying has led many business leaders to believe that they only need to “build a better mousetrap.” A focus on quality and creating something amazing will fix everything. Eventually word will get out. Right?!?!

Unfortunately, the world cannot beat a path to your door unless the world knows about your amazing mousetrap.

There are businesses that corner the market on word of mouth. People love them and their product so much, that they tell everyone about it. I wrote about one of these businesses here. However, they are  very intentional about encouraging word of mouth.  Also, depending on word of mouth alone leaves a large portion of your target market out of the loop.

Promoting your business is much easier once you have defined the other 4Ps of your marketing (Product, Price, and Position). Using the steps below, you can begin developing your promotion campaigns

  1. Define your target Market: Determine who needs to hear your message. The more specific the market, the more successful you will be. (More here)
  2. Define your message: Understand the motivations of your target market. Then describe how your business solves a problem or fulfills a desire. This is where a copywriter comes in handy. Copywriters are professionals that are experts in writing to sell. They can help you sculpt this message and avoid most of the trial and error it would otherwise require of your marketing. With a clear message, the design can then be sculpted around it with logos, pictures and graphic design.
  3. Define the strategy: Just running an ad, publishing a website, or networking is only effective if you know the steps that will take your ideal customer all the way through the sale.
  4. Always have a next step in place: If a person in your target market does not take you initial offer or buy on their first encounter, what is your next step? Remember that most sales don’t happen until the seventh interaction between the customer and the product. Are they on your newsletter list? Do you have a way to contact them and provide more information? How will you continue to develop that relationship?

Getting away from pure tactics and hoping they make the sale for you will get you the marketing success you have been craving.


Steve Jobs refocused Apple

Steve Jobs – A Quick Lesson

By | Marketing, Strategic Planning | One Comment

When Steve Jobs took over Apple (again) in 1997, he came into a company that was unfocused, bloated and on a downhill slide in market share.  

Jobs began a series of product review meetings. Engineers and management had to bring their projects and justify their existence. He discovered that that the Macintosh had dozens of versions built specifically for a dozen different retailers.

Jobs quickly cut 70% of Apple’s products over several weeks before he finally yelled “Stop!” in one of the product strategy sessions.

He grabbed a magic marker, padded to a whiteboard, and drew a horizontal and vertical line to make a four-squared chart. “Here’s what we need,” he continued. Atop the two columns he wrote “Consumer” and “Pro”; he labeled the two rows “Desktop” and “Portable.” Their job, he said, was to make four great products, one for each quadrant. *

In his first year, Jobs cut more than 3,000 employees, eliminated most of the products in production and development, and refocused Apple on creating incredible products.

It was this intense focus and staying true to the principles of Apple that eventually brought the world the iPod, iPhone, and iPad that has changed how the world interacts with computers.

Fear is something that many of my clients feel when I first introduce the concept of narrowing your marketing and finding a niche. The objection I get most is “I can serve more people if I don’t focus on a target market.” The other is “Won’t I miss out on some business if my marketing is focused on only one niche?”

That was the same mistake Apple had made – they had attempted to be all things to all people. Servers, printers, multiple versions of the Macintosh, and the Apple Newton (a PDA in the early 90’s) led Apple away from its core (pun intended).

By finding your niche, you will better fulfill the needs of your customers, better communicate with them, and reduce your wasted efforts.

*Source: Steve Jobs; Walter Isaacson; 2011; pg. 337(click to get a copy)



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:

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: