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?


Marketing is a lot like being a mad scientist

Test Test Test

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

Marketing is a lot like being a mad scientist - test test testI occasionally get responses to my emails asking me what the best day, time, or how frequently they should send out their emails. Unfortunately, the answer is: It depends.


While there are certain marketing principles that everyone should know and apply, the direct application of those principles really depends on several points:


  1. Target Market
  2. Purpose
  3. Value
  4. Follow-Through
  5. Consistency

If you look closely, these are the same things you should consider before you start any marketing strategy.


Unfortunately, like most marketing, you have to test it to find out. No matter how well you believe you are inside your ideal clients’ mind and know what they need, you really aren’t. It takes time and patience.


It’s very much like a mad scientist trying his latest experiment. Create what you think will happen, develop a plan to see if it works, launch and evaluate.


Think through it a little. Send out a few emails and see what kind of response you get. Know your numbers and what works versus what doesn’t. Make adjustments.


The most important aspect is to BE CONSISTENT. I get more unsubcribes after I miss my regular intervals than at any other time.


Version one is better than version none.

Do you know how well your marketing is working? Click here to find out:


Benefits of creating an Email Marketing strategy

Benefits of Email Marketing

By | Marketing, Strategic Planning | No Comments

Benefits of creating an Email Marketing strategyMany of you have been getting my emails for some time. You often open, read, click-through, and attend many of my events.


As I have been reviewing my data and my marketing over the last several weeks, I began pondering the efficacy of these twice-a-week emails.


While it has been a long-term project (nearly two years) I have discovered that my emails do several things for my business:


  1. Establish Trust: The contacts on my list (you) have had ample opportunity to get a glimpse into my business philosophy and application of principles in business.
  2. Establish Rapport: Not only do you see what my thoughts on building a business are, but you have also looked into who I am through my stories and sharing my experiences of who I am.
  3. Create “Top of Mind”: Many of you have called me when you get into a business bind.
  4. Give Permission: I have the opportunity to market to you once in a while. I have given you value over time while creating trust and rapport. Because you and I have developed this kind of relationship, it makes it easier for us to connect off-line through seminars, speeches, events, and other products or programs.
  5. Develop Content: These emails have also allowed me to develop website content and traffic. This improves my Google ranking which makes it easier for people not currently getting my emails to see me, sign up, and even contact me for services. It has also given me a rough structure and content for a book I am writing: “The Smallest Business Book You Will Ever Need.”

Having said this, Thank You! Thank you for allowing me to speak from my heart and my passion into your business. Thank you for allowing me to connect with you in a personal way


To many more returns through the years.


By the way: if you would like to explore how to create your own email marketing program for you own business. Please click here:


Create an experience to remember you by.

My Most Amazing Dining Experience

By | Marketing, Operations | No Comments

Create an experience to remember you by.Walls that looked like they had been quilted with a red, eccentrically patterned cloth and embedded with all kinds of small beads that reflected the low light was the first clue that I was in for something special.


I sat down at the table with about 10 other people I did not know. To my left were another 10 people in my party seated at two large, circular booths with curtains ready to be drawn for privacy.


This was the House of Blues Foundation Dining Room in the Red Light District of New Orleans – an exclusive club inside the New Orleans House of Blues and one of the hottest concert venues in the South.


I was interviewing as a graduate student for an Administrative Fellowship with one of the largest healthcare organizations in the country.


The dining experience was so amazing, I can still remember what I ordered more than 10 years ago!


I sometimes hear struggling businesses tell me that they have depended on “word of mouth,” but that it is just not working anymore.


My first question is usually, “What have you done lately to wow them? Are you providing an experience?”


Customers will remember and talk about their experience and the relationship you create. Not your service.

Know your sales least common denominator

Break Down Your Customer Numbers

By | Accountability, Accounting, Cost Controls, Finance, Marketing, Strategic Planning | No Comments

Walgreens over the last few decades has become the most prominant drug store in the United States. When I was growing up, Rite-Aid and Eckerd pharmacies where the top two “corner pharmacy” giants. Jim Collins, in “Good to Great,” details how Walgreens went from a struggling family-run corporation to a national brand.


Know your sales least common denominatorOne of the key components that Walgreens focused on for their growth was their per-customer sales. This is a simple number that averages a store’s receipts per customer. Everything including the location, store layout, sales, and product positioning is sculpted towards increasing their sales-per-customer numbers.


It is critically important to know your “least common denominator.” For a primary care medical practice you would use charges and collections per visit whereas a surgical practice would use charges and collections per surgery because of what insurance calls global fees that cover all follow-up visits. Every business should know it’s least common denominator to drive business.


When you look at your ratios from your your P&L and Cash Flow statements, you take a 30,000 ft view. By looking at your least common denominator you can begin realizing sales and cost-savings that you are missing on a macro level.

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Effective Sales Letter That Really Sells

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A couple of months ago, I saw a news article on a job application cover letter that went viral. Whether it was intentional or not, I can’t tell. This kid nailed writing copy for a sales letter that most businesses and marketing managers should take note. (Click the picture to connect to the original article.)


internship coverletter


So here is why this letter was so effective:

1) He immediately makes a personal connection. The chances are pretty good the hiring manager does not clearly remember the young man he met on the tour two years ago, but the guy does remind him that he was sent the letter specifically and it did not go to just anyone.

2) Creates a personal, conversational tone. This is a breath of fresh air from the stuffy, professional tone of most cover letters. He automatically separates himself from other applicants.

3) Addresses concerns and doubts that the customer (Hiring Manager) may have about his product (being an intern)

4) Explains the direct benefits to his particular brand. Forget learning from the manager, this kid is eager to “fetch coffee, shin[e] shoes, pick up laundry, and will work for next to nothing.”

5) Again separates himself from the competition by acknowledging their “crapp about how [their] past experiences and skill set allign perfectly.” He follows directly up with why he is qualified. 

6) His call to action is simple. He has a lot going on this fall, but for this summer he can be your lackey. Call or email for more information.


If you don’t have a sales letter, I would suggest you copy his format, add your own details and send it off to a list of your ideal prospects. I bet you would get a healthy response.


Do you think you can write a cover letter like this for your business?


The Magic Bullet of Success

By | Accountability, Follow-through, Leadership, life style, Marketing, Motivation, Strategic Planning, Time Management, Uncategorized | One Comment

What's the secret sauce?I’ve been reviewing the many clients I have had over the years and looking at what the difference has been between the ones who grew their business and those that did not.


As I developed my list, here is what I have determined made them successful:


Follow-Through – This was the single most important factor in who succeeded and who did not. The ones that I saw increase their sales, hire better employees, and create exstatic customers were the ones who put into action the things they committed to doing. 


Burning Desire – not a passing craving, or a “that-would-be-nice” motivation. They were almost obsessed with changing their business to become something incredible.


Willing to Be Challenged – they did not mind having someone challenge their way of thinking. They were humble and wanted to learn. However, when they would defend an aspect of their business, they had a well thought-out reason and could logically defend why it was that way. Emotions were important in the decision, but there was  logical basis to it.


Time to Think, Plan and Dream – Successful clients I have worked with took the time to think through what was happening every day. They (usually) did not allow everyone else to dictate their schedule or the just rely on their to-do list to determine what would happen next. Dreaming was an important aspect as well since it allowed them to re-focus on what they wanted to accomplish (see “A Higher Ideal” below.)


Support – As a coach, I help provide support and provide accountability. Those who are amazingly successful, however had another person or group that was cheering them on.


A higher Ideal – The success of the business was merely a symptom of something bigger. Successful people started their business because it was their passion. They did have to find a way to monitize and leverage it for it to be able to grow. Sales became easy then and their focus became more about doing what they love – the money followed.


Faith – Faith in something greater than yourself is critical. I don’t mean an ideal or a passion. I mean someone or governing power that controls the universe. Faith in God is an easy one to identify. Some of my succesful clients have been agnostic or aethiest, but they believed in something – that people are basically good, natural energy, etc.


Creativity – The ability to see potential in the mundane is key to any success. People that I would deem successful were able to look beyond what is right in front of them and finding value where others could not.


Discernment – Beyond seeing the potential in the mundane, the people I know who have moved to great heights are those who can push away the distractions and the waste of time. They did not spend much time on failing efforts. They either changed it or abandonded it.


Courage – I don’t just mean the courage it takes to branch out on your own. I mean the quite courage it takes to do the most important thing when no one is looking or holding you accountable to it.  


So the challenge for today is this: What are you missing within yourself that is keeping you from growing?



By | Follow-through, Marketing, Systems | One Comment

2013-Ferrari-1“Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”


—Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987)
American artist who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art.

Have you ever wondered how some people seem to make money for breathing? (The Academy Awards are a good reminder of that. . . ) It isn’t because they are smarter or necessarily given more advantages. Some of the biggest successes and fortunes in my lifetime have started from a garage.


So what is the defining factor? What sets these individuals apart?


The longer I study business and the difference between successful businesses and flops, I have come to realize the difference comes down to one phrase: perceived value.


This is probably why Andy Warhol said it was a true art. As with any art, value is determined by the end user. Many incredible artists starve because of three basic reasons:

  • They fail to identify the values of their audience and then deliver that value.
  • They fail to communicate the value to the right audience in the right way.
  • It costs more to create it than what people are willing to pay.

Unfortunately, most perceived value is what your audience learns from your marketing message. Ferrari can sell a vehicle for drastically more than what Toyota can sell a vehicle. The essential function of both vehicles is the same, but a person that buys a Toyota is looking for economic and pragmatic solutions. A person buying a Ferrari is more interested in power, speed, and social standing. What they value and their ability to buy that value.


As a side note – there are only 39 Ferrari dealerships in the Continental United States. Compare that to the 1,234 Toyota dealerships in the same area. It boils down to perceived value and how you communicate that value.


What are you worth and are you communicating that worth?

onehundred bill

Wealthiest Man In Town

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

onehundred bill“The difference between a one-dollar bill and a one hundred-dollar bill is the message on the paper.”


Joe Polish


Last summer, my family took a trip to see the Ape Caves near Mt. St. Helens. It was a lot of fun become amateur spelunkers as we explored this long lava tube. The kids had a great time and it wore us out completely.


Since we had planned to stay for an extended weekend, I had planned for us to visit the Ceder Creek Grist Mill the next day. This is an old grain mill that had been restored and demonstrated how they turned large amounts of grain into flour. One thing the mill operator told us during his demonstration surprised me:


The Mill owner was often the wealthiest man in the county.



It didn’t surprise me when I found out why . . . .


Farmers would bring their grain and pay the mill owner to grind it in preparation for selling to the area merchants. The interesting thing is that the farmers would bring the raw grain in large barrels or sacks and then refill the same containers with the flower that was milled.


However, when grain is ground, it actually creates up to 50% more volume than the grain itself. So if I  mill one bushel of wheat, I will end up with 1.5 bushels of flower.


The miller would keep the extra half bushel and also sell that to the merchants. This was a standard practice and the farmers had no issue with the arrangement.


What are you creating that you are not getting credit for? Even if you don’t feel you should charge for the extra service – do your customers recognize the extra value they get?


I once suggested to a client that if they provide a courtesy service, they should still create an invoice and then discount it. This does two things:


  1. Helps you track and measure any inventory and how much you discount.
  2. Provides tangible proof to your customer the value they receive. Chances are they are going to see the receipt a couple of times before it gets thrown away – extra reminders that you are looking out for their best interest.

Don’t just create value – make it count.