Strategic Planning

Build a Better Mousetrap? Don’t Forget The Marketing

By | Marketing, Strategic Planning, Systems | No Comments

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)

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:


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.

Read More

Thou Shalt Know Thy Numbers

Thou Shalt Know Thy Numbers

By | Accounting, Cost Controls, Follow-through, Leadership, Strategic Planning, Systems | One Comment

Thou Shalt Know Thy NumbersDo you watch Shark Tank?


Let me give you the basic premise if you don’t. Entrepreneurs and inventors present their ideas to a panel of investors. They are then grilled about their business (or lack thereof) and then investors bid for investment in the business. Sometimes you see an amazing deal made – and sometimes the entrepreneur walks away with nothing.


One of the biggest “red flags” is when an entrepreneur doesn’t know his/her numbers. Here they are, in front of big-dollar investors asking for large investments and they don’t have a handle on how their business performs on important financial measures.


This is no different than any other business leader –whether you are looking for an investor or not.


As I work with my clients, I often see that they manage their accounts based on the number in their bank balance. They cannot tell you what they spend on marketing and what the return is. They don’t have ratios for measuring their COGS, supplies, or other variable expenses.


The numbers are not there for the IRS or to know how much money you made. The numbers exist for you to know how to improve your business from the inside and increase your profit.


The key is understanding your P&L and your Cash Flow Statement. Make sure you know the difference between the two and how to review both of them.


If you already know what they mean, review them. Often.


No Silver Bullets

By | Accountability, Follow-through, Motivation, Strategic Planning | No Comments

no silver bulletThere is something in the business building and advising industry that many coaches, consultants, and gurus know. It’s a dirty little secret that keeps many clients and “followers” constantly on the hook for more.


I have been victim to it and I am sure some of you have, too. It’s all because of one tendency many of us have. We all tend to seek education  – expanding our knowledge of the world or techniques that will move us forward.


Education and developing your abilities is great and very important. However, few actually implement. Of those that implement, fewer implement well.


Here are the biggest trip-ups I see and what business leaders tell themselves:

  • Silver Bullet“There has to be a secret out there. If I can find the one trick that is going to transform my business, my life will improve dramatically.”
  • Strategy of the Week“Hey! There’s something I haven’t tried yet. I think I will give it a shot. All the other things I have going on can wait.”
  • Failure to Launch“I want it to be just right before I put it out there.”
  • Overwhelm“I have so many ideas, I can’t seem to decide which one to do.”


Now since I have diagnosed the problem, here are the remedies:

  • No Silver Bullets – There are as many paths to success as there are definitions of success. The key is measured implementation of one sound strategy.
  • Follow Through – Constantly changing tactics and strategies is going to get us no where but with a shop full of half-completed projects. Pick one and stick with it until it is operating on auto-pilot
  • Just Put It Out There – A friend of mine told me recently that “version one is better than version none.
  • Get Organized – Most people who talk about having too many ideas never write them down and therefore cannot prioritize them. Keep a notebook of ideas handy and write down anything you come up with. When putting together an annual plan, prioritize them and pick only the ones you can implement well.


Much of my time as a coach is not spent in education (though there is some of that). Most of what I do is help people get past the challenges they face above. You know what should be done, they have tons of ideas. But you have not figured out how to implement well.


Sometimes it’s just about picking something and implementing and re-implementing until it works.


Success in business is defined by the measures you put on it.

What a Succesful Business Looks Like

By | Accounting, Follow-through, Motivation, Strategic Planning | No Comments
Success in business is defined by the measures you put on it.

Stop chasing the horizon.

Almost everyone wants to be successful. I say almost because I have met many that would be content without it.


Most people look back over a day or a week and see all the things they didn’t accomplish or complete. Or they look at the mile marker they had set and measure the distance between where they are and where they believe they should be. They measure their success by what the didn’t accomplish – which only discourages them.


Most people don’t know how to measure success.


I once heard Dan Sullivan, the creator of Strategic Coach, explain that success is like the horizon: you can never really “arrive.” 

I feel that it is much easier to set a mile marker and see how much closer you can get to it than yesterday. Don’t measure the distance left – look back at the distance you covered and the obstacles you passed.


What are you mile markers? 


When working with new clients, I often find they are not keeping track of how they are winning. Most are balancing the books on a regular basis – but they cannot tell you their margins, their COGS ratios, or what it costs to provide their service. A budget is the first mile marker you business should put in place.


The other problem I see is that many chase the wrong mile markers.


Define what your mile markers are. Make sure they are going to lead you to the right horizon. Then when you measure your progress towards success, consider the distance and the victories. You’ll be surprised.

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?