Effetti Growth





Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Closure & A New Design ( II )...

...Don't Let "Uncertainty" Stop YOU in the New Year !
by David Bookout

Closure & A New Design

In the previous post ( link above ) I wanted to focus on being Thankful, and the exploration of individual, hidden Gifts. But, as 2008 closes, and I prepare to finalize goals for 2009, I've been closely observing the conversations going on around me. Forget the disaster ridden, gloom and doom news - I personally don't subscribe - I'm talking about personal conversations. The personal conversations we're all having with our close friends and loved ones about our feelings and speculations regarding the future. In virtually every one of those conversations the word Uncertainty quickly rises to the surface; uncertainty about the future, uncertainty about the economy, uncertainty about individual and business income, uncertainty, uncertainty, uncertainty...

One particularly valuable conversation coalesced my thinking into the realization that, when left unchecked, uncertainty can paralyze our own best intentions of producing the future(s) WE say that we want !

Interestingly, as I think about this further, my experience reminds me that the other extreme, certainty left unchecked, can be equally paralyzing ! Certainty, to me, is a VERY big contributor to how we got where we are today.

In taking this one more step, if both uncertainty AND certainty have the capacity to render our abilities to produce our goals useless, then where can we stand to design for 2009 ?

A few quick thoughts:

1) Certainty DOES NOT represent the same opportunity set that uncertainty represents in terms of the current, or future possibilities we can create for ourselves. Look for where YOU can seize opportunities in a way that takes care of you and others !

2) Uncertainty DOES NOT mean that we have to suspend our goals. Look for where current trends favor; the offers you can already make, your skills and your passion !

3) Uncertainty DOES NOT mean that we can abandon the use of pragmatic metrics, and the measurement of progress on our path to the fulfillment of our goals. Look for where YOU can successfully measure some type of progress !

4) Uncertainty DOES NOT mean that we have to abandon where we want to go. When we are on a journey both minor and major detours can be expected to be a part of that journey. Look to reconnect with where YOU want to go, redesign your route, and proceed !

Have a minute for five ( 5 ) questions ?

In closing, Our Best Wishes For A VERY Healthy, Happy & Prosperous New Year To YOU and Yours !!

© Copyright 2008 - Effetti, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

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The title "Closure & A New Design ( II )...", article, and contents herein, unless otherwise specified in writing - by Effetti, Inc. are ALSO licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting the author through Effetti, Inc. http://www.effettigrowth.com/about-contact.php.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Jorn Utzon...

...Rule Breaker, Perfectionist & Amazing Visionary !!!
by David Bookout

Utzon is the architectural genius behind the spectacularly beautiful and renowned Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia. But, until earlier this week, I'd never heard of him. I'd certainly heard of, and seen pictures of the opera house. So, I was a little surprised, when I Googled him using quotation marks to do a specific use search, and found a little over half a million uses of his name. The first five pages of links were predominately related to the fact that he recently passed away at 90. The more I read, the more fascinated I became, and the more I wanted to share what I think were some key aspects of his Personal Brand.

Breaking Existing Standards
Utzon was a rule breaker, a style that doesn't work for everyone, and one could argue didn't work for him. Despite the exquisite beauty of the Sydney Opera House there were precious few other commissions awarded Utzon causing him to remark at one point "if you like an architect's work, you give him something to build". The opera house project itself a fluke, as he had failed to comply with several of the submittal rules, which resulted in his entry originally being rejected. No cost estimates were provided out of uncertainty as to whether the building could even be built.

Today, from a Personal Brand perspective, I think it very important to understand; where to work to existing standards, where to push the boundaries of existing standards, and where to work to create entirely new, more effective standards.

Being A Perfectionist
When contrasted with his quest for total control, and the need for others to follow his rules, the difficulty others had in building the design, and in working with Utzon himself played into his departure from the project, and Australia in 1966. He never even returned for the ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony in 1973. Upon final completion the project was 10 years late and grossly ( in excess of 1,000% ) over budget. But, to me, Utzon's quest for perfectionism was a personal ethic that has led to amazing advances in design and construction, which in turn has provided the opportunity for millions to learn new things, and forever change our world. The Sydney Harbor skyline is just one, small aspect.

Today, from a Personal Brand perspective, I wonder if perfectionism might be a welcome and refreshing change ? Let's bring back some perfectionism and pride in doing things well the first time around !! However, in the process, let's remember that; it is important to hold others to the same standards that we hold ourselves to, and equally important to creatively work together in areas where we don't have collective understanding.

Having Vision
The ability to see radically new and beautiful building designs emerge from; billowing clouds, ship's sails and salt crystals poured onto a table top was certainly Jorn Utzon's gift. The gift of amazing vision. But, we all have a gift, and many find it difficult, as Utzon did, to capitalize on that gift. Part of this may be that as adults we stop playing, we stop imagining, and we stop visualizing things as we did as children. Another part may be our need for instant gratification.

Today, from a Personal Brand perspective, it is important to reconnect with our ability to envision new things and harvest the energy that provides us to not only persevere, but to design and create anew.

© Copyright 2008 - Effetti, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

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The article "Jorn Utzon...", the subtitle "...Rule Breaker, Perfectionist & Amazing Visionary !!!" and contents herein, unless otherwise specified in writing - by Effetti, Inc. are ALSO licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting the author through Effetti, Inc. http://www.effettigrowth.com/about-contact.php.

The photo of Jorn Utzon may be © Copyright to the estate of Jorn Utzon, and / or Reuters. Image obtained @ Economist.com.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ron Gettelfinger...

... is he the UAW's Last Samurai ?
by David Bookout

From a Personal Brand building perspective it is always helpful to get outside of yourself. So, as I tuned to MSNBC early this morning I was presented with a swirl of information, and wondered how might this be valuable to you? First, came the story of the return of Tom Cruise, a familiar personal brand. Tom's movies have grossed an incredible $1.5B. Then came a lengthy segment on the Auto Industry Bail Out. ( Forcing two, completely random thoughts in my brain to collide - The auto industry and Hollywood have been holding hands for years. Perhaps, THEY should get more serious about their relationship, and work together to save the U.S. Auto Industry? ) The segment featured UAW President, Ron Gettelfinger, who, compared to Tom, has a much less familiar Personal Brand, but maybe not for long.

Then I wonder - What if Ron took a few tips from Tom? If you've watched The Last Samurai you know that Tom takes an incredible beating, more than once, and survives. Ron may not be so lucky. As UAW President, elected to his second term on June 14, 2006, I'm sure Ron, in his wildest dreams, didn't imagine that he would ever be in the position he's in right now. Getting a few Samurai lessons from Tom might not be a bad idea. Even if Ron submitted to a few whacks with a big stick it might be less painful than his next press conference.

Don't get me wrong, I don't even know Ron, and certainly wish him no harm, or ill will. But, I can certainly argue that Ron Gettelfinger is in the midst of THE Personal Brand challenge of his life ! For example:

What would you do if you were Ron ?

What would you be concerned about if you were Ron ?

Would you be concerned about the potential brand damaging personal attacks on your integrity, your sincerity, your motives, your competence ?

Would you be concerned for the people you lead ?

Would you maintain clarity relative to the "real customer" in this process ?

What can you learn from Ron as it relates to building your own Personal Brand ?

Regardless, Ron faces the kind of challenge that we might all agree that we would look back on before we pass on, and think either: (a) What a mess and what the heck did I do to deserve that !?, or (b) I'm proud of who I am, what I did, and I'd do the same thing all over again. Perhaps, only Ron will know.

© Copyright 2008 - Effetti, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Creative Commons License
The article "Ron Gettelfinger...", the subtitle "...is he the UAW's Last Samurai ?" and contents herein, unless otherwise specified in writing - by Effetti, Inc. are ALSO licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting the author through Effetti, Inc. http://www.effettigrowth.com/about-contact.php.

The photo of Ron Gettelfinger may be © Copyright to Ron Gettelfinger, and / or the UAW. Image obtained @ UAW.org.

The Tom Cruise Last Samurai image is © 2003 Warner Brothers. All rights reserved. Image obtained @ IMDB.com.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Don't Worry, "IT Will Sell Itself"...

..& other, self maiming strategies !
by David Bookout

Would you take a sharp knife to your own arm? What about a dull one? This is in effect what we do when we attach ourselves to bankrupt thinking.

The intent was to have a product marketing meeting. Like many start-ups, the product idea was really quite brilliant and the opportunity to talk to a professional, credentialed, industry expert seemed like a good idea. Especially since the expert was a doctor.

This good doctor made it quite clear that the idea had turned bad. Thinking back, the doc's opening salvo was very telling - "What do you need marketing for? This product sells itself".

The next telling sign came as the group huddled around the small waiting room and inter-office doorways, where the "conversation" turned "monologue". It seemed that the marketing lesson had begun. Thinking back I'm not sure if this resonated from the depths of my monologue induced boredom, but it must have - monologues are always a bad sign, particularly if the meeting objective is to promote speculation and enable collaboration.

But, the real issue - the main claim - Products sell themselves !??

Have you ever been in a meeting like this? A meeting where there's an over supply of; puffery, misguided claims and bankrupt thinking ???

As I looked around I remember thinking: (a) This must be a dream, and (b) That's the most arrogant / ignorant thing I've heard this week !!, and (c) What does a doctor ( and a Dentist at that ) really know about sales, or even marketing for that matter ?, and (d) Completely as a hedge - Hmm, was there ever, or could there really be a product / service that sells itself ?

So, I wanted to open the topic up for discussion here. Please tell me if you think that it's possible for a product, or service to "sell itself". If you think so, please share the URL, or some other way we can all directly connect with the offer, and come to our own conclusions !!

Also, I wanted to offer the following to bring more value and accomplishment to your meetings:

1) Don't extrapolate. Things that worked once, or have worked in one ( 1 ) place, don't necessarily work anywhere else.

2) Get connected to what YOU know. We all have unique experiences and backgrounds and specific areas of study. Stick to that.

3) Be humble about what YOU don't know. A posture of not knowing actually opens possibilities for new learning.

4) Be open to the possibility that YOU might not even know that YOU don't know quite a bit about a lot.

© Copyright 2008 - Effetti, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Creative Commons License
The article and contents herein, unless otherwise specified in writing - by Effetti, Inc. are ALSO licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting the author through Effetti, Inc. http://www.effettigrowth.com/about-contact.php.

The displayed image is © Copyright to James Donnelly.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Personal Brand Review - J.G. Mikolajczyk...

...The Value of a Balanced View !
by David Bookout

There are two things that you would immediately notice when meeting J.G. ( Jerry ) Mikolajczyk, Chairman and COO of Minecore International, Inc., and former Interim CFO of Silicon Valley's Valley Transit Authority ( VTA ). First, is his big smile, which is difficult to miss even though he is sitting at a remote table at a local Peets Coffee & Tea, and then you notice that he is wearing a blue suit, fresh white shirt and colorful tie. If I didn't know better, I would think this was all just for the interview, but if you know Jerry, you know that he always smiles a lot, and that he always dresses for success.

As we move into the interview I ask him how much formal marketing and branding education he has had. He quickly responds that "We are all marketers". I know Jerry as a finance guy, and quickly rephrase - he adjusts and confirms my speculation that his study of corporate marketing and branding, as a percentage of his total course work, has been relatively small. As I assure him that my opening question was in no way intended as an insult he relaxes and we move into the interview.

? - What is a Personal Brand?

A - "It's my label. It's how I want others to see me."

? - Do you have a Personal Brand, and how would you describe it?

A - "Sure, integrity. Get the job done. Do it now."

? - Did you happen to do the exercise? I remind him hopefully ( writers just want to know that someone is reading and taking their work seriously ), the one at the bottom of the last post? The one about starting to "Define Your Personal Brand"? I hold my breath as he answers.

A - "No, I didn't." His smile broadens, and he adds - "But, you could ask anybody that knows me at VTA and they would tell you that I have integrity, and get the job done."

Jerry goes on to describe an issue he encountered early at VTA. The Federal Transit Administration ( FTA ) endorses a specific set of values each year that greatly effects VTA's revenue calculations. When Jerry started, the values had not yet been endorsed and there had been quite a bit of back and forth, mostly via eMail. After checking with staff Jerry decided to request a meeting with FTA's Region 9 leadership. Jerry reflects - "The meeting lasted less than 1/2 hour and the issue, which had been open for over a year, got resolved right in that meeting!"

As I listen I think about how effective it can be to go straight to the source. I also realize that Jerry has just unknowingly broken the first rule of Personal Brand development. In brand development of any kind, and particularly in Personal Brand development, it is critical to review, understand and move with exactly what the customer ( your boss ) and the others around you think!

As I know Jerry, and there is no pun intended, he has a very balanced view when it comes to business and financial strategies.

But, I call what Jerry has done, in terms of thinking about his Personal Brand as being "internally focused". There is no doubt that internal focus ( in this case what we think of ourselves ) is a part of brand development, but it can not be the only focus. Why? Because "brand", if we have a brand , lives externally. Brands live in the minds of others, and we don't know what others think unless we open a dialog and ask them. We need both an internally focused, and an externally focused view! Coming at brand development from this perspective effectively balances the vision we have of, and for our brand. The dual observation allows us to not only see where we are in our brand development, but where we need, or want to go.

Check back as we continue our interview with Jerry over the coming weeks and learn more about his views on Personal Brand, becoming successful, and get his quick tips on being successful in an increasingly competitive market.

© Copyright 2008 - Effetti, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Creative Commons License
The article and contents herein, unless otherwise specified in writing - by Effetti, Inc. are ALSO licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting the author through Effetti, Inc. http://www.effettigrowth.com/about-contact.php.

MineCore International, Inc. is publicly traded as an OTC.PK stock under the symbol MCIO.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Closure & A New Design...

...should we laugh, cry, celebrate, design, or redesign?
by David Bookout


Turkeys aren't the only ones with wary eyes, particularly around Thanksgiving time. But, as this incredibly tumultuous and greatly historic year comes to a close, two specific questions come to mind that could be quite powerful openings to help you design the 2009 you desire and beyond:

What are you thankful for?

"What is the gift you hold in exile?"

The first question is standard operating procedure, particularly this time of year. The second question, however, can be a provocative inquiry into the very things we choose, for one reason, or another, to deny ourselves and those around us access to. Your gifts might be skills that lay uncultivated, experiences that stay unshared, or dreams that remain unrealized.

For me, I'm thankful for the incredible support and encouragement that I've received this year from; each of my teammates, the incredible people they have introduced me to, and those of you that have been kind enough to read, comment, participate in our beta program and otherwise contribute to our desire to bring accomplishment tools to the internet.

I first heard the question "What is the gift you hold in exile?" in late 2005 as a small group of us prepared to present a workshop featuring Peter Block. It was in that workshop that a fellow participant revealed that he used to love to draw and paint. He publicly declared that he would resume that practice and refuel his lost passion. I privately declared that I would pursue a long, long desire to play the drums. My son ( now 15 ) and I have been taking music lessons together for over two years now. It's our Tuesday night ritual. This year I decided to start writing publicly, hence this blog.

As we roll out our plans for 2009 I'll keep you posted.

In closing, thanks for reading. I hope; this leads YOU to design a new future from what you're passionate about, that you might share this with others, and most of all ENJOY & PROSPER !!!

© Copyright 2008 - Effetti, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Photo "Wary Eyes" is © Copyright 2008 - Effetti, Inc. / VisualFountain.com. All rights reserved worldwide.

The question - "What is the gift you hold in exile?" is copyright to Peter Block & Designed Learning, Inc. His books and work are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Define Your Personal Brand...

...or, How To Distance Yourself From The Crowd !
by David Bookout

Is it possible that if you; just got turned down for the job, big sale, or critical funding you were expecting, maybe even counting on - then perhaps you were NOT different enough to stand out from the crowd?

In the coming weeks and months we will be interviewing a variety of people and asking them to share their views about their own personal brand. If you want to be one of these people ( anonymity available ) please let me know.

Sometimes we want to be like others, we just want to fit in. But, sometimes we find ourselves in situations where we want to generate distinguishable points between ourselves and others.

The question isn't when, where, how, or why we create these points. The question is - is differentiation enough?

Today, particularly, as the world gets smaller and more competitive, it is becoming more and more difficult to generate differentiation. If you're looking to; get that new job, sell your products and services, or fund a new business idea, then just being a degree of difference apart from your competition may not be enough to separate you in the mind of the decision maker, or makers.

Someone reminded me recently that "people don't quit jobs, they quit bosses", which supports the fact that every business is ONLY as good as the people behind it, and their unique abilities to work effectively on their own, and with other individuals. The point is that at the end of the day we are all just individual contributors regardless of the business structures we find ourselves in.

So, when the ability to achieve your goals, by simply submitting a request, or an application as indicated in the "Fran" cartoon, seems too remote, then this is the time when you must begin to think differently. You must act differently. You must BE different!

Do you have a Personal Brand?

Here's a way to find out:

First, reach out to ten ( 10 ) business associates, and simply ask them FOR THE ONE ( 1 ) WORD THAT THEY would use to describe you. Then, OFFER to give them the one, single word you would use to describe them.

Second, write each result down and look for a common word, or theme.

If there IS NOT ONE ( 1 ) commonly used word, or theme, then the work to do is on the path before you, ENJOY & Please share with others !!!

© Copyright 2008 - Effetti, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Creative Commons License
The title "Define Your Personal Brand", article, and contents herein, unless otherwise specified in writing - by Effetti, Inc. are ALSO licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting the author through Effetti, Inc. http://www.effettigrowth.com/about-contact.php.

The image shown "What made this guy stand out?", is copyright to the original artist. A request for licensing the use herein has been submitted.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Meet the new sales person, Marketing...

...& why you might want to re-think the budget !
by David Bookout

There has been a shift coming for some time, have you noticed? Sales used to be about cold calls, roaming door to door, using lobby phones, inviting people out to lunch, dinners and an occasional box of doughnuts. Not anymore. Today, sales is about the post choice, transactional components of the process; how many, how much, by when, shipping methods, warranties, etc. Everything else, and I mean EVERYTHING is marketing.

According to the American Marketing Association "Marketing" is no longer a “function”, but an integral process that includes every nook and cranny of an organization. Today, marketing is about “information”, both good and bad, that is available 24 X 7 X 365 to anyone with a computer, an internet connection and a friend.

The American Marketing Association's Definition - 2008
“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

The American Marketing Association's Definition - 2004
“Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.”

This new definition of marketing is more actionable, yet still doesn't really enable direct assessments of increased adoption rates, trial sales, and the ultimate result - repeat transactions. To take this a step further we prefer to say that "Marketing is the act of preparing the listening of another to accept an offer".

Either way, when we begin to think this way, marketing plays a much bigger role in terms of how goods and services get specified and ultimately purchased. But why, then, are the budgets for marketing and sales still reflective of the old model?

To me, this is because few see that Marketing is the new Sales. Fewer still see that Marketing is the best sales person they will ever have…

This is great news for the few small, medium business ( SMB ) owners, executives and managers who are attuned to this vision, and can make effective use of the significant competitive advantage this concept represents.

But now what?

Perhaps your a business owner that doesn’t think from a marketing perspective, and wants to try this on, what do you do?

Here are two relatively simple things that can get you started:

First, define your core offer at its highest level. For example, a school that helps men and women get their state contractors license could be considered to be in the construction industry. But, at a higher level the school really provides knowledge that in turn helps people improve their lives. So, the schools core offer is knowledge. Another example might be a contract manufacturing company that specializes in machining, forming and finishing of sheet metal, and light electro-mechanical assembly. This company also has specific equipment, knowledge and practices that enable this work to be done with very low overall deviation from part to part, and can be done very quickly. Some might say a quick turn machine shop. But, at a higher level the company provides peace of mind relative to the speed and accuracy with which it can produce custom parts and assemblies. A fun exercise you can facilitate with your team is continue to ask – “What is so great about that?” – in an attempt to keep bubbling the conversation upward.

Next, define your touch points. These are the places where your desired audience, prospects, and even customers come in contact with your company. These touch points can be anything from front line phone answering, to websites, faxes, quotes, service calls, invoicing, emails, seminars, trade shows, etc., etc. ALL touch points MUST CONVEY THE CORE OFFER. Period. In our first example, if the school doesn’t provide new student inquiries with enough “knowledge” to make a clear, no pressure decision, they are not living up to their core offer. In the second example, if the company is too slow in the customer’s mind to turn quotes, they can’t be counted on for “speed”, and as such they are not living up to their core offer either. These breaches, while perhaps sounding trivial, essentially break trust, short circuit critical word of mouth referrals, and limit the abilities of your best sales person ever – Marketing – to help you grow your business.

© Copyright 2008 - Effetti, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

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The title "Meet the new sales person, Marketing...", article, and contents herein, unless specified otherwise in writing - by Effetti, Inc. are ALSO licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting the author through Effetti, Inc. http://www.effettigrowth.com/about-contact.php.

The image shown, from the TV series "Mad Men", is either copyright to, or a trademark of AMC TV.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Looking for a signal...

...& how a little bit of market research can go along way!
by David Bookout

For those of you that have seen the movie “Ray”, you might recall the scenes in which Ray Charles feels the wrist of young ladies he has been introduced to. Singer, musician Ray Charles was blind.

Today, we are all a bit blind when it comes to how we are doing relative to fundamental marketing goals, such as; Generating Awareness, Building Interest, Facilitating Trial Sales and Sustaining Repeat Sales.

So, like Ray, we are looking for “signals” from which we can design. But, how do we get those signals? In many cases there simply is no wrist from which to assess the situation, or even check for a pulse. Much has been written over the past several years about the unparalleled power customers now have, and it may seem to owners, executives and managers that are trying to grow businesses, that their desired audience is actually hiding and doesn’t want to reveal themselves.

Customers and members of a company’s desired audience are not the only ones with new powers. Desktop publishing, the internet, eMail, video and a variety of other new ways exist for companies to attempt to “connect” within a variety of venues relatively quickly and easily. But, which is the best?

Ultimately, like Ray, we need to design ways in which we can receive and interpret our own signals to develop a keen sense of how we are doing in our efforts. Within this, a constant effort to really understand your customer’s / desired audience’s concerns, and effectively address them is essential.

From this perspective, here are four ideas to help alleviate some of the dillemas produced by these new found powers; First, figure out “who” your desired audience is. Demographic profiles can be very helpful, and developing customer characterizations can be fun.

Then, spend some time discovering “what” this group, or groups care about. Sometimes it is easier to get this process going by listing what you, and your team know they don’t care about. It is also important here to understand economic drivers and value perceptions.

Follow this by doing some concept testing. Actually ask customers, and members of your desired audience what they think about your message. Include questions that relate to message style and platform. This doesn’t have to be fancy and expensive. You just need to have a few people you can trust, that fit the considered set(s), give you honest answers. You also need to use some common sense. For example, don’t start with your most important customers, and DO NOT SELL in this process. Instead listen, observe, and don’t extrapolate, or “stereotype” what you hear. Most importantly note what people “do”, as this is often different from what they say.

Finally, based on the responses, move the message components; positioning, look, feel, tone and manner, or change the audience demographics until things begin to resonate with what you think is a large enough transaction pool (actual purchasers) to make your financial pro forma work.

Sound daunting? It is a bit of work, but well worth it, and perhaps important to remember that Thomas Edison didn’t invent the carbon filament light bulb on his first try. Instead, he simply designed a way to continue development and assess directional improvements that ultimately led to success.

© Copyright 2008 - Effetti, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Creative Commons License
The title "Looking for a signal...", article, and contents herein, unless specified otherwise in writing - by Effetti, Inc. are ALSO licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting the author through Effetti, Inc. http://www.effettigrowth.com/about-contact.php.

The image of Ray Charles and the name "Ray Charles" are either copyright to ( 2004 ), or a registered trademark of Ray Charles Enterprises, Inc.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Dating Approach to Sales

Managing Your Network Increases Your Return on Investment
by Steven Brown

One of the critical lessons for becoming successful in sales is realizing that you must call on the person who can commit to the sized deal you want to close. You have to open a conversation with them, develop rapport, and then ask for the order. This same strategy needs to be considered when networking for business, career, or pleasure.

Enterprise sales executives are masters of the complex sale. They know how to execute corporate level discovery of needs by examining the career aspirations and objective responsibilities of various people. They know how to get introduced to new people they need to meet. Even when those people do not want to meet them. These sales people know their success depends upon the specific skill of discovering the needs of the right people and proposing a business relationship to address those needs.

This same skill is pertinent in job searches. 99% of the people I meet who are looking for a new career opportunity aren't aware of who they need to be meeting, or are befuddled as to how to get to that person. Then, to my amazement, this same high percentage simply don't ask for what they want.

These same issues exist in dating. To illustrate, let's look at a friend who was single when we met. Despite being a successful salesman with a fantastic townhouse, a healthy investment portfolio, and in fantastic physical condition, he was having some trouble with his dating. I have to admit I was quite surprised. Of all the people I knew, this guy seemed to have the social scene down and be able to banter with anyone. I was intrigued by the reasons contributing to a salesman having trouble with dating.

As a creative person I thought I'd offer a systematic approach I use in business to help him solve his problem. When he agreed, we started with open ended fact finding, first defining the goals for closed business. Next, we analyzed the steps in the sales process, and examined the alignment of the value proposition with the desired audience and reviewed the sales approach. Finally, I suggested that he look at the success rates for each of the transition phases in what is called the sales funnel. Within this process sales growth inhibitors are usually quite obvious.

During this process, and to my surprise, I discovered that my friend was actually pretty shy. While he appeared to banter easily, he was actually only interacting with people he already knew ( trying to increase revenue by simply selling more to existing customers ). He had subscriptions on Match.com and was a regular on Craigslist personals, but he wasn't happy with who he was meeting from either effort ( Networking the wrong way, and / or in the wrong places ). His dating problem was that he simply was not prospecting properly. Without an adequate number of introductions ( possibilities ) to potential dates, he was dependent upon unrealistic success rates ( turning opportunities into trial sales ) on his way through the process.

Strategy in hand we began with basic metrics - in this case his dating ( business ) goals. I won't be explicit, but let's just say he wanted to achieve what every successful, attractive man wants to achieve when he's not feeling like he's dating well ( he wants more sales ). He wanted to date a lot ( increase opportunities ). We defined his goals in terms of how many women he wanted to meet ( possible sales ) and how often he wanted to meet new possibilities ( deal flow ). This approach may sound strangely male oriented, but the tables can certainly be turned should my friend have been a woman. Only the prospecting, sales approaches, and offering would have been changed.

By identifying conservative success rates for each step in the sales funnel, we determine how many client prospects were needed. In my friend's case we decided that he needed to say "Hi" to 5 new women every day. All he had to do was say "Hi", and the normal processes ( discovery ) and the odds of personality alignment ( rapport building ) would take care of themselves. He would in effect increase his discovery rate, and make offers from there. I'm not sure which of us was more surprised with the results he produced.

Today, the good news is he's happily dating one special woman. I'm very happy for him and like her immensely. I've been told I should be a dating coach, or write a book on dating. That feels a bit smarmy to me. But I have to admit the parallels of the dating process and the sales process can be a powerful parallel as these steps do apply. And the analogy can be an insightful one that might not be obvious to small, medium business owners stuck in a rut about increasing sales.

A logo is NOT a brand...

...in most cases it's just a graphic image.
by David Bookout

In this short post I want to offer an opening to what I hope is a more valuable, actionable perspective regarding logos and their place in brand strategy, and brand development.

Brand, branded, and branding have recently become commonly used terms. But, to me, the way most people use these terms is a bit off relative to what is actually happening, or more to the point, not happening in regard to their own logo.

Branding originally hurt, and still does in that context, then became an expensive process ONLY for big companies and now is even a topic for nascent entrepreneurs.

Today almost everyone talks about their "brand". The real issue, particularly for small to medium business ( SMB ), is that they don't have a brand. Too many people think that because they've had a logo developed that they have a brand. Too many people think that if they put a logo on a piece of paper, or other medium, that they are branding. Too many people think that if they have a done a little positioning work, have come up with a tag line, which is usually a full on slogan, that they have effectively branded themselves. In reality these thoughts are absolutely, and completely false. In fact, this is where brand building actually begins. Where brands exist the logo itself has symbolism, the logo has distinct meaning for people, and those same people have a picture, actually more like a short movie, in their minds about how the company, the product, or the service connects to and with them in their life.

In our next post in this series we'll have some FUN with our friend Dilbert and talk about effective, and ineffective logos.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Brand Review - Honda...

It's ALL about "Mobility"!
by David Bookout

Dejavu. Some may, but I certainly don't, remember the debut of the Honda Accord in 1976. The car was an upscale version of the Civic, a concept test by Honda to evaluate the American market, and consumer appetite for an automobile that could run a long, long way on a gallon of gas. Back then Honda's goal was to become an automotive brand. They succeeded.

Fast forward 32 years, look closely, and we can observe a new ambition for Honda. My speculation, Honda wants to own the word mobility.

Outside of requiring a vision that extends 1/2 to 1/3 of a human life time, what can small, medium enterprise ( SME ) learn from what Honda is doing relative to brand development?

Well let's see:

First, vision is required. We're often in such a hurry that we overlook the bumps in the road, the detours, and breakdowns that we actually bring into our own journey. A little time focusing on the essence of your offer, and a compelling value proposition is essential.

Second, patience is required. I often tell people that to go fast, they need to slowdown. Again, we're often in such a hurry, and want to change, or do things that are really non-essential. Why? Because we can. Technology and the internet are actually conspirators against young brand builders. Technology and the internet enable constant, rapid change, and along with that the ability to break established ( but, you have to know rules to break them, right? ), time tested rules of establishing market leadership and successful brand building.

Third, solid strategy & creativity are required. Amongst several different examples, the brilliance of combining The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Yo Yo Ma, and an ASIMO robot by Honda is exquisite brilliance.

What can you do, within a rational budget, to compellingly position your business and create customer centric examples of the value that you, your team, your business, your products and services bring ?

When in doubt, ask actual members of your desired audience, and your customer base !!

Friday, October 17, 2008

White-Knuckle Driving in NASCAR

Gripping the wheel of your career in the "New Economy"
by Steven Brown

I dream of driving a race car someday. My home state of Oregon has some spectacular stretches of Highway and mountain roads that elevate your adrenaline. But the thrill of competitive driving has called to me for years. Maybe someday I'll make it to Infineon Raceway for one of their driving schools. For now I have to settle for the thrill of bumper to bumper driving at 20 mph on interstate 880 here in the east bay.

NASCAR is a different breed of racing from the Portland Champ Car races I've attended. The wrecks in NASCAR are so spectacular, the fan community almost celebrates them. The most exciting replays are from the on-car camera of a driver who can't avoid driving through the smoke of a wreck. This aspect of NASCAR is so popular that video games advertise this as one of their most attractive features!

As I look around I’m sure there are many executives who might feel like things are a bit out of control, just like they are driving through the smoke, or worse, going up in flames. Wall Street has certainly had very well-publicized troubles of late, and those issues are beginning to cascade into other sectors.

As we find ourselves driving 200 mph in turn 4 (Q4); trying to avoid running into one of the wrecked cars, or someone who slowed down for the smoke, it's important to stay calm, and focus on the customer, on business, on creating measurable contributions. Water-cooler conversations and continuing to look in the rear view mirror will do little to move your car safely through the smoke and wreckage.

And just like in NASCAR, it’s ok to be a bit sad because no driver likes to see those wrecks, particularly the wrecks of their teammates. People we have known and worked with. But we have to move on, and keep driving through these times towards the exciting opportunities ahead of us in this race. I for one anticipate a lot of exciting changes coming. I can see them and I feel the adrenaline kicking in to keep me from over steering in turn 4. Maybe a pit stop is in order to check my tires and fill up on racing fuel. For today, I have marketing collateral to develop, programs to manage, and customer success stories to publish. My knuckles are white...holding on tight!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Be careful - every conversation is a Negotiation!

How to thrive in life, work, and love
by Steven Brown

In my personal and professional development activities I have spent many hours on the subject of negotiation. In addition I have explored the nuances of language in communication, assertiveness, power and relationships. As I have experimented with various techniques and incorporated new skills in my everyday life I have come to believe that we live with negotiation at every turn. I like to tell people that every conversation is a negotiation.

To most people the word negotiation means conflict, a fight of cunning skill over some object to be acquired in exchange for other resources. This derives from what is called a Scarcity Mentality - where the individual(s) involved believe there is a fixed pool of stuff that is available for discussion. That the "winner" comes away from a negotiation with more of the stuff. The alternative to this approach is known as an Abundance Mentality. Where an individual believes that even though there might appear to be a fixed pool of stuff, that with creativity and a willingness to flexibly examine what you value, more can be exchanged.

Abundance and Scarcity

Some other terms have been created to categorize negotiations: Win/Win, Win/Lose, Lose/Win, and Win/I-Don't-Care. Win/Win is where each person is after the win for themselves AND the other party. Win/Lose is an orientation to Win by forcing the other party to Lose. Lose/Win is an orientation to sacrifice so the other party Wins and likes you. Win/I-Don't-Care is the notion that you Win, and the other person's outcome doesn't matter to you.

They might also be called Abundance/Abundance, Abundance/Scarcity, Victim/Victor, and Scarcity/Destruction. I added different labels to illustrate the flair with which Scarcity can be applied. It's very important to know which situation you're in so as to not only maximize your outcome, but sometimes even save the other party from themselves. I believe that frequently people are predisposed to Scarcity because they feel like everyone around them is that way and they need to survive using those tactics. In fact they usually are creating their own reality. As a person that tries to operate from Abundance, I perceive I have an opportunity to invite others to see, learn, and work with me in Abundance.

There is a negotiation training tool called the "Red Black game" which can provide exactly this Scarcity vs Abundance mentality experience, if facilitated properly. Two teams of people enter into a series of potentially identical negotiations. They are very simple negotiations (similar to the Prisoner's Dilemma), so the only real complexity is deciding between Abundance and Scarcity.


One of the more fascinating dimensions of negotiation is how language can play a very important role. I believe that language represents what people really think. That may sound overly simplistic. A consistent observation I have made is that as people learn and grow, they begin to adopt more positive and precise language to represent their thoughts, feelings, and what they want.

What this leads to is the realization that conversations are negotiations. If you look at a conversation as a connection, as building a relationship, as creating potential to influence, you are negotiating. Maybe for the future, or maybe in the moment. You are developing an impression in others of your propensity for Abundance or Scarcity. People are drawn to those who are Abundant. People share more with those that are Abundant. Negotiations are easier with those who are Abundant.


There are many dimensions of this short post. The one I hope you latch onto here is Abundance versus Scarcity. I believe that all other dimensions of negotiation are tactical skills. Even planning a negotiating strategy to win is tactical, if you've already decided to operate from Scarcity. How do you view negotiations?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Intent ~ Action ~ Results ( Part 2 )...

How these words go together and why it might matter to you.
by David Bookout

In ( Part 1 ) we offered that thinking about the connection between these words and what we "do" can be a continuous, valuable process to help you get where you want to go, and we illustrated this concept as a "loop" wherein even intent and results are connected <>Intent<>Action<>Results<>.

In this post I want to offer two examples; one illustrating how things potentially DON'T work when we disconnect these words in our thinking and actions, and one illustrating how things DO work when we keep the connections alive. Both examples are from the perspective of an individual contributor on a team.

Disconnected Thinking / Disconnected Action Example:

Imagine yourself in your weekly meeting. You're not the team leader, but you think that you could be, or should be. Subsequently, you find yourself "going to Greece" quite often during the meeting. You tune out and allow your mind to wander, not really hearing the other meeting participants, and not seeing opportunities to contribute.

Sound familiar? We all do this. NOT doing this is a skill, a practice that anyone can develop. The more powerful we are, the more the skill is second nature. BTW - Raise your hand if you liked the video, please!

When you "go to Greece" , or anywhere else for that matter, your in your own head. You have no hope of interpreting where others are coming from, what their concerns are, and where you can make valuable offers. Greece and leadership are only dreams.

From this perspective, you have no hope of fulfilling on your intent of becoming THE leader, or even "leading". In other words your short circuiting your own possibilities and opportunities to lead. Your intent to be a leader is disconnected from the actions your in, and the results are negative. The people that need to see you as a leader don't.

Also, from this perspective, is often a feeling of entitlement, a feeling that you should actually be the leader, and in fact the reason why your not the leader is because of others. It's not you.

If you find yourself here, this is the first thing to shift. We can tend to have "all about me" thinking, but this is often in the wrong context. Here we need to be confident in the fact that WE are the result of everything that happens around us. We generate it. This is critically important, but rather than take this path, let's get back to a more positive example, and save this tangent for another post.

Connected Thinking / Connected Action Example:

Imagine yourself in that same weekly meeting. You're still not the team leader, but you think that you could be, or should be. Subsequently, you "tune in", you shift your "intent" to be a valuable contributor. Your mind is laser focused on the conversation, the participants, and what they are saying and doing. Your looking for where you can contribute value!

From this perspective, this insight and recently reported results could be your own:

"I've tended to check out when the people aren't doing the good work (my opinion). I started the meeting in that frame of mind, but then I reminded myself that my intent is to make things better. The next thing I knew, I was actively engaged and leading a section of the meeting. Nice. Thank you!"

In closing, Part 3 will be another example, this time as a short business case, of how this works, or more to the point, does NOT work amongst the wrong thinking and choices.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Understand The Customer - Do What You Love

Capitalizing on Passion as the best form of Specialization and Financial Gain
by Steven Brown

We've all heard the career advice of "do what you love, the money will follow". As an investor, Warren Buffet states it a bit differently: "I buy businesses I can understand". Unfortunately most people don't know how to act on this advice, frequently allowing the unknown of finding buyers to prevent them from creating opportunities. Taking a first step becomes too difficult and nothing happens with their dream.

Here's an example of a very smart woman I know, developing her passion into expertise and business opportunity. Stacy Menas is a college educated IT professional, working at the forefront of automating healthcare business. She also happens to ride a sportbike. Fast. Think race track fast. I personally have driven my sportbike at more than twice the speed limit, but I was essentially going straight. Stacy goes at least as fast while cornering, her knee extended to graze the ground. In the process of going very fast, she's also educated herself on all aspects regarding women riding sportbikes.

Along the way of enjoying her passion she realized that her friends and acquaintances were asking for advice. They recognized her expertise and sought that value from her. She eventually developed her knowledge into a book and is marketing that book through her various sportbike connections and activities. The book, "Starting Out Sportbike: An Introduction to Sportbike Riding for Women", is a getting-started guide for women who want to make good choices with their time and money. The book is now available on Amazon.

I've enjoyed observing the process and brainstorming various marketing venues, messages, and techniques. One that has gotten the most response from her clients is "For those of you Angels that have a little Devil in you", and other variants on that theme. I'll let your imagination run wild about those other variants, and you're probably right.

The important lesson here is Stacy is having fun. On those rainy days in November through March she was thinking about her passion and writing. On sunny days she rides, fast. And all year long, people now pay her money to share that passion.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Intent ~ Action ~ Results...

How these words go together and why it might matter to you.
( Part 1 )
by David Bookout

Some of you have been very generous in your description of me lately as "particularly prickly". I can get this way when I'm chewing on a puzzle in which all the pieces don't seem to fit. The feeling started with the recent mass focus on our nation's, and perhaps the world's, financial situation, and the 2008 U.S. race for President. But, it has quickly spread to my observations of many of the things that seem to be going on around me. Around us all actually.

This photo of comedian Steve Martin seemed to be a good metaphor for my prickly-ness. But, I think it also indicative, just like an arrow through the head would be, of much bigger problems to come, one of which I'm sure would be blindness.

Our arrow is our own blindness. Blindness to the lack of connection between the words Intent / Action & Results, and there in lies the problem, because if we are blind we of course can't see.

This post is an offer to restore some vision, some sense of what to accomplish next, for those of you who find yourselves dissatisfied with where you are, and the possibilities you see for the future.

First, "INTENT" is such a great word, popularized in my mind most recently by the 2007 version of the movie The Secret, which focuses on the Law of Attraction, and how this can assist people in accomplishing greatness in their lives.

Now we get to "ACTION", and here is the rub. Nothing ever gets attracted to a couch potato outside of food & beverage stains. You actually have to "do" something to get things in motion. You can't just sit around and daydream about the 10's of millions of dollars your going to get for that next, next thing, and how your going to spend it. Then, once things begin there needs to be some rigor in the action choices you make. Today, tomorrow, next week, next month...

Last, we have "RESULTS", which you want connected back to your intent. <>Intent<>Action<>Results<> Those results need to be measurable, connectable to both intent & action, and not too subject, or irrelevant.

Actions need to be consistent with the intent, and often people confuse the fact that they are in action with effective action related to their intent, so the results that they "want" may NOT be the results that they get.

Part 2 will be an example of how this works, or more to the point, does NOT work amongst the wrong choices.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Brand Review - Target...

What we can learn from a strong customer centric focus.
by David Bookout

Bravo! - Target's new TV ad campaign is VERY FOCUSED ON CONSUMER CONCERNS, while also staying focused on what the company needs to do - sell product. I'm talking about the ads that creatively feature products, such as a camping tent, while positioning them as fun things that might be on one's wish-list, such as a new family room.

I was so impressed that I thought I would highlight what I see as the opportunities such a great example offers small to medium enterprise ( SME ) owners, executives and managers, particularly in these difficult and confusing times.

These four guidelines and concluding suggestion will go along way to provide new opportunities for revenue generation:

1) Stay focused ( clear, concise and to the point ) on what the desired audience cares about.

2) Stay focused on the language ( written + verbal + imagery ) used to communicate your offer.

3) Stay focused on and speak to your desired audience's emotional concerns.

4) Stay focused on a "cost efficient", "effective" way of communicating with your audience. Not everybody needs; from a business offer promotion perspective, or from a desired audience viewing perspective, a TV Ad.

Suggestion - Watch the ad, record it if possible and see what you can design relative to your desired audience and the offer(s) your making, AND where and how your making those offers. Redesign and implement as needed.

Too often our strategic and tactical focus is based purely on what WE want. This rarely works in the free world !

Today, and particularly in these turbulent times, what we want as a provider of goods and services doesn't matter. When times are good ( money is readily available via inexpensive credit ) there are enough people that "want" things that a lack of focus on these four simple rules allows the providers to get by. When times are not so good, as they have been this past year, and particularly these past two months, this isn't the case.

Today people ( consumers & business decision makers ) aren't doing anything with, or purchasing things that don't: (a) Address fundamental needs, (b) Are clearly articulated, and (c) Connect to their emotional vision of the future they want for themselves and their business.

*The Bullseye Design is a trademark of Target Brands, Inc.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Strategy, Brand, and Go-to-Market

Why treating a job search like a product launch makes sense.
by Steven Brown

You probably opened this blog entry thinking you'd find some discussion about business planning processes for launching a product. Well, I'm not here to trick you, but there is a growing need to approach job search like a product launch. In this tough economy more and more people in my professional and social network are searching. As a product launch person I see lessons in strategy, brand, and go-to-market planning that could help them be more efficient and successful.

There are lots of job search sites on the web with materials, guides, etc. Just a few are
Monster, About, and Jobstar. There are so many websites, so many books, so much data, so much advice. It's overload, and I can easily see how people spend time on less-productive activities.

I've invested time helping many people look for work. Here is an overview of the approach I use, which you can see comes from my approach to launching products.


The most important thing to do when formulating a job search plan is to identify your goals, the strategy you're using, and the measures of success. I always begin every project with a single slide (I use PowerPoint for everything!) containing these dimensions of a plan. Without alignment on the goals, strategy, and measures, I can't hope to develop a successful project. The same applies for a job search. The candidate needs to have a clear understanding of what they're trying to accomplish, how they're going about it, and how to measure to see if they got there. This sounds so trite. But without this structure several problems arise. First, the candidate can't judge between options of how to spend their time. If you don't know what you're doing, how can you know how to go about doing it? Second, the candidate can't communicate clearly with others they meet when they ask for help. There is nothing more frustrating than a job search candidate who asks for help, but doesn't know what they want help accomplishing. This alone eliminates well over 90% of the job search candidates that approach me.


The next dimension of a successful search is the brand of the person. Given their goals and background, it is relatively simple to create a brand description of the person. This is important for those chance encounters, networking conversations, and application emails and resume's. The brand captures the essense of the person, and the right selection of words are critical. One rule to remember: hiring managers look at candidates with an eye towards eliminating them. Poor branding gives them a reason in the first 5 seconds.


I use this category title a bit tongue in cheek. Really this might be best titled Networking. More than 90% of the high paying jobs are found through people. Not applying online. A business Go-to-Market plan identifies the target customer, the value proposition, the media/communication mechanisms, etc. These same dimensions must be purposefully addressed when searching for a job. Most people that approach me for help are using the spray-and-pray technique. Yes, networking and even Go-to-Market is somewhat unpredictable because you must create and pursue opportunities that unexpectantly arise. However, you are still dealing with your scarce time and a limited number of people to network with. If you aren't thoughtful about that you will at best miss opportunities, and in the worst case create a negative impression that will inhibit success.


The Effetti website provides tools for you to self-evaluate your goals, strategy, and go-to-market. There are also tools for branding, developing messaging, and more. Job search, even in a tough economy, can be made easier with thoughtful planning. Hopefully this blog has provided some useful suggestions.

Polishing up the old CV...

Successfully taking "your Self" to market.
by David Bookout

In preparation for Steve's upcoming post , which focuses on developing and marketing your own personal brand, I thought I would offer these suggestions to help you polish up your resume / curriculum vitae ( CV ):

First, what is the goal, or action you want the CV to generate? Most often I find that people say "to get a job", but this isn't really a helpful posture in terms of an effective design strategy that needs to be behind the CV itself. So, be more specific, for example:

Receive "W" job offers, at "X" company, for "Y" role, at "Z" salary & benefit level.

Second, be specific and don't be too general in respect to what you've done. Your experience is actually the "reason to believe" that you can do the job your seeking. Also, remember that it is ok to list everything you've ever done in a DRAFT, but this needs to be filtered out and focused for the role specific versions that will actually be sent.

Third, be focused. Each role specific version needs to be:
a) 1 page ( you can always bring the 3 - 4 page "leave behinds", or send them as a follow up )
b) Compelling and different. What "promises" can you make that better address what the hiring manager cares about?

Fourth, do some research on the company, or companies that you want to approach. How are they structured, what do they value, what is the culture?

In closing, it is also helpful to remember that these four points are not stand alone, but interrelated and interdependent.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Profits - Even in a Tough Economy

One of my favorite clients is a Veterinarian in a small Oregon town. Besides liking him as a person, I'm extremely pleased that he has not only incorporated my advice, but has profited from it as well. Both financially and in peace of mind.

The story begins when we first met through friends at a social gathering. The normal "what do you do" information was exchanged, and we quickly began discussing the tough economy and how that was slowing business at the practice. Being a sole proprietor, he was also the book keeper, payroll clerk, CEO, CMO, and night janitor. It was hard work, long hours, and being on call for midnight pet emergencies was no picnic. There was genuine concern about his ability to stay in business.

My favorite topic is strategy around targeting customers. And I believe that the customer defines the business - the concept is surprising to some clients I've worked with. So I asked "tell me about your best customer. Who do you make the most profit from? Who is most satisfied with your services?"

It didn't surprise me at all to learn that his best clients were those that view their pets as members of their family. They take proper care of their pets. They are proactive in the care of their pets. And the financial costs for this care is not as important as the fact that their pet is comfortable, healthy, and a happy part of the family. Of course there are limits to their abundance, but the opportunity to work with such clients produces profits and happiness for all involved.

As counter examples, there are no end to the number of potential clients who ask for free pet care. As if the typical care for animals that most Veterinarian's share should lead them to be willing to forego all financial concerns to help any animal that comes along. Or those people who expect normal charges for weekend service, because that is when they are available to bring their pet in.

This leads to a tremendously easy business strategy: pay lots of attention to those clients that treat their pets as members of their family. And minimize or eliminate time spent on actual or potential clients who don't. His employees all of sudden are happier. Why? When a pet owner calls to explore becoming a client, every employee can easily identify whether to pay lots of attention, or whether to not. It makes employees happy to know what to do. In this case, it also helps that they deal with a more pleasant client. This takes a lot of pressure off of the owner.

We then brainstormed how to keep existing profitable clients happy, and find new ones. He created a "pet wellness program" and was amazed at how easy it was to upsell these clients. He even gives his cell phone to these clients, telling them they are special.

I then asked "how much do you want your business to grow? How much profit, how much revenue? How many clients do you have? What are your fixed costs?" And a few other pertinent questions. The primary business goal was to achieve 7% growth in profit each year.

From this basic financial information I assembled an estimated balance sheet and income statement. I added variables to the spreadsheet so I could use the estimated incremental cost and income information to explore the performance of his business. From this simple calculation I was able to demonstrate that 2 new clients a month would easily grow profits 7%. That simple spreadsheet brought a lot of peace of mind to my friend. "Only 2 new clients a month? That's easy!"

The moral of this story is to focus on profitable customers. Train your team to identify them. Set your business goals and processes to focus on them.

Peace of mind and profit.

Monday, July 7, 2008

What is a Brand: part 6 of 6

From Brand to Growth

"What is a Brand?" by Steven Brown

In conclusion, a brand is a message to send, targeted at the customer that you prefer to serve repeatedly and profitably. You want them to decide on their own they are exactly your best customer. That you provide value they need and want. And you know that your team is able to execute the business processes, including marketing and sales, that keep the profits growing.

You want other curious customers to decide they aren’t best served by your service or product. So your team doesn’t get distracted. So you don’t have to spend your valuable time managing customer situations that are outside the profit zone.

You can always expand your business to serve their needs. But you have to focus on the profit zone for now. Get your team to improve their efficiency serving those ideal customers. Economically generating leads that fit the profile more often. Efficiently marketing your value and products to those leads. Close the sales opportunity early and often. And fulfill the customer order to their satisfaction every time. That is the formula for growth. And that is how you build a Brand Sales Person that works for you.

Relationship Selling ( I )...

Why developing "relationships" is the key to sales success
by David Bookout

Many of the small to medium enterprise ( SME ) owners and executives I've worked with over the years have one thing in common relative to sales and selling.

They either don't like to sell, or they just don't consider themselves sales people.

However, at the end of the day, somebody has to buy something from someone else to make the world go round. So, I would offer that this orientation, and the narratives that go with them are a big mistake for three reasons.

First, the identity component. Clients want to know that they are dealing with decision makers, people that they assess to really have the power to make things happen should the need arise. This is particularly true in more expensive, or more complicated offers, which may include business process changes. In these situations relegating sales, specifically the closing part of the sales process, to sales people often doesn't produce the client confidence necessary to close the deal. This is often why we see a drop in sales, instead of sustained growth, when SME owners and executives bring in sales people to manage the sales process. In these instances prospects and even existing clients can feel betrayed when these transitions aren't handled in a way that meets, or exceeds their expectations.

Second up, narratives are equally important, and these new sales people often struggle to embody these narratives fast enough, or effectively enought to sustain satisfactory growth rates. Also, to often, these new sales people find the need to materially change these stories, or personalize them in a way that no longer resonates well the desired audience. This can form a double disbelief, including the identity component, and effectively short-circuiting the sale.

Third, and perhaps most important, is the relationship component. SME owners and executives that are trying their hardest to get out of the sales role seem to forget the simple fact that he, or she that has the relationship with a client has the power. How many times have you heard of sales people who get disenchanted with their employer, leave the company, and take a significant number of customers with them to cash flow their new venture. Forget the fact that this is illegal unless there is a significant amount of money at stake, which wouldn't even be an SME situation in the first place, and your certain you can win.

In conclusion, these three rules will help SME owners and executives effectively transition sales roles and facilitate growth:

1) Keep the closing role. Owners and executives that maintain their client relationships by staying involved in the sales cycle tend to have steadier growth charts.

2) Monitor narratives for effectiveness and migration. Continue to go on sales calls, and maintain a commitment to help new sales people establish effective story telling skills.

3) Maintain relationship. By focusing on number 1 and 2 above, it is much easier to not become a stranger to your hard earned customers.

Our next installment in this series will focus on relationship building skills and practices.

Monday, June 2, 2008

What is a Brand: part 5 of 6

From Customer to Brand

"What is a Brand?" by Steven Brown

Your brand then is every word and picture in every business card, sign, brochure, contract, voice mail greeting, and product look and feel. Every marketing and sales conversation. Every support response. And the relationships you form with customers. They all need to convey and reinforce who the right customer is.

There are several aspects to a brand: brand equity, brand identity, brand positioning, the logo, and more. It can be overwhelming to a small business owner to try to address everything at once. The task can be simplified by looking at how your sales and operations send “we want you” messages to good current and prospective customers. An approach that is synergistic with executing your day to day business.

From the BSP (Brand Sales Person) metaphore, here are some core next steps in building the right BSP:

1. Does your sales process target the right decision maker?

2. Does the value message match with that decision makers care abouts?

3. Does the product or service deliver on all the care abouts?

4. Does the support and customer relationship follow-up meet expectations?

Next entry: From Brand to Growth

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