August 26, 2013

Consider this when entering new markets

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:53 am

Sooner or later, it probably will happen to you. You are going to consider entering into a new market. Staking out a new territory can involve a geographic expansion, or even a whole new field in addition to, or as a replacement for your current one.

.Entrepreneurs usually do this for one of two reasons: 1) business needs a shot in the arm or 2) business is good, and it seems like it could be the right time to capitalize on current earnings or other funds by spreading out into other pursuits.

As one who over the past few decades has engaged in such expansion several times – with wildly varying degrees of success – I feel it incumbent to advise you to pause to consider some of the actions listed below before entering untested waters:

35 things to consider when entering new markets:

  1. Examine your motives. Are they frivolous, fact-driven or ego-driven?
  2. Consult family, partners, trusted friends, associates, advisors, skeptics, optimists or any number of others to find a comfort level.
  3. Conduct a capabilities “self-exam.”
  4. Examine existing versus required financial and human resources.
  5. Determine how it will impact current key personal and business relationships.
  6. Consider existing and prospective vendor relationships
  7. Go slowly, and understand that smart growth usually takes time
  8. Utilize research, e.g. type of expansion, market-suitability, timing,      etc.
  9.  The open minded about the value of focus groups.
  10. Look closely at economic and consumer conditions and trends.
  11. Examine appropriate case histories
  12. Will new skills, techniques and business methods be required?
  13. Seek expert counsel accounting in legalities, business, finance and marketing.
  14. Leave the things that are hardest to change for last
  15.  Evaluate your administrative systems and management team.
  16. Ponder the ramifications of staff reorganization.
  17. Pay mind to the Peter Principle.
  18. Select vendors, employees, partners, alliances with care.
  19.  Commission a professional business plan and a marketing plan. Be sure the latter includes a SWOT      analysis.
  20. Avail yourself of short-  and long-term strategies.
  21. Set clear objectives, goals and expectations.
  22. Focus on budgets and demand-capital.
  23. Assess advisability of product and price adjustments.
  24. Consider new products for new markets.
  25. Survey capitalization sources, e.g. investors,  angels, joint ventures and venture capital.
  26. Gage your staying power conservatively.
  27.  Compare your “gut” to hard, cold facts.
  28. Establish startup and ongoing progress benchmarks.
  29. Make “why I should” and “why I shouldn’t” lists.
  30. Keep meticulous notes and records from the start.
  31. Weigh demand for the products or services you will offer, as well as. your        sales and marketing capabilities.
  32. Will you engage in traditional      and/or unconventional marketing techniques?
  33. Conduct competitive      intelligence for the new market.
  34. Interviewing  prospects for employment and consumers
  35. Be sure to use every avenue for securing the long-term future of your prospective enterprise.



August 19, 2013

A golden opportunity

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:13 am

I recently had the opportunity to present a program for members the Executives’ Association of Greater Phoenix (EAGP). For the benefit of Marketing Monthly’s 700-plus out-of-state subscribers, let me explain that EAGP, founded in 1956, has a select and very diverse membership   comprised of entrepreneurs and senior management people representing almost any SIC code you could imagine..

Because this speaking appearance represented a fine opportunity for yours truly to speak his marketing mind, it was my purpose to relate within the 30-minute time frame I was given some of those things I consider to be the most important. I will use this month’s newsletter to relate a few of those points to you.

Owing to the fact that the format of this missive is also finite, I will, in this space, deal with a couple of the more salient points, but only in brief. Perhaps there are some of you who will have other ideas of the relative importance of these (there are more than four hundred of our subscribers who are marketing firm principals and corporate marketing managers), and I would love to hear from you.

Seven essential marketing ingredients  

To be really effective, marketing communication should include these seven elements:

         . Truth

If what you have to say – and sell – needs to be “doctored up” even a bit in communicating it to your prospects, you are on the wrong track coming right out of the box. An immediate and critical reappraisal of your products and services is called for.

  • Relevance

Your target audience has neither the time nor inclination to wade through a lot of poppycock. Tell them only those things they need to know. They will probably have you repeat these if you are fortunate to have a follow-up call, so why water them down with confusing irrelevancies and meaningless fluff.

  • Clarity

Have you noticed those marketing communications that make you wonder if you and the “perpetrator” are even speaking the same language, let alone leave you to wonder if you are on the same page? Chances are this does not trigger your buying impulse. More likely, you will move along to the next competitor on the list. It should come as no surprise, then, that your prospects will react similarly.

  • Brevity

I believe I may have quoted this Shakespearian line before, but here goes: Brevity is the soul of with. David Belasco, the famed theatrical producer of another era, hit the nail on the head when he uttered the following: ”If what you have to tell me can’t be written on the back of your business card, you don’t have a clear idea.” Or, as a young lady I fancied in my youth once exhorted me, “Are you trying to say you want to sleep make love to me? .  .  . Why not just spit it out?

  • Timeliness

Having the right selling proposition at the wrong time amounts to little more than an exercise in futility. Getting caught in a torrential rainstorm, as I did last summer in Aspen, CO, made me easy pickings for the umbrella salesperson. Had she been pushing sunscreen, her task would have been more difficult by a several magnitudes. Though an oversimplification, the point in nonetheless valid – timing matters (have you noticed?).

  • Persuasiveness

People like me are hired by people who know more than we know, because, perhaps among other things, we can say it better than they can. Things that are written better tend to stick to our mind – at least long enough for us to remember long enough to place an order.

  • Uniqueness

The cardinal rule of marketing communication is this: Build it upon and around things your competitors can’t say (enough said?).

Don’t overload your salespeople

Too many companies send their sales force out into the field without providing them with the kind of marketing support that is required to help them gain appointments and, in affect, “grease the skids” for making sales. It is important to remember that developing prospects is not the exclusive province of sales staff. As a matter of fact, it is more effective to let one-way communication – through the use of marketing materials – do the heavy lifting.

Use your salespeople, not to open the sale, but, rather, to close it. It is a far easier sale if the prospect is already “leaning in your company’s direction” BEFORE that first sales call is made. And, remember, it takes an average of six calls by a salesperson to get an appointment, making it a very expensive appointment, indeed.

One more point

Make sure your communication effectively reflects the tenents listed above. After all, the radio or TV station, billboard advertising company, printer or other media vendors won’t grant you a discount for poorly conceived advertisements or marketing communication that fill their time or space, or that go on the printing press. You will pay precisely the same amount as if it were an effective example of marketing communication.


August 12, 2013

Thanks for sharing your vision, Adam!

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:13 am

 I recall having lunch with California-based marketing authority Adam Urbanski and about 50 of his closest friends at the monthly meeting of the Phoenix chapter of Shared vision Network. True to his mission and that of this stellar organization, the brilliant Polish immigrant who arrived in this country a few years ago unable to speak the language, captivated the group with his hour-long presentation, “Attraction Marketing Secrets Revealed — Getting Clients to Come to You!”

The speaker’s 7-Step Attraction Marketing System not only laid out a road map for attracting clients, he literally took his fascinated listeners by the hand in outlining just how to accomplish the purpose stated in the program’s title. As his audience munched quietly on their tasty food fare, the clever and articulate Mr. U served up a delicious blend of marketing advice and examples, though only in  appetizer-sized portions (more later on how to get larger portions).

In the process of delivering a series of marketing truths to which I enthusiastically subscribe, the former restaurant owner made some statements that are so refreshing, I thought I must share just a few with the subscribers to this newsletter. Without further hesitation, here (paraphrased) they are:

  • 99% of success or failure comes directly from your  ability to market yourself and the ability to attract and keep customers.

.  You are in two businesses: your core business and marketing/selling.

  • You are in business for one reason: to solve other people’s problems profitably.
  • There are three ways to spend time: 1) Waste it

2) Trade it for dollars

3)  Invest it

Urbanski said we in the audience were manifesting an example of   number three simply by attending educational sessions such as his.

  • You (particularly in a service business) are selling      a “mystery bag,” in that people don’t know exactly what they are going to      get when they come to you (you have to build their understanding of just      what it is you offer, and build their confidence).
  • People don’t buy your services because they  necessarily understand what you do, but, rather, because you make them feel understood.
  • People buy two things: Good feelings and solutions to  problems.

How to get in touch

While time limitations dictated that Adam could merely scratch the surface, his talk – and some delicious salmon followed by chocolate cake — made the lunch break a tasty and stimulating affair, indeed. For more information oh his products and workshops, visit

Are you in focus?

I was invited to participate in an interesting focus group the other day. It was presented by Sharon Williams, founder/CEO of HR Choice, with the help of her “chief assistant” and husband, Dennis. The subject was a new product offering being introduced by the well-established and successful human resources firm.

The two-hour session was very well prepared and effectively formatted. It was so well, executed, in fact, that I’m quite certain the company will benefit greatly from the ideas generated by the 10 invited participants.

It reminded us of just how effective the focus group method can be in gleaning reactions and ideas from a diverse audience, in minimal time and for minimal dollars. Perhaps you should consider adding this time honored technique (used, after all, by all the corporate giants) to your marketing arsenal.

Want some technique tips? Contact us.



August 5, 2013

Who let the rats out?

Filed under: Marketing Quick-Tip — admin @ 9:53 am

We were touring a potato chip factory the other day. Or, as ex-Veep Dan Quayle would say, a potatoe chip factory. And there, alongside the bubbling kettles and spud-laden conveyor belts, inauspiciously positioned on the floor next to the wall, was a tiny little (redundancy intended) tunnel with a sign above it that read, Rodent Station.

After being assured by our congenial guide, in response to my query, that management didn’t really expect the rats to read the sign and then obediently report to the station, I wondered aloud why the poison-containing station was positioned as it was, against the wall. The answer came back as plain as the writing on the wall. “Because,” said our host, ”It is well known that rats, for purposes of their perceived security (I paraphrase), tend to travel along the walls rather than simply darting, in the open, across the room.”

Upon regaining my composure at having been exposed to my peers as an idiot for not knowing such a well known fact, I overcame what I recognized as an impending and potentially dangerous flirtation with a permanent, mouse-like lack of self-confidence. I put this frightening thought out of my mind, regaining my poise long enough to consider the consequences of this newly gleaned knowledge. Could there be a marketing application for this revelation?


.  .  . and it was comforting to contemplate, soothing as it did my discomfort of the previous moment at having been revealed to be one so very rodent-knowledge challenged. But, of course there was an application! Even better, it was a sparkling little gem that could be shared with you, faithful reader. Behold, it follows.

Here it is: When our mouse-like instinct for self-preservation beckons us to contentedly follow the others in the marketing rat race safely along the wall, rather than seeking our own path of independent thought and creativity, chances are we’re going to get zapped anyway. We will probably fall victim to failure, or, even worse, mediocrity, without even taking a grab for the brass ring (I think I may have just broken the state record for metaphors in one sentence).

The point remains, and it is this: The path of least resistance is often the path of least achievement. When our natural instincts to go with a heard mentality in the name of safety gets the upper hand, all it usually nets us is a ringside seat from which to watch the real innovators run the race – and reap the rewards. It’s like that beautiful gal (or guy) we were afraid to ask for a dance, thus only guaranteeing us the chance to dance alone.


Here’s how it usually works: Company A comes up with a great idea and puts it into action. After watching it apparently succeed just long enough to get the drift through one or another indicator, Company B begins thinking to itself, ”Rats, those guys seem to be on to something good — how quickly do you suppose we can superimpose our brand over something just like it?”

I’m sure if you were to give this concept a few moments’ thought, you would be able to come up with as many examples of the aforementioned phenomenon as I. Unfortunately, it has become a prevalent distortion of the long-revered American Way. It’s become as common as the ubiquitous kids’ plea to a parent: “Mom, please let me go. Everyone’s doing it!”

Since results of a recent consumer survey have shown that fully 36% of the American populace are risk-adverse followers, who live a life of fear, we shouldn’t be surprised, should we, to learn that the theme of William Lederer’s 1961 bestseller A Nation of Sheep is alive and well? And it has spread like wildfire through the ranks of so-called marketing planners and entrepreneurs.


Is there an antidote for this disease? Perhaps not, but there is, nonetheless, a potential remedy. It is the one I offer to so many of my clients who live in fear of the robbery of their great idea.  This fear manifests itself in many ways, including being afraid to tell their prospects about their idea in an effective way, lest it be snatched away by a known or unknown competitor. (How’s that for a parallel to being afraid to ask that beautiful person to dance?)

Here’s my advice: If it truly is a good idea, yes, it will eventually be copied. (Shucks, people even steal BAD ideas on a daily basis!) But a copy is never as good as the original, particularly if the original never rests on its laurels (like, unfortunately, so many tend to do). It is simply a matter of building up that precious lead-time and a not-so-simple matter of continually reinventing the original before a carbon copy can claim its benefits.

Lastly, and most importantly, Don’t hide the light of your great idea under a bushel basket (are you old enough to remember that bromide?) out of a fear of imitators. To do so is to simply forfeit your opportunity to succeed. The secret is to out-design, out-develop and out-market the imitators. All things being equal, being first to market with great ideas gives one a certifiable 30% better chance of succeeding than the first mimic