It's all about the STORY!

Posts tagged ‘marketing’



(aka: the selfish monologue in business = short term)

Philosophically, our only true ability in life is to generalize from oneself. The only true perception we will ever have is our own, even when we empathize or “see through another lens” it’s still our interpretation of it. So, self is always in play no matter how hard we may try to remove ourselves. That’s not a bad thing, but it can get complicated when you’re establishing a company.

Portrait of smiling businesswomanYou need to know your *WHY* but whether you consider that to be personal or universal will greatly affect the scale and ultimate sustainability of your business.

At first a company is but a seed, a beautiful idea. Then, we nurture it into existence. We feed it, water it, love it, even struggle with it, then it blooms! Still, we think of it as our own, but is that the best view for the long-term health of pure creation?

Maybe you grew an orchid — a boutique hybrid that is gorgeous and exclusive and very personal. That’s wonderful! But it’s not very SUSTAINABLE. It has a targeted quick lifespan that will be enjoyed by a very limited number of people who will get to experience it. Which is great if that’s the goal.

Perhaps, on the other hand, you’re growing a magestic cherry tree. Ahhh, that’s very different. Many entities have contributed to this successful incarnation and will soon come to rely on its existence. Sure, you planted the seed, maybe even started it in a small pot to keep it safe in its formative time, but soon it will be a critical part of a living ecosystem on the planet. Earthworms, bugs, microorganisms, squirrels, birds, owls, bats, raccoons, snakes, etc. will one day rely on its shelter, stature, fruit and other forms of its biology. Decay, sunlight, rain and dew will all contribute to it’s growth, though you may still contribute, keep it printed and healthy, it’s grown much larger than you. Frankly, it can even live without you, and that’s good. That was the point!

Using the analogy of growing these “plants” from seeds into maturity are similar in business. If you intend to stay small, as a rare flowing plant, enjoyed by an elite few, you’re allowed to be selfish with its mission — you’ll do no harm to it, and long-term sustainability that benefits many isn’t it’s goal. You’ll likely achieve success, then you’ll move on to your *next*

But, if you intend to build an empire or at least a mid-sized corporation that will be able to thrive, maybe as your legacy, long after you’re gone, you need a mission that isn’t about you but is all about the culture and ecosystem your establishing and sustaining. This is your *WHY* and it’s far bigger than *you*

You also need to ensure that this large sustainable *WHY* is something embraced by everyone and everything in your culture, from your workforce and investors to your customers and fans. The moment you think your *WHY* in this larger game is anything about you, you know you’re playing too small and threatening sustainability. Because if you think this majestic cherry tree is here to give you joy and shade, you’re not addressing the more important needs of the many contributing to it and relying on it. You’ll strangle it’s growth and prevent it from fulfilling its fullest potential for the greater good.

A small business can afford a selfish monologue for its *WHY* because its goal isn’t long-term sustainability for the masses. A larger company, intended for long-term sustainability, needs a more universal, cultural, ecosystem-oriented *WHY* to thrive and grow at the scale that is most suited to it.

#branding #scale #sustainability #corporation #mission #yourwhystatement #brandstory #startup

7 Tips for networking

7 tips for networking and building collaborative partners

1) Listen–spend less time pitching and more time asking meaningful questions and collecting answers
2) Remain open–even those whom may seem at first to be the most unlikely partners are the exact right person for your circle of influence. Try not to pre-judge.
3) Feel free to disagree–don’t shy away from people who may disagree with you…. While you don’t want to cultivate adversarial relationships, and manners and professionalism count for a lot, having opposing views in your circle can be brilliant to help challenge you and refine your practices
4) Come prepared with interesting questions–ask about mentors and role models, or who had the greatest influence on them as a child; ask about challenges overcome; ask about adventures they dream about or places they like to travel; ask if they have any great interest in arts, sciences or social causes…
5) Collect contact info–remember that your business card has one primary use, which is to serve as a conduit to collect the business cards of others. Take a moment to write a quick note on the backs of cards from people you find interesting to help you remember them and why you found them so interesting
6) Rod, reel and HOOK–if you’d like to cultivate a particular connection, have a reason to follow-up with them prepared so that they look forward to connecting with you in the future… information on an upcoming event, a project that may be of interest to them, an opportunity you are working to put together… anything
7) Smile–don’t forget that the most attractive thing about a person is confidence and personality. Of course showing up looking your best, well-groomed, polished and dressed appropriately helps considerably, too. However, even in an Armani suit, if you come across as being grumpy, shy or nervous… that behavior is loud and very, very difficult for others to overlook.

The Truth About Networking — How It’s Done

Just a quick word on networking, and I truly don’t mean to slam networking groups, but the most effective networking is done when you surround yourself with people who are passionate about similar causes, who are actively doing something in the community that matters to you, who are rocking a business or better still an industry that matters to you –these are your people. Find them. Also, the warm introduction of friends and colleagues who think you and this other massively awesome guy or woman might have a lot in common. Go hunt down your passion, get involved and interdependently cultivate a network that is meaningful to you and circle of influence… That’s networking!


What Poker, WoW and Chess mean to marketing… (AKA: Game theory and cultivating market research)

Games–the word brings different meanings to different people, from cards and gambling to board games on rainy days or smart phone apps  with angry birds attacking defenseless pigs to massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) such as World of Warcraft. Games capture the attention of people across the globe, hooking them into an experience that requires skill, attention to detail, concentration and often strategy and high levels of thinking. People young and old and everything in between love games, and savvy marketers have learned how to apply game theory to gathering intelligence about target markets.

There are specific traits of games that entice people to play them:

  1. It’s interactive–players do something and engage in a game.
  2. There is often an imaginary element to a game–players can transport themselves into another world, environment, character, space and time.
  3. It’s competitive–even if players only compete with themselves to get to another level or to receive a response that they want, there’s an element of achievement.
  4. Visual–using pictures, graphics and even animation to tell a story or further engage players–games are often highly visual.
  5. Rewards–games have an element of reward, and this can include anything from unveiling more information a player may want to receive to just attaining high scores and potentially comparing scores with friends and other players.
  6. Brain power–games require thought, whether they engage strategy, skill, knowledge or a complex combination of these elements, the brain is activated, and players get hooked.

What does this have to do with marketing? I’m glad you asked. Innovative marketers have learned that they can develop games, including all of the elements above, to collect valuable information about players–otherwise known as respondents in marketing lingo. In other words, market research in the form of a game, versus a bland survey, can be used to collect complex, valuable information about target markets. Research has demonstrated that players are far more likely to engage higher levels of thought and consider more complex elements to provide information collected if they are engaged in a game versus answering questions in traditional market research surveys. They are also more likely to return to the game and spending far longer periods of time providing enhanced information depending on the game’s structure and interactivity between multiple players.

Think about it. How can you use game theory to amplify your communications and marketing strategies? Hint: It can go far beyond market research and include customer service, e-commerce and multiple other systems in business. Get creative, and the applications are nearly limitless. It’s all bout engaging your target market more completely and collecting valuable information. Collective intelligence is the real name of the game.





Cause Marketing–transformative communicating

As a long-time professional in the nonprofit industry, specifically focusing on substance abuse and mental illness issues, this is a subject I know well–cause marketing. While it is a subject I know well, it’s interesting that I am witness to the fact that few grassroots organizations participate in cause marketing at all. In fact, most of the experience I have acquired in this particular realm of nonprofits was due in great part to my instance that perhaps the organization just try it out. Just consider that it might possibly be helpful to market and that no harm could come of it. Strange, you may think, as all businesses know that marketing is critical to building and sustaining a brand and loyal followers/customers, right? Well, nonprofits are a rare breed of business.

Many nonprofits have become so accustomed to receiving direct referrals from institutions such as courts, jails, prisons, shelters and hospitals that marketing only consisted of maintaining those long-term relationships with a select few funding entities and referral sources. Keeping staff salaries and program expenses covered was a job for grant writers and development and managed care officers. Well, if anyone has been paying attention, there’s not so much money going around in grant land these days, and philanthropy is a dark, dry, empty place. That’s not to say that these resources don’t still exist, but the landscape and substance is changing, making these funding options less lucrative and far more restrictive when the money does arrive. For instance, you might have luck getting your program funded, but good luck repairing that leaky roof or paying for all of the unfunded mandates the grant requires such as tracking and reporting complex outcomes and participant statistics, etc.

Enter the solution of cause marketing! Here’s what marketers for centuries have known:

  1. Develop a quality product and/or service
  2. Wrap around solid and reliable development and delivery methods–make sure your customers can get what they want within reasonable time frames consistently
  3. Make certain there is a method of quality customer service provided to address customer needs and concerns
  4. Ensure that the products and/or services available are of high quality and competitively priced
  5. …and we the marketers will make sure that specific target audiences know the product and/or service is here, that it is valuable to the market and that it solves or changes something for the better–marketers help solidify the branding among target markets and build a culture for customers to walk in the door and keep walking in the door.This str

This formula is no different for nonprofits. Go ahead and market. Pay attention to the unique needs of your target markets and develop services to answer those needs. They will pay for it. That’s how supply and demand works. Go out on a limb and be daring, and go all the way. Don’t hold back, because reservation is the house of failure. It’s okay that you’ve never done it this way before–dream big and charter new grounds. Be the innovators and leaders in your field. Let the public and your target markets know you are here, listening to them,  responsive to them and are committed to answering their needs.

If you’re a nonprofit who serves populations experiencing poverty, then give your philanthropic pleas a face-lift. Remember Twain’s story of  “Tom Sawyer and the White Washed Fence.” Make giving to your cause something special, an honor for philanthropists to be a part of. Stop begging and instead be exactly what they want to support. Find out what your target philanthropists value most, and ensure that you organization mirrors those values. And all the while seek out cues from for-profit businesses to assist in generating income. Create jobs and help develop skills within your service population by developing a business venture. Market the whole package to venture capitalists and to the community, soliciting cash contributions for seed money. Do NOT think outside of the box, whatever that means. Throw the box away and create a real solution, and market that.

Cause marketing should be the new development trend within nonprofits to help them reinvent themselves and transform their services to better meet the needs and changes of the culture here and now.

Communication: Hospitality has one rule


Rule 1: Welcome, be welcoming and make an effort to put your guests’ needs and comfort a top priority.

This requires listening and paying attention to social and behavioral cues and body language. Prioritizing the needs and comfort of others is the grand basis of hospitality. Everything else is a variation and details surrounding the same theme. Obviously you cannot please everyone all of the time. What you can do is make an effort to care. I believe that hospitality is a value often forgotten or put aside to make room for other priorities, and I just wanted to provide a gentle reminder of its importance. Hospitality and graciousness is a trait that helps others measure your character–it is a direct reflection of who you are as a person. In relation to communications, remember to be welcoming and to have messages that prioritize the needs and comfort of others at the forefront. You will find that your public will take you up on your welcoming statements and sentiments and will want to be associated with your brand.

Having said this, this does not mean that being edgy, abrupt, snarky, sarcastic, etc. is not valid in good communication messaging. In fact, to several audiences, this is comfort and welcoming. The point is to know your public, know what they value and know what makes them comfortable. If you care about this, genuinely care, you will have your messaging on-point.

Happy communicating!

Thought of the day: Remain Open

Communication: Remain open. Open to receive new messages in new ways and to be openly responsive to the messages of others. Remain open to new ideas, especially if you find them challenging. Your first job is to actively listen. You can communicate back with far greater effectiveness when you first grasp then respond to the needs and messages of your audience. They will know you are communicating with them versus at them.

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