Marketing

Blog Post: How Not To Act Like An Expert

I've been offering business insight to help experts achieve higher financial performance, manage people better, staff appropriately, and provide services that their clients value. In the last 20+ years of doing this, I've observed a few practices that contradict expertise. Here are some things that I notice experts doing that seem to contradict how they want us to see them.

  • Be Too Busy to Articulate Thought Leadership There are all sorts of reasons why experts don't write and speak, but none of them are legitimate. If you don't have the time, you aren't making enough money. If you don't know what to say, you aren't an expert. If you don't know how to say it, you haven't practiced enough. If you find too many audiences when directing your writing, you haven't focused enough. Aside from the content itself, having the time to write it sends just as powerful a message.
  • Be Immediately Accessible to the Client Whether misguided or not, developed cultures prefer that their experts be largely...
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Blog Post: Advantages of Horizontal Positioning for Your Agency

In the last blog, I covered the four advantages of vertical positioning. I want to finish that series by covering the four advantages of horizontal positioning.

As before, you can derive more value from this exercise by flipping each advantage around. For example, a primary advantage of vertical positioning is being able to locate your prospective clients. Flipping that around, a primary disadvantage of horizontal positioning is that it's hard to find your prospective clients because you usually can't purchase a list of them. Very few agencies who are positioned horizontally are also successful, but there are nevertheless many advantages and it is worth your consideration.

First, horizontal positioning brings more variety. This is in fact why eighty-five percent...

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Blog Post: Advantages of Vertical Positioning for Your Agency

Positioning decisions probably last longer than most marriages, so let's get it right! Ignoring the dozens of nuances to consider, for a moment, let me help you think through the biggest issue: the pros and cons of positioning your firm vertically or horizontally. I'll start with vertical because the vast majority of firms who are positioned well have a vertical positioning. These are the four advantages of vertical positioning.

First, verticial positioning makes it so much easier to find your prospects. Whether you buy a list of prospects or not, think of it like this: can you buy a list. Conversely, if you cannot buy a list, you are likely going to struggle finding your prospects. That's because your targets don't share sufficient characteristics to be on the radar of the world trying to sell things to them, and from their point of view, their problems aren't so unique that they value working with an agency that specializes in solving them. If you can't buy a list, you are looking for a group of prospects that nobody else thinks is worth tracking.

Second, vertical positioning benefits from decision makers who...

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Webinar: Growing Existing Accounts

Webinar: Who does it, what should you expect, what are the most effective methods, etc. The core of this webinar comes from interviews with 1,100 of the best account people at agencies around the world. You'll be fascinated with some of the basics and some of the unexpected findings, proven in the field. Please join us and pick the low-hanging fruit among your client base. $160

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Webinar: Scoring Some Quick New Business Wins

Webinar: On the one hand, you'd like to score some big wins, start to finish. You're starting all the way back at generating some good leads, and all the way forward to having that first check clear the bank. On the other hand, though, you don't want to compromise your positioning, which has taken years to build meticulously. After all, experts don't beg, right? And as exciting as it might be to land a big fish, the last thing you want is to send out signals that will forever ruin the relationship with this new client. Sign up for this webinar to learn how to score some big wins, start to finish, and still be the expert that charges a lot and makes a big difference in the client relationship. $160 1:00-2:30p central. Purchase.

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Blog Post: Thinking Digitally...If You Do Digital or Not

Click here if you would rather listen to this blog entry (8:16).

Marketing firms have been understandably concerned about how digital they must be in order to remain sufficiently central to the marketing mix. We’ve lost something, though, by framing this discussion around whether we should actually develop digital properties instead of around the broader question of how we should learn from digital thinking. In other words, we might need to approach our work—digital or not—with a more digital mindset. I want to talk about that, but I also want to talk about how you might go about deciding the degree to which you do digital, too.

At the outset of this movement, there were so few firms developing digital properties that it was actually difficult to make a poor positioning decision. The tools were rudimentary, no one knew what good digital really was, and that world was there for the taking.

Developing digital properties, though, now shows more signs of being a mature market, meaning that there are few gaps to arbitrage. Strong tools are widespread, we have nearly twenty years of experience to inform our work, and suddenly kids in the garage don't seem to own this anymore. (They have gotten bored and moved on to social media.)

The last two decades have ushered in a new medium, but the true impact of digital is barely felt. Worst of all, even digital firms aren't thinking digitally. But—and this is so exciting to say—the promise of digital impact is at your doorstep. If you miss the promise of digital thinking, you'll suffer far more than missing digital itself. I'd like you to consider thinking digitally....

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Blog Post: Life is What Happens WHILE You Fix It

My Declaration for Your 2014: The Year of Your Own Oxygen Mask

This year I will jot down some clever ways to peg the amount of "care" my clients bring to the table, and I will willingly match that level, just because it's the right thing to do. But for my own sake, I will not exceed that level, just because it's also the right thing to do.

I will quit pretending to solve the potable water crisis in Africa and I will take a glass of cold, refreshing water to a randomnly chosen employee on occasion. I am tired of the hypocrisy of wanting to change that world while being a #@%!) shitty manager in this one.

Not inconsistent with this, I will finally boot that one employee out of the nest. Yes, they have done every job in the place and been with me as the organization has matured, but they no longer have the presence, objectivity, ability, or hunger that we need. If I hear them tell one more new employee that they've been here the longest, have done every job, and know how and when to present things to me, I may just make a decision on the spot.

I will be so, so grateful for whatever health and intelligence I've managed to retain through these years. [Pause and be grateful, please.] I won't view life as something that happens after I fix it, but something that happens while I fix it. The journey itself must be savored, along with the control and freedom and opportunities I have to NOT feed the machine.

If what I've just said still doesn't...

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Blog Post: Losing a Gorilla Client

A "client concentration" problem refers to having a single related source of work representing more than 25% of your gross profit (fees + markup income). That's usually the point at which the yellow light should blink on your financial dashboard. That same light should blink red if it moves to 35%, because my research shows that to be the median at which one-half of firms fail. In other words, one-half survive the loss of a client that represents ca. 35% and the other one-half fail. Maybe not immediately, but they can usually trace it back to that point if they were not prepared for it. This is meant to prepare you for it.

You either had, have, or will have a gorilla client. Don't be afraid of it, and don't say "no" to the work. A problem like this almost always comes from something great you've done and you deserve the accolades in the form of even more work. Don't get a huge head, though, because unusually high spikes in your top line revenue typically stem from a client concentration issue and not unusual and sudden strong new business skills.

First Step: Honesty

When I talk about this to clients, the first thing they always say is this: "Yes, but all this related work is coming from different departments, and even different contacts in the same department. In fact, they hate each other and we'd probably get more work if we lost one department!"

That's bullshit, if you'll pardon me, because it assumes....

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Blog Post: Using Tweriod to Analyze Your Twitter Account

There are thousands of tools for social media, and only a few dozen that strike me as useful. One of those is Tweriod, which analyzes your Twitter account, including when followers are most likely to interact with you, and thus when you should post. Best of all, it will auto-populate your account at Buffer, building the schedule for each of your accounts accordingly.

Click to download a 9-page PDF of the data from my account to illustrate what you'll see.

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