Out of the Way!

Since we acquired Puppy (AKA Coco) Maria has decided to keep both dogs in the kitchen when we leave the house. Bentley isn’t accustomed to this. Maria accomplishes this by putting a movable wooden gate at the entry to the dining room, and another at the entry to  the family room. The fist time we returned, both dogs were roaming around because Bentley, who weighs in at 80 pounds, shoved the gate aside. (He could probably jump the gate, but …


How Much Is That?

A commodity is something generally purchased solely on price. It’s undifferentiated, and no marketing heft is put behind it except for how inexpensive it is for the purpose intended. However, value is attached to non-commodities, including today: cars, pillows, hair coloring, cosmetic dentistry, pet supplies, lawn services, coffee, and coach seats on airplanes. These and other products and services demand differentiated pricing and purchasing based on factors other than “cheap.” Those factors include comfort, security, speed, quality, and ego. If …


Give Me the Ball, There’s Still Time

The Boston Celtics won their opening round playoff series after losing the first two of the best-of-seven games at home. They won the next four in a row on the road and at home. Now they’ve won their first game in the next series, for five playoff wins in a row. The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl after being down a record number of points early in the third quarter. The Boston Red Sox won a World Series …


Coaching 601

I’ve been coaching for a long time, and I have three immutable principles to guide me: I can’t help anyone who doesn’t want to be helped, and I don’t try. I give you my very best advice. Whether you accept it and act on it is a commentary on you, not me. If there are three options and I suggest the first, but you prefer the second and I think it will work, I will help you. But if you prefer a …


A Good Idea Until You Think About It

For many years I’ve been underscoring the fact that small businesses in the US (and Canada) are the primary generators of net, new jobs in the economy. Larger organizations tend to use automation and lean practices to reduce employment, and hire people as replacements—they tend not to create new jobs. Today I’ve learned that over the past decade, start-ups have specifically been the largest net, new job creators. Yet, in the US. that is exactly the group that will be hurt most …


Opening Lines

• What is it that prompted you to see me today? • Joan said that you do great work here, and that we could probably significantly help each other. • Let’s use our time well: What two things would you most like to hear from me, and I’ll tell you what I’d like to learn from you. • If you could be assured of making one thing happen over this next year, just one thing but guaranteed, what would it …


Making Time

If you can’t respond to an email within 24 hours or a phone call within four hours, there’s something profoundly wrong. You may think I’m talking about your response time, but I’m really referring to your philosophy about your business. This is the marketing business, not the delivery business. Without marketing, there will be no delivery. In 30 years of consulting, for Fortune 100 firms, non-profits, educational institutions, government, and closely-held businesses, I’ve never been so engrossed in my work …


The Prime Question

The title of this blog is “Contrarian Consulting.” Let me offer you the prime contrarian idea in this profession, which really shouldn’t be contrarian at all: First ask, “What is in the client’s self-interest?” The answer to that question should readily set your direction. It’s not any of these: “How can I make the most money?” “How can I protect myself?” “Which part of my methodology can fit in here?” “Where can I quickly get referrals?” If you think about …


If It Hurts When You Do That, Stop Doing It

Small businesses usually don’t fail because of poor products or services (in fact, the owners usually work themselves to exhaustion). They fail because of stupidity. My air conditioning guy, with whom I’ve spent thousands and to whom I’ve sent referrals, never showed up last season for a preventive check (which I pay for) despite three phone calls. I told him if he didn’t call me by today, we’re through. He won’t and we are. The local Bentley dealer and his …