Category Archives: Marketing Examples

Promo Made for Shark Tank Judging at San Diego Convention

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Brilliant Marketing

At the Four Season here in Palm Beach they take clients seriously. Later this year I’m conducting my fifth Thought Leadership Conference here. The sales manager investigated my background, and one of our daily amenities reflects my love of (and former) cars, spun sugar created by the chef. Any wonders why I love it here?

I've owned three Ferraris.

I’ve owned three Ferraris.

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Lisa Nirell interviews Alan Weiss

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Lessons on Thought Leadership

We’re going into the second day of my annual Thought Leadership Conference in Florida. Margaret Wheatley is our guest tomorrow, following Marshall Goldsmith and David Maister in prior years. Next year, Dan Pink has already committed.

Some lessons from the first day:

• You’re not a thought leader until others proclaim you as such.

• You can take the position that there’s “nothing new under the sun” and be cynical, or you can adapt ideas for key, changing variables in the economy, technology, demographics, and social mores.

• You need to tell people what will help them, not strive to achieve consensus. You need to be prescriptive, not solely diagnostic. Thought leaders evolve and change their minds.

• You must be edgy, provocative, controversial, even contrarian whenever possible. You have to stand out in a crowd, not disappear within it.

• Focus and discipline are essential. “To do” lists are meaningless. Schedule what you need to produce and create, and get it done.

• There is no pride (nor great reward) in being a “best kept secret.”

• Thought leaders create works: books, videos, audio, teleconferences, workshops, speeches, and experiences. The “thought” has to be manifest in terms of pragmatic improvement for others.

© Alan Weiss 2012. All rights reserved.

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Stop Listening to Customers and Have Them Listen to You

Henry Ford said, famously, that if he had asked customers what they most wanted in transportation they would have replied, “Faster horses.” Steve Jobs’s biography demonstrates that he virtually never asked customers for any feedback, but simply focused on providing exciting products, accepting the occasional dud. Akio Morita invented the Walkman in a complete vacuum of customer demand for such a device.

So why, then, do we still hear of organizations being “customer focused” or “customer driven” or incessantly convening focus groups and feedback mechanisms? I’ll tell you why: Because they’re afraid and out of ideas.

I don’t believe this is the equivalent of the draconian choices on New Hampshire’s license plate, “Live Free of Die.” Sounds like more of a threat than a philosophy. And I frequently listen to my clients who say, “We have critical mass to support this project if you’ll create it for us.” Throw money at me, and I become marvelously attentive.

But I also created a highly successful mentoring program, coaching program, consulting college, million dollar club, and scores of other experiences by simply creating what I felt would be exciting, challenging value for my ideal clients. I try to determine what they would most profit from which they can’t find anywhere else. Hence, high value, high fee. (Interesting how these things correlate, right?)

Banks, airlines, insurance companies, and most industries can’t seem to produce excitement. They stick to the tried and true and until it’s dried and blue. They listen to customers so that they can say, “You told us you wanted this now buy it. If it doesn’t work, it’s your fault.”

Great teachers create excitement for students. Great operations create excitement for customers. They provide value in terms of unknown need, and don’t merely respond to what customers want, which is a commodity, price sensitive business.

What kind of professional services provider are you? Are you trying to react to what clients want and compete on price, or are you creating new need and getting paid for that unexpected value?

It’s not a very hard choice if you want to be sought out and create your own future.

© Alan Weiss 2012. All rights reserved.

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Entrepreneur and Million Dollar Web Presence

A nice writeup for Chad Barr’s and my recent book:

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Standing Out In A Crowd

In a recent episode of the addictive cable show, “The Boss,” the star, Kelsey Grammar, demanded an aide remove all the Oxford commas from a speech transcript. The aide diligently accepted, and then investigated just what the heck an Oxford comma is.

I’m sure a great deal of the TV audience did, as well.

(An Oxford comma is a comma inserted at the end of a series before “and,” as in: “We had shrimp, lobster, cod, and scallops during the meal.” Almost all publishers demand the Oxford comma in their style books, but it is optional and the writing is correct with no comma after “cod.”)

This is how you stand out in a crowd, and I’m sure it’s what the writers of “Boss” had in mind. Make people think about what you say. Force them to look things up. Urge them to reassess their normal view.

If you’re in strategy, tell them planning kills strategy and “strategic planning” is an oxymoron. If you’re in organizational development, tell them that team building won’t help committees, and most of what they have outside their office are committees.

You get the idea. Ignore the execrable advice to “dumb down” your language, attire, and demeanor (advice given by people who just can’t compete themselves). Make people think, explore, and debate.

I use the Oxford comma, and I know what it means, and I think the world of the writers for their example, stretching us all.

That’s how you stand out in a crowd, even with something as small as a comma or its absence.

© Alan Weiss 2012. All rights reserved.

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Facebook or Farcebook?

Here is some interesting commentary on Facebook as a marketing tool, brought to my attention by Jim Powell:

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Preparing for 2012

What do we know about the coming year? I don’t think it’s too much of a prognosticating leap to suggest:

• Technology omnipresence and extraordinary growth globally, which will permeate every part of our marketing, delivery, and follow-up.

• Entrepreneurial gestalt: A merging of one’s personal and professional life as opposed to compartmentalization.

• Major overseas markets provide increasing potential (no matter where you currently reside).

• The ability to instantly communicate all kinds of content—mobile, right-on-time knowledge.

• Major government changes through both free elections and continuations of popular uprisings.

• Increasing “noise” that must be navigated or dampened in order to extract useful information.

• Increasing stimuli and sources all of which demand time investments, often linked to significant normative pressure.

• The departure of Baby Boomer executives and managers and their replacement by people with often significantly different frames of reference.

• Unpredictable financial markets.

Given these likely volatile changes (especially in combinations), what do your clients need to be successful? What must you do to consult, coach, and advise clients to improve their effectiveness in such environments?

First, there will be dramatically differing skills needed. Example: The ability to develop people globally who are rarely meeting in person is far different from developing people who work down the hall or can be easily called in from the field force.

Second, behaviors will have to be shifted to reflect factors such as real time coaching, customers who demand immediate responsiveness, and a greater consideration for cultural and generational diversity than ever before. Example: How does one act with an outraged important customer who is looking you in the eye on Skype?

Third, intellectual firepower that includes an accurate world view, understanding of true trends (as opposed to fads), and the ability to learn rapidly will be required of leaders at all levels. Example: How quickly can one make decisions about competition, customers, and strategy to allocate resources most efficiently?

Fourth, superb communications skills will be a differentiator for those who excel, both within their organizations and with customers. Example: It will be impossible to lead by “proxy” or from behind a closed door.

Fifth, the ability to brand and demonstrate value will be the key marketing advantage as competition and price sensitivity grow. Customer evangelists, as we’ve seen Apple create, will be strong off-balance-sheet assets. Example: The creation of viral marketing results in huge margins and strong growth.

What are you doing to prepare for what’s likely in 2012 as opposed to trying to repeat what might (or might not) have worked in 2011?

© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.

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Don’t Expose Me

Here’s a request placed on the web recently, which is all too common:

“I am looking for a speaker to present an hour-long audio conference on: ‘No Pay Raise for You this Year! How to Handle This Conversation with Your Employees.’ Our audience is made up of management and HR professionals across the country. The presentation is delivered virtually, so there’s no need to travel. The speaker will be required to submit a PowerPoint presentation that will be sent to the attendees in advance. While speakers will not be compensated for their participation, these audio conferences can provide them with valuable professional exposure, and we encourage speakers to include contact information in our promotions and in their presentation materials.”

Let me ask you two questions:

1. What successful person would want to share their intellectual property for the gain of a third party in return for dubious “exposure”?

2. What kind of “expert” do you think you’ll attract who is desperately seeking the “E-word” and wants to do this?

The audience is cheated, the quality is low, and the concept is dumb. This is what happens when people want to make money without investing in proper resources and trying to do things “on the cheap.” You get what you pay for, and when you pay nothing you get nothing. Don’t enable this kind of stupidity.

If you’re desperate for “exposure,” leave your windows open.

© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.

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