Monday, June 4, 2007

Marketing messages are useless unless they are delivered by passionate messengers

It is amazing to me how much easier it is to implement and execute best practices by yourself and those that are motivated to achieve than it is to push the same thoughts and practices down an organization that is sufficiently happy with the status quo.

After cutting the hell out of my company from 30 to 7 people it amazes me that the seven that we have are enthusiastic and excited about distinguishing themselves from their competition. They want materials and marketing programs designed at setting themselves apart - designed to create a palpable difference in what they are doing. It is refreshing to say the least.

This differs greatly from trying to motivate 30 unmotivated, uninterested, unspectacular people who really don't give a shit about anything but picking up their paycheck every two weeks.

One of the most frustrating things about being a marketing person where the marketing philosophy is disconnected from sales is that the marketing is rendered impotent. It cannot be championed because sales is championed. Marketing, culture and differentiation must be driven from the sales leadership as well as the marketing leadership for any change initiative or marketing focus to be executed correctly.

Take for example the Customer Service Pledge that I designed for my company. It was designed as a tool to help combat some of the early customer inadequacies that our customers pointed out to us. Lack of return phone calls, lack of availability at signing, etc. were all ills that I hoped to stamp out through the implementation of this pledge.

The pledge was somewhat successful but not entirely. While some agents used it as a differentiator at first; human laziness tends to set in and inertia grinds them to a stop in using the form. The pledge does no good if it is not being sent out to the potential customers. Further the pledge wasn't being effectively enforced. The sales people weren't held accountable for acts of transgression. So the pledge - while nice and warm and fuzzy failed to produce the culture it expoused because there was lack of follow up from the leadership who was supposed to implement it.

And there lies the biggest problem for the marketer. Getting the leadership that must do the front lines execution of the plan excited and passionate enough about its need to make it a priority of theirs. If their isn't a burning need perceived by the leadership marked to carry this message out and through the masses it has no chance. The marketing team must make sure that the leadership sees it as a burning issue - a strategic competitive weakness - that can be corrected to add to the bottom line before they will put their effort behind it.

It is only when tying the customer and corporate benefit together that most sales leadership see the light go on. They have a harder time understanding and appreciating the fringe benefits of such a "culture" piece.

It's also a failure on the marketing side to not reinforce the values of the pledge and the importance of the document to the company's culture. Whether sales leadership pumps it down and out to the team is somewhat irrelevant if the marketing team stays on task and message and makes it a priority to spread out through the organization. This can be done via evangelists in the department who constantly promote their vision to peers.

By keeping focus (something marketing departments are notorious for losing) the marketing department can help cement and maintain the key core components of company culture and customer marketing via vigilant communications of those values to individuals through out the organization.

So, at the end of the day it is the responsibility of the marketing department to make a conscious effort to:
  1. Identify the core values that will create customer value, improve corporate culture, and differentiate the sales offering.
  2. Ensure leadership buy-in through passionate pitch to those responsible for championing the corporate message out to the customer interface. Maximize congruence between corporate goals and values and those outlined in number 1.
  3. Maintain focus on those issues through constant evangelism and communications to those tasked with implementing and executing - living those core values.
  4. Revitalize or replace all customer interface people who purposefully subvert, derail or ignore the value initiatives.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Positive Thinking - It's an Effort!

The mind is a creature of habit. It thrives upon the dominating thoughts fed it.

When any negative emotion presents itself in one's mind, it can be transmuted into a positive, or constructive emotion, by the simple procedure of changing one's thoughts. - Napoleon Hill
Think and Grow Rich and The Power of Positive Thinking are two of the titles that have been at the front of my library for the last few months. I try to read a few pages of Think and Grow Rich every few days before I get my day started in the office. I listen to The Power of Positive Thinking in my car on the 20-minute drive home from work. I'm on my 3rd time through the CD set.

Thinking positively in its simplest form "sure does make things easier". Stress, worry and headaches melt away when you are able to combine self-confidence with knowing you are not alone in the world (whether it be from your God, your family, or whatever you choose to believe in) and then add positive thinking to all of that. It has been a transforming power in my life. My wife would probably say its been incremental, and at some times it has, but my long term demeanor has definitely improved and I think my success as a person has improved along with it.

Thinking positive thoughts and taking pride and humbly appreciating everything you have in life is the best way that I have found to be a happier person - and that is what we are all after in this life, right? Every morning I thank the Lord for my wife, my son, my family and my health. I read my primary aim: "Provide a great life (one with love, joy, happiness and abundance) for me, my wife and my son." and I smile thinking about all that I have.

Regardless if work is tough, regardless of the unpleasantries associated with a lack of money, the inability to do certain projects that I am interested in doing because of money, I know that with a positive outlook those items will be attracted to me and I will achieve them at the time I am supposed to. I know that without those items nothing is lost as long as I have my family. For as long as I have them and their love I am the richest man in the world. It feels good to say it and know it's true.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

TED Talks

The TED conferences produce arguably some of the best ideas and insight in the world from the world's best and most innovative thinkers. These conferences feature luminaries giving short (20 minutes or less) speeches on a wide range of topics.

I am a big Malcolm Gladwell fan, and I've embedded his talk below. The amazing thing about these TED talks is that they are all available, for free, on their web site. I highly recommend that you go watch some of these and get insight from people who normally get $40,000 per speech for free right from the comfort of your home or office or home office.

Friday, April 27, 2007

4 Steps Essential for Success

  1. A definite purpose backed by a burning desire for its fulfillment.
  2. A definite plan, expressed in continuous action.
  3. A mind closed tightly against all negative and discouraging influences.
  4. A friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage [you] to follow through with both plan and purpose.

-- Napoleon Hill

The goal, as he says, is to make these four steps habit. No matter what we do on a day-to-day basis, dealing with the humdrum of everyday life, we need to make sure that we have these four elements constantly working for us. We need to take the time to set them in motion and then help them pick up steam.

Jim Collins in "Good to Great" describes a giant flywheel that takes the great effort of a constantly applied "push" to get the flywheel to begin to move. The pushes can't be sporadic or intermittent, the push needs to be constant and continuous. Only then will the flywheel begin to move. And the more pressure is applied continuously the faster the flywheel will turn. Eventually the flywheel will begin to whip around at high speeds based on its own accord and the energy you've invested in to the push.

This same philosophy applies, I believe, to the four steps essential for success. There has to be constant and continuous effort to make the four steps part of the every day. They don't work if you come back to them on the occasion of a burst of energy or epiphany. They need to be part of the fabric of your every day life.

Do not forget them in the din of the everyday - put them at the top of your list of daily activities. Water them and watch them grow in to the success you want.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Overcoming Fear

Fear, the worst of all enemies, can be effectively cured by forced repetition of acts of courage. - Napoleon Hill

I love this statement - the truth in it is astounding. I recall the fear I had, and sometimes still have at standing up for myself. A small act of courage perhaps, but no easy act for me. When I was younger my mom fought all my battles for me; this lead to me ducking many difficult situations later in life because I was incapable of effectively dealing with them. I never had to in the past.

I still get uncomfortable in confrontations, but I am less worried about the outcome now. Why? Because my wife forced me to repeatedly act with courage in sticking up for myself and our family. She doesn't let me get pushed around, but instead of fighting the battles for me she forces me to stand up for myself. I love her so much for her actions. She has helped me diminish the fear of confrontation and honesty by forcing repetition on me. It is the best medicine.

Fear will always be there, but if you can force yourself to overcome it by repeatedly engaging in acts of courage you will be able to diminish its hold on you and relegate it to one of those fleeting emotions that you have sound control over.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

It's Been a Long Time...

Wow, I have really neglected my personal blog - which is never a good thing. I have been consumed with I've posted over 200 times there since its inception a few months ago. I am also now a contributor to Bloodhound Blog and am a paid blogger for the new blog. Oh, and I also started up our company's blog at

A lot of blogging. I've been reading a lot lately too and Monday I'll be posting some more of my Napoleon Hill learnings over the last few weeks.

Monday, April 9, 2007


"The starting point of all achievement is desire. ... Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat." - Napoleon Hill

When it comes down to difficulties (and successes) there are really only two options: 1. stand up for yourself and what you believe in or 2. pack up and go home. There isn't much else. The desire to choose yourself, to choose your success is the key to success; and it is the key to prevailing over temporary set backs. The desire to succeed, to enjoy the things in life you want to enjoy is the power that keeps the successful moving forward towards their goals in spite of great difficulties.

The weak pack up and go home. They accept what life gives them as their fate. They accept this with out any attempt to change it. The lack of desire to improve their situation is in equal proportion to the lack of power they feel to change it. Weak desires produce weak results.

Without a goal, and with out the burning desire to achieve that goal you are at the whim of the world and nature. You accept what life gives you, good or bad, because you refuse to persist to the end state you desire. Giving up because things get difficult is the surest way to failure. There is hardly a man of wealth that didn't pay for his rewards in sheer persistence in overcoming obstacles along the way.

Desire, coupled with unwavering persistence is the only way to meet your goals.