Process - Duct Tape Marketing

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29 10 Reasons Why I Don’t Buy From You

No matter how great a product, service, category or industry seems, there is always room for innovation that can drive more sales.

Ed Yourdon via Flickr

Often times we unknowingly create barriers to purchase simply because we don’t understand they exist as they aren’t insurmountable, just annoying. Or, we leave industry-accepted barriers in place because that’s just the way everyone does it.

One of the surest routes to drive new sales is to look for ways to remove as many barriers as possible. Entire industries have be reconfigured by people (usually from outside the industry) that look to some combination of the following elements for clues to the keys to innovation.

  1. Price – I don’t understand your pricing model or I don’t appreciate the perceived value you attach to the price. Explain why you priced it like you have and go to work on a price/value combination that blows everyone else away. (Hint: Don’t just lower the price, heap on value!)
  2. Package – I don’t get why I can’t buy it the way I want. Why can’t I bundle, mix and match and create pairings that make sense to me. Deconstruct how products and services are generally sold.
  3. Access – I want to buy direct from the source, see the product being made and talk to the people I might engage. Find ways to break down normal distribution channels and put faces on the people that do everything in your organization.
  4. Payment – I will gladly repay you Tuesday for a . . . today. Find ways to create the most favorable payment structure you can afford.
  5. Quality – I don’t want what the industry puts out there. Go over every inch of what you sell and find ways to make it better and demonstrate just how much attention is given to your quality. Define your processes so I know what I’m getting has a great deal put into it.
  6. Training – I just don’t think it will work for me. Teach me how it works, assure me that you’ll be with me until I get the result and perhaps long after as I try to get even more from my purchase.
  7. Accountability – I’ve been down this road before and I know I won’t use it like I should. Add a level of accountability. Show me how you will make it work for me this time, create a feature that allows me to track my progress or better still tell me that you’re going to work with me until it works this time.
  8. Design – This doesn’t wow me at all. What if you used design as a point of difference? What if you caught my attention because your space, packaging, product, communications and materials were stunning in field where everyone else just did enough to get by?
  9. Proof – Sure it sound good on paper, but . . .Get data, get tangible proof, get customers so thrilled with the actual, measurable results they’ve received that they are willing to sing your praises to the point where the proof in your promise is overwhelming.
  10. Assurance – The truth is I don’t really trust myself. Let me know that if it doesn’t work out, for any reason at all, for absurd, no fault, it was just an impulse and now I changed my mind, I can get my money back!

3 We Don’t Need No Stinkin Process

I’ve spent the last decade or so preaching the gospel of systems thinking for marketing.

I chose the word system as the cornerstone of the Duct Tape Marketing point of view because after working with small business owners for many years I found that they had no problem thinking about systems when it came to things like getting the product out the door or paying the bills. When it came to marketing, however, they never had anything that remotely resembled a system or systems thinking.

The White Board debate rages on

Over the years I’ve discovered that system is s big word and it’s up for lots of interpretation depending upon your dominant personality type or experience or whether you favor Demming, Drucker or Gerber.

See, I have a system for just about everything I do, but for someone that defines a system as manual, timeline, Gantt chart and task list, my system is rather maddening.

For me a system is simply a way to recognize how you practice your art, it’s not a stone carved tablet kind of thing.

The key to making this definition work is that you recognize and fully understand the pattern of how you get things done. Once you do that you can work inside of a framework that allows you document and collaborate in a systems kind of way.

For example, procrastination is a measured part of creation for me. If I find that I’m having trouble getting to something, it’s my universe telling me that I don’t have what I need fully formed yet – that’ just part of the process and I know it and adapt to it. It’s not a crutch when you recognize the power behind it.

To create forms and procedures or even rigid plans for how something actually gets done is one of the quickest ways to kill the unique art that’s possible.

While I firmly believe that you must align everyone’s thinking with a core set of shared objectives, you must stay equally flexible with how those objectives are achieved.

When you create an action plan that specifies every step along that path it’s a bit like jumping on a speeding train and saying I don’t know where we are going, but I know we’ll be on time.

A marketing system allows for innovation, ideation, new data, testing, refining, restarting and pivoting inside of a strategic framework that recognizes the need for checklists.

But, kill the art and you’ll kill the magic.

24 7 Reasons Why Your Business Is Stuck

Ever feel like you’re in a rut. Or worse, that you keep pushing that boulder up the hill, all Sisyphus like, only to watch it roll back down, feeling that you are destined to repeat this throughout eternity.

David Ensor via Flickr

Okay, citing Greek and Roman mythology may be a bit dramatic, but I see it every day and work with small business owners every day that tell me they desperately want to take their business to the next level, but can’t seem to get unstuck.

In working through this same phenomenon in my own business I offer these seven reasons why we struggle to move past where we are and hopefully some advice on breaking free.

You don’t have a compelling enough vision

The thing that moves people to act beyond what they are currently doing is a vision to do something so compelling that it forces them to change their behaviors in ways that would make it so.

The problem with most business owners is that they are only looking towards next week or next month. What if you looked at making your business and your life multiple times bigger and better than it is right now?

What would that force you to change? What would that force you to stop doing? Where would that compel you to take massive action first?

Your habits aren’t serving you

The fact is that most humans are simply the sum of their habits, good and bad. In order to create change, you don’t need to work harder or try to be more productive; you simply need to replace some of your habits with ones that better serve your vision.

That may mean adding exercise to your daily routine, learning how to say no once in a while, creating workflow that doesn’t include so much time checking email and conversing on Facebook. Maybe you need to start reading and writing. Maybe you need to learn programming or how to present to a large group of prospects from a stage.

Pick one habit that you know isn’t serving your vision and replace it with one that your know will move your forward and commit to practicing that new habit for at least a month. Then, do it again every month for the next twelve and you’ll transform your life.

Your relationships are Twitter thin

The age of friend, follow and fan has changed the dynamics of relationships. I’m not saying those tools are bad things, they have lots to offer, but I am saying it’s easy to sit back and conclude that since you’re chatting with someone on Twitter that you’re building the kinds of relationships you need in order to take your business to higher levels.

We can only manage so many relationships with any amount of depth. That number may vary from person to person to person, but I guarantee you it’s not 500 or 1000.

Pick three people this year that you believe could help you drastically improve your business and your life and focus on building a deep relationship with them. Here’s the catch however, do it by focusing all your attention on how you can help them.

You’re not focused on value

What if the stuff you gave away as part of your marketing was better than most people’s paid product or service? What if you spent as much time measuring the results your clients received as you did on trying to sell more stuff?

Your clients don’t really want your stuff; they want what they or you have convinced them they will get from your stuff. Simply look for ways to be a greater opportunity for them to get what they want and you’ll represent value in the best sense.

You’re worried about your weaknesses

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this phrase – I’m just no good at marketing – then of course it’s followed with, but I love to talk to people and help them get what they need, which of course may be one of the tidier explanations of what marketing really is.

Stop trying to get good at your weaknesses or shoring up areas that everyone says you need to get good at and start mastering the things you do really well, the things that bring you joy, the things that create value for you and for others and growth will flourish.

You’re filling your time

Ever feel like no matter how many hours there were in a day it wouldn’t be enough? Ever come to the end of a day and think, I don’t know what I did today, but I sure was busy?

The plague of work is that we are so completely capable of expanding it to fill whatever time we have available, whether that work is productive or not.

One of the things I truly believe you must embrace in order to take your business to the next level is to plan your time off first. I don’t mean vacation plans, I mean make a part of your compelling vision for the future the precise amount of time you will take to work on your vision and recharge your energy.

What if you planned backwards? What if, instead of taking a little time here and there when it occurred, you did something bold like decided to take every Friday away from the business or an entire week every quarter as a planned renewal period?

Now, you may not see how you could do that at this point, but unless you start to think bigger in this way, you’ll never get above where you are right now.

You’re managing the wrong things

Business is lot like soup. From the diner’s perspective it’s simply good or bad tasting. From the cook’s perspective it’s the precise compilation of broth, vegetables and seasoning that make it good or bad tasting.

I think we often approach our business more like the diner than the cook; we manage the soup rather than combination of the proper ingredients.

I’ve written about the three things we must manage before, but I believe one of the things that holds businesses back is a failure to view their business as a precise blend of purpose, projects and process – maintaining a focus on managing those three things at all times is how you take your business towards your vision.

13 Every Business Must Manage Only These Three Things

While one business may be organized in departments, job titles and roles and another basically made up of only one person doing it all, every business that grows and thrives internally and externally figures out how to manage three things at all times: purpose, projects and process.

Lots of employees come into businesses hoping to rise to the ranks of management. The thing is every employee in a business is a manager of something. Lots of business owners start a business and quickly realize they must manage everything. The question is manage what?

As a customer, if you enjoyed a remarkable experience with a business there’s a very good chance that experience enjoyed the complete attention of management from three very distinct points of view – but what really made it remarkable was that it didn’t feel managed at all.

No matter how simple or complex a business may seem if it is to come to life it does so essentially orchestrating these three things – communicating purpose as strategy, delivering innovation, growth and positioning through the implementation of project after project and creating a remarkable culture and consistent customer experience through the operation of process after process.

Purpose by Mark Anderson

The cartoon above was done for me by Mark Anderson. Check out Mark’s custom cartoons and consider commissioning one for yourself.

No matter how many people actually go to work in a business, every business needs to fill the role of Purpose Manager, Project Manager and Process Manager even if all three of these roles are played by the same person.

The role of the Purpose Manager is to create and tell the story of why the business does what it does, create and keep the picture of where the business is headed and act as the filter for business decisions made in the name of the brand’s positioning.

The role of the Project Manager is to continually look to break every business innovation, question, challenge, initiative or campaign into logical projects complete with required action steps and resources.

The role of the Process Manager is to receive and implement the tasks and action steps that fall from each project plan and operate established processes that ensure trust is maintained through consistency.

No matter how complicated we want to make our businesses, this is what success comes down to.

But, this is what makes owning a business such a challenge, this is what makes managing people such a challenge, this is what makes doing a job such a challenge. Finding the places where these three roles divide and where they come back together again is the art of the business and it’s not always obvious or even natural

If you’re the sole employee you must spend some part of each day playing these distinct roles no matter that your innate talents may reside squarely in one or the other.

As you hire staff you must focus on first hiring for your weaknesses in performing or managing one or more of the three roles not on job titles or departments.

As you grow your business you must build purpose, project and process thinking into every new department, innovation and initiative.

You must also guide your entire team to approach their work in this manner and give them the tools that will allow them to embrace purpose, think in terms of projects and know when and how process that delivers purpose is the right path.