There was a time when I used to wake up thinking about everything that was wrong. And how to make it better. It is useful, helps hundreds of thousands of people in several areas achieve good grades, results and it is a constant source of improvement. But this has little use, it doesn’t change your life, doesn’t leap from average to incredible.
Today, I know for sure what does. How to turn every story from mundane to epic. You have to focus in what works, and then change that into something absolutely incredible, something that is so good no one can afford not to notice.
Things that matters most shall never be at the mercy of things that matters less
Happy new year 2013
A goal properly set is halfway reached
This is the time of the year where most companies need to deliver their next-year business plan. The idea alone is a nightmare for too many managers and marketing executives. We have to acknowledge it is a painful process. Especially cause most of us focus on the wrong problem.
How to start a Business Plan
Set an achievable goal
If you are the offensive-coach of a football team and start without asking every single one of your players for X number of rushing yards, or Y number of completed passes. You are doing it wrong.
Most definitely, if you start your business plan without a solid goal, you will fail, because you don’t know where you want to go, therefore, you’ll never get there.
Review your product strategy
Home much did you sell this year?
Sun Tzu said “Know your enemy and know yourself, find naught in fear for 100 battles” before go out there to research others research yourself. Learn from yourself, learn from the mistakes you made this year and move on, but more important than that is to learn from your success.
101 – Know yourself
Review all sales, considering cycles, seasonality and every possible variable. Make sure to attribute success to the right variables, set them apart, create a statistical approach if you have the tools for it, or follow an objective logic if not. Also consider that across markets you may have different approaches. People in Napa valley are more likely to have a car than people from Manhattan
Distribution (People / Channels)
Now that you know which products generate 80% of your revenue, you can move forward and analyze the distribution (the people / channels) used to sell your products. Ask yourself these questions.
- Who were the top performers?
- Why did they get to sell more than the average?
- How did they do it?
- Is it the markets?
- If it is the markets what do they have in common?
- Is there a drastic change in one market?
- What are the trends that can be expected for the upcoming year?
What do we have so far?
- We sold 15 million USD
- We sold 21 different products across 13 markets. 5 of those products represent 64% of our revenue
- The markets A, B, D and G experienced change. While market G grew significantly, markets A, B and D lost share.
- The Y-segment started purchasing our products 3 months ago helping us increase sales in the market G.
A solid marketing plan will be to present last year figures, consider the needs of the company for new revenue, create a marketing strategy that will increase the sales of your main products and alternative scenarios, where you can bring together strategies to market your products through new distribution channels.
If you company needs 25 million USD in sales for the upcoming year, that means you have to increase your sales almost 70% to meet your quota.
You want to present the board members with a bullet-proof plan. It really depends on what kind of situation you are in. Yo can always pursue one of this strategies
- Restructure to increase prices
- Lower inventory in poor-performing products
- Clear inventory on poor-performing products
- Creating a synergy with your top performers
You are in a service oriented industry. Then you may not have inventory, but you have a quota to make. You have to consider whether or not paying commissions the way you are doing it is really making any money for the company.
These articles are developed to show the logic behind one of many ways to create a marketing plan. The success depends on the implementation.
Part 2 – Know the enemy
Part 3 – How to win the battle
Your company is only as good as its people.
It is that time of the year where you are setting those goals for the next year, and talking people into buying your ideas. Shareholders want more revenue, employees more money or new challenges, and what you want as a manager is to deliver to both. That’s if you care as much for your team as you do for your company.
Taking your organization to the next level of greatness is always in your mind, and is a goal that is constantly changing and moving. To achieve and over deliver you need to surround yourself of A-Players.
How to recognize an A-Player?
A-Players are scarce, you know them on sight, they have passion for what they do and excel at doing it.
- They are knowledgable
- Tend to be determined and goal oriented
- Work fine with teams and excellent on their own
- Are passionate about what they do and excel at doing it
- They don’t guess, they know
- Facts are more important, and they validate their assumptions with numbers
- Are willing to take calculated risks
- Great decision makers
- Communicate as much as needed and hate to spend precious time in meetings
- Are over confident and often more tan not, consider a little cocky
- Loyalty to the company an the team are above standards
- Willing to go extra mile to achieve the desired goals
- Self-motivated and quick to adapt to change
- Always ask the right questions
- Tend to be movers and shakers within the organization
- They share their knowledge and delegate quickly
- A players take control of situations when needed
- Some need to be recognized for what they do
- Some need to be free to implement the best strategy to achieve the goal
- They don’t work well on short-leashes
- Get the job done right
- Not afraid of rough feedback or setbacks
Consider this the next time you hire someone. Great players more often than not know their true value, they tend to willingly accept challenges to lead the organization towards success.
Once you have hired a great player, you will have to spend time training him/her int he dos and donts of the organization, until they know them, better yet until they own them, provide them with a set of goals, a team, and all the resources and freedom they need to thrive.
B Players need to be told what to do and how to do it. They will be afraid of changing the method, and even more afraid of taking responsibility for doing so. A players need to be told what the goal is and know the constraints about return on investment and policy.
Great players require great managers. A great manager is that one who knows you don’t manage teams, you manage people, and every individual has its own way to deal with things. Establish a communication method that works fine for both of you and give your A-players room to thrive.
Last but not least, remember that A-players are people too. Revisit Maslow’s hierarchy of needs or any other material you find useful and make sure you and your company are doing every single possible thing to keep your A-players focused and need-free. You’ll learn that sometimes it is not about money, but inspiration instead. If you want someone to do great work, lead by example, walk-the-talk, inspire by action.
Don’t be scared to loose your job to someone better be Scared to sink your company because you didn’t. Don’t hire B players to make you look good. They will do that by developing great work.
If there’s only one thing you can do, choose to do the right thing
Hellen Keller said once
Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them; but do not let them master you. Let them teach you patience, sweetness, insight
Every single time a year ends it is time for good food, joy with friends and family, and some reflection. I have come to accept several areas of opportunity about my personality this year alone
- I am an angry man
- Being angry is the easiest way I know to get de-attached and focused
- I am short tempered
- Despite the fact of being raised a catholic, I despise dogma. (That is what made me agnostic)
- I know when and why to say No
- If I can do several average things or just do one thing really good. I will focus on doing just one thing really good
- I despise failure and have over-punished myself for failing
- I don’t know how to celebrate my victories
- I love taking calculated risks, and that scares people
- I am the fact-oriented, get-what-I-like kind of guy. That is perceived as rude by the touchy-feely kind
- I share, train, talk and trust the teams I work with. You will have the time of your life working with me, but you will learn. You want nurturing, go get it from your mom at home
- Time is more valuable than money. I really dislike micro-management meetings, doing spreadsheet reports (There are apps for that, you know!)
- Growth is outside the comfort zone. Change is uncomfortable to people. I like changes, I like growth
- I like success
- I don’t think the concept of enemy or war is wrong
- I am loyal, committed and reliable
- I am not easy to manage, need lots of creative freedom, and dislike bureaucracy
- I like to get my hands dirty doing the job everyone else is doing and find ways to make it better
- I do not believe in hierarchical structures of management but in connected symbiotic management networks
- I say words like despise and hate a lot
- I know I need a team to even more awesome at what I do
- I am judgmental and my ego is an 80 story building
Although so far I have achieved a lot of the things I want in life. I know I need to keep working on my areas of opportunity.
It is my responsibility to communicate myself better. If the average worker cannot understand what I am saying, I am doing it wrong. It is my responsibility to start celebrating every single victory as if it was a big deal and not let it go to my head. I need to work on being humble. I need to accept that there are some things I cannot change, create a plan for those things and look for possible and improbable alternatives for those things I dislike.
I shall outsource and delegate what I don’t like doing and make sure it is done right.
I will continue to do the right thing with style and precision. I will continue to be AWESOME. I am just going to pay more attention to the mistakes I made to prevent them from happening again.
2013 is going to be a year of celebration for me. I hope it is a year of celebration for you too!
People are reluctant to change. Yet both things are equally inevitable!
Iaax Page – 2009
Back in 2006 we were all living the dream at the expense of lies in the Real Estate bubble. Hundreds of businesses seemed to thrive, several people in different industries thought they had it all figured out, that they were in fact the secret behind their sudden business success.
People talks about facebook much, and how a young adult made him self billionaire over night. But it is not the case. Facebook got a 500K investment from Peter Thiel before and then went to Accel Partners for more money.
What gave a start up a $98 million valuation? We know it was not the business model (They didn’t have one). But there was something there and people saw it. Mr. Thiel made a lot of money out of his first investment.
This are all stories about assessing risk. None of them is telling us how to measure success in the right way. That is a critical problem that needs fixing. Measuring success in the right way is critical for your organization.
In Digital Marketing we have some awesome tools that allow us to generate incredible change for our organizations. We can identify were our clients are coming from, we know so much about them, their location, their age, what language they speak. But what is a really deal breaker in Digital Marketing is that our audience is willing to tell us what they’re interested on.
Back in John Wanamaker’s days he knew that half is advertising investment was waste. He just did not know which half.
Today, we have the ability to reduce the waste to the bare minimum. We have the ability to track our efforts and measure the success of it all. This gives us a competitive advantage, a key differential for performance we can use to determine which campaigns are driving revenue and which campaigns are blowing smoke.
As a small business owner you know it is highly important to be profitable. Stop your decision making right now and ask yourself these questions.
- Do you have a solid marketing plan with projections by channel, and estimated sales?
- How much are you willing to invest in one media channel or provider before calling it a day?
- How are you going to make sure you deliver the numbers and reach your quota if several of your channels stop delivering qualified prospects?
- Are you planning to expand your media purchasing based on performance or are you purchasing all the media out of the marketing budget?
- Is your marketing budget self-sustainable. This means do you assign a percentage of every sale for marketing and branding?
How solid does you marketing strategy looks now? Are you taking every precaution to make sure you make it? Or are you jumping into an adventure?
I love the idea that fortune favors the bold, but I know as a fact that if you are bold and have a plan your chance of success are much higher. Create a solid marketing strategy to start selling in 2013 like you have no competition whatsoever.
Need help? I am always available for chatting and consultation.
Retail is great. Retail is freaking awesome in deed. There is so much people talking about how digital is going to debunk real stores that is hard to hear anyone. To be honest with the world we need to stop believing such a lie.
There’s a market for everyone and everything. Humans are social by nature, as long as there are humans in this world, there will be malls and market places. Digital is not a replacement of your life it is an enhancement.
This year I failed to live by my code and decided to join the wagon of the Black Friday / Cyber Monday maniacs. Instead of just going with the flow I should have seen and learn from digital market leaders such as Bestbuy, e-bay and amazon. Bestbuy extended their promotions for well over a week after Cyber Monday, welcome Cyber Week.
We did fine in sales, however there’s always something we can do better. Next year, I’ll remember to double check my basis, and not to try to compete against retail when it is not my place. My place is the Internet and the Internet has its own set of rules.
Read more about Cybermonday sales at Inc Magazine
That’s the way it is with good ones, you’re sure you’ve heard them before. Bad Blake, Crazy Heart
I’ve been listening to The Black Keys lately, specially that album El Camino. I have to tell you I was immediately hooked. It seems like old music made new, like an Indy band is playing covers on old blues songs. And yet they’re not.
Here are my thoughts on how to apply the same principles to marketing.
1. You are not an artist
Understand and accept this; better yet own this principle.
I am not a musician, not by far. I am a marketer, I do what I love to do and people pay me to do it. Keep yourself humble and remember you are not the only creative out there. Save the Rock-star attitude for the press conference time.
2. A great song is not just lyrics
The media, the wording, the product and how you relate to the market are key elements for campaign success. But above all is the message, how you relate to the audience is what matters the most. Resonate with your target audience like a song who seems to be an old song they’ve heard before.
3. A Great artist stills
If you are going to look at someone else’s job, make sure you pay for it, but above all make sure to still it. You know the song “My Way” by… wait a minute Paul Anka? Yes, we all remember Mr. Personality himself Frank Sinatra singing My Way. Although Paul Anka is the original singer and songwriter, Sinatra’s performance is unparalleled, he made that song his song. He has stolen that song for generations to come.
4. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
If you are anything like me, you will probably obsess over the quality of the final product, even risk to delay its launch and have everyone working for endless-days until it is perfect. Achieving perfection is time consuming and a never ending job. The best way to do this is to create perfect campaign for a particular audience. Write every single creative idea into post-its on a wall. The key to perfection is assessing what really is elemental to resonate with the audience. After all it was Antoine de Saint Exupery who said “Perfection is achieved when there’s nothing else to take away”
5. Practice makes perfect
Practice finding the key elements to great campaigns on accounts you want and you don’t have. Practice on those campaigns you hated. Practice on those customers who turned you down. Practice until it hurts and you don’t want to do it no more, and then practice some more.
6. Write 2-minutes songs
When you are able to see the key elements that will make your campaign resonate with your audience you’ll be able create great campaigns. Learn to do this as fast as possible, businesses don’t give second chances, if you delay to much a campaign presentation only to deliver something your customer doesn’t want it will cost you a lot of money. Not only from the customer that turned you down but from all the referrals you will not get.
7. Do burn your guitars
Jimi Hendrix iconic guitar burning moment happened when he felt he was playing so bad that audience was not paying any attention to him. He decided to sacrifice his guitar by setting it on fire. Or so the story tells. Burn your guitars, learn that you will not be able to get every single client and that everyone fails but winners never quit.
Update from comments
My Way lyrics were written by Paul Anka and set to music based on the French song Comme d’habitude composed in 1967 by Claude François and Jacques Revaux. “My Way” is often quoted as the most covered song in history and its lyrics are not related to the French Song or it’s english version. More on Wikipedia My Way.