Marketing = Business Development

What are you doing with great intention?

What’s that one thing you’re really focused on right now to develop yourself, your team, and your clientele?

How are you clarifying your expectations?

How are you walking your talk?

How are you educating and training forward?

How are you overcoming resistance and learning to go with a better smarter flow?

What’s your marketing strategy (plan) and tactics?

Low Pricing Is Not Leadership

Pricing right is leading. Using price to drive business is not.

Learning to price your services and goods can be a sticky wicket. When you operate a business, including the business of running your household, money and prices factor in.

Low prices = not leading.

Low prices = not leading.

Crowing that you have low prices will bring in low business expectations in the form of buyers you’ll train to think of you only for low pricing, nothing else. The “Low Price Leader” tagline is a misnomer and should disturb you. Low prices = low quality, low wages, high turn and waste. Everything in this scenario is being terribly exploited; there’s no leading in exploitation.

Pricing is an integral part of doing business. I’m grateful to have several colleagues who have been open to having the necessary conversations to help me learn how to price my services. It was especially difficult in the beginning since I had no benchmarks or comps for one of my businesses. Being educated by those valued colleagues has helped me immeasurably in my vocation, for which I am very grateful.

My goals have never included being the low price choice. We tend to get hung-up on money way more often than we should. Yes it matters but it only matters if you’re so focused on money that everything else is sacrificed.

Leading means setting the pace forward, not downward.

It’s akin to charging by the hour: I hate that practice and don’t understand why everyone doesn’t do away with it. When you charge by the hour, people look at the clock, not the value. It’s the wrong focus. We’re effectively saying “I’m (only) worth this many dollars per hour.” It’s a very one dimensional practice.

Perception is everything. The reality perceived by your customers in your pricing is a big element of your marketing. So what do you want to be known for? That’s what pricing communicates: premium to low rent, luxury to bargain basement (when cheap really isn’t a bargain anyway).

Set your pace on quality, on consistency, on purpose. Set it to make a living, so you can be comfortable by your own definition and so you can give to others. Lead with value, which is way deeper than dollars, never with numbers.

Don’t Blame The Marketers

“I just assume that if it’s organic, it’s good.” – Raquel Hoffman, NY

The New York Times covers a lot of ground, topics and people. I like reading it because it gives me pause with the depth and breadth of reading available. Even so, Ms. Hoffman’s quote from an article the Times ran July 20, 2016 hit me between the ears.

As a marketing pro, it pains me to see A. so many marketers blamed for modern problems and B. consumers willing to accept whatever version of reality they deign good enough. Or that they’ve taken enough of their own precious time and will jump off the I-believe-it-now cliff anyway because they’re impatient.

The article, When ‘Local’ Can be Anything But, is a good eye opener. The topic of what is local and what does it really mean right now is a hot and fraught one. Used to be that local meant right in your own neighborhood, or at least close enough to get to reasonably. Then it morphed when we wanted to feel good about conveniently including regional in our own local definitions. Fine. So what does it mean now?

Is this local?  Does it matter?

Is this local?
Does it matter?

And more importantly why do we think it matters?

Marketing is communication; it’s bringing your products and goods to market. Assuming on the part of consumers is selectively ignorant. One of the best ways to fight ignorance and educate yourself is to be relentlessly curious: ask questions. Never assume. Said another way, there’ll be no hollering bloody murder later if you aren’t willing to invest your own time to know now.

Marketers cannot be blamed when the end buyer and consumer hasn’t done their diligence. Lines are in the sand everywhere for everything – it’s up to each of us to take responsibility and understand that we get to do our own legwork.

The article is enlightening, talking about CSA’s and how that model is changing due to the impact of widespread and sometimes elastic meanings for ‘local.’ She goes on to say, “I can’t also worry about whether it’s local, or whether the chickens were happy, and all that.” So be it, if you choose it to be that way.

Then understand you get to take ownership of what that selective and intentional ignorance has on eventual impacts.

No Specials Board

Do you offer specials? If so, do you have a special board? What about these goodies makes them special?

I heard an excellent talk at the Texas Restaurant Association annual TRA Marketplace show this year talking about this very thing.

If you do specials, make them truly special. Everyday features aren’t specials. The speaker said if they’re not special, put them on the “Not So Special” board instead. While it was a joke, the speaker is right: we often feature something that’s not special.

Yes, the Liberty Bell is truly special.

Yes, the Liberty Bell is truly special.

Features are not the same as specials.
Specials are limited, rare, limited, finite. It’s the arena of not everyone getting a gold star – everyone is no one’s client. Only those who understand the specialness inherent will comprehend the true value.

If you choose to run specials, make them worthy of the word. If not, feature them in other ways.

Marketing done well and effectively requires honesty. Your specials are one way you communicate your truthfulness to your clients and the greater world around us. Bad marketing is bad for everyone, by the way.

Make it special or leave it alone.

Be Your Own 100%

It’s easier to take responsibility than some may think.

Taking responsibility means being open to success, mistakes, and redirections. It’s not hard – it takes consistency, fortitude and support though for sure. Build your own groups of supporters who will be there when you need and want them; don’t build a team of yes-sayers – they will only want to please, not truly help.

Being your own 100% brings everyone up.

Being your own 100% brings everyone up.

I hear the adage that being right isn’t always easy. I’d agree and rest well knowing that the more of the right stuff you do, the easier it will be and smoother the road becomes. Pioneers start by plowing virgin soil: not an easy task, yet it was the right one to build and grow. Think of yourself the same way.

Life requires your full attention. 100% of it. You can do whatever you set your mind and sites on doing. Building the team of supporters will help. Grab your own reins and go!

Be your own 100%. You can do it.

The (Marketing) Value of Hard Copy Mail

Mail like this makes my day.

Thank you notes and cards are *still* one of the classic, effective and most noticed forms of gratitudinous communication.

Ask yourself: what personal notes, postcards and letters do I keep around? How easy it is to recycle them?

Thank you letters = day makers!

Thank you letters = day makers!

This particular letter literally brightened my day. It’s from two multi age classrooms worth of students and teachers who asked if they could walk my property (home, home office, yard). They’re studying ways to “save the environment” and one of the students is also a friend of mine. His parents knew this was coming so inquired if I’d be comfortable and interested to show them our solar system, compost, rain barrels, and other kind planet maneuvers we live.

Now, this particular crowd isn’t my usual client, though I am open! And a hard copy thank you note is their version of saying thank you  – marketing their appreciation. Communication is marketing, marketing is communication. Thank you notes are communication, hence marketing.

The point and value to be asked and then accept such a person to person level exercise is a few fold for me.

  1. I’m very glad to contribute tangibly to education. The school is literally 2 blocks away.
  2. Having taught public school, I have a big appreciation for people willing to make time to purposefully contribute to educational programs and institutions.
  3. It’s fun to show people around an area you’re proud of. We love love love our solar system – and started the visits talking about that feature + metal roof for conservation.
  4. Christopher’s my friend and I’m flattered they’d ask. Heck yea.

To hold the attention of 25+ K-2nd grade kids is a treat for me; let me at ’em! The teachers were gracious and let me do what I felt suitable to support their curriculum. I’d do it again in a minute.

So while some may call it an interruption to their day, I welcome change-up’s like walking field trips. When we can help the greater good, then that’s a feel good endeavor for all of us. Plus it was a terrific early/mid afternoon energy booster.

Marketing is like this: when done properly it works for everyone and contributes to the whole.

I sometimes tease audiences and tell them I have “VD – it’s volunteer disease.” This is one of those examples. Volunteering for an activity that seemingly does nothing directly to build my business – yet….it sets an example some may remember. The givers gain when everyone has something to give and everyone has something to gain.

Being infectious in good ways is an all-around success. Sign me up.