The phrase every executive should avoid

Marketing is everything you think it is and everything you don’t think it is…

While that is stirring around in your big beautiful melon.  

Obviously, all normal advertising is marketing, training for how company representatives interact with customers is marketing, text, and images on everything from white paper to web pages and business cards is marketing.

For the past 17 yrs, I have seen businesses that over-leveraged themselves to increase marketing expenditures and firms that limit the amount of business cards they give out to keep marketing expense down and everything in between.  Here’s is what I have come to understand. There are three “things” that drive businesses to be successful timing, magnitude, and luck. Timing can be early to market, late to market on right on target. Magnitude not having enough widgets, having too many widgets, or right on target. Luck is the wild card, good luck can make a business succeed regardless of timing & magnitude. Bad luck can crush a business despite all the best efforts, and it(luck) can not be considered at all in any planning. The importance of marketing is directly tied to timing and magnitude. I am not going to lay out the different approaches to campaigns, calendaring, or strategy implementation.  I really just want to share a mindset that should be avoided at all cost by any executive, business owner or division head and that is anyone who utters this are a variation of this phrase;

“We don’t really do marketing here”.

“We don’t really do marketing” is probably one of my most favorite things to hear an executive say.  I have the hardest time not laughing in their face and the more profound they look while spewing the statement the harder it is to maintain composure. Obviously, if that statement made then marketing is being discussed in some manner, and the person making the statement has misunderstood the idea of marketing and how to drive sales. While outbound and inbound advertising is absolutely part of marketing so is the content that is used on websites, business cards, even customer service training is part of marketing. There are Key performance indicators and metrics that impact sales that are also linked to forecasting growth.

Here is a short list of less common practice activities that are part of marketing.

  • Return on Marketing Investment (ROI) = (Sales Growth – Marketing Cost) x 100 / Marketing Investment
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) (Total sales +marketing cost)/ added customer per month
  • Marketing % of Customer Acquisition Cost (M%-CAC)
  • Success Metrics
  • Channel conflicts
  • Newsletters
  • Landing page
  • Search ads
  • Forms
  • Blogs
  • Social networks
  • Banner ads
  • Vlogs
  • Customer service
  • Logos

Far too often businesses will become so focused on the bottom line that opportunities are missed because “we don’t do marketing”.  In actuality the statement is more likely to be “we don’t understand marketing” or “we don’t do marketing well” there are lots of different recipes to make a nutritious meal but you have to be willing to spend money on the ingredients or know how to cook. Not every business needs a celebrity endorsement or SEO strategy, but they should know who much they are spending on their marketing activity for the simple fact that if you can measure it you can plan for it making timing & magnitude an essential aspect of marketing and business strategy.

Next time you are in a meeting or shooting the breeze, just remember the phrase to avoid. “We don’t do marketing”…

MBA and BJJ make for business

Questions Lead Knowledge

Asking the right questions is a theme in my life right now.  The questions never stop until the right one comes, followed by the answers, then followed by any other problem, which is how to apply the solution. I cannot tell you how to solve every problem in business or in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I have read some other blogs that reference MBA’s and BJJ just make sure I am not regurgitating old ideas, and I haven’t seen anything at this time that comes to the same conclusions.  The concepts that are discussed go beyond comparing business, to chess, to strategy, to BJJ.  These topics have already been discussed and conclusions are available for analysis regarding blogs and books for more in-depth looks on specific subjects.  While conducting extensive research to become subject matter experts can be a highly valuable tool, the truly best way to fully learn or understand something is by engaging in experiential learning; in other words, you have to do it yourself.

Concept of Business

The concept of Business Jiu Jitsu is abstract in application, but after seeing the overlap between the world of BJJ and Business, I was compelled to write about the overlap and share my insights.  Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a martial art, combat sport system that focuses on grappling with a  special emphasis on ground fighting.  The core concepts for BJJ are centered around the fact that size does not matter.  The winner in BJJ truly is determined by the commitment to developing the perfect balance of drive and skill, with a dedication to mastering both technique and resiliency.  Unlike many other mainstream sports like football and basketball, BJJ gives the smaller or weaker person a real fighting chance at coming out on top by teaching students of this disciplined martial art how to defend against a larger, stronger assailant by applying leverage and through joint-lock and chokeholds from a safe position to successfully overcome or defeat the opponent.  As a result, self-defense is a primary aspect of the education in BJJ.

Fundamentals

BJJ is considered a gentle art because it does not utilize striking to overcome an opponent.  Fundamentally, BJJ focuses on being able to survive an attack executed by a larger or stronger opponent by applying the right combination of strategy, training, and coaching.  An MBA requires a similar approach as it offers an advanced understanding of accounting, finance, marketing, human resources, and operations in a manner most relevant to management analysis and strategy.

Martial Arts

My experience as it relates to martial arts spans across nearly a decade of dedicated training with experts of varying degrees of style and technique on both the east and west coasts.  Personally, I have committed to training a diverse, demanding regimen in Martial arts for over 8 Years in various styles such as Muay Thai kick boxing, Judo, Dutch kickboxing, Boxing, Catch Wrestling, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  The exposure to different combat disciplines gave me a knowledge of how much I dont know, instead of a mastery or higher understanding of any specific style.  

Effective Fighting Concepts

Out of all of the Martial Arts I have experienced, there are a few overarching concepts that are likely to be effective applications in all forms of combat.  The Effective fighting concepts are not the techniques that are used but the methods of how and when to apply them.  The most prominent effective fighting concepts that became apparent to me have been: Controlling distance, working angles, misdirection, strategy, contingency planning, pressure, training, coaching, and resiliency.

Business Experience

In regards to my experience as it relates to Business, I have unintentionally established myself as a serial entrepreneur owning 3 separate business entities over the course of an eight year period while simultaneously assuming a progressively global profit-driving management role extending well over the past decade of my career.  My core responsibilities have ranged from overseeing manufacturing and production for 5 years before moving forward into a sales and marketing role for the following 5 years.  During my professional career, I further diversified my value proposition by following up my creative arts undergraduate educational background by successfully earning my Executive MBA at one of the most highly regarded Executive MBA universities in the world.  As a result, I increased my understanding and knowledge of business and strategy, which has enabled me to develop a quickly growing career working as a high-level, influential consultant with a focus on working with other start-ups to successfully drive them to the next sustainable stage of the growth life cycle.

Effective Business Concepts

Throughout my short time in business, several key concepts have stood out and become apparent to me as more influential than others.  The core effective business concepts that became apparent to me as generating the most meaningful impact are: Niche markets, strategy, contingency planning, timing and magnitude, agility, resiliency, training, and coaching.  The Strategy concept is where I found the strongest overlap between martial arts and business, specifically BJJ and an MBA.

 

The most obvious concepts that are taught in both disciplines are first and foremost Strategy, resiliency, training, and coaching.  The next are less obvious, although when applied they are fundamentally the same.  For instance, working angles and controlling distance is related to Niche marketing, while misdirection and pressure are connected to timing and magnitude in application.

Strategy Concept

The strongest cross-functional, critical concept taught in both disciplines are first and foremost the Strategy concept.  The Strategy concept is a plan or action designed to deliver a specific aim or objective.  Resiliency is the capacity to recover quickly from challenges and overcome obstacles.  Training is the action of teaching a person a particular skill or technique through repetition.  Coaching is a form of development in which a person supports a learner, student, or client in achieving a specific personal or professional goal by providing advice and guidance.  Developmental coaching centers around the process of an expert or mentor teaching others how skills and technique should be applied through strategy to enhance the user’s ability to compete and ultimately achieve the win.

The next concepts are a lot less obvious, although when applied they are fundamentally the same.  Working angles: Working an Angle is trying to overcome an opponent by attacking an angle that prevents the adversary from attacking or counter striking with full power.  As a result, this provides more opportunities to win.  Ultimately, working an angle means exploiting a weakness or utilizing a more dynamic strategy to improve one’s position.  Controlling distance, on the other hand, involves utilizing assets to engage with the opponent when there is an opportunity to disengage when the opponent has an advantage.  Niche marketing has, in turn, become related to these concepts from the subset of the market on which a specific product is focused.  Exploiting neglected market segments (or weaknesses), the market niche is defined as the product features aimed at satisfying specific market needs, as well as the price range, production quality, and the demographics that is intended to impact.  In turn, a market niche is also a small market segment.

Another core concept of importance is Misdirection: the action or process of directing someone to the wrong place or in the wrong direction.  The concept of Pressure consists of the continuous physical force exerted on or against an object by something in contact with it, while the concepts of timing and magnitude center around providing the use of force exerted and the direction of the actions that the business will take.  Using marketing in conjunction with an understanding of supply and demand provides businesses with the ability to receive a high return on investment and generate more significant profits.  This includes thinking about expelling less energy and taking less damage while gaining a dominant position with the prime purpose of overcoming an assailant.

Critically Important Skills

In conclusion, the lingering questions that still remain unanswered are: does everyone need an MBA?  The answer is “no”.   Does everyone need to train BJJ?  Again, the answer to this question is also emphatically “no”.  Looking at all of the positive attributes that can be gained as a result of studying martial arts shines a spotlight on the fact that martial arts is in actuality a gentle art that adds meaningful value both on and off the mats when integrated as a key component to the student’s life.  Strategy is more important to every conflict ranging from business and sport to invaluable self defense.  Developing the ability to learn and understand how to leverage all of the concepts to implement the strategy is the key to achieving long-term, sustainable success.  Overall, the most critically important players are the inspiring mentors and coaches who selflessly dedicate their crucial skills and efforts to operationalizing the success not only of the individual but also driving the success of the team, as well.   Over time, mentors and coaches have come to generate a stronger influence on the success of the talent than often the efforts of the talent themselves.  Regardless of the desired path, possessing this powerful knowledge should make you want to do your part to mentor and assist your fellow person in their quest at achieving the ultimate, most desirable goals everyone strives to accomplish: success.

Entrepreneurship in 2017

Marketing Strategy

Entrepreneurship has tremendous opportunity to be a driving force in 2017,  while more multi-million and billion dollar retailers and manufacturers are filing bankruptcy and going out of business.  There are unclaimed customers in the market looking to engage with new businesses. Having a better marketing strategy for creating brand awareness communicates value to the potential customers.  The U.S. economy is unsure of the immediate future.  The internal uncertainty has raised concerns about what has become common business practices such as outsourcing and technology investments, which are expensive investments for startups, making competition more difficult.  Because the internet has given rise to brand building strategies and engagement with more access to small-business, niche-markets customers, the digital age is filling the needs quickly.  Digital marketing and social media offers small businesses the ability to compete in a broader market by increasing the amount of ideal customers while also giving businesses the opportunity to reduce marketing costs for communicating value to unqualified customers.  The loss of larger firms provides an increase in expertise in the market and it is up to the entrepreneurs to develop the relationships and strategies through team-thinking for problem-solving in the changing economy.

Brand Awareness

Marketing Strategy utilizes the information about the industry, the firm, and the competition to form a plan that operationalizes the value proposition of the firm.   Marketing is an essential business function that is often undervalued by small to medium size businesses.  This is easily identified by the lack of distinguishable brand awareness for products offered by entrepreneurs. While only a handful of brands can effectively communicate their value to qualified customers, every downtown street and industrial complex in America is saturated with small businesses that are not maximizing their content to their greatest ability.  As a result, brand equity is left in limbo for the digital-savvy business owner to profit while the other businesses are forced to wade through the trenches of increasingly obsolete marketing practices.

Digital marketing and Social media

To increase Brand Awareness, businesses need to develop relationships with influencers in the industry.  Each social media platform is different and shares various content on social media profiles.  To ensure the consistent usage of linking images or content, the businesses will distribute consistent content in accordance to the specific platform’s purpose.  Social media requires constant monitoring and fine-tuning.  To drive brand awareness, it is key to set up regular meetings to analyze metrics and go over the performance of the brand development strategy.  Through an initial investment in time and utilizing apps the long term strategy will save the company time and money consistently as the business grows and increases the ideal customer base.

Ideal customers are educated about the firm’s offerings while being early adopters, brand promoters, and ambassadors who actively seek to improve the experience through partnerships with the firm.  The ideal customer is both willing and pleased to pay full price because they believe in or have a strong connection with the value proposition of the products and services offered.  Even at full price, the ideal customer feels like they are getting a good deal.

Greatest startups in 2017

The 2017 entrepreneur does not have to be the cheapest or fastest to market if they can utilize the expertise available in the marketplace and implement a sound marketing strategy.  The greatest startups in 2017 that are operating with a “good enough” marketing strategy will win out over the “we are working on it” marketing strategy.  At the end of the day, perfection prevents production just as often as “a bad process will beat a good person…” W.E. Deming