“Adrienne gave me wonderfully fresh ideas for marketing my business at a big conference last Fall. They worked! I got two big clients from it!”

Janell Osborn White Space Graphics,LLC


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All too often I hear people say, “I really don’t know that many people.”

That’s a crock.  

At last count we’ve identified 103 categories of people who move through your personal and business lives.  How well do you know these myriad people?  And, better yet, how well do they know you and what you do?

This is not just about acquiring referrals (please go to the end of this piece to read more about that).  This is about leveraging all the people you know, because there are far more than you give yourself credit for.

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Tagged in: contacts strategy

Author’s Note:

This Blog is very similar to one that ran a year ago.  It’s not being repeated because I’m lazy, but because the message is important and timely.  No matter how many times I present this topic, I suspect that legions of business owners don’t take the advice to heart.  Please pay attention. This Blog might have a major influence on your end-of-year revenue.


Conventional wisdom is risky business, because more often than not, it’s less than accurate.  Frequently, it’s downright wrong.

Take the holiday season.  

Now that November is upon us, you’re going to hear a lot of the following.  You might even be uttering these gems yourself:

We don’t market after November 10th.  Everyone’s distracted by Thanksgiving.

We don’t market after the first week in December, because everyone’s too busy with the holidays.

We close down between Christmas and New Year’s.  Nobody’s in their 

offices then; they’re all in the Caribbean.  

Now think about it.  Work is work.  

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All around us there are sales pitches telling us how we can reach our potential.  

It might be about weight, fashion, make-up, self-esteem, finding a job. You get the idea.

And it’s difficult to miss the thousands of websites that address marketing.  

I’ve viewed many of them, and the misinformation just saddens me.  You know the old saying, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”  Well, when people take the marketing advice they get for free on the Internet and then wonder why the suggestions didn’t work, I just have to shake my head.

Allow me to boast a bit, though.

It’s no secret I’m a Udemy.com instructor with four courses on their website.  Getting people to take my courses is like pulling teeth.  One colleague I know, however, signed up a few months ago for “Easy Market Planning” and “Summertime Marketing.”  I saw her in late September at an event for an organization to which we both belong.

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Several weeks ago I met with the wife of a client.

We had had a few meetings with the husband and the office manager, but the wife hadn’t attended, which was fine, because she intimidated me.  I sensed she resented my having been hired by her husband, believing they were doing fine with their marketing without me, thank you very much.

On this day, however, the husband couldn’t attend, so his wife joined the office manager and me.  As she sat down, she said, “I’ll only be able to stay for a half-hour; I’ve got a lot on my plate today.”

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It wasn’t that long ago that I could state in my seminars and consultations that price is not the most important issue in the marketing of goods and services.

While price still isn’t the most important, it’s sure moved up a few notches since the advent of the Internet.

Actually, I believe that price became an ever-cheapening issue during the recession that began in 2008.  Then, people were suffering and truly needed some breaks on pricing.  And, of course, technology allows delivery at little to no cost.  Yet it’s gone too far.

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Yesterday on a whim I Googled “questions employers should ask during interviews,”

or something to that effect.   Naturally a ton of domains came up within split seconds, just waiting to offer help.

So why is there so much inferior hiring going on?  And please don’t tell me there’s a scarcity of good people.

Oh sure, when it comes to engineering and technology, there is indeed a dearth of candidates; but there are plenty of other job openings.

Recently two of my clients have gotten into QuickBook nightmares, with bookkeepers who proved to be incompetent.  This shouldn’t be.  There are plenty of bookkeeping services out there, not to mention the free-lance soloists.  The point is that business owners are in such a rush to find someone, they don’t ask the right questions.

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Too often I hear business owners of small and growing businesses say something along the lines of “When our income holds steady at “X” per month for the next three months, we’ll have the cash flow to hire (an assistant, a marketing director, a project manager – you fill in the position appropriate to your needs).

Unfortunately that’s too late.

Here’s the issue: once you reach that milestone, you’re so slammed you can’t think straight.  How are you going to find the time and have a head that’s clear enough to compose a series of tantalizing recruitment ads?  Who’s going to write the job description?  Who will interview the respondents?  What questions will you or a trusted employee (perhaps you have an HR Department) ask, to ensure you’re selecting the right person for your company?  Who will train the new hire through the learning curve?

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I wanted to repost some of my more popular blogs. This is one I feel passionate about.  

Yesterday I attended the second part of a four-part workshop on Social Media.  It was quite eye-opening, and I was pleased to note that far more of what the instructor said yesterday was understandable to me, compared to two weeks ago.

While I’m not exactly a technophobe, I’m also not the most technologically-savvy individual on the planet.  When I can’t figure something out, or the computer doesn’t do what I want it to do, I automatically blame myself; worse, I stress out.

I’m awed by the patience of those really comfortable with technology.  When they hit a snag, they very calmly try something else.  Then something else, until it works.  No swearing.  No yelling.  Wow!  I tip my hat off to them. 

Of all the statistics that were tossed out yesterday, one stands out.  Unfortunately neither my assistant nor I noted the actual numbers; but I sure got the meaning and reveled in it.

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One of my most prevalent ambitions is to help people understand the difference between marketing and selling, because there’s rampant confusion about these two disciplines; and marketing gets the bad rap.

Here are the seven formal marketing components.  Originally, there were only five (the old four Ps and a D); two were added, about 25 years ago.

Price – not the most important, but the component that gets mentioned first.  What’s the chance your pricing is in line with the perceived market value?  How well are you justifying your prices 

(“this includes . . .”)?

Place – not geographical place, but marketplace.  Here’s where you keep reading my words, “The more narrowly you define your markets, the more effectively you can target those markets.”  This is the trickiest of all the components.

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For 37 years I’ve spoken and consulted nationally, occasionally outside the US.  I’ve had the repeated thrill of receiving off-the-chart evaluations after conferences and the amazing honor of being invited back time and time again.

The people in my seminars and workshops are marvelous.  They ask questions, participate, become motivated.  

The challenge is with their partners, fellow executives and employees back at the office, who haven’t become engaged in the excitement of marketing.  They claim they’re too busy.  

Well, when the current rush of work ends, what will be in the pipeline?  Admit it.  Your people are intimidated by a lack of familiarity with marketing.  They’re comfortable with their daily routines and resistant of change.  

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Lots of years ago, before I opened my own firm, I was a Media Director, first for two advertising agencies in New York City and then for the largest one in New Jersey.

The print advertising pattern was always the same, and I had no power to change it:  stay out of the January and February issues, while the clients finalized their media budgets for the year; advertise in March, April, May and part of June: stay out of the latter part of June, plus July and August when everyone was on vacation; advertise in September, October and the first part of November, before everyone was distracted by the holidays; then stay away from late November and December, unless you were a retailer.  Year after year this nonsense went on.  

In 1981 Al Ries and Jack Trout published a landmark book, Positioning – The Battle for your Mind.  The book had a profound impact on me.  In fact I consider it one of the three best business books of the 20th century and have yet to hear a critical word about it.  Audience members often report that the book changed the way they thought about their businesses.  

Having invented the word “positioning,” Pies and Trout proceeded to explain it.  (No, the term “niche marketing,” which soon followed, was not the same thing.)

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Yeah!  It’s summer!   

One of the reasons that summer is such a marketing success story is that the pace lets up a bit.  We have time to think, and we can be more productive.

If you tend to work with a messy desk as I do, you suddenly get the urge to clean it up.  Once you can see the surface, what do you do?  Why, you make a resolution that you’ll keep your desk neat from now on.  After all, it’s so much easier to find things and accomplish more . . . at an accelerated pace.

Usually the resolution about keeping a desk clean lasts no more than a few weeks, but here’s what happens in those weeks:  you go through snail mail more quickly; you respond to voice mails faster, since it’s less painful to sit at your desk; you even answer emails sooner than usual.

So, direct marketers, please note:  direct mail receives better attention in the summer.  This is not just because of a desire to go through mail a.s.a.p. to keep the desk clean; it’s also because there’s less of it.

And the reason why?  It’s obvious.  

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Had an interesting meeting with a new client this morning.  

He’s very computer savvy, and he wants to put his expertise to use by training others.

He told me he believes he has two ways to go.  

The first is to develop an online business, with brief, how-to videos for sale at very reasonable prices; the other possibility is to get out in the field and train people face-to-face.

I could tell he was somewhat conflicted.  As a computer guy, he was already counting his money from high-volume sales of inexpensive products.

Yet, when he described his experiences to date in helping people either face-to-face or through an online website that allowed both parties to participate, he was smiling.  It was clear he reveled in compliments and being able to see instant results of his expertise.

My client has an outgoing personality and an easy smile.  He’s a people person, unlike so many of the computer geniuses we encounter today, who just want to work at their computers and create interesting stuff.  He relishes the idea of speaking to groups of people.  Fortunately he’s not desperate for cash. 

Well, you can guess which fork in the road he’s going to take.  

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In the past couple of months, I’ve watched three clients struggle with internalization.  

What is it?  

Well, as best I can explain it, internalization is the act of creating all kinds of scenarios– usually negative – in one’s mind and becoming paralyzed into inaction, without ever considering seeking help.  Medically, that might not be totally correct; but that’s what happened in these three instances.

The three client situations were all centered around family.   And, without seeking advice from others as to how they could begin to address these challenges, they allowed their businesses to be badly ignored.

Once you ignore your business, it doesn’t take long to see a decline in clients, leads, referrals and prospects.  Then, as the business heads south, you begin to feel like a failure.

Perhaps you want to seek another business or field, or maybe you have delusions of all the other things you might like to do.  Usually the ideas are rather impractical, or they might involve venturing into something with which you have little to no experience.  Instead of solving the challenges, you look for an escape, which solves nothing.

It just gets worse.  

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Peoples’ attitudes towards summertime marketing never cease to amaze me.  There’s still far too much of “We don’t market during the summer.  Everyone’s on vacation.”

Well sure, people do vacation in the summer.  That’s true.  

Dig a bit deeper, however, and you’ll realize that people go away for an average of just one week.  So?  There are 13 weeks to summer, and not everyone vacations in the same week.  Duh!

People are more relaxed during warm weather.  They’re more likely to respond to voice or emails more promptly.  And yes, they’re under less deadline pressure.  These are just a few considerations that make summer, in my book, the most effective season of the year to market.  (Of course there are those for whom summertime is high season, but those who are too busy to market pay a steep price in the fall, facing an empty pipeline.)

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A couple of years ago, I was working with a couple on the East Coast in the remodeling business.  

The husband generated a fair amount of business with several sub-contractors, and the wife was in charge of the marketing.

Everything was fine for a year or so, but then the wife started to become distracted by myriad family situations that required her attention.

When we spoke, she complained that she really didn’t like working for or with her husband.  The job was uninspiring, and there were other things she’d much rather do.  She would agree to handle the assignments we discussed and then cancel several appointments, because she “hadn’t done her homework.”  In the meantime, the husband was working his head off, trying to satisfy his clients and compensate for what she was ignoring.

Finally, after several attempts at scheduling yet another meeting, she simply didn’t respond either to my phone calls or emails; and that was the end of that.

As a marketing consultant and speaker to small and growing businesses for more than 38 years, I’ve seen a fair amount of unhappy couples.  The husband is disappointed, because he depends upon his wife for the marketing or bookkeeping; the wife is resentful, because she wants to be free to do something else.  In many of these cases, the wife has been expected to work for no salary, because “the business benefits the entire family.”

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A few of those in my client base have timing issues.

Here’s what I mean.  

A client or prospect calls about getting remodeling work done.  Or it could be research, a survey, a website, market planning, public relations, social media assistance, whatever.

The caller asks when they can meet, and my client, afraid to keep this person waiting,  sets a time the next day.

Of course, this upsets all of the plans my client had for the following day.  Then my clients stress themselves out and lose sleep over all the work they have to do.  How will they ever get it done?

I ask them, “Who says you have to meet within 24 hours?” and that stops them in their tracks.  I question, “Do you really believe that people are so impatient and inconsiderate that they can’t wait an extra day or two?  All of us are on crazy schedules.  People have become increasingly understanding.”

Moreover, the person who actually demands an almost immediate meeting is showing the marks very early on of a potential client from you-know-where.

Just as important as knowing who your clients are is knowing who they aren’t.  At the first signs of impatience or lack of respect for what you do and how long your processes take, you should be backing out gently and quickly.

Of course, people who are desperate take anyone on and fervently pray that the attitude will change, but it doesn’t work that way.  Early signs are significant in revealing what the business relationship portends.

So, let’s try to change that mindset that makes you jump at anyone’s show of interest.  

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