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Monday, November 24, 2014

In Case of Emergency

Imagine coming into a newly formed business during its first week of existence. You are the person asked to manage the marketing for the new venture. What is your first step? 

Several start ups have come to me with a version of this question looking for coaching and guidance. I always give them the same advice. 
How will your customers feel when they use your product?
 It is so important to deeply understand the emotional help your product/service contains. Think of the BREAK GLASS IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY that you often see on the wall of a building. If your customers broke the glass and found your product or service inside, how will your solution make them feel? Will it give them the sense that their own emergency will be solved? I'm not being poetic. I'm being practical when I ask how does it feel? 

Will they suddenly feel safe, loved, protected, patriotic, relax, smarter, prepared, creative, upbeat, useful, and glamorous?

When you understand how the customer will feel, then you can begin to think about the range of tactics to tell your story and the tone and style of those marketing communications. 

Start with the feeling.

Jeffrey Slater from MomentSlater 

Need help assessing how your product might make a customer feel? Let's talk about it via Clarity and I can help you find the on/off switch to amplify how your customers feel about your product. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Yellow Pages Of Marketing Podcasts

I have been listening to marketing podcasts for about three years.

Although I loved to read marketing books, I also enjoy listening to conversations on topics that range from storytelling, content marketing, blogging or media buying. I’m always interested in educating myself and the opportunity to learn while walking or exercising makes sense. For those who commute, most podcast fit into the average commute time so they are easy to digest on your way into your office.

This past week, Jay Baer, author of Youtility and the owner of an agency called Convince and Convert, started a website to help sort through all the marketing podcasts available. There are over 400 unique marketing podcasts on topics ranging from advertising, public relations, content marketing, entrepreneurship, agencies, creative design, in bound search, small business, communications, digital and social media.

This is a great resource and one I encourage you to spend a little time exploring if you want to learn more about a marketing topic. Podcasts are typically like free seminars without the annoying PowerPoints. It is a chance to listen in on some great conversations. 

In no special order, here are some of the podcasts I listen to regularly and what I enjoy about them.

This is my favorite podcast because Mitch interviews one guest each week with in-depth questions that goes beyond the superficial. He has a way of seeing very big picture issues that helps me to frame marketing perspectives. I have been introduced through Mitch to some great books and intriguing bloggers whose work I didn't know. The podcast is about 45 minutes long and is posted each Sunday. In 6 years, he hasn't missed one weekend post which is pretty remarkable. I think we share a common sensibility on marketing.

Mark W. Schaefer and Tom Webster hold a 45 conversations twice/month on a range of marketing topics. They usually begin their session talking about some absurd product they want to launch like Google pants.  It is silly and spirited and very human.  They will then dig into a hot topic usually sparked by a news story or some recent event that has come up in their marketing worlds. Mark is a consultant, speaker and author but mostly an educator. You may recall he spoke at a conference my team and I organize for the wine industry last month. Tom Webster is VP at Edison Research and every bit the quick wit and counter intuitive thinker that Mark is. Tom has a new book called Mobile Commerce that I am reading as I type this blog.  Their podcast is educational and thought-provoking and entertaining.

This podcast is by Michael Hyatt whose work is focused on intentional leadership. He now does his podcast with a co-host, Michelle Cushatt, who interviews Michael on specific topic.  His has a strong faith-based approach to leadership which is open and honest. I enjoy listening to Michael share stories of how he has overcome problems with difficult people he has worked with and to discuss very specific ideas for being a leader.  He is a bit of a tech geek so he will often talk about intriguing software to support his platform, or website. 

John Lee Dumas is a firebrand. He interviews an entrepreneur each and every day and allows them to tell their story to his Fire Nation. (his tribe).  John interviewed me last year when I published my book and is an incredibly generous interviewer who allows each person to share their story including their mistakes as well as their successes. I’m always learning something new listening to John and he has retweeted several of my more popular blog posts to his audience. The range of people he interviews is so varied and rich that listening to him a few times a month can open up lots of new approaches to marketing and small business in general. 

This is a really quirky podcast that I am addicted to from down under. Tim Reid (or Timbo) as he likes to be called is a small business marketing professional who mostly interviews intriguing marketers about their business success. What I enjoy in his work is that he often is telling stories about businesses I know nothing about and shares some really helpful practical marketing ideas. Timbo is big Aussie personality that doesn't get in the way of his excellent advice for small to mid-sized businesses. I do enjoy how generous his approach is to his guests and although sometimes I don’t get his sense of humor, I do appreciate the passion he brings to his work. 

The aforementioned Jay Baer has his own weekly podcast about social media. Its focus is on best practices and the latest strategies in social media. He has a range of guests at very senior levels in marketing that often share wonderful ideas about how they go to market or ways they leverage different social platforms. I think Jay’s soft touch with guests and co-anchors is a strong part of his appeal. You want to keep listening and learning each week. Jay’s book Youtility is one of the best marketing books from this past year so I find his podcasts very educational.

Bob Knorpp has a weekly podcast he refers to as like Meet The Press but for marketers. It is a roundup of the weeks top news stories that get dissected and discussed by leading marketing thinkers. Its very high level and strategic but also quite entertaining. Bob brings a range of guests in each week and I look forward to hearing his take on the latest in marketing. At the end of each show he reveals the AdFail 5 that exposes some of the stupidest things marketers from around the world have done. Bob is incredibly smart and a savvy marketing professional and I love the format of his show.

So, head over to Jay’s yellow pages of podcasts to find something you might enjoy. Start slowly and pick one show to listen to over a few weeks. I think you’ll get addicted to podcasting and the opportunities to grow as a marketer, a leader or a business professional.


Could an hour of coaching with an experienced marketing professional help you find your way through the mysteries of marketing? You can set up time through Clarity to connect with me and schedule a call. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Setting Expectations

Marketing is an expectations game where you have to read the future. 

You put in long hours developing a marketing plan. It is filled with grand ideas and garnished with bells, tweets and whistles. Your goal is to be a smashing success.  Then you execute and hit all your milestones only to come crashing down to earth because your colleagues think the program failed. Someone quips, "it didn't live up to my expectations." 

Setting expectations is so critical to success because so much of our work is a game filled with anticipation. 

You put a big bet on outbound marketing, inbound SEO, web design, promotion, direct mail, etc...(pick a marketing tactic) and get everyone excited about your idea. But have you done the really important work to define what success looks like when the program is over?

I think we marketers are guilty of over selling expectations because we fall in love with our own tactics. We want it to do well so we puff up our feathers and get everyone believing that we have found the magic elixir. We are great cheerleaders but need to do a better job of setting the table.

In setting goals and expectations, most companies also suffer from trying to do too much with each tactic. I can’t say it often enough but a lack of focus and specificity gets in the way of success.  Pick a goal. Make it a really important one. Tie it to a well-understood incentive. Assign an owner. This isn't difficult but requires some discipline. Executing well is in the details and setting expectations is directly linked to achieving the results you establish. 

To achieve greater success with your marketing, take these six critical steps.
  • Understand what successful means to your stakeholders. If you have 5 colleagues with wildly different views of success for your program, than you need consensus.  At least try to get them all in the same neighborhood of expectation. 
  • Before you jump into the tactics, define success in a short written success sentence. It would read something like this: "If we can achieve 10% more quality leads per quarter, the effort is a success” or "If we can convert 5 additional leads in the next 60 days and they place orders exceeding $100,000, then we will be successful." Be extremely specific. 
  • Think of this like a math problem where you have to solve for X.  X is success and you have defined it. Now, figure out what tactics can help you get to 10% more quality leads per quarter.
  • Brainstorm with your marketing team on two approaches to achieve the goal.  Pick two people to champion different tactical approaches and have them present it to your marketing group with their best evidence why their action is superior to the other approach. Airing it out helps to get the risks identified. Make it a competition. 
  • Pick the best idea. Assign one person to own the effort and let them be the champion of the project. And, pick a reward for achieving success for the team. (An extra day off, dinner at a great new restaurant, $100 Starbucks cards, etc.) This way everyone in marketing is invested in achieving the goal. You might also include other key stakeholders in the project like inside sales or a distributor who plays a key role in achieving the goal. 
  • Send a note to all stakeholders that summarizes what you are doing and what success looks like. Some would call this a CYA memo (cover your ass), but I like to think of it as plain old communications. In simple terms the note defines the project. Here is what we are doing. Here is what we agreed success looks like. If you tell me we failed in six months, out comes the memo for us to review what we said six months ago. It is like a contract for success. 

Invest in Agreeing on Success 

While you are dotting your i's and crossing your t's, remember to get keep internal stakeholders sold on a common statement of success. Keep it simple. Be specific. Use a time frame. Use numbers to measure results. You'll find your marketing becomes more successful, when you agree on what success looks like before the marketing effort begins. 

Jeffrey Slater


Does your marketing need to do a better job of defining success? Maybe I can be of some help to coach you along your path so you can leap toward your goals. Connect with me through Clarity

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Brand Switch

There is a staggering amount of choices we make every day when we shop. Whether its clothes, electronics or food, we are confronted with what feels like unlimited options. Yet most of us have just a few brands we navigate toward in most categories. We group together what we marketers call, ‘the consideration set’ which is comprised of our range of choices. So your consideration set for wine might consist of 5 brand name that you switch among when you shop all in a similar price range. 

If the category is clothes, we may wear one brand when we want to stay youthful while we migrate toward another when we want to be seen as chic. In food and beverage, which is my world, I’m always fascinated how we make our brand decisions.

Switching brands is very difficult to do. How many of us still use the same brand of toothpaste we used as kids? If you drink carbonated soft-drinks, are you still drinking Coke (or Pepsi) because that’s what you always drank?

Of the choices we make, most occur at an unconscious and auto-pilot mode. We see a wall of craft beers, but tend to choose among a few. There are countless Cabernet on the shelf, but we tend toward a few familiar brands that make it into our shopping cart.

For marketers, the question is how we can influence the consumer to get into their consideration set. What can we do to stand out among the crowded competitive marketplace?

Although many would still argue that it takes advertising to motivate people, I still believe the most powerful tool is harnessing a trusted recommendation from a friend. I overhear this in the aisle of most supermarkets or even at wine shops, where one person will say to their shopping companion, I’d like to try this salad dressing (soup, cracker, cookie, cereal, chardonnay, etc.) because my sister (friend, teacher, cousin, co-worker, neighbor, rabbi or coach) told me he/she loves it. I see this in my own purchases and in the research I read on consumer behavior. I’m convinced it is the least understood of marketing tools and still significantly under utilized. 

If you are struggling in a category with an overwhelming numbers of competitors, what are the activities you can do to harness word of mouth?

  • Do you enable storytelling and sharing throughout your online activities?
  • Are your promotions geared toward spreading the word by your loyal users who are brand ambassadors? (IDEA - what if you gave away a post card with your product and asked the purchaser to send it to their friend describing their experience). 
  • Have you considered how important it is to give customers a reason to tell your story of what you did that delighted and amazed you? Did you package some extra wow into what you do or is it just another SKU? 
  • Can you find a way to re-purpose money from one area, like advertising into message spreading opportunities that harness the energy of your current customers? So much marketing is on default spending. What if you stopped going to trade shows and instead used those dollars to help customers tells stories about their great experiences using your brand. 
  • Are you really being useful to your customers so they are talking to their friends about how their experience made them feel, instead of talking about the technical facts about your product? A hospital that provides an app for new parents to help them understand how to use a car seat is helpful and shared. It spreads the message about that hospital as caring without an ad explaining what types of procedures they do. Read Jay Baer's book Youtility for more ideas like this. 
  • Can you catch yourself in your own ‘marketing moment’ when you realize you have tried a new brand and loved it, but learned of it from a friend or relative? Those ‘aha’ moments can help give you confidence to try something new and difference that shifts the dynamic of your category.
  • What is something your competitors would never do on behalf of their brand? Is it something that your loyal customers will talk about on Facebook and share with friends? Does it tie-in with what your brand stands for at its core? Explore how you can make people feel different when they engage with your brand. Read Bernadette Jiwa's new book, Marketing, A Love Story for more ideas. 

Since I work in the global wine industry, I get to meet lots of winemakers, winegrowers and owners of small, mid-sized and big brands. One of my favorite things to do is to buy the wines of people I meet whose stories strike me and whose passion and dedication is so present when you hear them tell their tales. 

I love to drink a new wine brand and see if I can taste their story in the wine.  Does what they say in person, transmute the taste, aroma and experience in the wine? And what about winemaker’s who tell their stories in video online? 

How are they helping me experience how drinking their wine will make me feel and ultimately share it with a friend?

I love to give a wine to a friend when I have met the owner or winemaker. I can tell a story about my experience and share with them something unique about the taste and aroma I find in their brand. Sometimes, I can taste the generations of caring. And I know from personal experience, that many of those recommendations placed a new wine into my friend's consideration set. 

Switching from brand A to brand B is the goal for marketing in most categories.  Getting your loyal consumers to share how it makes them feel when they use your product, is really job #1. Scaling this activity can be the real challenge so that you are enabling larger groups of people to have you spread your message. 

How are you putting a megaphone in your customer's hand? 

Jeffrey Slater

Could you use help finding your brand 'switch' to help turn on 'word of mouth' marketing? Connect with me on Clarity and let's schedule time to talk. 

Monday, November 10, 2014


I just finished a wonderful book called Essentialism by Greg McKeown.  He talks about the disciplined pursuit of less. A wonderful mantra for business and for our personal lives. I don't say this often, but this is a book I wish I wrote but am so grateful to have it to share with friends and family. Ripe with the wisdom of the role of simplicity, focus and being present, it has a clarity of thought that is rare in most books. 

Have you ever said one of these phrases....

“I’m stretched too thin”

“My plate is too full”

“Someone else is controlling my day”

"I can't say no" 

"I don't know what to do first"

The book has a clear and simple premise that resonates with my own world view. We all need to do less stuff and be more focused on things that truly matter. Greg preaches not doing essential things, but adopting an essentialist way of being in the world. It is an important distinction. 

To help illustrate the theme, Greg uses a wonderfully accessible metaphor of our bedroom clothes closet.

How many things do you own in your closet that you never wear? If you were truly honest, you probably wear 20% of the clothes hanging up or in your wardrobe. The other 80% are things that you say, “well if I lose a few pounds” or “maybe that disco style will come back” or “I can’t get rid of that shirt that I never wear for sentimental reasons.” 
Can you prune out your work like you should clean out your closet?
So much of our day and time is spent on the non-essential. We stuff our work days filled without time to think or get deep into a few critically important activities. Instead we sit in endless meetings that repeat the same information over and over again.

Greg suggests saying no if you can't say, Hell Ya! If you are on the fence, say no. 

I’m one of those guys who keep a NOT to do list of things that waste my time.  I believe in the power of focus especially for marketing professionals. When asked to do something, I like to take a deep breath before responding and ask a few questions to understand why it is important. If its another tactical idea, I like to say, “I’ll put it on our list of things to consider” when we are thinking about executing at a tactical level. 

But more often than not, with all due props to Nancy Reagan, I like to just say no. No. I can’t be distracted by your lack of planning. No I can't be distracted by an idea that just popped into your head and distracts me from what I deem essential. And especially no I won’t work on something you haven’t thought through clearly enough that it warrants time on a calendar. 

No. I’m not going to waste time on something that we don’t have funds for and, if we did would require me removing another project from the list.

Becoming an Essentialist
When you know where you are going and your vision is clear, you have crisp criteria to measure activities. Will this help me achieve my goals that I have carefully evaluated for our business? If no, then I shouldn't be doing it. It would be nice to do but I don’t want to interfere with my core efforts.

Often people feel obsessed about doing whatever is asked of them. They can’t say no just like they can’t streamline the clothes in their closet. When everything has equal weight, nothing is of real value. 

Are you focused on the disciplined pursuit of the essential? 

There are many great practical ideas in this book which sets a clear course to help you find the essential activities that are right for you and your life. You need space to think. The problem is that we don't take the time to discern among choices. We need to have habits that allow us to think. 

There is an example of a coach who has an extraordinary winning record in high school rugby. Greg tells the story of WIN - the coach insist that the team is always winning. But in this case WIN stands for WHAT'S IMPORTANT NOWHe gets the team focus on this moment, this play not the error they just made. 

The coach, Larry Gelwix, figured out how to keep his team in the present moment. He doesn't want them worrying about next week's game or the error they just committed. He wants them focused on what is important now. Powerful. Essential. Wise. 

Do you turn things off? 

Do you schedule thinking time on your calendar? Are you so over scheduled that your day is 100% filled without room for the unexpected? Do you plan time to think or are you just so busy with so much nonessential work that you use it as an excuse to only react? 

Reading this book is essential if you want to clear away the clutter of work that waste your time and provides virtually nothing of real value to help you achieve your life goals. There are precise examples of what a non-essentialist does versus an essentialist. And they are instructive and valuable guideposts throughout this book. 

Now, excuse me while I drop some old clothes off at Goodwill. 


Do you lack the discipline to clean out your own "work" closet? Could a marketing coach help you in this pursuit? Give me a call through Clarity and let's get started. 

Jeffrey Slater

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Marketing Scorecard

How do you keep score of your marketing activities?

I thought I’d share some of the strategic framework and questions I ask and to suggest an approach that might be helpful to others. The questions below are specifically focused on global website, social media and outbound marketing campaigns through email marketing.

What is your overarching objective?
This question is about the big frame of reference that shapes why you are doing this type of work. If you can pick only one thing, are you looking to educate an audience, raise awareness of your offering, generate leads, convert visitors, etc.  What is your big picture goal that you can filter all of your work through? This is a great place to start and make sure everyone is aligned.

How will you measure growth and engagement?
Key performance Indicators (KPI's) help guide that you are achieving the results you set out to gain. They are simple numerical expressions of a critical indicator. Our traffic is up 7%, our visitors are staying 22% longer or we have doubled new visitors to the site. 

If you want to expand your influence by reaching more people in your target audience, you’ll want to measure the number of visitors who might come to learn more about who you are and what you do.  I like to track growth rate of visitors X the amount of time spent on our site. It’s an approximation of their engagement with us and the opportunity for us to educate the visitor. This can be tracked through Google Analytics and is a nice clean statistic we can view monthly.

Are we reaching new visitors?
I also want to see if we are growing by reaching new visitors too since our goal is to expand our reach deeper and more broadly into our market.  Can we track first time visitors and see how that is trending? And, are these new visitors staying on the site and going to important educational places we have designed?  So we need a clear way to track this trend which might be rate of growth of new visitors and we can compare the time on site versus returning visitors.

What are visitors interested in and what isn't working?
We spend a lot of time developing content and want to make sure we are providing content that is useful and seen by most visitors.  If we have pages without traffic, maybe they aren't well designed, the content isn't interesting or perhaps we have a navigation issue.

Sign Up Means Deeper Engagement
Visitors who come to our site and sign up to receive our blog or some of our newsletters are raising their hands saying they are very interested in what we have to share. Number of sign ups is a key metric but needs to be carefully considered because you may have many readers who just don’t want to sign up for blogs through email distribution.  I see that on my personal blog (that you are reading right now) and I recognize that many people read my posts elsewhere – and that’s okay. Still, you do want to see some sign of growth or trend that shows you are providing content of value.

Where are the visitors coming from?
Both social media and outbound email marketing campaigns will drive traffic to your site as you promote blog posts, video, whiteboard animation and other interesting content.  You can add to these metrics a ‘source of traffic’.  If most of your blog subscribers are coming from reading posts on your Facebook page and end up on your site, then perhaps more energy and effort is needed to take advantage of this approach.  If certain email campaigns are driving new users to the site, this too can help shed a light on how you might consider growing this communications mindful that you don’t want to wear out your permission to communicate.

The Scorecard
Turning the activity into a simple scorecard is the best way to monitor and share with your team and interested colleagues who want to understand why you are doing.  When your CFO asks, how you know this social media stuff is worth the time, you’ll have some data to support your actions.  Of course the data is never perfect and marketing tends to get measured in ways that other teams get a pass. (When was the last time you had a CFO ask to see an ROI on sales calls?)

The scorecard should be for the marketing team to keep adjusting the site, fine tuning your message and help determine where to invest in content creation for your site. Digital is dynamic and you need to keep improving and evolving too. And if you are achieving your goals, there is nothing wrong with a little celebration.

You wouldn't play a game like baseball or tennis without keeping score. Marketing demands that same level of rigor so you know if you are making progress. But keep it simple and essential. 

Don't hide behind data, let it shine a light on trends and don't be afraid to share the score.

Cartoon courtesy of Tom Fishburne 
Need help figuring out how to keep score. Connect with me on Clarity and I'll be happy to work with you. It is easy to schedule a brief call at your convenience. 

Jeffrey Slater

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Matter of Values

Whole Foods is launching a significant advertising campaign to try and fight some negative perceptions about their stores and to fine tune the position of their brand. The theme attempts to counter the idea that they are just an expensive store, AKA Whole Paycheck.

Their theme is Value Matters.  The idea is that in order to deliver value, values matters. I noticed some in store POS a few weeks ago and then started to see the ads pop up on Food Network and a few other networks.

Walmart has aggressively entered the organic food segment over the last few years and some of the same products are showing up at Walmart for a lower price. Is organic kale better from Whole Foods than Walmart?  Whole Foods is being more explicit in the message about why they are different. Value in and of itself is not the reason to shop at Whole Foods. It may be the reason some shop at Walmart. Values, is.

 The advertising is to expressly position themselves around the values they believe is their difference. 

And, as a frequent shopper, I do care about that difference. However, I care even more about my own shopping experience. A part of my experience is their connection to the local community, but my main concern is how shopping at the store makes me feel. The shopping atmosphere is much different than a traditional store. It has a hipper vibe. It doesn't feel so transactional. It is a more relax atmosphere. 

Whole Foods is also doing something simple and clear. They are providing you with words to reinforce and support your own beliefs. 

Value Matter is something you can repeat and say to others when asked, why you shop at Whole Foods. "I shop there because value matters." It reinforces a belief. 

I am someone who loves to wander food stores whether it’s a Food Lion, Family Dollar or Dean and Dilucca. I even enjoy visiting 7-11’s or Sheetz or other C-store chains.  A walk through Costco is entertainment to me especially when I’m just looking at food trends.

I love the game and to see what is going on at retail. But I shop several times a week to get fresh ingredients and foods to prepare for my wife and I, and the experience matters too. Yes, I am happy about the organic foods and the values of how they hire and treat their employees. But in the end, its all about how it makes me feel to be in the store.

The music is fun. The atmosphere is enjoyable and it feels less like a chore when I am there. I can’t say the same about Harris Teeter, Food Lion, Walmart or most other traditional grocery stores.

Values Matters is a rallying cry. It is showing up on my receipts and on store signage as I walk into the store. With over 22 video ads loaded to their homepage and two national spots, they focus on the 1,000 local farms supplying their stores and that they are America’s healthiest grocery store.

Why do you shop at the food store you choose? Convenience?  Price? Values?  For me, I’m looking to enjoy myself, find healthy foods and to support a store with a focus on my local community. 

In the end, its all about the whole experience. 


Are you shopping for a marketing coach who could help guide your brand? Are you having trouble determining how to get a fuller cart filled with customers? Connect with me through Clarity