Saturday, February 26, 2011

Broken Windows and Marketing Culture

Many people are familiar with the "Broken Windows" theory from having read Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point.

The theory, not Gladwell's (click on "Broken Windows" above to go the the Wiki page), is that slight neglect or small crimes create a breeding ground for larger, more persistent issues. Consequently, if you want to eliminate major problems, you need to focus on eliminating minor transgressions.

The "Broken Windows theory" is named from an example provided: an unrepaired broken window in an apartment building leads to further neglect, vandalism and, inevitably, worse crimes.

But what does this have to do with creating a marketing culture?

Marketers are often seen as small-minded shrews nagging people to accomplish meaningless tasks.

Examples include:
• Entering contacts or updates into the database.
• Completing surveys after events.
• Taking the time to send out thank you notes.
• Researching people before networking sessions.
• Completing pre-proposal forms.
• Following up in 48 hours. (And then entering that into the database.)
• Reviewing subscription lists before mailings are sent.
• Updating online profiles.
• The list goes on.

We also find ourselves being vetoed by more senior people who let the high-perfomers off the hook ("They closed two big deals this quarter and you're worried about them entering a few marketing activities?!?") or allow special cases* to slide.

Letting your high-performers and special cases off the hook provides plenty of rationale for others looking to shrug off the marketing work:

1) Management doesn't really care about this effort, so why should I?
2) Those people are succeeding because they don't have to waste their time on this.
3) What makes him/her so special? I'm special, too.
4) Why am I the only team player here?

When people see that not everyone is being forced to do something (and it often takes only one example since people look until they find the single exception), they decide they are also off the hook. And then it's a slippery slope, since examples are easier and easier to find. Broken windows everywhere.

Look, I fully understand that we should only worry about the important things. That organizations can and should keep only three to five big goals in the center of their plate. And that everything else is a "nice to have."

So the real question is this: Is creating a marketing culture one of the "need to haves" of your organization?

If it isn't, then don't waste your time trying to get some of the folks to complete the marketing tasks. Certainly don't put an intermediary in the toothless role of nagging people in the hope that enough of them will do it.

However, if a marketing culture is a critical issue for your firm (and I would argue that it must be), then you can't let anyone slide. Not one person. Not for any one of the attributes/tasks you decide is part of this culture. When you do let them slide, you have a broken window. And we know what happens next.

In short: It's not an attribute of your marketing culture unless everyone is doing it all the time. And when any transgressions are met with sharp, high-level disapproval.

To end: Do you want a marketing culture? If so, then senior leadership must be willing to fix any broken windows quickly and publicly.

*Special cases are often simply "squeaky wheels" that are only special since they turn every skirmish into a siege … and who has time or stomach for that?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Referrers, Promoters and Yetis

Yetis? Yes, yetis. And you heard it here first.

One of our goals as networkers is to create referral sources. And we all know what they are. People who send you leads.

There has also been a lot of discussion and research on promoters and net promoter scoring(TM) … a registered trademark of Satmetrix as it turns out. I have been using the term "promoter" to mean "proactive referral source" for a long while now (maybe even before net promoter scoring came into existence.) Unsure if I am using the term "promoter" in a technically correct manner, but I very much doubt it matters. Others call them "angels" or "ambassadors," which is fine. You can call them whatever you want.
|>My thinking, as many know and as I expect I have written in this blog before, is that you need 8-12 promoters in your network. If you do not have them, either go get them or go get a "real" job, since you will have trouble staying in business without them if you rely on rainmaking.<|
Gene Rosendale of ASA uses a term called "witnesses," which fits nicely into the strategy I've always employed. A "witness" is someone in the room when the relevant pain is being felt by your potential customer. The witness will help guide this prospect to contact you. My strategy was to have active promoters who understood your unique selling proposition (USP) and were able to ask questions that help lead your prospects to uncover the pain that you can uniquely salve. And then point them your way. "Witness" is an elegant term for this person. And far faster to explain as you have just read.

But even this does not go far enough.
|>We need to look for people who can present potential value above the "you should" metric and move to the "you will" one. That term is "Yetis."<|
Why a "yeti?"

One the same day recently, two people pulled out their iPads and asked me the exact same question: "Have you gotten an iPad, yet?" This was not the first time I have been asked this question about products or services – and I've specifically been asked the question for iPads at least 5 times so far.

Why do these people assume that it is only a matter of time until I get an iPad ... or a Kindle ... or call a certain person to help with a specific business issue?

The answer is that they, themselves, can't imagine why you haven't yet already done so. They believe that the product or service is not only a perfect fit, but a known and obvious solution; the only one that'll do the job well enough to even be worth considering. In fact, them thinking you already know this is a compliment and an insult: You are "in the know," but not yet wise enough to take the obvious next step.


So, how do you create Yetis?
1) Find the pain for which your product or solution is a clear and obvious salve.

2) Create witnesses (often current customers) who cannot imagine why others haven't yet used your offering to salve that pain.
Sound simple? Sound easy? Of course it's neither. Both of those bullets are hard work. But every "yet" is money in the bank and you can only get there by creating Yetis, so it's worth it. And the closer you get, the better off you will be.

Finally, since so many people forget that current customers are the best referral sources, this might help them see their customers in a new way, that is, covered head to toe in shaggy fur.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Stop Networking! You Already Know Enough People.

The golfer steps up to the tee, pulls out a driver and swings. The ball soars perfectly straight, right down the middle of the fairway.

Without even admiring the drive (or where the ball eventually stops), the golfer places another ball on the tee and swings again. Another great drive! Also right down the middle of the fairway. This one skips twice, hits one of the many other balls (just white dots from where the golfer stands) and the two balls roll forward a few feet before they stop, both hitting other balls along the way.

The golfer places yet another ball on the tee...

For many people, this golfing analogy describes their networking (and sadly, entire business development) strategy. Stand at the tee, hit lots of balls onto the fairway and either hope for a hole-in-one or that, by some miracle, one of the balls will knock another one onto the green. Once the ball is on the green, we suddenly notice it and try to putt it into the hole. The problem is that the fairway is often littered with balls that have sat there for years and years and years.


I promised I'd assess the last three years of networking coaching efforts to determine how many professionals and companies needed more contacts in order to reach their business development goals.

Individuals: 12/79 (15%)
Organizations: 4/10 (40%)

Of 79 individuals, I can recall only 12 that didn't already have plenty of contacts to fuel their business development plans. This counts two professionals who had long lists of contact, but after review it was determined that they didn't have enough of the right contacts, so did need to meet new (more targeted) people.

Organizationally, only 4 of the 10 companies needed lead generation efforts; they had enough names in their contact databases.
|>A caveat: No one nor any company should ever stop marketing. Using the analogy above, you should have a plan to continually drive balls onto the fairway. But if your business development effort does not include a strategic, step-by-step plan for moving these people from 1) initial meeting to 2) engaged community member to 3) referral source/prospect, then you are wasting your time meeting them.<|
Recently, I asked a professional to print out his contact list so we could assess it for potential clients, promoters and centers of influence. His administrative assistant contacted me with some desperation in her voice.

"Do you really need a print out? It's eighty-four pages."
I asked, "How many per page?"
A long pause as she counted. "Thirty-seven."

Let's do the math: 84 x 37 = 3,108 contacts! To be fair, the last page only had 27 names on it, so we didn't quite hit 3,100. Also to be fair, this professional knew he had enough network contacts already. However, we both looked at this list and wondered where we would even start. The list itself was overwhelming.
|>The question is: If you output all your contacts onto a spreadsheet, how many would you have?

A better question is: How many more do you need? Odds are (85% likely by my non-statistical count), the answer is none. You already have enough.<|
So... Put down your driver, get out an iron and start clubbing those balls down the fairway and onto the green. The good news is that no one is counting strokes*. They only care about how many balls you get onto the green and into the hole.

And here's a question for the business leaders out there: Can you see all those white dots out on the fairway? That's wasted opportunity! And wasted cost of getting the balls out there. (Do that math if you need additional motivation.)

*Many companies do track the number of tee shots. Some even compensate on this. We can argue whether or not this is valuable and that is arguable. However, if you are only measuring tee shots and sunk balls, then you deserve what you are getting, which is a lot of wasted time and money meeting people who will be contacted once and then left to rot on the fairway.