Media Selection for Your Target Markets

Design to TestAre you a “spray and pray” marketer who tries to sell your product or service to anyone and everyone?  How is that working for you?

To be most effective you need to find people with problems that you can solve. It’s best if you are the only solution, fairly good if you are one of a few with a good reputation and not so good if you are one of many and have to compete on price.

Once upon a time, many years past, I marketed expensive automatic test equipment for the electronics companies of the world. Doing that gave me the opportunity to learn some important things. One of those things was that the design of the product to be tested had a lot to do with the time, effort and cost of generating an effective test program and with actually testing the product in a manufacturing environment. Another was that design engineers couldn’t care less about manufacturing test because that was someone else’s problem. They just had to get the functionality right on a very tight schedule. The third thing was that test engineers, who had to solve the problems that were “thrown over the wall” from development engineering to manufacturing test, were desperate for help.

Thus came the opportunity to write a book. It contained all of the techniques needed to make complex electronic designs much easier to test. The initial self-published hardcover version sold for $95 (in 1978 dollars) and it was advertised in Electronics Test magazine to the small portion of electronic engineers who worked in the manufacturing test environment.  Why not in Electronic Design magazine, with its much wider audience? Because the design engineers who read that magazine didn’t have the problem, even though they were the only ones who could implement the solutions to the downstream problems.

So while the book taught design techniques, it was sold to the test people who could then use it as a lever to convince engineering and top management that the topic was important enough to warrant a book being written about it. And one that contained the tools needed to make the economic justification for designing things to be testable as well as functional.

This is but one example of using the right media selection to get the message out to the people with a problem to solve. Much more cost effective than trying to sell to the “unwashed masses.”

Comments, please. And thanks for reading.


Please Use Other Door



How do you feel when you are about to enter a place of business and are confronted by doors that are patently unfriendly to you, the door user?

The doors on the left in the illustration are a prime example of this. If you are the business owner, why pay for two doors when only one is usable? And why is it that you as the customer are always carrying something in the hand or arm that prevents you from using the other door?

And should you push to open the door or should you pull? If both sides have handles for pulling, you’d think you should pull, right? But how many times have you run into doors where that doesn’t work? I know I’ve met those unfriendly doors many times in my life.

How complicated would it be to put a push plate on the side of the door that needs pushing to open it and a pull handle on the side that needs pulling? Or make the doors pull both ways? Or push both ways?  Is this rocket science?

What has the design of doors have to do with marketing?  A whole bunch, it turns out. You want people to be in a friendly, pleasant and receptive mood when they enter your place of business, don’t you? Of course you do. So why make them angry and frustrated with a poorly designed entrance to your store before they even get inside? Isn’t that completely counterproductive to what you are trying to accomplish?  Of course it is. So don’t do it!

If you are not a brick and mortar enterprise, is your website design and implementation just as guilty of frustrating your prospective customers as the physical doors illustrated in this post? You might want to take a second look, or have someone unfamiliar with it take a look for you. You could end up really surprised — pleasantly or unpleasantly! What about your business pages on your social media sites of choice?  Are they easy or hard to get to and/or navigate within or around? Is there some semblance of logic to the navigation paths?

Everything your business does needs to be considered in light of your marketing objectives. Don’t make yourself difficult to do business with. Because people will go elsewhere if they can’t get through your door.

Comments welcome, as always.  Thanks for reading.

Italian Goulash

Italian GoulashIn a significant departure from what I usually post, today I am going to give you a recipe and cooking instructions for a meal that I invented from necessity in New Jersey many years ago, transported to the Bay Area and actually had a good friend from Rome, Italy, prepare when he and his wife got home. I still have the certificate from them stating that this dish, which doesn’t resemble goulash in any way, was actually prepared and very well received in Italy.

It takes some effort and a fair amount of time to make this dish, which should serve four people, but the result is nothing short of amazing.  I guarantee it and many people, including my boys and anyone else who has partaken of it, will attest to that.


  • 16 oz Oscar Meyer center cut bacon
  • 16 oz Ore-Ida Fast Food French fries
  • 1 or 2 green pepper
  • 1 or 2 sweet onion
  • 8 fresh eggs
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese

In a large skillet:

  • Cut bacon into ½” pieces. Fry until golden brown. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel. Reserve bacon grease.
  • Cut potatoes into ½” pieces. Fry until crispy and golden brown in bacon grease. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel. Reserve remaining bacon grease.
  • Dice pepper and onion and fry in remaining bacon grease until slightly soft.
  • Add bacon bits and potatoes back into pan with medium heat. Mix thoroughly.
  • Scramble eggs and pour into pan. Stir until bacon, potatoes, peppers and onions are well coated and until eggs are almost done.
  • Add and stir in grated cheese until melted, removing pan from heat to prevent anything from burning.

Serve immediately with salt and pepper to taste and toasted sourdough bread.

You might wonder what this recipe has to do with marketing, and that’s OK. Please make this dish and comment on this post, or use the website contact form, to provide me with your opinion about it. I will then reveal the secret connection.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.  Mangia!


Why do you buy things?

I read a lot of stuff about why people make buying decisions. Some of it is very scientific and some of it is anecdotal. Much of it can be downright confusing since it may be product or service specific. So back in July I commissioned a poll on LinkedIn to see if I could get some answers to help my business.  If you click on the “see results” link in the graphic below, you will see the responses I received.

The meager number of responses means this poll isn’t very statistically valid on a broad basis. In fact only 18 responses out of my almost 1,000 (at the time) connections shows what I’d consider a pretty fair level of apathy amongst my connections. Or maybe they just didn’t see the poll among the mountains of information we are all bombarded with daily. Or maybe they just didn’t want to give me their information. Maybe I should do a poll on why they didn’t answer my poll!

I found the results really interesting in light of all the press coverage about how pessimistic small businesses in particular seem to be about their future prospects. I was expecting to see a much higher number of “avoiding a painful experience” votes than the single one that was recorded. The other answers pretty much fit the majority of market research data that I’ve read over the years and could tend to point out that there is more innate optimism among the eighteen LinkedIn contacts who responded to my poll.

It is clear that the messages that will resonate with prospective buyers of products or services still fall into the three main categories of get, save and solve. If your marketing messages don’t fall into one of these three categories, your marketing strategies may not be as effective as they could be. Have you taken a look lately to make sure that subtle messaging shifts haven’t crept into what you are saying to your prospects? It’s often worth a look.

How does your opinion match up with the results of the poll that I received?  Or my interpretation of the results? I’m really interested to know what you think and would welcome your comments. Thanks for reading.

Some Further Thoughts on Creating the Customer WOW! Experience

A few weeks ago, on July 26th to be exact, I posted a written rant about how a meeting I’d just been to was concerned not with creating an initial WOW experience for customers but instead with damage control and reputation repair.

As some colleagues and I prepare to launch a new product and set of services, we have frankly been tempted more than once to “jump the gun” and start looking for fans, connections and clients before we’re really ready. Especially since there are some upcoming large networking events where we think we could get a lot of leverage and create a lot of buzz. Think the equivalent of trade show deadline for new product introduction.

We have, and I believe properly so, decided not to jump the gun on this as you’ll hear in the video embedded in this post. Even though we know we’re going to miss more than a couple of great opportunities to promote the new stuff, we think that having the infrastructure in place to create a real WOW! experience when we do introduce is worth any small loss of prospects in the short term.

Think about it.  It takes a long time to build a great reputation. It takes a very short time to ruin one. I heard again very recently that it takes only one “dumb s**t” to wipe out ten “atta boys” and I believe it.  So we’re going to take the time needed to get it right.  Website, social media, collaterial materials, markets, messages and media combinations. Tough as it is to wait, it is the right thing to do.

After all, do we really want to send the message to our potential new markets that we don’t have the patience and professionalism to do the kind of job for ourselves that we will be promising to do for them? I don’t think so. What do you think?

Some Results I’m Proud to Share

Today marked the first presentation of The Marketing Seminar/Workshop that I’ve been developing over the last couple of months.  We had a small but diverse group — from telecom to radio to on-line learning to association management to interior design to multi-level marketing to web-based business-to-business and business-to-consumer networking to solar energy and more — and the session was, frankly, a smashing success.

You can see how the participants rated the session’s overall quality, the content, the speaker — me — and the materials, and what some of the participants who made comments on the evaluation forms had to say. I have to say that I’m pretty proud of these ratings and comments. And I extend my sincere thanks to all of the participants. They were great.

Today’s session was priced very inexpensively — $45 early bird/ $55 regular — so that there would be enough people to get a real feel for the successful development of the content and the materials.  The next public session, which I’m planning for sometime in October, will be about twice today’s price.  Why?  Because it is worth it. And because I can’t make a living giving my expertise away at too low a cost.

Will the next session be worth that increased cost to you? I think if you look at the infographic embedded in this post you’ll agree that it is.  If not, write to me and tell me so. I’d love to hear from you.

p.s.: If you don’t want to wait until the Fall to get the benefit of participating in this session, I do offer in-company versions. :-)

Seven Steps to Success

Marketing-Strategy-Development-Process-FlowOK, the drawing is a little hard to read on this post. You can find the full sized version on my Pinterest business board, but I really want to talk about the steps in the process and not the pretty picture itself.

The drawing shows the seven steps in the process that I recommend when it comes to developing a marketing plan and the strategies and tactics that make up its details.

It makes the assumption — and watch out here, because assumptions can be dangerous! — that the items in the funnel are fixed. If they are not, then you’re actually in better shape than if they were. If you can play with the product, the packaging and the pricing, the promotion part may become much easier as you look at your markets, messages and media.

External data on markets, messages and media alternatives needs to be gathered and analyzed within the constraints of the business such as budgets, product and goals. The validity of the decisions made during the preliminary and subsequent decision-making processes is directly proportional to the validity of the input data.

Do not skimp on this step. Doing so means putting the results in jeopardy and potentially wasting a lot of energy, time and money with do-overs or faulty implementations.

Marketing strategies and tactics have changed with changes in technology, the economy, buyer demographics and behavior and message delivery mechanisms such as social media. But the basics still apply. You need to develop and deliver clear concise messages that will resonate with your prospects and customers so that they respond positively to your calls for action.

When the initial analysis is complete, it’s time to discuss the preliminary results. Challenge each assumption. Validate every data source. Take advantage of the expertise of everyone who can contribute to the development of a successful strategy or who may be impacted by or charged with implementing the tactics resulting from the final strategy.

  • Then IMPLEMENT the agreed-upon strategy in the biggest, best and most complete way possible. DO NOT hold back or hesitate. If you believe in what you have developed, go for it!
  • MEASURE the results of implementing your strategy and the effectiveness of each tactic.  Because if you can’t measure you can’t improve.
  • Use CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT methods to fine-tune your strategy over time, discarding things that don’t work and emphasizing those that do.

You will get out of a formal marketing strategy development or review/improvement effort a set of benefits commensurate with the amount of time, effort and expertise put into the strategy development process.

This post was excerpted from my Marketing Strategy Development e-Book.  If you’d like a copy, please request one here and I’ll be happy to send you one. And I’d love to have your comments on the process recommended above.  Don’t be shy!

Walnut or Mahogany?

Boy playing piano

You are all probably familiar with the multiple “P”s of marketing” — Product, Packaging, Price and Promotion, to name the ones most often written about — but have you thought much about the “M”s?  By that I mean Markets, Messages and Media.

When I was growing up in my father’s piano and organ store in Southern California I had the privilege of being exposed, very early on, to a great many people who were very good at crafting messages. Some were marketing messages, some were sales messages and some were what are called closing questions — the kind of questions to which there is only one answer, and that answer is “yes.”

We were taught not to ask ” Would you like to buy now?” but to ask things like “Would the walnut or mahogany finish look best in your living room?”  Or “Would delivery on Tuesday or Thursday be most convenient?” Or “Who in the family will be taking the free lessons,  you or your child?” These are sales closing questions but they bring to mind another story with a message.  One about messages.

In my salad days, piano stores tended to locate themselves fairly close to each other. You could often find three of them within visual distance of each other — one on a corner, one in the middle of the street and one across the way. This was as true in Los Angeles as it was in Malmo, Sweden (which was one of the many towns I visited where I was able to confirm this phenomenon). And we were also taught that to get a (typically female with a child) prospect to return to our store with her husband (completing what is called the “total buying unit”) that we had to get the messaging right.

Our pianos had great features. Eighty-eight keys, some black, some white. Three solid brass pedals — none of that plated stuff!  A 5-ply pin block, staples to the 51st hammer, thirteen ribs on the sounding board with the 10-year warranty and a flange on the harp. Are you bored with features yet or shall I explain them further and add a bunch more? I thought not. Turns out that most high quality pianos exhibit these (or similar) features. So how do I get my prospect back in my store?

We conveyed a message of benefits! Our pianos had “singing tone,” a characteristic that would make it resonate with the voice of a child taking piano and voice lessons and make that child sound like an angel. I would demonstrate it to a prospect since it was “of a highly technical nature.” The other pianos in the other stores didn’t have that benefit. Because the salespeople in those stores didn’t know the secret of singing tone.  Nor do you, but if you’d like to I’ll be happy to tell you the whole (very long) story over coffee someday!

Our message was a benefit.  A personal benefit. The only kind that usually works consistently when presented to the proper target market using the most effective media. So in addition to the “P”s give some thought to the “M”s. You’ll be amazed at the results.

As always, your comments pro, con or otherwise are welcomed and I’ll be happy to respond to them.


Burnt Toast

toaster with toastThere are lessons in the art of making toast. It’s different if you make it for one or two people on a weekend morning where you can watch the toast brown or when you know your toaster’s characteristics intimately from many years of use than if you make millions of pieces of toast to sell to consumers who’d rather not buy a toaster and make toast themselves.

Once upon a decade, a process specialist and quality guru named Deming tried desperately to warn America’s manufacturing sector that they were at risk from foreign competition, and especially from competition from Japan, if they did not begin to pay attention to improving product quality through better process control . But America’s manufacturing firms were not interested in hearing tales of doom. They were doing just fine, thank you.  So Dr. Deming went to Japan. And the manufacturers there really listened.

If you read my previous blog on the customer WOW! experience, you may know where this is heading. The American companies had process problems making perfectly browned toast. If it came out too light, though, they simply put it through the toaster again to get the right color. If it came out too dark, they had machines that would scrape the toast until it looked to be the right color. All of this rework and extra equipment and processing was expensive, of course, but the toast was eventually good enough to put on grocery store shelves. And price wasn’t an issue. They were the only ones offering toast to consumers in the grocery stores.  They could charge what they pleased.

The Japanese, on the other hand, had figured out how to toast the bread to the right color the first time, every time,  through careful control of the toasting process.  No secondary steps if it was too light and no processing through expensive scraping equipment if it was too dark.  Just right the first time. Higher consistent quality at consistently lower manufacturing cost. So much lower cost, in fact, that they could afford to ship it all the way to America and put it on store shelves at a slightly lower price than the toast sold by the American companies.

Guess who’s companies prevailed in the marketplace?

This is a true story. It is critically important to spend time, effort and money early in the design phase of a product, and the design of the process by which it will be duplicated in a manufacturing environment, if you are going to be successful long term in your chosen marketplace. The same is true for your marketing efforts.  Don’t they deserve careful research, planning and strategy development before you spend time, effort and money on tactics?  Of course they do.

Whether you do it yourself or get outside help, do it as right the first time as possible, measure your results, fine tune as needed and get that perfect shade of toast at a price your customers will love. Mmmm.

Your comments, as always, are welcome.

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