The Power of a Vision

VisionI heard it way back when from Steve Thornton at the 2012 Portland Success Summit. I’ve heard it from Zig Ziglar.  I’ve heard it from Anthony Robbins. I think I’ve heard it from every motivational speaker that I’ve ever had the privilege of listening to, starting 35 years ago with Louis Tice when I worked for the John Fluke Manufacturing Company.

(Quick aside:  With a name like Fluke, you had better deliver results that aren’t flukes, just like Smuckers needs to deliver good tasting jams and jellies!)

I’ve not only heard it and read about it in books including The Magic of Believing, and continued to use it, but I’ve actually taught it to others. And I am still amazed at the power of a vision.

If you can create a clear picture in your mind of how things are — will be, but in the present tense — when you are doing what you most want to do, your subconscious will cause you to resolve the conflict between the current picture of your reality and the reality as you imagine it. Your subconscious does not like conflict, or disharmony as I once heard it described. It wants you to feel content.

So if you create a vision of how you are when you have accomplished the goals you need to achieve your vision, and if you can couple that with a “feeling good” emotion, it will lead you to do the things necessary to change reality as it is today into reality as you visualize it. Or it will modify your picture of reality as you visualize to match where you are now and keep you stuck where you are. But it will resolve the conflict, one way or the other.

This is not new age weirdness. It is proven science that works for people in business, in athletics, in medicine and in any other field. And there are too many people who have used it, continue to use it, proselytize about it and, in fact succeed with it, to ignore.

If you haven’t been exposed to this powerful mechanism for changing your life, you owe it to yourself to learn as much as you can about it as soon as possible so that you can begin to use it to achieve your vision in life. Unless, of course, you are perfectly happy with the way things are in your life right now.

As I used to tell my students:  Make a picture, make it real and make it feel. Your creative subconscious will go to work for you to help you make your vision a reality.

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Your Prospect and Customer Information – Your Business Lifeline


Original Self Published Design for Testability BookOnce upon a time I wrote a book. It was actually my 2nd book but the first one I published on my own. I wrote it in a weekend on an IBM Selectric® typewriter. Yes, this was before computers so I guess I’m dating myself here. And the diagrams in the book were hand drawn using templates. Archaic, huh? But that’s what we had in those days.

I had discovered that increasing circuit complexity was driving test generation costs through the roof. And I knew the tricks needed to solve that problem. Thus the book. Everyone thought I was nuts trying to sell a 77-page book for $95 (in 1978 dollars!). But I had a hunch. So I spent $1,800 for an ad in Electronics Test magazine (see Media Selection for Your Target Markets for a related topic) and I sold enough books to put me into the teaching and preaching business for over a decade.

I decided, however, that I wanted to broaden the reach of my company by having the book published by a “legitimate” publisher and advertised and sold through that publisher’s distribution channels.

Design to Test Book - 2nd EditionThus came this version that sold for $39.95 to the “mass market,” such as it was at the time.  And Van Nostrand Reinhold did indeed sell more of these books than I did. Three times as many, as a matter of fact, in the first year. So everything was going great, right? Not so fast.

Take a look at the chart below to see what happened financially. While unit sales tripled, income from those sales dropped from an 80% gross margin to a 15% commission rate. That cut from $80 per book to $6 per book reduced revenues by $62,000 per year!

Some deal, huh? Now look at what happened to seminar revenues. They dropped by a factor of four — from more than $200,000 per year to less than $50,000 per year.

Revenue Comparison ChartSo what happened? Where was the disconnect in this strategy for broader distribution? It can be summed up in these two pictures:

Moral of the Story A Total Contact Disconnect





Strategies that look sound at first blush really need to be examined and vetted to make sure that they do not have hidden unintended consequences.

Have you ever had a similar experience? If you have it would be great if you’d be willing to share it.  Your comments are solicited and thanks for reading.

P.S.: You can view the whole presentation from which these slides were taken here.

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!


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?

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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Glitz, Gilt or Gold?

Glitz-Gilt-Gold Which of these three words most closely describes the kinds of products or services that you or your company provides to its customers? It makes a difference when you think about your target markets, your messages, your packaging and pricing and your media selections (among other things).

Glitz, an extravagant and often tasteless display of wealth, is often associated with the newly wealthy. These folks put on garish, ostentatious airs in an effort to impress their peers or their public. They want to provoke envy and feed greed. Glitz is pretty easy to recognize.

Gilt can often be used to turn ordinary objects into glitzy things that shine with false value. Or it can be used effectively to put just the right sheen on an object of art that has real value. Gilt has no intrinsic value, other than the minimal amount of gold used in its application, but it may have considerable artistic or aesthetic value. Or practical value, such is in the gold plating of electrical contacts for maximum conductivity.

Real gold, on the other hand, has real intrinsic value in today’s world based on its scarcity and the demand for that scarce resource.

What do you sell or provide? If your customers are those who want glitz, you’ll want to get your messages to them via media such as fashion magazines, give-away bags at celebrity events and ads in high end publications that cater to the rich and famous.  With the emphasis here being on famous. They want the world to know that they can afford all the glitz in the world, useful or not.

If your customers want gold, you’ll most likely reach them through referrals. They often have no desire to be glitzy or to show off their wealth. They just want to enjoy it and they travel in circles with similar folks often from old or earned money. They are not usually showoffs and they most definitely usually avoid glitz like the plague. The silk underwear might cost thousands but it is worn underneath the expensive but understated suit or dress — not on the outside!

And then there is gilt. This is where things get tricky. Your product or service needs to be attractive enough to warrant the attention, however brief, of your prospective customer if you are to have any chance of making a sale. And gilt, by itself, is neither good nor evil, given that it is used effectively and the underlying product or service provides real value to the customer at a mutually acceptable price. If this is your type of offering in the marketplace, and the vast majority of products and services do fall into this category, you have your work cut out for you in terms of coming up with the right strategies for your markets, message and media.

If you’d like to share your thoughts on the words above, I imagine many readers would like to know them. Opinions one way or another are welcome.  Let us hear from you.