Category Archives: marketing

Last chance at Tribes!

Seth’s TED Talk is now live. You can visit the TED site or watch it below.

The hardcover of Tribes is available on Amazon.

A long Squidoo lens, including lots of information and more videos and slides, is here.

You can download a FREE mp3 of Seth himself reading the entire thing right here.

OK. It’s not really your last chance. Everything above will likely be available…well, forever. But knowing Seth, he’s cooking up even more quality. Another topic that will require a good portion of your brain.

So finish up Tribes. Read the book. Watch the video. Listen to the .mp3. Pass it along to a friend.

Learn Tribes. Lead one. But make room.

More genius is coming.


You’re not a carnival barker

Allstate is yelling

I was walking through a small river town in Westchester County the other day and this window screamed at me. The only thing missing was the exclamation point. Maybe they ran out of paper.

I don’t have a condo. Even if I did, this wouldn’t have persuaded me to insure it.

Someone working in this office at Allstate figured out how to increase the font to print one letter per page. Then they carefully taped them to the office window.

Allstate is a $36 billion dollar company. Copies of Permission Marketing cost $19.00 on Amazon but they can get the message from any of a number of blog posts.

Hand them a Sharpie

Imagine handing your customers black Sharpie markers to scribble their opinions of you all over the stark white walls of your business? Sound scary? Not to Cindi & Rick Hinds.

We recently stayed at the Deer Crossing Inn in Castro Valley, about 30 minutes outside of San Francisco. The nearby scenery is breathtaking, including a beautiful winding drive down Eden Valley Road off of the I-580.

From the minute you drive onto the grounds, you know that this isn’t your typical bed & breakfast. The owners, Rick and Cindi have done all the little things to make their inn stand out from so many others. Rick and Cindi do what great bed & breakfasts always do, they make you feel 100% comfortable and taken care of.

The minute you walk into the main house, you step foot into the large front room with a comfortable couch and knick knacks like a dartboard, letter jackets and a full size scoreboard on the wall.

Then you notice the walls. From top to bottom, and sometimes on the ceiling, the walls are covered in glowing reviews and comments from previous guests. Everyone who wrote their comments on the wall gets to go home with a built-in story to tell their friends & family.

Rick and Cindi converted strangers to friends. Do you?

Would you be comfortable handing your customers a Sharpie?

(Thanks, Cindi and Rick. We’ll be back.)

Sushi Circus

I just saw this sign in Hastings on Hudson, New York and I had to shake my head.

When times are good, when everybody is flush, businesses can sometimes get away with bad (horrible) marketing decisions like this one for a period of time. Maybe, if they were located in Grand Central Station, they would get just enough foot traffic to cover the rent, but it would never be a growing, profitable, remarkable business.

Nevermind that people who eat sushi are generally willing to pay for quality. The sign alone would keep any real sushi eaters from stepping foot in the place. This sign is marketing to people that might not know that sushi is Japanese cuisine. Who exactly are they targeting? First time sushi eaters? This is certainly not a demographic to build a business on.

There is absolutely no story here. Imagine rushing home to call your friends, “I just had the most AVERAGE sushi, and I paid a little less than I would have for great sushi!”

What if the sushi was served on roller skates by pig-tailed cheerleaders? What if the place was called Sushi Circus and your rolls were served by happy clowns? What if the sushi rice was blue?

At least the customers would have a story to tell their friends.

A 2:19 Masterpiece

Let’s say you’re on the marketing team at Philips, the electronics manufacturer. Your company is releasing the first ever cinema proportion (21:9) TV. It would be pretty easy to design a magazine ad or billboard with arrows and measurements in inches vs. a regular widescreen (16:9) TV and some catchy phrase like “see what you’ve been missing”.

Or, you can do what Philips did. They hired Adam Berg to make a short film called Carousel.

The film is only 2:19 in length (get it? 2:19 / 21:9) but after watching it, I feel like I just sat through the best part of a great action movie. Which is interesting, because technically, there is no action. Berg captures a single still scene in an intense firefight between cops and the bad guys, dressed up as clowns. The characters never move, but the camera does, floating through the street, in between bullets, and out of windows, moving through a single, frozen, intricately staged moment.

When watching the film online, Philips even simulated what the TV will look like hanging on your wall, including their popular AMBILIGHT technology.

Kudos to Philips and Adam Berg for making the ad that wasn’t easy and has the potential to be viral.

You can watch the embedded video below but I’m sure Philips and Adam would prefer you watch the full video on the Philips website here.

All of a sudden, my TV looks rather unremarkable.

[UPDATE: Initially the video wasn’t on YouTube. Now it has over 173,000 views on YouTube and likely many more on the Philips HD site. Viral achieved.]

Don’t think. It can only hurt the ball club

In Bull Durham, one of my favorite movies ever, Kevin Costner, as Crash Davis summed it up best…

Crash Davis: You just got lesson number one: don’t think; it can only hurt the ball club.

Ji Lee, Creative Director at Google and the founder of the Bubble Project, tells a story about when he was hired to do a redesign of the five flavors of Cheerios boxes. Working with his partner, they came up with a wonderful slogan and branding campaign to illustrate the five flavors.

“Only their holes taste the same.”

Succinct. Brilliant. Simple.

The meeting was held. All the right people attended. “Only their holes taste the same” was presented. Everyone loved it. Ji was thrilled, knowing that his clear and clever message was going to be the new slogan for the five flavors of Cheerios.

And then all of a sudden, a discussion started about the difference between ‘flavor’ and ‘taste.’ All the excitement shared in the beginning disappeared, and they were locked into an absurd discussion, forgetting the big picture.

You can probably predict the rest. Dissenters appeared. The ‘flavor vs. taste’ debate dragged on. Consensus was lost. The original, brilliant slogan was scrapped.

Avoid “testing by conference table”. Go with your gut. If an idea feels right, support it vociferously. Drown out the dissenters.

Like Crash taught us…”don’t think. It can only hurt the ballclub.”

You work in marketing

Everyone works in marketing. Because now, more than ever, it’s all marketing.

Seth Godin has elucidated this brilliantly many times.

HR is marketing.
The salaries and benefits markets your company to prospective employees.

Finance is marketing.
Do you continue to pay invoices late? Why should I keep choosing you?

R&D is marketing.
Ask a little car company called BMW.

IT is marketing.
What story does your website tell? Is it difficult to use or worse, down? I’m gone. (For now, Twitter’s fail whale is the only exception.)

The kid working the cash register is marketing.
How polite is the kid ringing up your products? For many businesses, this is the only touch point with the customer, which makes it the most critical.

Japanese companies get this. More than half of them don’t even have marketing departments because they understand that marketing is everyone’s job.

You work in marketing. Everyone does.

The little extras

We recently ate a late night dinner at the Nob Hill Cafe in San Francisco. It’s a cozy, bustling little cafe with the aroma of fresh food and spices emanating from the kitchen.

As we waited to order, our waitress brought us the usual pre-meal basket of bread, except there was nothing usual about this bread. A warm, pillowy soft foccaccia, the dense chewy interior contrasted with the firm, crunchy rosemary crust. We all silently looked at each other in amazement as we slowly chewed this heavenly bread.

After we ordered our entrees, we sheepishly asked our waitress for another basket. She didn’t look surprised in the least and with a wink, promised to check if there was any more in the back. She said that people often come early just for the bread and they often run out by then (we were seated around 10pm). We were in luck and she scored us the final basket before our entrees came.

I failed in my attempt to acquire the recipe for this miraculous rosemary foccaccia but next time I’m anywhere near San Francisco, I know I’ll be back. The rest of the food was very good, but the bread was clearly the star.

The basket of bread didn’t cost us a dime (and only cost the restaurant a few dimes), but it was the most memorable part of the meal. It not only brings the same diners back night after night and month after month but the bread is so good, people tell their friends.

It’s the little things.

What little things are you offering your customers to bring them back?

What little things are you doing to help them tell your story?

Die hard or die fast.

Do you know your die hard customers?
Do you know your die hard customers?

Seth Godin recently wrote an excellent post about finding the ten people who trust you/respect you/need you/listen to you.

With all due respect to Bruce Willis, I’m going to call these people your “Die Hards” . . . people that will go out of their way to evangelize your product or service.

Do you have ten? Do you have more? If you can’t name ten, you should either change course or “die fast”.

Do you know who they are?
I don’t mean their email addresses. Do you know where they live? How old they are? Most importantly, do you know why they chose you over your competitors? Do you know exactly why they tell their friends, everyday, that you’re the greatest thing since coffee sleeves?

Are you communicating with them?
I don’t mean ‘are they on your distribution list’ or ‘do they subscribe to your blog’, I mean do you have real two-way communication? Are you getting personal feedback from them? Do you know what colors they wished existed? What features they would love to see? What they think of your pricing?

When is the last time you’ve sent them something of value, for free?
Send them a few free units or a preview of a new model. Invite them for an all-expenses paid tour of your facilities. After all, by evangelizing you, they’re providing you with an invaluable service everyday. An unexpected gift will stoke their fire even more. Don’t even bother measuring the ROI. It’s off the charts.

I’m not suggesting polling every user and trying to keep them all happy. That’s not only foolish, it’s impossible. But you should be listening to and communicating with your die hards.

Keep your friends close, your enemies closer and your die hards closest.

Do you have a card?

So imagine you’re a musician and you just finished giving a show to a passionate crowd at a medium sized venue. The crowd loved the show but let’s say they already bought your debut CD for $10 at the last gig. You still want to capitalize while they’re still all tingly from the show’s finale. So you announce that for only $1, they can download three unreleased songs, only available to people who buy the digital download card.

This is a great marketing tactic. The cost is known upfront. You can set the price or give them away free to your permission email list to stretch the tribe a bit.

Where else could this tactic work?



* 1000 cards for only $489.00
* Free card design (a $100 value)
* You keep 100% of card sales revenue
* No hosting or set-up fees
* Free shipping in the USA
* High-quality, full-color 30 mil. plastic cards (not laminated paper)
* Works on all MP3 players
* DRM-Free (allows files to be burned to CD!)

How does it work?

Each card has a unique, eight-digit code printed on the reverse. This code gains the cardholder access to a personalized download page at the Soundtrax website. You decide how many times the code can be used to access the download page. Once downloaded, the music can be imported to any MP3 player (including the iPod and Zune) or burned to a CD.

You keep 100% of the revenue from card sales. And unlike iTunes and most other download services, you set your own price for the music or use the cards for free distribution for promotional purposes.

Other advantages include the ability to sell the cards at performances, rather than counting on fans that prefer downloads to seek out a download service later (after the glow of the live experience has worn off).

Want a free Soundtrax card?

Send us your address and we’ll mail you one today!

$10,000 for waffles

Radiohead, U2 and Trent Reznor have publicly embraced some innovative new ways to sell more than their music. They sell an experience.

Josh Freese, former NIN drummer has a new album (titled ‘Since 1972′) and he has decided to take the whole “souvenir / experience” model a little further. OK, a LOT further.

This is brilliant. I for one, hope he sells out all the packages.

From Idolator.

* Digital download of Since 1972, including 3 videos

* CD/DVD double-disc set
* Digital download

* CD/DVD double-disc set
* T-shirt
* “Thank you” phone call from Josh for buying Since 1972. You can tell him what you like about the record that you purchased, or what you thought sucked. Ask whatever you want, like “Is Maynard really THAT weird?” or “Which one of Sting’s mansions has the comfiest beds?” or “Are Devo really suburban robots that monitor reality or just a bunch of dads from Ohio?” or “Why don’t the Vandals play more stuff off the first record?” It’s your 5 minutes to yack it up. Talk about whatever you want.

$250 (limited edition of 25)
* Signed CD/DVD and digital download
* T-shirt
* Signed drum head and drumsticks
* Go on a lunch date with Josh to PF Changs or The Cheesecake Factory (whatever you’re into)

$500 (limited edition of 15)
* Signed CD/DVD and digital download
* T-shirt
* Signed cymbal and sticks
* Meet Josh in Venice, Calif., and go floating together in a sensory-deprivation tank (to be filmed and posted on YouTube)
* Dinner at Sizzler (get your $8.99 steak and “all you can eat” shrimp on)

$1,000 (limited edition of 10)
* Signed CD/DVD and digital download
* T-shirt
* Signed cymbal, drum head and drumsticks
* Josh washes your car OR does your laundry … or you can wash his car
* Have dinner with Josh aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif.
* Get drunk and cut each other’s hair in the parking lot of the Long Beach courthouse (filmed and posted on YouTube, of course)

$2,500 (limited edition of 5)
* Signed CD/DVD and digital download
* Get a private drum lesson with Josh, or for all you non-drummers, have him give you a back and foot massage (couples welcome)
* Pick any 1 member of the Vandals or Devo (subject to availability) to accompany you and Josh to either the Hollywood Wax Museum or the lunch buffet at the Spearmint Rhino
* Signed DW snare drum
* Take 3 items of your choice out of his closet (first come, first serve)
* Change diapers and make bottles with him for an afternoon (after hitting the strip club)

$5,000 (limited edition of 3)
* Signed CD/DVD and digital download
* T-shirt
* Josh writes a song about you and makes it available on iTunes
* Co-direct a video with him for the song about you and throw it up on the YouTubes
* Josh gives you and a friend a private tour of Disneyland
* Get drunk together. If you don’t drink, we can go to my dad’s place and hang out under the “Tuba tree”
* Stone Gossard from Pearl Jam will send you a letter telling you about his favorite song on Since 1972

$10,000 (limited edition of 1)
* Signed CD/DVD and digital download
* T-shirt
* Signed DW snare drum from A Perfect Circle’s 2003 tour
* Josh gives you a private drum lesson OR his and hers foot/back massage (couples welcome, discreet parking)
* Twiggy from Marilyn Manson’s band and Josh take you and a guest to Roscoe’s Chicken ‘n’ Waffles in Long Beach for dinner
* Josh takes you and a guest to Club 33 (the super-duper exclusive and private restaurant at Disneyland located above Pirates of the Caribbean) and then hit a couple rides afterward (preferably the Tiki Room, the Haunted Mansion and Tower of Terror)
* At the end of the day at Disneyland, drive away in Josh’s Volvo station wagon. It’s all yours … take it. Just drop him off on your way home, though, please.

$20,000 (limited edition of 1)
* Signed CD/DVD and digital download
* T-shirt
* A signed drum from the 2008 Nine Inch Nails tour
* Maynard James Keenan, Mark Mothersbaugh from Devo and Josh take you miniature golfing and then drop you off on the side of the freeway (all filmed and posted on YouTube)
* Josh gives you a tour of Long Beach. See his first apartment, the coffee shop on 2nd Street where his buddy paid Dave Grohl $40 to rip up tile just weeks before joining Nirvana. See the old Vandals rehearsal spot, the liquor store he got busted at using a Fake ID when he was 17 (it was Dave from the Vandals’ old ID). Go check out Snoop Dogg’s high school. For an extra 50 bucks see where Tom and Adrian from No Doubt live. For another $25 he’ll show ya where Eric from NOFX and Brooks from Bad Religion get their hair cut.
* Spend the night aboard the Queen Mary and take the “Ghosts and Legends” tour. (Separate rooms … no spooning.)
* Josh writes 2 songs about you and both are made available on iTunes and appear on his next record (you can sing back up on ‘em, clap, play the drums, triangle, whatever)
* Drum lesson OR foot and back massage (once again … couples welcome and discreet parking available)
* Pick any 3 items out of Josh’s closet

$75,000 (limited edition of 1)
* Signed CD/DVD and digital download
* T-shirt
* Go on tour with Josh for a few days
* Have Josh write, record and release a 5-song EP about you and your life story
* Take home any of his drum sets (only one, but you can choose which one)
* Take shrooms and cruise Hollywood in Danny from Tool’s Lamborghini OR play quarters and then hop on the Ouija board for a while
* Josh will join your band for a month … play shows, record, party with groupies, etc.
* If you don’t have a band he’ll be your personal assistant for a month (4-day work weeks, 10 am to 4 pm)
* Take a limo down to Tijuana and he’ll show you how it’s done (what that means exactly we can’t legally get into here)
* If you don’t live in Southern California (but are a U.S. resident) he’ll come to you and be your personal assistant/cabana boy for 2 weeks
* Take a flying trapeze lesson with Josh and Robin from NIN, go back to Robins place afterwards and his wife will make you raw lasagna

Want to be on the list?

Take it from Danny Meyer, famed NY restaurateur who has redefined the meaning of customer service for the restaurant industry.


You don’t need to know the chef since middle school.
You don’t need to eat there four nights a week for a year.
You don’t need to tip the maître d’ $100.

You do need to be sincere.

If you loved the dish, ask to meet the chef.
If you loved the service, tell your server (and their manager).
If you loved the entire experience, tell the owner.

And make your next reservation on the way out. By the time you return, you’ll be on the list.

Sincerity wins again.

Are you living your story?

The following is an interview with Evan Williams, the founder of Twitter, as published in the New York Times. Read it carefully and see if you notice anything interesting.

Published: March 7, 2009


I GREW up on a farm in Nebraska, where we grew mostly corn and soybeans. During the summers I was responsible for making sure the crops were irrigated.

After high school, I enrolled at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, but I stayed only a year and a half. I felt college was a waste of time; I wanted to start working. I moved to Florida, where I did some freelance copywriting. After that I moved to Texas and stayed with my older sister while I figured out what to do next. In 1994, I returned to Nebraska and started my first company with my dad.

We didn’t know anything about the Internet, but I thought it was going to be a big deal. We produced CD-ROMs and a video on how to use the Internet, and we did some Web hosting. I recruited some friends and we tossed around some ideas, but none of us knew how to write software and we didn’t have much money. We watched what entrepreneurs in California were doing and tried to play along.

We figured out how to create Web sites, but I didn’t want to work on other people’s projects. I had no business running a company at that time because I hadn’t worked at a real company. I didn’t know how to deal with people, I lacked focus, and I had no discipline. I’d start new projects without finishing old ones, and I didn’t keep track of money. I lost a lot of it, including what my father had invested, and I ended up owing the I.R.S. because I hadn’t paid payroll taxes. I made a lot of employees mad.

In 1997, I moved to California and worked at what is now O’Reilly Media. By 1998, I had acquired enough technical skills to do freelance Web development. In 1999, I started Pyra Labs with a friend, Meg Hourihan, to develop project management programs. Then we started a side project called Blogger, a Web publishing tool. In 2003, we sold that company to Google. I worked for Google for two years.

Several years ago I started Odeo, a podcasting company, with Noah Glass, another friend. I ran that company for 18 months. We started Twitter as a side project within Odeo during that time.

I didn’t like the direction Odeo was going. For one thing, Apple made a lot of what we worked on obsolete when it introduced podcasts into iTunes. I bought Odeo back from the investors and moved the assets to another company of mine, Obvious, a Web product development lab now on hiatus. In 2007, I sold Odeo and spun off Twitter into a separate company.

I appointed Jack Dorsey, who was engineer at Odeo, as C.E.O. of Twitter. In October 2008 it became apparent that Twitter required a day-to-day approach from a single leader. I took over as C.E.O., and Jack became chairman and assumed a more strategic position. He had worked in the courier and dispatch field, which is where he got the idea for Twitter — a social network for sending short messages to friends over cellphones and the Internet.

When people ask me when Twitter will make money, I tell them, “In due time.” They forget that we’re only 30 employees who have just gotten started. Right now, anything we would do to make money would take our time away from acquiring more users. We have patient investors.

My life has been a series of well-orchestrated accidents; I’ve always suffered from hallucinogenic optimism. I was broke for more than 10 years. I remember staying up all night one night at my first company and looking in couch cushions the next morning for some change to buy coffee. I’ve been able to pay my father back, which is nice, and my mother doesn’t worry about me as much since I got married a year and a half ago.

My wife, Sara, a designer, keeps me balanced. We’re building a modern house that we hope will be done by 2010. The design is a challenge — that’s why she’s in charge.

As told to Patricia R. Olsen.


Did you notice? How many sentences in the entire article were longer than 140 characters? If you don’t think this was intentional, read any other article in the Times and perform the same count. (Copy and paste each sentence into Twitter for easy counting.)

Evan Williams is living the Twitter story everyday, even in a NYT interview.

Are you living your story?

Manufacturing scarcity

Last Sunday, we went to lunch at the historic Serendipity 3 Cafe. Our friend had warned us that sometimes the wait can be well over an hour, so we were intrigued.

Luckily, we found parking nearby and the wait was only about 20 minutes. The space to wait inside is small, so people fill up the entryway and spill out into the street.

the wait is the story
the wait is the story

The hostess walked us up the narrow staircase and seated us at a small table upstairs. The decor was as advertised, cute but kitchy, from the abnormally sized ancient clock to the mosaic chandelier lighting. We shared the famous Frrrozen Hot Chocolate and enjoyed a leisurely lunch.

Abnormally leisurely, in fact.

Our server was polite and seemed otherwise very experienced but he stopped by our table only about every 20 minutes. We were ready for him at every step, ordering and paying. We weren’t in a big hurry but if we had been, the delay would have been more annoying. Servers at other tables operated at the same pace. An hour and a half later, we got him to run our credit card and made our way to the door.

Then, the nickel dropped.

The wait at the door was the same as it had been when we got there, about 20 minutes! If the twenty or so servers inside had moved even a little quicker, they could improve the ‘throughput’, seat more diners quickly and there would be no wait outside at all.

Which would completely ruin Serendipity’s story.

Some days the wait is legitimately 5 hours. That’s a great story but it falls apart if “some days you can walk right in”. The crowded entryway and the line spilling out on the sidewalk is their story.

So with a little slight of foot, a few minute delay in bringing the check, the kitchen taking a few more minutes on each order, Serendipity 3 is manufacturing scarcity to keep telling their story.

How are you telling your story?

Assume the positioning.

Positioning is about comparing your product, your brand, your service to what already exists. Positioning isn’t about actual results. It’s about perception.

To define your positioning, draw a two dimensional graph using axes that are relevant to your product or service. Plot your position relative to your competitors on the graph. If you can’t do this, then you don’t understand your positioning.

1) Know your positioning relative to your competitors.

Owning a quadrant:

Kellogg’s bought La Jolla based Kashi in 2000. When they did so, they didn’t change the branding, the packaging or the logo because they needed Kashi to stay positioned in the “healthy” and “appears to come from a small company” quadrant, at the time competing against others in that quadrant, like Bear Naked. Then in November of 2007, Kashi (now a subsidiary of Kellogg’s) bought Bear Naked as well, so they own both of the brands that dominate that quadrant.


2) Constantly monitor your positioning. If your competitors successfully move, know how and when to strengthen your position and when to hold your ground.

Extending your positioning advantage:

FedEx is squarely positioned as being the most reliable choice for shipping. As a result, they have been able to charge a premium price. The US Postal Service isn’t much less reliable than FedEx but as we said above, positioning is not about actual performance, it is about perception.

When UPS tried to compete with FedEx on reliability and beat them on price, FedEx responded with technology. By allowing you to check on your package at any point during the delivery, FedEx pushed themselves further out on the reliability access, not because FedEx is much more reliable than UPS, but because we perceive them to be.


Defining new axes:

Wal-Mart realized that if it had enough stores and moved enough volume that it could coerce suppliers and offer consumers the lowest possible price. They are also friendly (think of the Wal-Mart greeters). So Wal-Mart’s positioning is “Cheap and Friendly”.

Wal-Mart’s main competition is Target, who was smart enough to realize that they would never be able to beat Wal-Mart on price. So Target changed the axis and defined new positioning. Instead of “Cheap and Friendly”, Target became, “Cheap and Design”. They now appeal to a different customer who has a different worldview.

K-Mart can’t win the battle of “Cheap and Friendly” or “Cheap And Design”. They’re “Just Cheap”, which is Latin for “Chapter 11″.


3) Powerful positioning can overcome adversity.

Weathering the storm:

Perrier, the French mineral water company lost millions of dollars after the discovery of minute traces of benzene, a hydrocarbon thought to cause cancer, in their bottled water. This hit public confidence in a drink favored by the health-conscious and billed as absolutely pure. Unable to track the affected batch, Perrier recalled 140 million bottles at a cost of $40 million.

But today, Perrier is as popular as ever. Their positioning on the axis of ‘pure’ was enough to weather the storm.

Perpetuating a story:

Today, Volvo cars now are no safer than many other cars. They are less safe than many. But because of that strong positioning that Volvo has established in the brains of many consumers, people still believe that Volvos are the safest cars on the road. That is a primary factor in the acquisition of Volvo by Ford. They weren’t buying the cars, they were buying the word ‘safe’.

4) Find an existing hole and fill it.


Look at Bob Dylan. When he walked into Greenwich Village, he was a Jewish kid from Minnesota with a funny voice. But NOBODY KNEW THAT. He invented a new position for himself and he became a musical legend.

Some people see Jackson Pollock’s art and say, “I could do that”.

But to people who understand positioning, the answer is, “You didn’t. He did”.

Your business plan is incomplete.

Many business plans include things like mission statements, values, demographics, competitors and market share data. Those are important but too often they are given more weight than the three critical components of any effective business plan:

1) The Story
2) The Marketing Plan
3) The Sales Plan

The Story

What is your story? What is the story you are telling the people who buy your product or service? What is the story they are telling themselves? What is the story they are telling their friends, neighbors or family? Who else is going to be there? What are they going to experience?

Your story gives you the chance to tell your customers why this is a dream come true for them.

The Story feeds…

The Marketing Plan


How do people find out about it? How do you reach them? How does it spread? Who is talking about it? Why are they talking about it? Who are they telling? How often? In what format?

The Marketing Plan is a road map for how your story will spread.

There are three primary mistakes are made with The Marketing Plan:
1) Too much of the overall business plan is devoted to The Marketing Plan, forgetting about The Story and The Sales Plan.
2) The Marketing Plan is too focused on buying advertising to interrupt and yell at people…
3) instead of focusing on building and enabling the organic, viral component necessary for the idea to spread. Remember, a friend passionately telling ten friends about your product or service is more valuable than a thousand billboards on the busiest highways.

The Marketing Plan leads to…

The Sales Plan


Sales exist when the money changes hands.

Who will buy it? Where will they buy it? From whom? Are there coupons? Discounts? Joint ventures?

Just like your business plan should never contain the statement, “And then a miracle happens…”, your sales plan shouldn’t contain the statement, “And then someone will want to buy it.”

Is your business plan complete?