Business Strategy

“The Pitch” is dead: Why storytelling is more important

storytelling is more important

Sales isn’t what it once was. The days of the fast talking “car salesman” are long gone. We now live in a 120 character world, and even when you do get more than 8 seconds to talk with a prospect, the way effective presentations are delivered has changed.

David JP Phillips gave a great TED talk on “How to avoid death By PowerPoint”. The title of his presentation alone relates to almost everyone who has ever sat through a 20 minute PowerPoint presentation. If you have ever watched a TED talk, or been to a conference with a great speaker, you will notice a common quality; they deliver their message by telling a compelling story, not by amazing transitions and graphs. If you want to understand the science behind an effective PowerPoint,  you can view David’s full TED talk below.

The purpose of this post is not meant to be a guide to using PowerPoint, it is to illustrate how people consume information. There is a hard truth most people don’t want to accept: most people don’t care what you have to say unless it can provide them with value, or help them solve a problem. If you want their attention, then give them want they want – tell them a compelling story that either provides them with value, or shows them how to solve a particular problem.

I recently had the privilege of hearing Kyle Nel and Ari Popper explain how they crafted a proposal in the form of a comic book to convince the executive team at Lowe’s to create the new Holoroom. What was interesting about their approach, was the emphasis on delivering a message through a medium that was more easily understood, and obviously more fun to digest.

To deliver your message you don’t need to hire a graphic artist or a cartoonist, but you need to adjust your approach.

Things to consider when crafting a compelling story:

  • Do you understand the prospect’s problems?
  • What is your value proposition? Does it resonate with your ideal client?
  • Do you have case studies, or personal examples that can be shared in the form of a story, not a chart or graph?
  • How can you relate your examples to your prospects problems?

As promised here is the David JP Phillips’ TED Talk on “How to avoid Death by PowerPoint”:

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The 3 numbers you need to know to make most business decisions

The 3 numbers you need to know to make most business decisions

“Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening – and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.” – Arnold Palmer

Winning isn't everything, but wanting it is - Arnold Palmer

Winning isn’t everything, but wanting it is – Arnold Palmer

I’m not sure if Arnold Palmer was talking about Golf or Business?

For many what I’m about to explain below may seem too simple, but I promise you, if you have ever owned a business you will get caught up putting out so many fires that having some quick decision making tools will make life easier, and more profitable.

As a business owner you probably ask yourself, what is my ROI on my marketing? Most small businesses don’t have any systems in place to accurately track the necessary data to perform the advanced analysis to really get that answer. Some may have built an excel spreadsheet to track campaign costs, but when the sales people get too busy and don’t report where the leads came from (i.e. Campaign X) there’s now way to calculate the ROI of the recent Trade Show, or Mail Campaign, etc. What’s even better are the companies who implement a CRM like with all the advanced data capabilities, but end up using it as a way to manage their sales activity (i.e. Met with Jimmy, have a follow up in 3 weeks to talk about the $35 Trillion Project)…I have to give credit to – when used correctly it has amazing reporting capabilities that can make a marketers lives much easier, but rarely is that the case in a small to medium sized businesses and almost never in a start up!

If you want a quick way to determine if your business is headed in the right direction, or if your marketing investments are worthwhile, here are 3 metrics you can use right away without spending a week on an excel spreadsheet:

Accounting note – these equations are not based on Generally Accepted Accounting Principals – these serve are a guide to help make quick decisions, more comprehensive tools can be found in the links at the bottom

  1. Client Acquisition Cost = Total Marketing Costs / Number of New Clients
  2. Annual Profit per Client = Total Profit / Number of Clients
  3. Life Time Value of a Client = Avg. Annual Profit * Average Life of Client

Now that you have these answers what do they mean?

Simply put if you want to survive than your “Average Profit per Client” must be greater than your “Client Acquisition Costs.” Remember, this is a simple equation for most businesses and if part of your marketing investment goes towards existing clients it may skew this number a bit, however you are making one of the smartest business decisions a business owner can make.

One of the most expensive things in business is acquiring new clients. If you want to really grow your business, more importantly your profits, than focus on the last metric – Life Time Value of a Client. Find ways to over deliver on your product or service. In an upcoming article we will talk about how important the Top 20% of your revenue is, and why it will help guide what your business does going forward.

If you are looking for more advanced metrics, definitions or the real equations to the above, here are some helpful links:

“For Entrepreneurs” has a really in depth explanation with some downloadable spreadsheets:

Client Acquisition Costs:

Annual Profit per Client:

Lifetime Value of a Client:

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Business Strategy Marketing Strategy Uncategorized

3 lessons sales people can learn about selling from toddlers

I recently had dinner with some close friends and their 3 year old daughter, Paige. During our afternoon together I realized something – children have a fascination with the word “Why”?

Paige: “Why is Chase laying down?”
Me: “Because he had to go pee”
Paige: “Why did he have to go pee?”
Me: “Because he drank a lot of water”
Paige: “Why did he drink so much water?”
Me: “Because he was thirsty?”
Paige: “Why was he thirsty?”
Me: “Because he was running around.”…


Much like this video, which I’m sure you have all experienced at some point or another, I was left exhausted and thankful the questioning eventually ended. It dawned on me that if sales people asked “why” and unlocked the inquisitive nature of their inner child, they would start to see immediate results in their sales.

Asking questions is only one part of the equation. Here are the 3 lessons I learned from Paige:

  1. Ask Questions,
  2. Listen to the answers, and,
  3. Confirm what you have heard (identify the problem)

1. Ask Questions – Why, Why, Why

Asking questions is one of the most effective ways to learn your clients pain points. Those questions may range based on your audience, whether it is Business to Business or Business to Consumer.

  • Ask the right questions
  • Do some research before you meet – have some questions ready before hand
  • Be genuine and have a purpose, don’t just ask questions for the sake of asking questions

2. Listen to the Answers

We have all been there when you ask a question to a client about a specific problem and their answer sets of the “closing bell.” At that point most sales people stop listening and begin waiting for the first moment to interject and get their point in – DON’T!

Wait, let your client finish what they are saying, you will be surprised at the additional burning pains they may uncover, and it will give you the opportunity to ask more meaningful questions. Most importantly you will build a stronger and more trusting relationship.

3. Confirm what you have heard

If you are serious about building a relationship and want to learn more repeat what you heard and dig deeper: “I heard you say you are looking for a marketing consultant who won’t force social media tactics on you, can you tell me more?”

If you aren’t sure if this will work, try it next time you are on a date – your wife will appreciate it!

Make sure you are subscribed to get more great articles like this one.

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Business Strategy Uncategorized

Why everyone loves an underdog story

Doug Foley, Marketer, Entrepreneur, Strategic Thinker

Why everyone loves an underdog story

Whether you are a sports fan or not, everyone loves to hear about an underdog story. Whether that story is about a start-up company on the brink of failure, coming back to be what seems like an overnight success or the New York Giants Superbowl win of the favored New England Pats (Go Giants!), both are captivating.

During this year’s Superbowl Chrysler aired one of the best advertisements I have seen in years, yet again the “underdog” theme appears (here’s the video):

This iconic video, featuring Clint Eastwood, shows the spirit shared by entrepreneurs, the willingness to lay it all on the line to pursue their dream, not the American Dream, but their own dream.

As this blog evolves it will be my personal objective to share the successes, failures and underdog stories that make business so unique. I look forward to learning from my clients as much as I hope to enlighten them and help them grow their businesses.

I encourage you to subscribe and follow my blog for helpful marketing tips, strategy and trends.

Enjoy the ride.

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Business Strategy Marketing Strategy Uncategorized

Why Nike has the best marketing strategy

The Marketing Strategy behind “Just Do It”, and why it works for small business

“Just Do It” is one of the most recognized trade marked brands in the world. If you have  watched television in the last 20 years you are likely to have seen at least one of Nike’s ads. Phillip Knight, one of the founders of Nike, Inc. has developed the best marketing strategy for small businesses to follow: “Just Do It”.

Marketing Strategy for Small Business

With the advancements in technology, small businesses and entrepreneurs have access to thousands of analytical tools, planning tools, development tools, split testing tools, email tactics, and social media tricks to help them create a marketing strategy. What I have found is that small business owners and entrepreneurs have become lost in the “technology cloud”. If they want to be successful they need to adapt Nike’s motto and “Just Do It”.

All of the tools we mentioned are great and have reshaped how business is being done, especially marketing. The problem is that small businesses, especially entrepreneurs, tend to get overwhelmed by over analyzing and strategizing what course of action to take; “analysis paralysis.” They would be much better off to take one course of action, monitor the results, and make an educated decision about if the program or marketing strategy worked (this is often referred to as a “minimal viable product”, coined by author Eric Ries of The Lean Startup, click here to learn more about this book).

Having a thorough marketing strategy is a crucial step towards success, after all

“A failure to plan is a plan for failure” – Winston Churchill

However, spending too much time in the planning stages can cripple a small business, which often relies on immediate new revenue sources. When you are developing a marketing strategy it is important to evaluate which of the pieces of the puzzle can be implemented and yield immediate results versus those that may have longer term results. The biggest advantage for small businesses is that there are some activities that you can do right now to drive revenue. The list below will help organize some of the action items you can implement today. The important thing is to “Just Do It”.

Immediate Action Items Long Term Action Items
  • call existing clients
  • referrals
  • opportunities
  • internal opportunities, co-workers
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Email Marketing

  • Blogging
  • Mail Campaigns
  • Telemarketing
Lost Opportunities / Old Leads:

  • Call to see if they were satisfied with their decision
  • Any new opportunities
  • Ask for a referral

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