When constructing a house I sure hope that the builders have an idea of what the finished product should look like.
Without a plan or a blueprint, then it is safe to say that the end product will most likely have some flaws, or at least a couple weird kinks:
You: “Hey Bob, why did you put that pole there?”
Bob: “It felt right… ehhh maybe it could be plumbing, or maybe the house needs a fire pole into the kitchen?
Even though a quick access fire pole into the kitchen is an AMAZING idea, it most likely does not align with the vision of the house you first set out to create.
When constructing a home everything needs to line up to get the finished product you set out to create. Digging the foundation, measuring the rooms, figuring out the plumbing, understanding the electrical is decided before or very early in the building process.

Yet for many small businesses, we do not create a plan for the business culture.

When it is 2-3 employees, culture seems to be the last thing on your mind and most likely you possess a good culture so there does not seem to be a need for anything official.
Although it should be something that you depict clearly and early in your company’s creation.


Because a company’s culture is its fingerprint – it is what makes the company unique, and if it is not identified early it will be lost with the companies growth.
By defining culture you put direction to how your marketing acts, which employees are the best fit for your organization, what HR benefits make sense, and sets the overall vision for where the company is moving.
Basically whatever has made your company thrive needs to be called out and highlighted to make sure that it continues as the number one priority throughout its continuous growth.
When people ask me about what working at a startup is like, I tell them it pushes your creativity to a new level and is always fun. No one that is from a large corporate entity that has asked me that question has responded, “Sounds like my job”
I say this because a lot of startups have similar experiences, but once they grow to a larger size something changes.
Fast growth leads to quick hiring where the need for labor is weighted higher than the need for cultural fit. The revenue grows to a point where trying something new or different is more of a risk than an employee norm.
The company then moves from trying to be a disruptor into trying to hold market share to please shareholders and meet the needs of the quarterly forecasts.
I know what your thinking…
But it is something to consider.
What if the purpose and culture of your company were lost, would it still hold a competitive advantage?

Most likely not.

Although defining your culture can be tougher than expected. But if you follow Traction / EOS, there are some quick giveaways (you should still buy the book btw).
To help define your culture, think about what your company’s purpose is.
I can make the assumption that the purpose in creating any company was not, “To please shareholders”

Was it?:

To provide the best customer service of an industry? If so, you probably need to establish a culture that is customer-centric.
Or was it to launch the most tech-savvy toothbrush? If so, then you need to establish a culture for cleanliness and technological growth.
Whatever your purpose is, think about what values are needed in employees and your company overall to achieve it.
Once your values are established, make sure it is well documented and enforced.
By using your values as a guiding light for your hiring choices, your marketing decisions, and your product development your company will turn into a productive culture that is dedicated to the company’s purpose, and this will be responsible for its dramatic growth.

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Every Thursday.

Marketers making mistakes

I get contacted by sales people all the time asking me if I would like to attend their events. Oddly and they all seem to use the very same sales pitch. If you receive these calls, then I assume you have heard this sales pitch too:

“Your competitors are attending!”

It is basically going back to the old phrase:

Everybody’s doing it” and reminds you of:

if everybody jumped off a bridge would you too?

Now this sales pitch must be very effective because it is repeated, over and over again.

So why does this technique work for sales people?

Straight emotion

I would be lying if I said that when sales people said that my competition was attending that I didn’t have the immediate urge to attend as well. I am a very competitive person, I believe that my company should have ALL the business and not share any prospect or revenue. (realistic, I know)

Even part of me wants to attend just to single-handedly make it a worse event for my competition. But then logic kicks in. Asking questions such as; is this profitable? Is this the best way to spend the budget?

When I ask myself these questions, I am quick to talk myself out of attending.

See, if I am going to invest thousands of dollars of my marketing budget and take employees away from their day-to-day activities, I want the ability to grab leads and close them quickly without them knowing about my competition.

Just think about it, the instant your competition is at the show, is the instant you will have to get in a discussion about how you compare to your competitors, this prolongs the sales cycle and not to mention probably significantly lowers the conversion rate (assuming your competition is comparable is some way).

Sometimes if the show is large enough, or has the correct audience.. maybe. But most likely, I am leaning towards “no”.

Emotion from competition plays a huge role in our marketing strategies.

Think what you do the instant you want to optimize your site? You go to your competitor’s website and see their meta description to help you come up with keywords, then implement it to your own. This is common practice, but when you break it down – You are actively looking for keywords that are not easily obtainable.

What do you do when you have copy writing issues? You go to your competitors’ marketing materials and see how they talk about their product and copy it. This strategy completely ruins any product differentiation and tends to hurt you rather than help.

Lastly, you look at your competitors; paid search and go afters similar keywords. Now you get to go head to head and pay more per word! Great way to optimize a budget. (totally kidding here)

I am not saying that you should not look at your competitors at all, but I am saying do not base decisions off of it.

In undergrad (go Drake Bulldogs!), I had a creative advertising professor that said, “not all agency ads are good ads.”

At the time we all dreamed of working for agencies and admired all the work that came our of these creative firms. My professor said this to outline that, just because someone is doing something.. doesn’t mean it is done correctly.

I believe this also applies to your competition. How do you know that the content your competitor produces is worth copying? How do you know the keywords are the best ROI? And how do you know their PPC campaign is even profitable?

The truth is, due to our competitive nature – we make assumptions.

Marketing Assumptions

Companies actively choose to go head-to-head without making decisions based on their own data or customer base.

This thought process leads to entire industries to have minimal product differentiation, which then just leads to a battle on price. If you are a very large company with buying power, maybe this is the battle you have always wanted.

Although for the vast majority of companies created, I doubt their mission statements are

“To beat [insert competitor here]”

Most companies set out to be different, they find a niche or weakness in the industry that allows them to quickly grow.

We all start with the creation of a great SWOT analysis to know how we stand out from everyone else. Those that succeed are the ones that actually stick to their niche; building brand loyalty and creating clear product differentiation.

You can do the same, it just means that you do not allow your competitor’s actions to be your guiding light for your marketing strategy. To truly stand apart from your competition, find out who your ideal customer is, understand their pain point., learn how to talk to them, and continually try to improve their brand experiences.

By using your own factual data, you will see an increase in product differentiation, lower cost per customer, and speed of your sales cycle due to your honed in the approach of your customers’ needs.

Nobody subscribed today…

It’s your turn to stand out!

Throughout my blogs you will undoubtedly hear me preach the need for automation across all areas of marketing as well as any operation. Yet, there are negatives to automation.

Look at your inbox right now (I know you won’t but at least imagine it?) How many of your emails are coming from real people? How many emails do you receive that you are emotionally attached to?

Commonly it is a very small percentage. Automated messages (especially in email) are so easy to create and are making it incredibly easy for marketers to reach an enormous amount of prospects in one send.

But at what cost?

Physical cost.. almost nothing. Email still remains one of the most cost effective mediums in marketing…

The cost of loyalty and attachment to a brand is the cost. They are costing companies more and more each year.

Throughout the digital transformation movement we have been looking for ways to automate the processes across all departments. Although in doing so we have also deteriorated the one-on-one relationships that were typically so important to make a sale.

On the plus side, the cost of acquiring customers has dropped but on the negative side, we are seeing the public lose their loyalty for brands more and more each year.

This is because we are no longer aiming to build a relationship, we are looking to push promotions, sales, and nurture campaigns all through automated messaging.

The truth is, every consumer knows what these emails look like, they have become numb to them and they tend to blend together in your inbox. At no point does someone feel like they are special to that brand in a mass email, because they always know that the email was sent to more than just them.

Many emails have attempted to move to plain text to solves this, but truly it is fooling no one, especially when the unsubscribe button is at the bottom.

Anyways, because of this tactic, consumers and businesses do not have the emotional connection with one particular brand, instead they are moving from brand to brand based on whatever variable means the most to them (this is commonly coming down to price).

This does not mean that you your business should shut down your automated messaging or your large email sends (they are most likely generating a positive ROI), but it does mean that you should be looking into initiatives to delight your customers, create one-on-one relationships, and drive emotion.

In a small business with limited resources it can be tough to build this one-on-one relationship effectively, here are a couple:


1. Personalization to the extreme

Every company is dropping in your contact details from a CRM into mass email cadences. These personalizations do wonders for open rates and click rates, but the truth is they nearly do nothing for loyalty.

In order to really build loyalty you need to show information that goes past the conventional informational plug-ins.

This type of information is typically something that you learned from a discussion and that is commonly a personal trait rather than a company trait. Such as; where you went to school, planned or previous vacation spots, etc. by referring back to these non-typical pieces of information, you prove that an individual is listening and a relationship is able to be established.

This can be easily done with just listening to your customers/prospects and maintaining your CRM. If you know your way around marketing automation, it is very easy to put in a workflow. (Automating works if nobody knows)


2. Presents / rewards (action based)

It feels like everyone has a loyalty program these days. Although do they really drive loyalty? I personally believe they only eliminate even competition but not truly create loyalty.

For example, I loved Delta Airlines. Even before being in their reward club, I preferred their service over any other airline. Even though they are giving me perks to fly with them, I am still cost sensitive. I will happily choose Southwest Airlines if they come in at a lower price.

My point here is that when a rewards program offers the sames incentives to everyone, you can strengthen the preference to use the product, but you do not gain die hard loyalty.

Building Die Hard loyalty takes one-on-one behavior. This can be easily done by sending gifts. Not the typically Holiday gifts companies send “Happy holidays from ABC Company” – that’s not personal at all.

Hungry? Here is the link.

Instead sending them gifts for things then never expected. Some of these events could be; hitting milestones that were not disclosed prior, big news that happened to their company (Google alerts can help you with finding those), promotions, etc.

By catching people by surprise with gifts shows them there is a one-on-one relationship and that they are far more than a typical customer.


3. Putting a face to a product

Think about your shopping experience, how often is another human involved. If you say “frequently” then one of us is shopping wrong.

eCommerce and large bx stores have made the customer service part of buying only there when you need it. Is this bad? Not for me. I wear giant head phones when I shop for a reason.

On a negative side, it makes it really tough to build an emotional connection. You never interact with a human, meaning whatever buy is just a product, which can most likely be found in numerous locations (AKA your competitors)

In an eCommerce setting we have noticed a huge growth in chatbots for this reason (seriously did Drift just become a massive company overnight?) But that is not enough.

Look to putting an actual human face to the experience of buying. Even better the same human face!

Through today’s marketing platforms you can assign a customer to a current employee and make that employee the name that sends emails, the face that is on chat, the one that is on a note in a shipment, etc. By building that one-on-one experience, you can drive a feeling of being a partnership, rather than just a product?

Did I miss other ways to get up in peoples’ personal space? Let me know in the comments below!

Let’s establish this one-on-one relationship

Starting with your email.

I would assume very few houses have been erected without a plan.
The truth is if you are looking to build a quality home, you do not just walk into Home Depot buy a bunch of plywood, two by fours, and nail gun and later end up with a house that your neighbors are all jealous of.
Every structure needs to have a well thought out plan before you start to invest time and money into it.
Architects need to plan for the climate and abide by regulations for every build, similarly, marketers must do the same.
Although many new business owners may think it is impossible to know what kind of marketing plan will help their business grow, there are a couple clear giveaways that will at least help guide to where the best return on investment may lie.
One question that typical marketers ask is
Are we B2C or B2B?
To be fair, this plays a large role in what channels you choose, a B2B marketer most likely will not have a great ROI through SnapChat or Instagram like a B2C marketing campaign would have.
Although, there is another simple question that plays a role in how a business should market, and that simple question is:
Is a business in a blue ocean or red ocean environment?
red ocean business is a company that has numerous competitors and the products and services are fairly well known.
A blue ocean business typically has few competitors (if any) and their offering is fairly unknown to the general public.

How does this help the marketing plan?

By knowing a business type leadership can assess what a typical customer looks like and their knowledge of your offering. This helps you identify your biggest objective.
If you are a red ocean product then your potential customers are most likely already searching for a product and you need to find ways to make yourself first in the hunt for their purchase, or make yourself look better than the competition.
On the other end, if you are blue ocean, very few consumers will be actively looking for your product, therefore your main objective should be to understand your potential buyer and inform them of your offering in their day-to-day lives.
Due to the fact that prospects are not actively looking for the product, marketers need to position themselves between their target market’s typical search and lifestyle.
This can be done through the following ways:

Be Adventurous

If you take only one thing away from this blog I hope it is this,
“Blue Ocean products are full of UNCERTAINTY.” 
What does this mean for your business? It means that nobody can tell a new blue ocean business that a certain channel will drive results. You can not apply typical marketing to this type of business, as it is not a typical business.
To find out the best way to drive revenue, try everything. 
I know what you are thinking – “Try everything? Being a tiny company, I do not have the ability to do it all.” 
But you do!
Small businesses have an extreme advantage, they have the ability to use almost the exact same technology as a large corporation but without the red tape around using it.
Making it easy for a small business to quickly make, test, and shut down campaigns, while automating the entire process to maximize reach, efficiency, and productivity.


Customers are not always easy to get, but once there are one or two they will give clues as to how to get more.
I am not talking about word of mouth as a marketing channel, but I am talking about listening to their journey of finding the business, what they were doing beforehand, what drew them to you, etc.
All of these items play a massive role in finding similar audiences, while giving the messaging to reel them in. 
By dropping these themes into current marketing channels marketers can narrow the target market and be more efficient with budget while of course growing revenue.

Follow the data

Although this goes against the previous paragraph, customers are not always right.
They give clues to help you build marketing, but Blue Ocean is FULL OF UNCERTAINTY.
What a customer says is still loaded with their own personal biases and personal experiences. So before a small business uses their agility and jumps into a large marketing spend due to customers’ suggestions, be sure to test what they are saying. 
What drives a good test? It is the same as what drives a great business, revenue. 
The use of marketing automation and CRMs have allowed almost any business to dive deep into their sales funnel and see what campaigns have had the highest return of revenue.
Although other metrics like leads, engagement, or reach are commonly correlated with revenue, they are not the causation of it and therefore they should not be seen as an indicator of success.
A business owner will always be attached to their customers and their own personal beliefs about how a company should be represented, but the best way to find success is through following unbiased data.

Disrupt the Red Ocean

Just because a business is Blue Ocean, does not mean you can not take sales from Red Ocean companies.
There are a lot of businesses that may offer similar products and/or speak to satisfying similar pain points, by aligning to those target audiences will undoubtedly make it easier to explain how your product works and its public need.
Creating Google audiences, targeting certain social followings, mimicking content, or advertising on specific company or product searches are great ways to jump in front of these audiences.



Blue Ocean companies, need to know 1 thing.. That nothing is certain, but by being adventurous, listening to customers, following data, and advertising to similar markets any business can learn your top channels for growth and grow quickly.


Here’s one way to decrease uncertainty.

One email – right to your inbox every Thursday

My kitchen is absolutely hideous, like Jake from State Farm Hideous, my cupboards are painted dark green, which is probably the 5th layer of paint covering them at this point.
The instant I moved into my house I ripped off a cupboard door and decided to start sanding and stripping. (not stripping myself, but using stripper).
It was a long process to get the paint layers off, sanding the door was like sucking on a jawbreaker… lots of time to peel away one colorful layer at a time.
Once I got past the paint, I came across the unwanted present of a laminate layer.
I then waged war on that piece of sticky plastic using a gallon of stripper accompanied with blood, sweat, and tears.
After hours of work. I finally reached a single cabinet door that was just wood, no paint or laminate.
So what did I do in celebration?

I gave up.

If you walk into my kitchen today you will still see the one single cupboard door that is unpainted, unfinished, and out of place.
Why is that? Because the time needed to invest into this remodeling it was far more than the value I perceived from it.
I decided that I would rather pay a lot more and remodel the entire kitchen than work on any more of those trashy cabinets.
I know what you are thinking:

This rant is getting long, get to the point or I am gonna stop reading!

Which is exactly my point! The more time it takes someone to complete a task, like reading this blog, the less likely someone will complete the desired action.
Now, this statement most likely did not surprise you!
But yet this common knowledge is rarely applied, especially with complex products.
When a business loves their offering or are too close to the product, their homepage is littered with long paragraphs on how it works, every minor detail is outlined, and an enormous amount of industry jargon is spread through all the pages.
In the process of trying to explain their product, marketers spit out so much information that nobody bothers to read it.
It takes too much time and investment to truly understand what your company does. So they give up and leave.
This is so prevalent that millennials have actually created a term around this exact problem “Too Long; Didn’t Read” (TL;DR)
Millennials actively avoid long paragraphs or anything that takes an extended time commitment – whether it is through a website, or through any communication.
Millennials attention span is getting less and less and to address them you need to be as concise as possible.

So how do you do this?

Any business can test their marketing materials with the 3-second test:
Show an advertisement to a person for 3 seconds, then ask them what you do. – If they do not know, then it failed.
But truly what marketers need to do is to base their marketing off the following:






K.I.S.S. is a common term used in advertising to help copywriters and creatives speak to their audience in the shortest and most comprehensive manner. How do you apply it?
  1. Always look to shorten sentences – After you write copy, look through it and find ways to say the exact same thing but in fewer words.
  2. Is it adding value? – Understand where your copy is going, if you are describing product details on the homepage, most likely you can delete it and move it to the product pages.  Be sure to check all your writing and find repetitive information and eliminate it.
  3. For those of you with very complex products, use other means of communication – Look into other ways of communicating, common ways of doing this would be through diagrams, product images, plainer videos or product demonstrations.


^ Simplicity #ForTheMillennials

When you host a dinner party and want to spread the word, how often do you say:

come over to my collection of piping, wood, metal, and wire to have dinner?


I would assume you would not have many takers. Most of your guests and maybe even some family members would offer the quick response of, “I got plans on whatever night you are talking about!”

It’s weird to be that descriptive so, let’s instead be less descriptive in this invite:

You have been cordially invited to a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath for dinner


This invite is better than the first, but yet… I am sure all the guests will be expecting you to make a sales pitch on why they should buy this amazing property you have invited them to!

Ok. One more time, let’s get even less descriptive.

Dear friends, please come over to a building to drink to our heart’s content and devour an ungodly amount of food.


The ending completely sold me.. but still, most of the guests will still be a little wary of attending because of “a building”.

The point I am trying to make is that in our personal lives we always speak about purpose. You would always tell people to come over to your house or home for dinner.

What the word house or home adds though is the “Why” it is there.

Why is there a collection of piping, wood, metal, and wire? Why is there 4 rooms and 2.5 baths? why is there a building?

Answer: You live there!

House or home, makes it clear that it is for protecting residents, it is a residence, and that there is most likely furniture inside.

By knowing the WHY of something people are comforted and it drives an emotional connection.

Yet, in marketing, we do not always follow the same practices.

Commonly, businesses get so caught up in their offering or what they are creating, that they forget why they are doing it.

To make things even worse industry trends play a big role in this too:

  • blockchain
  • big data
  • artificial intelligence
  • cryptocurrencies

These terms are so popular that companies just drop them into their product descriptions out of nowhere.

By adding these keywords companies are getting further away from why they do what they do and making the product less comprehensive to the end user.

For example, one of my favorite content marketing tools Atomic Reach.

The What – Big Data and Ai for Content marketing

The Why – Grow traffic and conversions using data pulled from your audience

As you can see “the what description” may tell me what the product is, but it has not told me the benefit of having it.

The why gives me a reason to try the new technology in order to boost my marketing performance.

This all seems like basic knowledge, but when you are a business that is so proud of what you have created, you tend to want to tell every person every detail.

The truth is, most people simply do not care.

I use Atomic Reach all the time, not once have I asked them their algorithm, how information is gathered, or how content specifics are scored.

The only thing I care about is that the performance of the content I create increases and that I can produce high-quality marketing with more precision.

Now before the technical people start freaking out!

I am not saying that companies need to delete all your product details or remove “the WHAT” from all your website and marketing materials.

What I am saying is that “the what” should never lead your marketing or sales pitch.

At times, especially for complex products, specific details are needed to make a final purchasing decision.

This is a great use for a product specifications page, a table on the website, a one-pager, or a brochure.

Anything that the user can quickly obtain to get the more information once it is needed, this is preferably distributed without the need to contact personnel in the company; eliminating sales friction and speeding up the sales process.

To engrave this thought a little bit further, I leave you with Simon Sinek. For a further deep dive into this topic, I would also recommend his book “Start with Why.”

Why subscribe to Marketing Carpenter? Because I want to grow with you.

Romantic.. right?