Seven Components To Rat Pack Marketing

I happened to catch a glimpse of the Rat Pack the other day…one of the famous shots of the fellows standing outside the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas…

And I was immediately envious. I wanted to be a part of it. To have my own rat pack…a merry band of souls boldly moving forward…fearless…undaunted by the fast balls life throws every day.

Oh, they contributed to culture all right. Purposefully — by entertaining and performing their art for all of us, sharing their immense talent with the world.

But they did it for themselves too…for their own entertainment, their own joy, their own experimentation on how far they could push the envelope.

And quite honestly, we lived vicariously through them. We wanted to be them. We wanted to act like them. We certainly wanted to experience them. But I believe this commitment to pushing the envelope is what made them memorable. If it was just a few fellows singing and dancing, I wouldn’t be writing a blog post about them a generation or two later…

But then I asked myself, can we go-to-market this way?

I am always telling my Dreamland Interactive business partners I have three goals for our business: one, serve our clients well. Two, build a sustainable, growing business. And three, have a hell of a lot of fun doing it.

Number three is the most important to me…

Is that wrong? I am not suggesting that we should have fun in place of doing good work. But I believe doing good work is the result of enjoying your work. And honestly, I think the “experience” of working with us can be good marketing, in that the word will spread. When there were no hotel rooms available, people would sleep in cars when the Rat Pack played Vegas.

I define Rat Pack Marketing as containing the following seven elements:

1. Fun – There is nothing wrong with having fun. The Rat Pack certainly did. Why go to work in the morning if it isn’t fun?

2. Creative – Each member of the Rat Pack was their own man, a star in their own right. But as a pack the creative output is what we most remember…

3. Entertaining – They were certainly entertaining. You can be too. And sometimes, people listen and learn more when they are being entertained, then when they are not. This also makes you memorable, and that’s important too.

4. Good Storytelling – My favorite part of the Rat Pack, the non-singing storytelling they all did. And you know that good storytelling is the ESSENCE of good marketing.

5. A Bit Edgy – If there is one thing the Rat Pack didn’t do was be boring. In this age of non-stop media output, you have to be edgy to be seen AND talked about.

6. Marketing By Camaraderie – The team aspect of the Rat Pack is why we still talk about them today. For you, partnering with creative teams to make great work is a effective way to serve customers and stir the creative juices that otherwise would not see the light of day as a solo act.

7. Willingness To Break The Rules – The Rat Pack broke rules. Period. And you are well aware that the successful leaders in our world (politics, art, religion and business) all forged their own path to greatness.

Gather your merry band of soulmates today, and you too can begin to impact and change the world.

Be Intrepid.


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j j j

Minimalist Marketing: The Art Of Simple Storytelling

3143845327_9cb72f57ea_bPeople love a good story. Stories teach. Stories draw people in. Good stories make you stick around to see how it ends. More importantly, good stories are remembered. And MOST importantly, good stories are retold…

And yet, so many entrepreneurs fail to market themselves effectively with storytelling. Why do they fail at this? I happen to have a theory.

[And I am not talking about those who DO NOT use storytelling in their marketing.]

My theory is they are too exhausted from trying to tell too many stories. All at once. See, they are reaching for too broad a market, casting too large a net. And in the end, they will confuse the market – and exhaust themselves – and do a poor job targeting – and reaching – their core target audience.

A minimalist strips away all the clutter and excess, enabling them self to focus only on what matters most. As marketers, we need to apply the same principle to our message.

If we are telling too many stories, the message will be lost. Those we are fortunate enough to have listening to us will be confused.

This process is simple:

1. Identify your MAIN target market.
2. Determine the ONE message that will move that market to action.
3. Deliver your message – your story – to that market, free of clutter and distraction.


What do you think?

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[The original post on Minimalist Marketing that inspired this series]
[photo by _marmota on flickr]

j j j

Minimalist Marketing: A Good Lead For Me Is The Planet Earth…

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

Have you ever attended a networking session, and encountered this scenario? Say a mechanic gets up to speak, and he says “A good lead for me today is anyone you know who owns a car or truck.”

What the?

Hearing this is like nails on a chalkboard for me. I have a feeling this guy is thinking this is good for him, in that he is casting a wide net to catch ALL fish.

But sadly, this is a sign of a completely LAZY marketer. Someone taking the easy way out. And my guess is his business is struggling. I mean, seriously. What does he think I am going to do, give him my entire rolodex?

In fact, this mechanic is doing the exact opposite of what he should do to grow his business, and find MORE customers. He needs to do what will feel quite counter-intuitive to him – laser focus on one specific niche.

What happens when you cast too wide a net? You find very few clients.  And what happens then? You take on TOO MANY of the wrong clients. And then you are overwhelmed with too much “bad” work, and probably for too small a fee.

Either way, applying some minimalist principles to your targeting process will pay big dividends to your marketing program.

Focus on ONE type of prospect. Just one. In the case of the mechanic? Don’t narrow your focus to Fords. Narrow your focus to Ford pick-ups.

[This doesn’t mean the mechanic can’t help fix a Chevy should it pull into the garage – it just means his marketing focus should be on Ford pick-ups…ONLY.]

But this only works under two conditions:

One, that you become the best in the market at fixing Ford pick-ups. You should become known as the go-to guy in the event anyone’s Ford pick-up needs servicing. I mean it…the best in your market.

And two, you are going to have to adjust your marketing program to target owners of Ford pick-ups. This is easier than casting a large net, I promise. But it does require some creative thinking, some strategy, and a sustained effort over time to reach out and build real relationships with owners of Ford pick-ups.

The other minimalist impact on your marketing as a result of narrowing your focus? You then also simplify your marketing message. What you say to Ford pick-up owners is different than if you had to speak to ALL car and truck owners. [And if you don't understand this me. We need to talk.] But if you are targeting too many people, you probably have too many marketing messages. As a result, your message is muddled, and your marketing suffers…

Narrowing your focus to a specific niche simplifies your marketing, and makes it less complicated. Selling is hard enough. Don’t make it more complicated than it has to be.

What do you think?

[See the original post that inspired the Minimalist Marketing series]
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j j j

Marketing Lessons, by way of The Graduate

The Graduate

The Graduate

Just last night, I watched the classic film The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft. Truly one of the coolest films ever made, it is one of my top 10 favs. And not just because Simon and Garfunkel did the music.

You recall the film. It tells the tale of Ben Braddock, fresh out of school, but clueless as to what to do with his life. In his confusion and quest to find answers, he falls for an older woman, the wife of his father’s business partner.

Being the marketing guy with a permanent thirst to learn as much as I can about marketing, I look for lessons and answers every where I can. So, watching the film last night, I looked for marketing lessons while watching the film. And damn, if I don’t think I found some profound lessons we all can benefit from. Thanks Ben, Mrs. Robinson, and Elaine. Enjoy.

  1. Don’t conform. Don’t fall prey to the expectations of others. Ben’s father had much different aspirations for Ben’s future. Go your own way. The way your instincts guide you.
  2. Don’t always say yes. Remember the family friend who suggests that Ben should get into “plastics?” You don’t always have to say yes. Make smart decisions. [see below]
  3. Don’t be timid. Remember when Ben was checking in to the hotel for his first rendezvous with Mrs. Robinson, and he was very timid with the desk clerk? Funniest scene in the film. Don’t worry what people think about simple, mundane stuff. Live life to the full. It will make you a better marketer.
  4. Celebrate conversation. Deep into the affair, Ben got more comfortable with Mrs. Robinson, and he tried to engage her in more conversation in an attempt to get to know her. She obviously had no desire. It probably drove Ben off, off on to a path she wasn’t happy about. Don’t avoid conversation.
  5. Don’t be who you are not. Remember when he took Elaine out on their first date, and he tried to scare her off by being someone he is not? It didn’t work for Ben. He was better off when he went back to being himself. Be real. Be sincere.
  6. Know what your goals are. Remember when Ben declared to his parents that he was marrying Elaine, but then shared that he actually hadn’t asked her yet? Classic moment. Turned the tide of the film. Take a lesson from this – don’t be afraid to declare what you want.
  7. Don’t let a “NO” dissuade you. Remember when Elaine was still mad at Ben for having an affair with her mother? Most would walk away. You will hear “no” a lot in life. It doesn’t mean the quest is over.
  8. Don’t fear obstacles. Remember when Ben was on the way to stop the wedding and his car ran out of gas? He kept going. Kept going until he got what he wanted.
  9. Be persistent. Remember how Ben kept after Elaine even when she went back to school at Berkeley? He kept after her.
  10. Try new things. Hell, if Mrs. Robinson tried to seduce me, I’d have done the same thing too… Celebrate opportunities. You will learn a lot…
j j j

Mediocrity Sucks

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

Here is something I am taking action on as I launch some new projects in 2010. Not by any real design, but turns out I am starting the year with three new clients – just this week alone. And I am chatting soon with a former client, and we are about to engage on a brand new project.

So, while it is a fluke that all this new activity is happening in January 2010, I am using the new year to take a new approach with these new client projects.

What am I doing differently? I am making a bigger push than ever before on my vendor engagement. In fact, I have released a few past vendors, and have engaged some fresh faces.

This is really exciting to me, as this will give me some new souls to bounce ideas off, and a fresh perspective on some things. This has done a lot to recharge my batteries.

And in the end, I think it will serve my clients very well. I am NOT suggesting that my work prior to this point was mediocre, but I am looking at these refreshing new partners as if I was striving to up my game. And make it better. As if I was telling “mediocrity” to kiss my fanny.

And you can’t imagine how this is firing up my creativity!

So, the simple point of this post is to remind you to think about doing something like this in your business. Take things you have been doing, whether they are standard protocol, routine, comfortable – and shake things up a bit. Be like John Keating in Dead Poets Society, and stand on a desk and look at your world a little differently.

Pick something that needs a little shaking up, such as how you interact on social media, how you present your company while networking, how you shape your customer experience, or how you deal with your vendors – and make it a point to seriously question how you can do those things better.

Don’t settle for anything mediocre – make your business lives extraordinary!

Be Intrepid.

j j j

Don't Be A Part Of This 2010 Marketing Conversation…

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

Consultant: “How did you do in meeting the goals of your 2009 marketing plan? Did you stay on budget?

Typical small business person: “Wait, what? Marketing plan did you say? Budget? I was supposed to have a budget?

Consultant: “Let’s review your social media plan. Did you accomplish your goals?”

Typical small business person: “What? Social media strategy? You can do that?

Consultant: “How did the call to action on your marketing collateral work? Did prospects and customers take the steps you wanted to advance the sales process?”

Typical small business person: “I am not sure what you are talking about, but man, my brochures are sure pretty!”

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

Consultant: “How did your keywords perform on your website and blog?”

Typical small business person: “I have no idea, but my cousin who designed the site says her friends think the site looks bitchin’!”

Consultant: “So, with your email marketing campaign, did your prospects contact you to learn more or advance the sales process?”

Typical small business person: “No clue, but most of the people I blindly added to my database unsubscribed and gave me lip about ‘spam’.”

Consultant: “So, did you try some new things with your marketing? Try any new tactics, new messaging, any new social media tools?”

Typical small business person: “No. I stuck to the same stuff that hasn’t really worked too well before, but you know, I didn’t have any money to try something new that might work.”

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

Consultant: “What good marketing books did you read this year? Did you find any great marketing blogs to help you learn new things?”

Typical small business person: “No, but I think I learned some cool advertising stuff watching Mad Men…”

Consultant: “Did you hone your skills at building community and establishing relationships on tools like Twitter and Facebook?”

Typical small business person: “Huh? No, but I passed along my free e-book, the results of my IQ test, an invite to join my mafia family, and the link to my blog to all new followers and friends!”

Consultant: “Have you narrowed your marketing focus down to a highly specific, easily targeted niche?”

Typical small business owner: “Are you nuts? I am not missing out on hitting all those darn people…”

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

Consultant: “Have you narrowed your focus to the right networking groups that are in your target market?”

Typical small business person: “Are you nuts? I am not getting many leads from the bunch of groups I am visiting, so clearly I just need to hit as many darn networking groups as I can…”

Consultant: “Tell me about your lead generation and lead incubation system? How do you feed good solid prospects into your pre-purchase experience?”

Typical small business person: “Huh?”

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

The point here? Thinking strategically and putting a plan on paper is too important NOT to do. Yet, too many small business people jump into their daily routine without so much as a plan on how to proceed. The questions [by no means a complete list of pertinent questions] above serve one purpose: if you can personally identify with even one of those mini scenarios, you need to pull back, take advantage of the quieter holiday season, and think some things through as you prepare for 2010.

Good luck!

j j j

Marketing Plan: Just Do It

photo by Pabo76 on flickr

photo by Pabo76 on flickr

So I just decided to compete in a half-marathon next Thanksgiving day, 2010.

A slew of friends competed yesterday, and I found myself feeling guilty and fat because I was sitting on my fanny watching a parade…

Not anymore. Next year, I am ticking off an item from Todd’s dream list…

So, I immediately set out to do some planning and plotting to slowly, methodically prepare myself for this run. And it got me thinking about crafting your marketing plan for the upcoming year.

There are many similarities:

One, you have to set a goal: My RUNNING goal is to compete in a half-marathon on Thanksgiving day, 2010. What is your MARKETING goal? Is it to double sales? Triple the amount of units sold? Think long and hard about what your goal should be, and commit it to paper. And don’t forget – it is very important to have a deadline, an end point, a completion point. This is essential.

Two, you need to plan and time line: My RUNNING goal now consists of an exercise plan – a day-by-day schedule with certain steps I need to complete to make progress towards the goal. 30 minute walk on day one, 35 minute walk on day three, 30 minute run/walk on day ten, etc. Your MARKETING goal should consist of the same thing, although this time with a list of specific tasks to complete on a schedule. This can include writing blog post on day one, set lunches with three prospects on day two, spend 30 minutes answering questions on twitter/facebook, writing ad copy on day four, etc.

Three, you need to have the right equipment: My RUNNING effort will require the right equipment, such as the right running shoes, ones that will actually fit my exact body specs, such as pronation. Your MARKETING effort needs the same thing. Is Twitter right for you? Magazine advertisements in the right niche journals? Networking to to the right niche groups, etc.?

Four, you need to take in the right diet: My RUNNING regimen will consist of a new dietary plan. Between you and me, I will have to throw out my entire crap diet. I will need to focus on eating the right complex carbs, lean proteins, enough water, etc. For your MARKETING effort, you need to keep learning. You need to read the right diet of books, appropriate blogs, and get your fill of leadership development books that inspire and motivate you. [Note: you can review the right sidebar and see my recommendations found on Amazon]

Five, you need to team up with a partner to motivate and guide you: As of this moment, I get winded walking to the fridge to load up on snacks. And I don’t know a thing about running, training, and/or the appropriate dietary strategy. I am going to need experienced friends and partners. A mere tweet on twitter and I found several friends willing to help. It is no different with your MARKETING. You should bring on a marketing consultant, business and/or life coach, and/or at least join a mastermind group to help guide you and inspire you along the way. We all need this to help keep us on track…

I will report on my progress along the way. I anticipate many near-death experiences along the way. But I know my support network will help me achieve my goals! And that I will learn a whole lot of new stuff…

And I expect the same thing with my HALF MARATHON goals too!

Good luck, and Be Intrepid!

j j j

Wait! There's More! The Up-Selling Conflict

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

So one of the family vehicles needed an oil change and a new break light. This resulted in a quick trip to Jiffy Lube. Now, I don’t mind admitting that I don’t know squat about vehicles.

And as you would expect, as I am sitting in the waiting room, the gentleman working on my vehicle comes in every few minutes saying I need a wee bit of this, and a wee bit of that.

Sadly, carspeak is so foreign to me that he could be talking about my lawn mower. So, what does this make me? A perfect candidate to be up-sold a lot of stuff. Stuff maybe I don’t need.

It’s a great strategy, actually. If you don’t mind screwing over your customer. But there is this thing called integrity.

Now please note: I am NOT suggesting that Jiffy Lube did anything malicious to me. In fact, I have been going to this joint for years. And will continue to do so.

But I am just saying… There are plenty of folks out there that look for suckers. In fact, when I jokingly tweeted that I was the perfect Jiffy Lube phony up-sell target, I got a bunch of messages back indicating others had been victims of similar experiences.

Point is, we all worry about that.

And as a business person, you should worry about that. And be sure you aren’t doing that to your customers. Because that’s a one way ticket to being called out very publicly on the internet in front of the entire planet. And getting out of business fast.

But up-selling is a critical strategy to growing your business. If you do it right – and with sincere intentions of helping your customer better solve their problems or fulfill their needs.

What is up-selling? Wikipedia says up-selling is a sales technique whereby a salesperson induces the customer to purchase more expensive items, upgrades, or other add-ons in an attempt to make a more profitable sale.

As I was contemplating this post earlier today, I was watching a little TV. I heard the “nails on a chalkboard” line that drives me nuts: “Wait! There’s More!”

Do you know how many millions and millions of dollars have been spent AFTER hearing this line? There are suckers out there who buy the extra stuff those TV ads are selling. But sometimes, just sometimes, there is real value there.

You really do need to think long and hard about what products or services you can up-sell your customers. Adding this strategy to your marketing effort is a proven way to GROW your business. I think sadly that a lot of serious business people don’t try to up-sell because they are afraid of being lumped into the “Wait! There’s More” category of salesmen.

And if you really are doing it in the spirit of trying to steal a dollar from your customer, you deserve a hard and painful death. But if you sincerely offer additional products or services to further advance the easing of your customer’s pain, it is a great service to them…

…And a way to GROW your business.

Be Intrepid.

j j j

Time For Small Business To Integrate Their Marketing

In this video, I talk about the importance of integrating all the tactical marketing options you may be using to market your small business into a coordinated marketing program. Now that we are less than two months from 2010, it’s time for small business people to start preparing, strategizing, and planning their 2010 marketing plan.

While I appreciate that some entrepreneurs just start trying things and executing on new ideas without a lot of thought, small businesses are so much better off when their efforts are coordinated into a broader strategy. Think about that very carefully as you begin to prepare for 2010…

Good luck. And Be Intrepid.

j j j

Why Are We Failing To Help Small Business Understand Social Media?

cartoon by @gapingvoid

cartoon by @gapingvoid

Mashable just reported a statistic that blew my mind: 76% of small businesses still do NOT find social media useful in generating business.


I have to be honest, I just don’t understand it. I will further admit, I don’t know the details of the study, but I wonder how many of those small businesses haven’t tried social media versus having tried social media without success?

It is an important distinction.

But ignoring social media, or pretending it doesn’t exist is a one-way ticket to oblivion. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday soon.

For those of you still stuck in the first of these two scenarios, here are 4 things to think about:

  1. Marketing is changing. Deal with it. The longer you wait to start, the harder it will be to catch up with your competition.
  2. If you are still afraid of giving the world a chance to speak negatively about you or your service, deal with it. The ability to talk about a business online is only going to get more pervasive.
  3. The content problem. If you are afraid that you don’t have enough to say, then you just don’t understand how social media works. Content is easy. All you have to do is think. And, you know, talk to your customers once in a while.
  4. And if you think that you won’t have enough time, then you are doomed. Folks, this is where marketing is going. And if you don’t make time, you will ultimately fall way too far behind. That said, it doesn’t take as much time as you might think…


So, those are the four main reasons I hear every day about why most small business people don’t believe in social media. And while I want to fault them, I will not. Why?

Because it is my responsibility, and the that of every marketing influencer. We have so far failed to help these folks understand not only the power, but the necessity, of integrating social media into your small business marketing program.

But why are we failing? Are we not telling the story enough? Is it because we can’t easily explain the ROI of social media? Is it because we don’t want to let people in on the magic formula, and keep them at a competitive disadvantage? Who knows.

But I think the reason that 76% of small business people don’t believe is that they just don’t believe yet. Maybe they think that the new marketing requires more work than the old style of marketing, where you just paid money to advertise. The new way, you have to actually engage with people. And that’s not always easy.

So I think it is a combination of us marketing influencers doing a better job of articulating this new way, and in a way that is more easily understood and actionable. AND…I think small business folks need to – with this new understanding – take an educated leap of faith and learn this new way of marketing.

In the end, we will all win. We will be better connected, serving one another in a better way, and running stronger businesses.

What do you think?

Be Intrepid.

j j j