One Thing About Marketing Strategy

Marketing podcast with John Jantsch (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

Marketing Strategy

In the movie City Slickers Jack Palance’s character tells Billy Crystal that the secret to life is one thing. Crystal, of course, is left to discover what that one thing in life is on his own, but I believe the same is true for business. I believe the most effective marketing strategies, the one’s that I call real-life marketing strategies, hold together by focusing relentlessly on one simple thing.

That one simple thing can be an idea, like providing shoes to kids in need around the world as Tom’s One for One Movement does, focusing on simple, yet stunning design, as many people feel Apple does, or building a business by intentionally keeping things simple, in both products and processes, as I believe 37Signals does.

In all cases though, these companies accomplish many, many things, but do so first and foremost through the realization of one single-minded purpose. This single minded purpose is the filter for every business decision, hiring decision, product decision, and marketing campaign – and it often starts by simply realizing and capturing who the company is being at some point in time – the here’s what we really stand for moment.

Of course, finding and committing to a real-life marketing strategy – the one thing – isn’t enough. You’ve also got to find a way to make it part of the DNA of the organization. You’ve got find symbols and stories and metaphors that allow every part of your business ecosystem embrace the strategy.

There’s an article in this month’s issue of strategy + business magazine titled Eat Your Peas: A Recipe for Culture Change. The article chronicles Jamie Oliver’s (Food Revolution) struggle to change the eating culture in a small community and how he finally breaks through by focusing on one simple and digestible theme – peas.

Previous attempts to change behavior and implement his ideas around healthy eating met with fierce resistance until he made the entire strategy all about embracing eating peas. This “one thing” became the metaphor for the entire culture shift.

In this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I continue a solo discussion on this idea of real-life marketing strategy. Some of you may have guessed by my seeming infatuation with this topic that I may be working on something bigger related to this theme and you would be right.

I’m convinced there’s a book worth writing on the idea of creating real-life marketing strategy, the kind that amplifies why a business does what it does, the kind that demonstrate how a strong culture can become a powerful strategy, and the kind that suggests anyone, by embracing this idea of “one thing” can create a stunning brand.

So, tell me about companies that you think have this “one thing” down. Or, tell me what your one thing is and how you communicate it.

You can listen to the show by subscribing the feed in iTunes or a variety of other free services such as Google Listen (Use this RSS feed) or you can buy the Duct Tape Marketing iPhone app. (iTunes link – Cost is $2.99) or

The Trend Towards Lean Startups

Marketing podcast with Eric Ries (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

The Lean StartupThere is a bit of a movement afoot in the startup world called the Lean Startup. While the word lean might conjure up notions of cheap, it’s really about taking a scientific approach to innovating, measuring and responding in ways that stop companies from wasting time and money.

The basis of the concept, as applied to startups, comes from the Lean manufacturing world popularized by Toyota. Lean manufacturing is a production practice that considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Eric Ries, entrepreneur in residence at Harvard and author of The Lean Startup.

In The Lean Startup, Ries attempts to show entrepreneurs how to bring the principles of Lean manufacturing and agile development to innovation.

According to Ries, startups that apply the lean method will achieve dramatically lower development costs, faster time to market, and higher quality products in the years to come.

While the application in the real world can get very complex the concept is rather simple – using a cycle of build, measure and learn, startups can determine what works and what doesn’t and make the necessary changes and fixes or determine to end the ideas altogether.

One of my favorite case studies in the book involves a tool I use everyday – Dropbox. Drew Houston, CEO and Founder of Dropbox applied Eric Ries’s Lean Startup concepts and started iterating their product much faster in order to test what customers really wanted, early and often. Using Lean Startup principles, in just 15 months, Dropbox went form 100,000 registered users to over 4,000,000.

Anyone can participate in the movement and learn about the principles by joining or starting a Lean Startup Meetup Group – find one here.

You can listen to the show by subscribing the feed in iTunes or a variety of other free services such as Google Listen (Use this RSS feed) or you can buy the Duct Tape Marketing iPhone app. (iTunes link – Cost is $2.99) or

How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries

Marketing podcast with Peter Sims (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

True innovators make lots of little bets on ideas and small affordable actions that grow into fully developed discoveries rather that capturing one big aha moment.

That’s the view of this week’s guest on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast – Peter Sims, author of Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries

Based on over 200 interviews with successful creators and innovators, Sims demonstrates that the kind of linear problem-solving and fear of failure we were conditioned to embrace actively thwarts creativity.

Whether it’s Steve Jobs or architect Frank Gehry or the ‘braintrust’ at Pixar, there is no complete plan or vision at the outset.  Rather, through a process of trying and failing in incremental ways, they gain critical information as they go from one small, experimental step to the next — which eventually lead to extraordinary breakthroughs.

This notion seems to be the current view for start ups these days in this put it out there and iterate quickly Internet driven world. Minimum viable products are okay until you learn how to create the real winner.

Really great ideas emerge through lots of little failures.

According to Sims there are methods, such as prototyping and consolidating gains, that can be applied in almost any business. This process includes adding immediate customer feedback to the development road map.

Little Bets is an approach that runs counter to the age old notion of strategic planning and is more about strategic doing that forces you to create knowledge and discover unarticulated problems rather than simply interpret knowledge

You can listen to the show by subscribing the feed in iTunes or a variety of other free services such as Google Listen (Use this RSS feed) or you can buy the Duct Tape Marketing iPhone app. (iTunes link – Cost is $2.99) or

Shifting to the Third Screen

Marketing podcast with Chuck Martin (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

The Third Screen
The term used in the title of this post is the current favorite for those that write and speak about the growth of mobile devices in our everyday life. The mobile screen has now outpaced screens one and two, the TV and Computer monitor.

Focus on the mobile device has really picked up of late in marketing circles and will probably go down as one of this year’s hottest topics.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is Chuck Martin, CEO of The Mobile Future Institute and Director of the Center of Media Research at MediaPost Communications Inc and author of The Third Screen: Marketing to Your Customers in a World Gone MobileThe Third Screen.

I love the title of the book because it reinforces the idea that it’s not that marketing has change, the world around us has changed, and that requires a shift in how we apply our already stated objectives to this evolving space.

In this interview Martin sets the table for “why now” by sharing what had become overwhelming evidence that mobile behavior is overtaking pretty much any other kind of business and consumer behavior.

From a business standpoint there are some interesting aspect inherent in the current use of mobile – the buying intent of a mobile surfer is often very high. In some cases they are literally searching for a place to shop right now.

In addition, the size of the screen also changes the psychology of the surfer. Snack sized facts, ease of contact, laser sharp calls to action and minimal need for navigation – all things that might hamper a desktop visit – are an essential part of the mobile experience.

Mobile intensifies the importance of inbound marketing (being found) and couples it with the need for ease of discovery (just the facts mam)

I still get pushback from some small business marketers that can’t seem to get past the idea of spam text messages for lead generation as the sum game of mobile. Like much of the “Twitter is total waste of time” talk that emerged in 2008, there’s truth, hype and money to be made and lost in every new direction the Internet takes us.

Use this filter question as you analyze any new tool or direction: How could this help me do a better job serving the customers I already have? Figure that out and you’ll never be led astray.

I’ll share my thoughts on how small businesses should start viewing mobile and just how they might get started in tomorrow’s post.

You can listen to the show by subscribing the feed in iTunes or a variety of other free services such as Google Listen (Use this RSS feed) or you can buy the Duct Tape Marketing iPhone app. (iTunes link – Cost is $2.99) or

Slicing Real Time Search for Trends and Opportunities

Marketing podcast with Doug Hubbard (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

Real time search data is turning up some very interesting trends and business opportunities for those that know how to measure and analyze the data.

Pulse: The New Science of Harnessing Internet Buzz to Track Threats and OpportunitiesI turned to Doug Hubbard, author of Pulse: The New Science of Harnessing Internet Buzz to Track Threats and Opportunities to talk about this very idea.

Hubbard is the inventor of the powerful Applied Information Economics (AIE) method. He is also the author of How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business.

Hubbard shared a basic example of how Google Trends data could accurately predict unemployment rates in real time based on search trends – something that took the Department of Labor months to do.

Pulse has a complementary website (www.pulsethenewscience.com) with links, analysis, examples, and spreadsheets.

Hubbard uses real-world examples to illustrate how:

  • A Canadian epidemiologist tracking “flu symptoms” searches on Google is able to track flu outbreaks faster than Canadian health authorities. His success inspired Google’s “Flu Trends” tool.
  • Tracking Twitter comments about upcoming movies could reliably predict box office success better than any other method.
  • The number of “unemployment” Google searches nationwide tracks very closely to Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment reports, which releases its data monthly after sampling 60,000 households while Google trends data is available weekly—and for free.
  • Tracking Twitter comments produces nearly the same results for consumer confidence and political polls as Gallup polls—except that Twitter results are real time and free.

For more trend resources check out My Trend Radar Points Here.

You can listen to the show by subscribing the feed in iTunes or a variety of other free services such as Google Listen (Use this RSS feed) or you can buy the Duct Tape Marketing iPhone app. (iTunes link – Cost is $2.99) or

Do The Work with Steven Pressfield

Marketing podcast with Steven Pressfield (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

Do the Work - Steven PressfieldIf you’ve ever felt yourself bumping up against an unseen force destined on holding you back from achieving your life’s work, you’ve probably met a shady villain called Resistance. That’s Resistance with a capital R according to this week’s guest on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast –  Steven Pressfield.

Pressfield is best known as the author of numerous novels, including The Legend of Bagger Vance, a book that was later turned into a hit movie starring Will Smith, Matt Damon and Charlize Theron.

He has also developed a large and loyal following in the creative community with his short non-fiction work titled The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. The purpose of the War of Art was to inspire other writers, artists, musicians, or anyone else attempting to channel his or her creative energies. The focus is on combating resistance and living the destiny that Pressfield believes is gifted to each person.

After writing the War of Art Pressfield encountered numerous entrepreneurs that related to this thing called Resistance and found parallels in what an entrepreneur faces, be they a plumber or attorney, and what a more traditional creative faces.

Pressfield teamed up with Seth Godin’s Domino Project in an effort to help entrepreneurs understand and combat Resistance in its many forms. The Project is titled simply Do the Work and in it readers will learn about:

  • The things that hold them back, including a fear of success
  • How to get out of your own way
  • How to know when you must do something
  • The difference between being a pro and being an amateur

Do the Work will take you all of about two hours to read, but if you’ve had trouble identifying things that are keeping you from living the life you know you must, it may be one of the most profound books you’ll ever encounter. (Currently Do The Work is only available at Amazon)

You can listen to the show by subscribing the feed in iTunes or a variety of other free services such as Google Listen (Use this RSS feed) or you can buy the Duct Tape Marketing iPhone app. (iTunes link – Cost is $2.99) or

How to Take on a Giant

Marketing podcast with Stephen Denny (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

Some years ago I wrote a post called the Natural Advantages of Small Business. The topic is one that I’ve also delivered as a presentation for Chambers of Commerce and the like. In this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing I visit with Stephen Denny, author of Killing Giants – 10 Strategies to Topple the Goliath in Your Industry.

Denny tackles the question that many small businesses face and that’s “what to do when you’re faced with competition that has more money, name recognition and customers?”

If I were to sum up Killing Giants it would be this – Identify a competitor’s vulnerability and exploiting the heck out of it.

Interestingly Denny’s research showed the speed and nimbleness isn’t the answer because, by itself, it doesn’t scale. Companies that use speed also make better decisions based on fact, not gut.

The book uses case studies to illustrate how successful smaller businesses took on giants in their industry to do just that.

One of my personal favorite case studies is Method’s taking on Proctor and Gamble.

From the book:
Everyone thought Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry were crazy to start Method, a new cleaning products company. The category had long been dominated by P&G, Unilever, and Colgate-Palmolive. Those giants had so much clout with the retail chains that their soaps had barely needed updating for decades.

But by taking advantage of its underdog position, Method carved out a very profitable niche: environmentally sound products in stylish, innovative packaging. Despite a far smaller marketing budget than their competitors, Method connected with a substantial minority of people who wanted to “buy green” but who also wanted high-quality products.

Some of my favorite strategic approaches from the book include:

  • Win in the last three feet. Leverage someone else’s investment—just be there the moment the customer grabs their wallet.
  • Create “thin ice” arguments. Shift the conversation to places where the competition can’t—or won’t—go.
  • Fight unfairly. Learn how the underdog can turn the tables, pick unfair fights and create awkward mis-matches.

You can listen to the show by subscribing the feed in iTunes or a variety of other free services such as Google Listen (Use this RSS feed) or you can buy the Duct Tape Marketing iPhone app. (iTunes link – Cost is $2.99) or

Understanding the Most Fundamental Shift in Marketing

Marketing Hourglass explained by John Jantsch (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

When I want to make marketing extremely easy to understand, I sit small business owners down in front of the above graphic and have them fill in some process, touchpoint, campaign, product of service in each of the seven blanks. The idea behind this graphic I call the Marketing Hourglass is that marketing is no longer a hunt and close business, it’s a be found, build trust, nurture, wow and refer business.

The most fundamental shift of all in marketing is the need to logically and systematically move prospects along the path of know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat and refer – this is the entire game these days. Now, what tools and tactics you bring to this game will certainly differ, but the end game is still the same.

I wrote last week that the Most Powerful Form of Lead Generation is a Happy Customer and the hourglass model put the focus squarely on that idea. While most businesses use a marketing model that tends to lean heavy on the desire to go from know us to buy from us, any business that fills each of these seven touchpoints will be well on their way to finding and keeping customers that become part of the lead generation and conversion team.

I explain a bit more of my thinking on this tool in this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast.

You can listen to the show by subscribing the feed in iTunes or a variety of other free services such as Google Listen (Use this RSS feed) or you can buy the Duct Tape Marketing iPhone app. (iTunes link – Cost is $2.99) or