Archive for the 'Marketing' Category

“The Indecisive Manager Showing a Decisive Lack of Confidence,” Vol. XCVI

Management Rewards, Management Strategies, Marketing, Sales Management Abundancy, Sales Strategies No Comments »


 Dear Manager,

Managers are thrust into the decision-making process on a never-ending basis.  These decisions can create greatness; they can also come back to haunt us!  A good manager is clear-thinking, thorough and understands the broader implications of every decision that must be made.

Over time, we gain confidence in our ability to make decisions. With every good decision we grow, through the “other” decisions we learn.  Considering the fast pace in which we all live, and the number of decisions to be made, it’s not uncommon (and surprisingly easy) to fall into what I’d call “The Lazy Decision Process.”

The lazy decision process feeds on convenience.  Time is at a premium, and a quick and final decision certainly seems better than no decision at all.  Compound this with the reality that in a matter of hours, more pressing decisions will continue to fall on our plate.  The potential for lazy decisions can’t help but exist.

While we understand how this phenomenon occurs, there are key phrases – giant red flags heard more often than we’d like to admit – that exhibit this reality.  Next time you hear them you’ll have an opportunity to challenge their flawed potential.


These might just be the three most dangerous words in business.  It brings to mind a manager who might not have fully researched their hiring process.  “We don’t have anyone in that territory now, but what the heck.  Lets proceed!”  Boy, wouldn’t you like to be the person hired with this kind of confidence behind the decision?

These words can translate into some of the most counterproductive and costly decisions a manger can make.  Think in terms of the potential thousands of dollars and hours invested in setting up a new position.  I learned this one the hard way.  I’ve since found it to be significantly better to absorb a short-term vacancy, as compared to finding a warm body to fill the position.  There are already too many warm bodies disguised as professionals in business.  If “what the heck” is on the lips of any of your lieutenants, step away from the decision and no one will be hurt!


While certainly more decisive than the phrase referenced above, would you want to invest the family fortune in a decision suggesting this limited level of confidence?  Every financial commitment would suggest that a dollar invested is a dollar invested.  The cost and value must measure up regarding its individual potential.  Only you can quantify this potential by attaching a corresponding economic value and risk/reward.  Would you truly lay down the cash if “let’s give it a shot” were, in fact, its strongest endorsement?


We’re making some progress here.  At least we’ve identified that we may not have the knowledge or expertise to proceed.  While further research may be required, I detect a willingness to proceed regardless of its outcome.  Yes, there certainly is a way to “make it happen.”  The question is, is this the time to accomplish the task to gain the greatest outcome?


A manager has spoken no more confident words than these.  This suggests that “we should” be able but we currently can’t, won’t, haven’t, don’t know how or are unwilling to do so.  While it may be true that “we should be able,” I’ve found that “we” can be a million miles away from actually fulfilling the “should” in this equation.  Be sure to quantify should, determining the resources currently available in transforming “should” to “happen.”


I can appreciate the initiative-taking aspect of this thought process.  It also suggests that someone is risking my investment instead of their own.  It’s much easier to be a bit cavalier with the financial resources of “the company” as compared to one’s own.  Regardless of the scenario, ask the question, “From your experience, is this the decision you’d personally make if given an opportunity similar to the one you’re reviewing on my behalf?”

Everyone can get caught up in the enthusiasm of a project.  They may genuinely want you to succeed; they may also want to tell you what you want to hear.


In the economic system with which I’m familiar, a dollar squandered is a dollar squandered.  It’s impossible to “make up” financial losses any more than we can go into rewind and make up time.  What’s gone is gone, period.  Certainly, it’s possible to find success in a second undertaking, but its financial rewards can’t be co-mingled with former failures to balance the scale.  It simply doesn’t work that way in the economics of business.  Anyone who looks at business in any other light is dealing in “feel good economics” and kidding themselves.

We can – no, must – respond quickly to minor decisions to make room for the grander variety.  Decisiveness is essential.  But often, the very best decision is the one to wait until further information can be gleaned.  But hey … “WHAT HAVE WE GOT TO LOSE?”

Personal Regards,



INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2013.  Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM



“Turning the Page in a New Era of American Commerce” Vol. LXXXVIII

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Dear Manager,

American Business is collectively ready to turn the page on what have been the most difficult years in the past few decades, or at least as difficult as in my professional career. We’re clearly stronger, and have a much clearer understanding of those areas of our business over which we have control and, in turn, those areas that are indeed out of our control.

The real question becomes, are we truly better prepared? Difficult times require us to raise the bar to meet all challenges or, in fact, we won’t be around to worry one way or the other! Most all of us have taken a shot; the business climate has certainly gotten our attention. Yes, the potential for a positive transition is always within our grasp. Past avenues must now be reviewed, and adjustments are likely to be required to endure and flourish in a new marketplace.

A few issues back, I discussed the effect of the predictability quotient on managing our staff in challenging times; we can all become a bit tooooo consistent. Can it also be time to put a new face on how we communicate, not only with our staff, but also with our customers, business alliances, and the marketplace as a whole?

This, too, is worth a new era evaluation. Logos get tired, standard sales promotions get stale, advertising gets dated, and even new product introductions can begin to look like the “same-old-same-old.” My own experience suggests predictability and ones complacency can seep in long before its reality becomes obvious.


… would suggest we maximize our promotional budgets to gain the greatest potential return on investment. This is where predictability and promotional investment decisions, based on prior and successful economic scenarios, may no longer be relevant. If this is one of the most difficult climates in our professional careers, all prior marketing decisions for your company MUST now be re-evaluated relative to current climates. If marketing budgets seem to be diminishing, this further suggests that “bang for your buck” is essential in more challenging times.


… would suggest it’s time to stick your neck out a bit further. If your company’s marketing strategies are past their “freshness date,” it’s is also very, very likely that many of your competitors are unknowingly in a similar position. This can be the very best possible time to step out of the pack by distinguishing yourself as well, yes, a bit “unconventional.”

Most companies promote themselves online, through trade shows, product promotions and releases, trade advertising, via email campaigns and by word of mouth. Yada, yada, yada, – it’s more and more of the same. Are these marketing efforts inspiring the market, capturing the imagination of your clients, and creating critical mass?


Some of you may have heard of Bill Veek. He was the promoters’ promoter of baseball in both the minor and major leagues. This is the man who created a near riot at Comiskey Park for his “Disco Destruction” night in Chicago. OK, the White Socks did end up having to forfeit the game due to the unanticipated riotous level of inspired “disco destruction,” but few could deny the night set an unconventional foundation for future Veek antics. Bill’s eccentricities, and those of his son, are legendary. One promotion a few years back was to set a record for the fewest fans to watch a professional minor league baseball game. The fans were locked outside the gates until the seventh inning, when the game became official, then let in to celebrate the accomplishment!!

When was the last time you entertained a marketing meeting with the sole intent of being different, creating true innovation, being willing to take some risk, let alone thinking upside down? In all my years of business, this type of “extravaganza,” properly orchestrated, can truly be one of the most exhilarating business “happenings.”


It’s essential that only those individuals who thrive in this eccentric environment be in attendance. You’d never invite your mother to a wet t-shirt contest! One of the easiest ways for an event of this nature to self destruct is for the mix of individuals in attendance to be in conflict with your true objective: intellectual chaos. It’s a rare breed, those who are unencumbered by “conventional wisdom.” They have the self-confidence to visualize, express, and assume partnership with unconventional thought. All it takes is one myopic personal agenda to quash the inspiration of other individuals, not to mention the whole group.

Begin by establishing the ground rules. The first rule is that no individual thought will be ridiculed or diminished in any way. The second rule suggests the objective is to create total innovation and substance to the eventual, and totally unknown, outcome of your meeting. Egos must be checked at the door if the sole objective is to foster communication and “ultra innovation.” If need be, participants should be “red flagged,” and possibly excused, in order to protect the inspiration and innovation of the whole.

While seeming drastic, this clearly sets the stage for unencumbered, unbridled thought and dialog. I’ve participated in meetings of this type yet, on occasion, the guest list was poorly thought out and the effort’s potential was ultimately diminished.


Review the current marketing efforts in place and their historic cycles of execution. Which of these cycles will continue to provide significant return, and which of these cycles are in place out of simple redundancy or unjustified industry standards? What will ignite an “industry buzz” and generate conversation? Will it be further extended word of mouth: your least expensive form of marketing potential?

Would (or should) it be possible to launch products or promotions prior to the current industry expectations? Is it possible to stage a promotion over a period of days, weeks, or months that would build anticipation and excitement to an otherwise more predictable introduction? This could be accomplished with daily/weekly emails, or in faxes providing expanded promotions and recognition.

Are there products, or categories of products, whose sales are so spectacular that a totally “no risk” guarantee promotion is in order? Are there one-time discounts, terms, or incentives that can be easily justified in order to gain placement and momentum? Can you find some “free stuff” or “cash” that holds more value as a promotion than in its current form?

Now, let’s fall even further off the cliff. Are there one-time, or a series of “upside down” marketing strategies or incentives that, to your knowledge, have never been tried? This is where off-the-wall inspiration will begin to serve the group well. One “ridiculous thought” after another will bubble to the surface. I’ve found that each of these thoughts serves as a springboard for second and third generation thoughts that may indeed be the gem with truly amazing potential. The scenario goes, “Gee that’s a great thought, but what if we used it in this context? Yeah, and we tie it in with this product category to maximize its potential.” Once momentum takes hold, you’ll be amazed with where it leads you. Be sure to have someone taking detailed notes for further review in a smaller forum!

Finally, are there any strategic alliances with companies who share a similar agenda to yours? One of the best promotions I’ve seen was a national office supply store’s offer of a 5% donation of all purchase amounts to be given to the school of a customer’s choice. Tell me a parent who wouldn’t be motivated by such an offer during their back to school shopping. The incremental sales growth was substantial, effectively negating the additional discount. Additionally, this corporation established themselves as being very supportive of the community. And where do you think all of the schools and teachers shopped for supplies this past fall? Brilliant, unconventional, and very effective.

May these thoughts inspire and propel you, and your company, into an outrageously spectacular outcome.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2012. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM


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Dear Manager,

There have certainly been many lessons to be learned from the rise and fall of the world. In its first incarnation, the pace was so frenetic, and there was such little historic knowledge regarding these uncharted waters, many companies simply made decisions by the seat of their pants or on a wing and a prayer. This was a time of great anxiety and pressure to play ball with the BIG kids.

There’s no question that these lessons greatly assist the survivors as well as those who venture into business in the future. Which of these lessons might apply to our own business experience? Is there a connection, and can we learn and apply these lessons without having to pay our predecessors’ price?

As suggested, in the aftermath there were many lessons learned including the fundamental need for profitability, and never to put one’s cart ahead of one’s horse. Why did some survive while others with much greater funding and clear potential proceed to fail? The single answer that seems to continue to apply to those who survived the test of time suggests the following: Those who found success never deviated from their model of insuring a positive and clearly rewarding customer experience!

The successful companies only followed applications that would allow them to enhance or improve upon current standards of service for their potential customers in the marketplace. Those who survived executed this premise very well. While it didn’t guarantee their success, in retrospect failure to do so certainly negatively impacted their potential or led to their ultimate demise. How can this lesson enhance our own “more low-tech” organizations?


Anyone who’s spent time on the Internet with business-to-business or business-to-consumer websites will understand the frustrations that can occur in conducting business in this forum. By nature, Internet commerce best accommodates those individuals or companies that are fully prepared to complete an immediate transaction. In many cases these sites are ready and willing to finalize the sale, if we could just figure out what information is required to do so! I’ve found the circuitous routes used by some websites to guide me to the “purchase” button make me want to jump in my car and drive to the mall! Aren’t they trying to grease my path to this mutually productive outcome? One would think so, yet many have failed in this most obvious area of conducting business.

From the outside looking in, how user friendly is your company’s sales process system? Have you ever asked someone with no current awareness of your product or service to evaluate their ability to purchase from your company? There are now very successful companies who are doing this for the high tech industry, so why not for the low tech industries as well?

As often as not we are developing client relationships with individuals with little or no understanding of what we do, who we are or what benefits and services we can provide them. Wouldn’t there be significant value in reviewing current marketing materials, product initiatives, and customer support agendas with this thought in mind? Are you effectively communicating and translating “your best sales effort” with regards to your most basic sales initiatives?


This is a great place to begin the process. When a new or existing client initiates contact with your company, what will their experience be? Whether with a receptionist, through customer service, or with a professional sales person, will this be a positive and memorable experience? Do these individuals have the current information readily available to assist this person in meeting their immediate needs? Even though not all these individuals may be classified as “sales people,” do they fully understand their personal value in meeting the sales objective?

Since sales is not part of their formal “job description,” these first lines of contact may not fully understand or implement this clear objective. These individuals must learn to consider every potential line of contact as a sales initiative, and be trained to effectively do so. How often have we contacted companies, only to get the run around with regards to gaining basic information about a product, service, or placing an order? It can make a frustrated client wonder, “Do they want me to buy something or not!?” Develop a training system that will allow these individuals to provide at least basic sales procedures. We must also provide instant access to individuals who can meet the needs of more complex customer demands.

This process should not include leaving messages on a voice messaging system. The objective here is to focus on providing an exceedingly satisfactory customer experience. We want to create the “wow factor” by anticipating their needs, having the answers to their questions, and having all members of our staff on the same page in meeting this goal.

It’s easy for organizations to take these fundamentals for granted. Management often assumes that its staff instinctively understands the need to communicate a positive and supportive sales message with each client interaction. I would encourage you not to assume this. Now is the time to (re)establish a company-wide initiative with regards to this clear objective.


Based on the assumption we can’t assume anything, wouldn’t this be an excellent time to develop a document and single agenda relating to this objective? This then becomes the standard by which all members of your staff will be judged. As managers we must first establish the standards, and then be prepared to provide the training to fulfill this objective. Finally, we must also – and very consistently – send a strong message in support of this program. Awards should be established for superior performance, perhaps on a monthly basis. Those who are in a position to benefit, including the sales team, should also recognize individuals who have provided excellent sales support.


One would like to assume that in each and every sales environment, our sales people would understand the value and importance of creating a positive customer experience. While this would be true in many instances with our best sales people, it’s not the case in many instances. Creating these standards of customer experience might seem obvious to management, yet fulfillment is totally dependent on the message takers: your sales people.

An addendum to your mission statement should be targeted directly at the point of sale. This document should not only suggest your mission and its merit, it should also suggest the minimum standards of performance related to your expectations in this area. These standards should clearly state defined timelines relating to customer follow up, problem solving, assistance to one another in the sales arena, and the principles relating as to how to exceed your clients’ expectations.

We are no stronger as a company than the message embraced by each and every member of our staff. Clearly these ideals will feed off one another once a consistent and inspired message is delivered each and every day by your management team. You need to become the exception rather than the rule if you are going to improve your “customers’ experience” with the objective to truly dazzle the marketplace. In fact, this could easily become the title of your mission statement.


Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2011. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.


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Dear Manager,

As individuals, we would never consider defending ourselves in a court of law; the outcome’s too risky. We would never consider performing surgery on ourselves; simply too much blood. We would never consider risking our personal net worth with an amateur; those winter nights can be cold on the streets!


I am constantly amazed by the willingness of management to risk their hard-earned profits in areas where they hold little or no expertise. While it may seem very exciting, creative and (with some rationalization) motivated by increased profitability, management can too quickly come to the conclusion that “we can make those.”

Management then proceeds to make “those,” often without a basic knowledge or understanding of why or what “those” are. Substantial amounts of capital are often “invested” in a project or product that, with more inside knowledge, could have been more wisely invested, or not invested at all!

Consider this scenario: Management asks their staff to figure out how to make “those.” The staff proceeds, finds a resource and gains what surface knowledge they can. The new resource is very excited to assist (perhaps motivated by its own profits), offering encouragement and support for the project to the staff members.

Management is very enthusiastic, and it is the objective of the staff to please management. In most cases the staff carries minimal personal risk, as the final decision to proceed is always that of management. Given this scenario, does management have all the valuable information it needs to make an informed decision? The entrepreneurial spirit has taken hold with limited awareness of the down side – it’s the unknown that will kill you.

In many cases, thousands of dollars have been flushed away for lack of timely, product-specific information. All of a sudden, there seems to be more to making “those” than was initially anticipated. This is certainly a trap for small companies, and has put many out of business. It is also a fundamental flaw for large companies who rely too heavily on their past success.

Just because you have succeeded in one area, there is no reason to believe you can automatically succeed in an area outside of your given expertise. In fact, your previous success alone will rarely serve your needs in any new endeavor. Instead, your confidence may provide you with false security and ultimately betray you.


I believe that in most cases, unnecessary risks are taken as a result of management’s failure to calculate the collective strengths and weaknesses of the organization. When I think of a management team, I think of it in relationship to ones involvement in a college or university. College students spend four or more years developing a major. This major becomes a personal strength, and is what they are individually noted and recruited for upon graduation. Along the way, these same students have developed a minor, enhancing their strengths and overall value, both personally and in the marketplace.

Individuals within a management team should be looked upon from a similar perspective. Each member has major and minor strengths which define their capacity to contribute to the organization. These may have been developed through a college curriculum or over a period of years in their careers. It goes without saying that for each individual on our management team there are classes that simply have not been attended!

This is no reflection on them individually. Just as we each have major and minor strengths, there are many areas in which we have no knowledge. All too often, individuals cross their own line of expertise at the very great expense of their organizations. Pride and ego play a role for all of us, yet it is self awareness and good judgment that will save the day. It is our responsibility as managers to not only have a true understanding of our own capacity, but to maintain a full accounting of the individual strengths and capacity of our staff.


These are the words that management should translate to their staff. Without an expert, how can we possibly proceed? There will certainly be instances where a staff member is capable of providing you with very good advice, and in most all cases it will be human nature for them to provide you with their best advice regardless of its true value. Make them prove to you that they can consult with you like an expert!


Without question, the most under-utilized management resource is a consultant. I have personally invested and lost in areas in which I had no business assuming I could succeed. If I had simply proceeded with a bit more caution, been more patient in the process, and demanded of myself that I find a qualified individual to assist in the early stages, thousands of dollars could have been saved. Once again, would we risk our own personal financial future with an individual who has little or no expertise? In retrospect, the greatest lesson learned was to insist upon the use of only expert advice.

The first dollar invested in any new endeavor, let alone in solving an ongoing problem, should be in gaining timely information and options of how best to proceed. A minimum of 5% to 10% of any new product development budget should be set aside for consulting services. It would be very interesting to see how often this single investment would save the balance of the 90% to 95%!


With the need for protecting personalities, multiple priorities and increasing our profits, we are often too close to the center to maintain our objectivity. If for no other purpose, this is the first reason to hire a qualified consultant. A consultant’s sole objective (and professional future), is based on their ability to provide you with their major on a focused task. Their objective is to perform for one individual: you.

Because we cannot financially afford a staff of qualified experts in the many areas that impact our business, I believe all organizations should make use of consultants in some form. Be it in marketing, product development, customer services, key account development, employee management or computer technology, the list of consulting resources goes on and on.

First, define those areas of your business that, from experience, carry what I call the nagging anxieties. Are you absolutely confident in all aspects of your business? We all have areas that we know are not performing well. Now define the primary role or objective an expert in the field could provide.

Now is the time to pull out all of your resources to find the right individual to assist you. This can be accomplished first by looking within your own industry, researching companies who seem to excel in your areas of concern. Does your staff have an area of strength that could assist in their needs? Could an exchange of these resources be accomplished without a compromise to your organization? Next, look into the option of asking a retired executive from your industry or a similar industry to assist in a specific objective. The resources are there.

Initially, a little pride may need to be swallowed by staff members, and a few egos will need to be left at the door. If there is an unwillingness to freely assist and participate in management’s objective to provide the very best product or service possible to their customers, they have firmly planted themselves in a position as part of the problem.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2008. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM