Posts Tagged ‘Marketing

08
Sep
09

Do your customers trust you?

I’m reading a very good book that hits the nail on the head when it comes to the sea change that is happening in marketing. “Trust Agents” is a NY Times Best Seller written by Chris Brogan and Julian Smith that lays it out clearly and if you plan on being in business five years from now you better pay attention.

If you’ve been reading my stuff for any length of time, you already know that I advocate building credibility and trust as a core principle of marketing strategy. Brogan and Smith’s book not only agrees but it takes the concept to a more focused level (I’ve never been accused of being focused…). What I really like about this book is that it doesn’t just tell you WHY it shows you HOW to leverage social media and other digital tools to achieve the holy grail of marketing – trust.

If you’ve been wondering why your marketing and advertising just doesn’t seem to work anymore (and it doesn’t matter if you are Proctor and Gamble or Joe’s Fish Shanty) it’s because of a  perfect storm of factors including:

  • people are tired of you shouting how good you are or your widgets and interrupting them
  • people don’t believe you anymore and they know you are just trying to sell them something
  • media fragmentation and info overload overwhelms them
  • the very nature of a “market” has changed since the Internet came along
  • buyers have scads of information at their fingertips and are better educated and more informed than ever
  • basic human behavior drives interaction and community building

I’m sure there are more but I hope you are seeing where this is going.  Buyers seek information. They buy from those individuals and brands they trust. No longer will a clever ad on TV do the trick. No longer can you hide behind a carefully crafted brand – there is no hiding on the web. No longer can you trick people into buying. The new era of marketing is about truth, reciprocity and value. It’s about being a good human. It’s about relationships.

The problem is that what works (relationships and building trust) is at odds from what company shareholders want (fast results). Creating trust takes time and dedication.

The good news is that the web is awash in tools and communities where you can shine like a benevolent diamond of value and helpfulness. I haven’t read the whole book yet but from what I have read, the deal is not technology or social media or computers. It’s about people – sharing, connecting, conversing. Take part in this conversation, do the right thing always and you’ll be awarded with trust and business will follow.

Oh, I also had lunch with Chris. He lives by his principles. We had salad.

I’ll be blogging more about this in the coming weeks. Why not leave a comment so we can have a conversation?

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10
Jun
09

Is Coaching Right For You?

I admit it. I’ve finally engaged a coach. I know what you are thinking. “Pete Monfre, the guy who has been self employed his whole life, founded and grown his own companies, consulted with the best and brightest of corporate America needs a coach?!! Say it isn’t so!!!”

The reality is that even I need some outside, objective advice and a sounding board for my ideas (I’m full of ’em). My coach, Rafe Beeson, is helping me prioritize and focus on the key issues that will help me grow my company. The sessions are short, weekly and to the point. I would say the sessions are even pretty fun. But most importantly, it is a very affordable way to get the support I need.

Coaching is a widely misunderstood concept. Coaches are not consultants but they do offer ideas, suggestions, connections and clarification. Sometimes they play devils advocate, other times they just listen. They always hold you accountable.But the most amazing thing about it is that somehow, someway things become clearer. It’s just that simple.

I’m so convinced that coaching is a great value that I’m offering it to a very limited number of clients (NIA members get a hefty discount) who need marketing advice but can’t afford to bring in consultants, ad agencies, design firms, etc. They can do most of the work themselves but need some guidance as to what to do and how to do it. The bottom line is high end expertise without the sky high fees. It’s no wonder so many people have coaches.

For me, I really enjoy helping business leaders hammer out their marketing challenges. It doesn’t seem like work to me. I have an uncanny ability to see through complexity and get down to the real issues and solutions.We still do projects and hefty strategic planning but coaching is my way of offering some help to smaller companies and organizations who normally couldn’t afford to engage my firm in a full service capacity.

Learn more about my coaching program here: http://budurl.com/8pzk or call 512-663-7393.

16
May
09

Just Say Nay

Don’t let the naysayers get to you. Have faith. Do what you know is right.

09
Feb
09

Nasty Networker – “Vomitous from the mouth”

This is a great article by a friend of mine –

Recently I asked my network through LinkedIn: “What are the visible attributes of a ‘Nasty Networker?'” I’ve boiled the answers down into some common categories ranked by the frequency of their appearance

Signs of a Nasty Networker

  1. Selfish. Not interested in helping others.
  2. Doesn’t ask questions. Talks too much.
  3. Bashes or otherwise acts inappropriately towards competitors.
  4. Uses high pressure and other bad sales techniques.
  5. Abuses contact information. Sends spam and other unwanted communication.
  6. Ignores business card etiquette.
  7. Social climber. Always looking for somebody better to talk to.
  8. Not open.
  9. Naive and needs education (about proper networking).
  10. More interested in the quantity of connections, not their quality.
  11. Disrespectful.

In the end I think that “Nasty Networking” is driven primarily by either naivete or desperation. I saw a quote recently that suggested that the selfish type of taker networking is not networking at all, but rather Needworking. My hope is that by sharing this list we can help the naive/needworkers get onto the path of true networking.

Continue reading ‘Nasty Networker – “Vomitous from the mouth”’

14
Oct
08

Do the right thing. Even if it’s a nightmare.

Why do consultants (marketing and otherwise) have such a negative reputation in the business world? Like any profession, you have highly skilled people and you have others who are not as skilled. No surprise there. But skills alone still don’t make a trusted adviser (the gold standard every consultant wants to achieve). Part of the problem comes down to people who simply oversell their qualifications but don’t have the skill to back it up. For clients, this smoke screen is difficult to penetrate but this is probably the primary driver of low satisfaction among clients. Ultimately, their experience with the consultant (or firm) is sub par which, in turn, reinforces the negative connotation of the profession.

However, there is another factor that generally flies below the radar – even good, highly skilled consultants fall into this trap. And the result is not good for anyone. The trap is “Let’s do what is easy instead of what is right for the client.”

I’ve become a fan of incendiary chef Gordon Ramsey. Not because of his obnoxious show “Hells Kitchen” (I hate that show) but because of his other show “Kitchen Nightmares”. Essentially, Ramsey is a consultant who offers tough, straight talk to turn around failing restaurants – typically due to the ownership and/or management who are not doing what is in the best interest of the business. He pulls no punches and cuts through the often sizable egos of his clients. Through all the f-bombs and brutal truth, you can see that Ramsey genuinely cares about the success of the business.

For example, I have worked with companies who were willing to spend money having consultants and outside partners do various marketing activities. Doesn’t seem like a problem, does it? The problem is that the activities were the whim of the president and not necessarily the activities that would actually fuel the company’s growth and success. Most were the marketing equivalent of busy work. There is no plan, no goals and the whims change direction constantly. Many initiatives that started are never completed. Not exactly a recipe for success.

Why would otherwise self respecting consultants go along with this? Because it is easier to take the money and go along with the flow. After all, that’s why we are in business, right? To go to the bank. However, this is not why the client hires outside expertise. They expect results. They may seem satisfied with the furious activity but at the end of the fiscal year, this satisfaction quickly evaporates because money was spent and goals were not met.

It’s difficult to push against this flow. In fact, you may even lose the business to other folks who don’t really care about the client’s best interests. The money is tempting. Nobody likes to tell a valued client that they are on the wrong path. There are many reasons to sit silent and play the easy game. But I believe that those of us in the business of helping our clients solve problems and create growth opportunities have a sovereign duty to always do what is right for the client – whether they like it or not.

Sure, it’s not easy. Of course they may not like it at the time. It may even require them to spend more money (Ouch!). But the fact is, they didn’t hire you to be a “yes man”. They hired you to solve their problems. Don’t be a wimp – do the right thing no matter what. And keep the swearing to a minimum.

09
Oct
08

What Music taught me about Business. Part 2

Click here for Part One

The Power of Publicity

One of the most useful skills I acquired in the music business is how to work with editors and reporters. I learned that you cannot trick or fool these folks. They are smarter than you and me. They’ve heard it all before. I learned to bring them good stories that fit their mission and publications. When they called me I always made time to talk to them. We also made sure all of the appropriate reporters and editors were on our comp list and had a tab at the bar. I wanted them to have a great experience at my show and I delivered on this promise. The result was a series of mentions and features about the band and our recordings. Each time an article was published, we instantly saw a surge in the audience and more importantly, merchandise and CD sales.
Branding
When I first started performing in bands I had no idea what a “brand” was. In my defense, I was only fifteen. However, I was lucky enough to perform with a number of great blues artists and it was their sincerity that gave me my first inkling of the importance of an authentic brand. I wasn’t a good enough musician to play every kind of music and everything I played came out sounding similar – a mix of honky-tonk, blues and New Orleans juke joint, good time dance music. As soon as I embraced my sound and stopped trying to emulate my heroes, my unique brand was formed. Over the years, I honed this brand so that everything the public saw and heard supported this concept – from clothing and song choices to posters and CD art.

Negotiating
I was baptized by fire as a young man when I walked into a local club and attempted to sell my band to the grizzled curmudgeon behind the bar. We played for free that night. The club, on the other hand, made out quite well. It didn’t take me long to figure out that there was a game at play. At first my goals was to get as much money out of the club as possible with zero concern about its bottom line. As my education progressed, I realized the clubs and talent agents wanted the same thing I did – to make money. I learned to craft win-win deals that shared risk among all parties. As long as everyone did what they promised, everybody came out with a pocket full of cash. Many clubs even awarded us unexpected bonuses at the end of the night because they were so pleased with the show and the attendance levels. We, in turn, handsomely tipped the bar staff. Now that’s a win-win scenario!

Contracts
Handshake deals are fine for friendship, but not for business. When deals are hashed out over a number of beers, details tend to drift. If there are strippers involved, all hope is lost. Enter the contract. I used to think contracts kept people honest. I’ve learned that a contract means nothing to dishonest people. One of the most important lessons the music business taught me is to only do business with people you trust. The contract simply records the details of the deal (acceptable colors of m&m’s, quantity of cold cuts, etc.) so all parties don’t forget or get confused. As my group became more popular, many deals were struck a year in advance so the contract was a critical part of the exchange and ensured mutual benefit and understanding.

I’m sure there are other things the music business taught me (like hippie chics are great dancers and the darkest, smelliest clubs always have the best food…) however, my most valuable lesson is that knowledge often comes from the least expected places and people. I owe a debt of gratitude to my music mentors – some famous, some not. They taught me the blues but their lessons and advice have allowed me to build several successful businesses, support my family and help others do the same.

I don’t play much anymore but I still miss the feeling of fronting a super tight band in a hot, sweaty dive packed with a couple hundred music affectionados all existing in the same zone at the same moment. I would have never thought that the lessons I learned in these dark, hallowed dance halls would serve me so well, so many years later. But I guess that’s what life is about – you learn as you go.

19
Sep
08

What Music taught me about Business Part. One

As I look back almost two decades of helping companies grow, I amazed by how much I’ve learned from the experience. I was first exposed to marketing and sales in a very unorthodox way: my first job was as a professional musician. At the time, I wasn’t thinking about sales processes and marketing communication, I was simply looking for a way to meet girls and get paid. Performing music paid for my college tuition and helped my launch my first company – a marketing firm that grew from nothing to over three million dollars in revenue. Of course I’ve learned an equal amount from mentors and clients over the years but the music business unexpectedly gave me the tools to succeed.

Leadership
I discovered early on that if I was going to benefit from the joy of performing music, I singularly needed to make it happen. I had to take over the business of the band because if I didn’t do it, nobody would.  At first, I tried to dictate everything from wardrobe to what notes to play. Surprisingly, that approach didn’t work. Then I switched to the democratic model – everybody gets a vote, everything is debated and discussed and we do what is best for everyone. That didn’t work either. Finally I settled on a more effective approach – first, to surround myself with people who were much better than I was in terms of musical and instrumental ability (what we hip musicians call “chops”). Secondly, to provide direction and structure and let them simply do what they did best – perform. Once I counted on my carefully chosen band mates, we won some music awards, outgrew most of our venues and, most importantly, our fees quadrupled.

Managing People
Getting a group of musicians ranging in numbers from four to ten or more to move in the same direction is akin to herding cats. Drunken, goofy cats that show up late or not at all in some cases. I tried everything from fining them to begging and nothing worked. Finally in my exasperation, I started looking for more professional musicians. So I ran a classified ad.  For every one hundred people who auditioned, all of them had some deal breaking issue. Some simply couldn’t play. Others showed up drunk and stoned. Still others didn’t have working equipment or transportation. This is when I learned that simply having the ability to play a lot of notes in a short period of time isn’t enough. Your team has to have a similar mindset, (professional, capable and sober). They need adequate equipment and transportation. Above all they need the right attitude. When it comes to managing people, I learned that everything starts with hiring the right people to begin with. The best musicians are referred by other great musicians. When you have great leadership and the right people, they don’t need to be managed. The lesson? Stop managing and start hiring the right people.

Promotion
It’s hard for me to think about the years I spent playing for an audience of empty chairs. I’m sure those chairs really enjoyed the show but I didn’t. Promoting a band is not much different from promoting anything else. You need to understand your audience. It took me a few years to realize I had two interdependent audiences: blues fans AND club owners. I had to please both. Another key concept I learned was  “awareness equals perceived quality”. I found that the more often people saw the name of the group (frequency), the more they correlated this with quality. “They must be good – I see their name everywhere.”   So we made sure our gigs were always in the papers, our posters were ubiquitous, we were on the college radio station semi-weekly and we sold thousands of T-shirts and CDs. Of course we needed to make sure that our product was indeed a high quality experience and we worked hard to ensure an ultra professional, tight show. Once we understood what people wanted and the more we extended our brand into the community, venues and our calendar started filling up.

Click here for part two

Meanwhile, if you want to hear some of my music, heck these live cuts from my past life. I’m playing guitar and singing lead …

Born In A Biscayne (by Spencer Bohren)

Girl on the TV News (by the Belairs)

My Baby’s Lovin’ (by D. McClinton)




Who is Pete Monfre

CLICK HERE to visit my web site

I'm a serial entrepreneur, marketing and media guy, raconteur, writer, producer and consultant. I write this little blog to help you unravel the mysteries of marketing and selling, to expose the silliness that masquerades as marketing and help you make better decisions that will grow your business. And I have fun with it. Why not comment? That way we can have a conversation. Or better yet, hop on over to my web site and drop me a line.

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