Simple Is Clever

When it comes to marketing and messaging, why do we equate complicated with clever?  All too often, taglines and communication messages have been analyzed and tinkered with so much that they could not possible be understood in the mere seconds when they will actually be “consumed.”

And, more importantly, what you would say to someone face to face if you really wanted them to understand the why, what and how of what you do AND why they should care is totally lost.

For whatever reason, I seem to gravitate to the most direct and simple way to describe something and am often reminded of this clip from the old Dudley Moore movie “Crazy People”  (Language NSFW).


While the ads are meant to be a farce, imagine how incredibly effective they would be if they were launched into the media tomorrow.  Amidst the noise and blur of all the, supposedly, clever messaging we are hit with every day something simple and direct is what would be noticed. Remembered. Talked about.

How would you describe your business in its most raw, simple and brutally honest way?  Would you finally sound totally different than your competitors? 

That is the goal, isn’t it?

All Gas…No Brakes

Two of my favorite sayings:

“Big hat, big boots… No cattle” and the similar…  “All smoke…No roast”

It occurs to me that too many businesses suffer from my own variation:

“All Gas… No brakes”

The hurry to reach what realistically should be their 5-7 year goal/vision in 2 years (or less) has, among other ills, caused business owners to let their sales and marketing initiatives get so far ahead of their operational capabilities that they drown under their own new business success.

As military history proves, the speed at which an army can sustain an effective advance is directly related to the speed at which supply/support forces can follow up behind them.

While you spend a lot of time driving your sales and marketing efforts forward… Do you have a plan in place on how you are going to provide the exceptional service to the new clients that you expect to gain this month, quarter or year? How much time, energy and money do you spend on THAT vs. your sales and marketing efforts?

Applying some brakes to your sales efforts to allow your business to take on new clients with care and attention will yield a superior first impression, promote consistently positive word of mouth and a sales force that can go out with greater confidence that they can absolutely deliver on the promises they are selling.

It also provides you with the time to hire at your own pace, train your team properly and make sure your existing clients do not suffer from your growth.

What’s more, slowing things down to a speed that can be managed with great control and care, ironically, creates a steady increase of speed that still allows you to enjoy the scenery along the way.

Believe. Innovate. Be Unique.

This was the first post I ever wrote for this blog back in 2005.?? Given all that is going on in the economy and in your business world I thought it was appropriate to publish it again.?? Now is the time to challenge your thinking, embrace a different approach and get back to the basics that give you and your business purpose and passion. Find your basics…. and rock them!

In a former life, I was running my own logistics company. It nearly killed me. Tears, fear and stress.

???Business is tough,??? they say. ???You were expecting it to be fun and rewarding? What planet were you on????

I had lost the plot.?? I was always working for ???what will be??? instead of enjoying ???what was???.

Railing against my dumb competitors and how their cheap prices and poor service was ruining a once proud industry. Surely my clients would see that choosing a giant competitor was a mistake.?? I knew why we were better????? My sales staff would tell people how we were the best of all worlds.?? Why weren???t they flooding through the door?

But I wasn???t alone.?? Scores of business owners wake up at, the proverbial, 2am wondering why they lost a customer to the supposed ???poor service competitor???, wondering why their latest branding message or marketing blast isn???t making the phones ring off the hook and stressed at forces that seem outside of their control.

Looking back, experience tells me if your main purpose is keeping up with the competition, then you???re already halfway in the business morgue.

The competition is not the problem, YOU are the problem. Unless you are the CEO of Wal-Mart or of the same lowest-price-wins ilk, I would love to know why your competitors truly matter.

Why would you want your competition to dictate your actions?

If you knew what your ideal clients really wanted (what was truly meaningful), nothing more, and you delivered that to them perfectly??? then suddenly???

Suddenly, there is no competition. Other people???s prices, other people???s products.?? They???re not real. Like Bhudda would say, ???just an illusion.???

What IS real is the people you care about and finding out a way to look after them better.

Keeping up with the Jones??? is never fulfilling in your home life, so why should it work in business? Critical point.

You don???t need to be the next Microsoft. You don???t need to find a cure for cancer. You don???t need to borrow millions of venture capital dollars with the hope to pay it back once you hit 1,000,000 members, visitors,etc… Every business has a meaningful reason for being. It doesn’t have to be connected to what you sell but it IS important that you connect to it. This connection makes all the marketing and sales really work… Without it, not so much.

Growing a solid, strong and sustainable business that takes care of the owners, the staff, their community and their clients is a superior result. Anything more is just vanity and needless suffering.

The journey of owning your business should be just as fun and exciting as the end game.

Believe. Innovate. Be Unique. Don’t spend forever on the dreaming part,?? just start doing it. Make it fill up your cash account.?? Enjoy the whole experience. The way to get there is not necessarily to “fight like hell” …rather to get the business to a place where you can be passionate about it and enjoy the 10-20 hours a day you will spend doing it.

When you arrive at this place it will no longer feel like a fight… just a great part of your life.

It’s All Unimportant Until It’s You

I met with a client a few weeks ago and got into a debate about what it was like to be a client of their firm. As I kept banging my head up against their story… I persuaded them to humor me and try something new….

I asked the President of the company to go outside and come in as if he was a client arriving for an appointment. Within 5 minutes of sitting in his own reception area he didn’t like how uncomfortable the chairs were, hated that he could see a bunch of old boxes in a cubicle down the hall, didn’t like how dark it was and we stopped right there.

Stupid exercise?…perhaps. Definitely simplistic. But it was a start.

It will all seem unimportant until it is you waiting in the reception area or stuck on hold.

What if you took some time away from trying to figure out what your clients want next and spend time every month experiencing how they actually see you today.

How many business owners take some time each month being anonymous clients of their own companies?