Fish Where the Fish Are

January 19th, 2017

I love this orange peel. It sounds so simple and logical, yet so many organizations have a tough time reconciling this within their environments. We’ve often discussed here the orange peel, “people buy from people they like.” This orange peel goes hand in hand.

For a long time, people and organizations believed “If we build it, they will come.” Thankfully, this mentality has died off a fair amount (but not all the way, it’s still a common mistake of new startups to completely focus on the product and not understand they need to be branding, marketing and preselling not just developing the product.) However, what is still not understood is to be effective in your gathering process, you need to meet the audience where they are.

Today’s media environment, and particularly social media and location based advertising (ever wonder why you get text advertising when you’re within a certain proximity to a store?) are constantly blasting targeted messaging (aka advertising) in users’ faces. One mere search or click, or things your friends/contacts like so show up in your feed…creates a proliferation of advertising for such products and services on any and every device you own. Today’s average person spends approximately two hours a day on social media, with teens spending approximately nine hours per day on social media. This does not include other screen time for work, homework, or entertainment. (Source: Social Media Today). Given these staggering numbers, it is clear a social presence and advertising likely need to be part of your marketing plan. That said, I question the opposing mentalities that believe: 1) social media marketing is sufficient; and 2) social media marketing is not necessary.

Going back to some marketing basics, we understand to get attention, our target audience needs 7-10 touches to start paying attention to our messaging. What we forget is these touches need to be increasing in value and depth of touch. In other words, an online ad doesn’t cut it. Taking a look at clickthrough rates provides staggering evidence to support this. In North America, overall clickthrough rates are .095%. This average remains close to the same throughout most of the world with a few exceptions, but these numbers are still less than 1% (Greece, India and UAE come in ~0.17 – 0.19%, and Malaysia holds the sole highest at 0.30%). Regarding such rates leads many CFOs and CEOs questioning the return on investment in social advertising.

So how do we turn this about? How do we take advantage of the overwhelming amount of time people (many in our target audience) spend online but still recognize the low success rate of online advertising? We’ve all been there…we all hate the ads, we all can’t wait to click on the X and close the ad, we get aggravated when we can’t locate said X, and noticeably upset when we can’t skip the ad for 30 seconds. You can smile and chuckle here, we all know this is true. You can relate.

The answer is in a closer, deeper dive understanding of meeting the audience where they are. While people spend an incredible amount of time on social media, a mere social ad (arguably annoying, and last time I checked, annoying people was not in line with “people buy from people they like”) is not creating the value message required to create a conversion. We need to develop a balanced approach. Social is tempting and should be a part of the strategy, you really can’t ignore those numbers…any of them! Branching out into other digital medium provides a great next step. Online digital is still arguably much lower cost than print, TV, etc., but there are methods to get much closer to the audience, provide greater value, and begin to deepen the relationship. This requires locating your audience in more valuable online locations and meeting them there, in their space. There are a variety of opportunities here from browser based ads (not a very far cry from social, but where your audience might potentially spend a large amount of time), to blogs, to email, and other content based marketing such as participating in forums and discussions where your audience seeks education and advice.

Moving up the value chain, let’s not forget people are social creatures by nature and have need for other people. These needs are not satisfied by digital presence alone. Networking, association meetings, tradeshows, partner events, lunch, cocktails are far deeper marketing touches of much greater value. Creating a funnel of brand awareness through social ads; brand recognition through other digital platforms; actual contact with individuals though networking, phone calls, association meetings, partner events, tradeshows; to direct one-on-one contact, discussion and meetings is a great plan for meeting the audience where they are. Ensuring each of these steps is touching your desired audience (the right social presence, the right platforms, meetings/associations within the proper industries with the targeted decision makers present) and building the relationship every step of the way…this is how we Fish Where the Fish Are.

Again, it sounds so simple, yet frequently we see companies splattering disjointed, non-targeted, inconsistent blips of branding or maybe partial messaging all over the place…or on the flip side, waiting for the phone to ring. There is not a plan, there is not an evolution of touches, there is not an industry presence nor consistent process, there is no funnel. These companies cannot last long and need leadership to develop a comprehensive strategic plan, roll up their sleeves, build a well-rounded and competent team, and execute. These companies, and every company, needs leadership and a team that understands the criticality of Fishing Where the Fish Are.

Sidenote: You’re not only fishing for sales. You’re fishing for great leaders, team members, partners, channel resellers, referrals…keep fishing!

Why Attitude Is More Important Than IQ

January 20th, 2016

This article is so spot on, I had to repost so I can keep it close to mind for myself and all the Influency Group clients, entrepreneurs, students, mentees, and followers.

This post is by Travis Bradberry, and appeared in Forbes online, January 19, 2016. Travis co-wrote the bestselling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and co-founded TalentSmart, the world’s #1 provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving 75% of Fortune 500 Companies.


When it comes to success, it’s easy to think that people blessed with brains are inevitably going to leave the rest of us in the dust. But new research from Stanford University will change your mind (and your attitude).

Psychologist Carol Dweck has spent her entire career studying attitude and performance, and her latest study shows that your attitude is a better predictor of your success than your IQ.

Dweck found that people’s core attitudes fall into one of two categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed.

People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. They outperform those with a fixed mindset, even when they have a lower IQ, because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.

Common sense would suggest that having ability, like being smart, inspires confidence. It does, but only while the going is easy. The deciding factor in life is how you handle setbacks and challenges. People with a growth mindset welcome setbacks with open arms.

According to Dweck, success in life is all about how you deal with failure. She describes the approach to failure of people with the growth mindset this way,

“Failure is information—we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, and I’m a problem solver, so I’ll try something else.’”

Regardless of which side of the chart you fall on, you can make changes and develop a growth mindset. What follows are some strategies that will fine-tune your mindset and help you make certain it’s as growth oriented as possible.

Don’t stay helpless. We all hit moments when we feel helpless. The test is how we react to that feeling. We can either learn from it and move forward or let it drag us down. There are countless successful people who would have never made it if they had succumbed to feelings of helplessness: Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas,” Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job as a TV anchor in Baltimore for being “too emotionally invested in her stories,” Henry Ford had two failed car companies prior to succeeding with Ford, and Steven Spielberg was rejected by USC’s Cinematic Arts School multiple times. Imagine what would have happened if any of these people had a fixed mindset. They would have succumbed to the rejection and given up hope. People with a growth mindset don’t feel helpless because they know that in order to be successful, you need to be willing to fail hard and then bounce right back.

Be passionate. Empowered people pursue their passions relentlessly. There’s always going to be someone who’s more naturally talented than you are, but what you lack in talent, you can make up for in passion. Empowered people’s passion is what drives their unrelenting pursuit of excellence. Warren Buffet recommends finding your truest passions using, what he calls, the 5/25 technique: Write down the 25 things that you care about the most. Then, cross out the bottom 20. The remaining 5 are your true passions. Everything else is merely a distraction.

Take action. It’s not that people with a growth mindset are able to overcome their fears because they are braver than the rest of us; it’s just that they know fear and anxiety are paralyzing emotions and that the best way to overcome this paralysis is to take action. People with a growth mindset are empowered, and empowered people know that there’s no such thing as a truly perfect moment to move forward. So why wait for one? Taking action turns all your worry and concern about failure into positive, focused energy.

Then go the extra mile (or two). Empowered people give it their all, even on their worst days. They’re always pushing themselves to go the extra mile. One of Bruce Lee’s pupils ran three miles every day with him. One day, they were about to hit the three-mile mark when Bruce said, “Let’s do two more.” His pupil was tired and said, “I’ll die if I run two more.” Bruce’s response? “Then do it.” His pupil became so angry that he finished the full five miles. Exhausted and furious, he confronted Bruce about his comment, and Bruce explained it this way: “Quit and you might as well be dead. If you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there; you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.”

If you aren’t getting a little bit better each day, then you’re most likely getting a little worse—and what kind of life is that?

Expect results. People with a growth mindset know that they’re going to fail from time to time, but they never let that keep them from expecting results. Expecting results keeps you motivated and feeds the cycle of empowerment. After all, if you don’t think you’re going to succeed, then why bother?

Be flexible. Everyone encounters unanticipated adversity. People with an empowered, growth-oriented mindset embrace adversity as a means for improvement, as opposed to something that holds them back. When an unexpected situation challenges an empowered person, they flex until they get results.

Don’t complain when things don’t go your way. Complaining is an obvious sign of a fixed mindset. A growth mindset looks for opportunity in everything, so there’s no room for complaints.

Bringing It All Together

By keeping track of how you respond to the little things, you can work every day to keep yourself on the right side of the chart above.

Do you have a growth mindset? Please share your thoughts and comments.

Does Your Business say Male or Female?

September 22nd, 2015

Can you say orange peels or what? I talk about brand persona all the time (as you are aware). I tend to ask, “dusty, fresh, or bloody?” Loved this article in Sunday’s Dallas Morning News,  reprinted here for easy access, and commentary of course!

We frequently talk about buying being an emotional decision (unless talking commodities, then it’s all about price, and only price). People buy from people they like, how or why they like you is a sum that is much greater than any of the individual parts. Your branding, messaging, people, how they present themselves, the culture you create and, if done well, permeates your brand are all large components of this sum.

Read below for a different perspective on many of the orange peels we have taken up here, or in the classes I teach, or the clients with whom I have walked this pathway to success!!!

emotional decision

CHICAGO — Shortly after Jenny Niemann launched her office furniture dealership last year, a branding consultant asked her a question that put her back on her heels.

Is the brand male or female?

“That one really caught me by surprise,” said Niemann, CEO of Chicago-based Forward Space, a dealer for office furniture maker Steelcase.

Do cubicle walls and swivel chairs have a gender? What does that even mean?

It doesn’t mean what people might first assume: that if it’s a woman-owned company, which Forward Space is, or it caters to women, which it does not, then it must be a female brand.

Rather, branding consultant Bradley Peacock from Chicago-based Peacock Nine was helping Niemann craft the brand’s personality based on the feelings she wanted the brand to evoke in her customers. And in the process, her company underwent something of a sex change.

Declaring brands male or female can seem like a throwback to a Mad Men era. But gender can be a powerful part of shaping a brand’s story, and some in the field say shifting social norms are enabling traditionally masculine brands to embrace feminine characteristics, or mix the two, as they fight for shoppers’ attention.

“It’s interesting for brands to consider a gender reassignment,” said John Manley, senior vice president and group strategy director at ad agency DDB.

Not everyone sees it that way. Leo Burnett chief strategy officer Mick McCabe said gender rarely comes up in conversations about brands, especially those with mass audiences, like Coca-Cola, Samsung or McDonald’s.

But for Niemann, the male/female question inspired a moment of reflection.

Niemann formed her company after acquiring and merging two Chicago-area Steelcase dealers that were male-run and felt “a little more masculine,” she said, in part because of the hard-edged associations people have when they hear “steel.”

But Niemann wanted her company to be known for helping employers think strategically about their workspaces — more of a creative, counseling role.

“Jenny understood that people are buying furniture to help change culture,” Peacock said. “One of the keys to building culture is having empathy, listening first rather than solutions first, and that is generally more female.”

And so Forward Space embraced its feminine side, which informed a series of decisions, including its logo design (softer edges) and thematic color (purple). Its purple showroom sends the message that “we can help our customers to create innovative work environments that inspire people to excel wherever and however they work,” said Niemann.

Conflating empathy with femininity — and purple — may ring of stereotype. But brand genders are not about being pink or blue or skirt or pants, Peacock said. Rather they are archetypes — in the case of Forward Space, the caregiver/creator — that evoke an emotional response and help companies and their consumers understand where they fit in the broader story of their lives.

“If you don’t understand what your unique meaning is, then you can spend millions of dollars on advertising and it just won’t resonate,” Peacock said.

The importance of a brand’s gender depends on the category. Krissy Vanderwarker, art director and strategist at Chicago branding consultancy Seedhouse, which specializes in consumer packaged goods, said clients increasingly want their brands to be gender-neutral.

“Now a lot of people are doing the shopping because traditional gender roles are breaking down, so there is less of a target to moms,” she said.

But shoppers seem to find comfort in easily recognizable gender cues. In a study of 140 brands, European researchers found that higher levels of perceived masculinity or femininity in a brand are associated with higher levels of brand equity, which translates to greater brand loyalty and ability to command a price premium, according a report last year in the journal Psychology and Marketing.

For example, highly feminine brands like Dove, Nivea and Chanel and highly masculine brands like Adidas, Audi and Mercedes scored better in brand equity among the 3,000-plus German consumers polled than brands that shift between genders (like Peugeot and H&M) or gender-neutral ones.

When a brand’s gender identity is not obvious, Peacock’s company surveys current and potential customers and asks what they want from the brand. If they seek empathy and patient counsel, it might send them into a more female space, whereas if they are driven more by price and efficiency, it might send them in a masculine direction.

“All of the great service companies are more female than male,” Peacock said, such as Zappos, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines and Johnson & Johnson.

The strategy does not come without risk. Several gendered branding attempts have “failed miserably,” said Linda Tuncay Zayer, associate professor of marketing at Loyola University’s Quinlan School of Business.

The 2012 launch of Bic for Her, “sleek” pens in pastel colors, was met with ridicule. And Under Armour has disavowed the “shrink it and pink it” strategy of a decade ago that assumed athletic brands could attract women by making products smaller and pinker.

“In today’s society, gender roles are increasingly fluid, so businesses and brands should not fall into old stereotypes,” Tuncay Zayer said.

A brand can be patient and caring without necessarily being female, she said, and labeling it as such is not a useful distinction. Better for marketers to define the brand personality as a whole rather than risk shilling to men or women and putting people off, she said.

Despite social strides toward gender equality, the prevailing theory in marketing has been that it’s easier to sell a masculine brand to men and women than a feminine brand to either sex, Manley said. With men making up the vast majority of the nation’s chief marketing officers, that approach still dominates, he said.

But there are signs of a shift. Manley points to McDonald’s Archenemies ad campaign, which launched earlier this year, in which historic antagonists — Batman and the Joker, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote — expressed affection for each other, sometimes by sharing a burger or offering a fry.

“That’s an interesting one that feels like it has more of a feminine sensibility,” Manley said. “Working out differences instead of just fighting over them.”

Anyone who teared up watching Dove’s Men + Care commercials during the Super Bowl, in which fathers were seen lovingly comforting their children, witnessed a strong female brand using a feminine characteristic — sensitivity — to appeal to a male audience, he said.

Younger generations are driving some of the rethinking. Manley described a focus group his firm did with young men last year as it was developing creative concepts for Miller Lite. One of the ideas presented was about “being with your bros, homeboys.” The young men said it felt like pandering.

“The interesting quote was, ‘Some of my bros are women,’” Manley recalled.

Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, Chicago Tribune