Archives For marketing plan

This is my third post on Successful Business Planning.  In the first post I encouraged you to start planning now for 2014. In the second I talked about making your plan usable.  Today I want to encourage you to build a brand promise.

This year I’ve spent about 80 nights in Marriott Hotels (plus a few others).  In fact, I’m in one right now!  This one happens to be a Fairfield – as I am in a remote area.  As I was working on a few things this afternoon, a small card left by Christy, my Guest Room Attendant, caught my eye…

It’s the Marriott Brand Promise.

It reads:

We Promise to  Always…

  • Make you feel welcome
  • Give you a room that’s clean, fresh and reflects the highest quality standards
  • Respond promptly to any need that you might have
  • Give you the service that will make you want to return

And, Sure enough, that has been my experience this year.  It’s Marriott’s brand promise.  And when I have had an issue, Marriott has been responsive…

As someone who travels weekly, I can tell you that lowest price, free cookies, and remote control curtains, all come way down the list for me – but when I need something, like my room cleaned at a certain time, a last minute room, or something taken care of right away, I really want my hotel of choice to act quickly.

I also want friendly people working behind the desk, answering questions, making recommendations on food and transportation, and going out of their way to make sure I get what I need, and make it to bed on time.

At Ingles last week, I noticed a sign that said – 200% Guarantee.  Actually it was one of my kids that brought it to my attention.  Part of our homeschool curriculum is watching out for good marketing.  It went on to say – if the produce isn’t fresh, not only will be refund your money…we’ll replace the item.  This too is a brand promise – built to appeal to the people who shop for the family.

What is your brand promise?

And does it actually mean something to your target buyer?  The people I refer to as Your People Group.

Make it a part of your business plan.  Put some thought into it…what would actually matter to the people group your message is targeting?  This just might be the big differentiator you are looking for.

© 2013, David Stelzl


IMG_0338IMG_0217This weekend’s planning & strategy session in Charlotte came to end Saturday late afternoon…a few quotes and some pictures –

1. “I got a lot more out of this than a typical distributor run conference, or channel summit!”

2. “There’s something special about getting together with other business owners, rolling up your sleeves, and working on a plan like this.”


3. Said right after the coconut cream pie, “This is absolutely the best food I’ve ever had at a conference.”

4. “This was the most unique training environment I have ever experienced.”

5. ” I am now more excited than ever about what we can accomplish in 2013!”

6. “The way you presented the pricing session was one of the most impactful sessions on pricing that I have ever experienced. I want/need to share this with my entire company. Often and with regularity!”

Look for my next session like this, probably in January 2013!



It’s not often that I get to Chicago and the weather is just right – low 70’s, low humidity, clear skys, and best of all, no traffic to or from the airport!  It’s been a productive week.  Some lessons from this week’s strategy meeting are in order…

1. It’s never about the product.  We spent two full days on strategy, only naming product in passing, or by accident.  Marketing strategy that builds on features and functions is destined to fail.

2. Synergy among the leadership is so important.  We had this, and it showed…Jim Collins is right (of course), when he says, “Get the right people on the bus, others off, and make sure everyone is in the right seat before getting started with strategy.

3. Most of the resellers are competing on the same items – this makes everyone look the same, reduces margin across the business, and pushes up the cost of doing business.  There is a better way – in fact we discovered several.

4. Many of the things vendors are pushing VARs to do with MDF are useless…again, there are better ways to spend marketing dollars, and I believe we found some that will change the course of business over the coming months.

5. A clear vision of where the company needs to go is essential – it is the filter that everything else gets measured by.  We started here, taking the time to come up with a clear, concrete, unified vision, and it paid off through the two days.

PS. Note the photo taken from my window seat…down town Chicago.


© 2012, David Stelzl

It’s my last day in Chicago, at least for this week (I’ll be back next week).  Last night when I returned to my room I looked at the front page of the Wall Street Journal – Headline, Meet the Meeting  Killers.  Keep in mind, I’ve just spent 8 hours meeting with a group of business leaders, discussing business and marketing strategy; everything from “who we are” to “what we need to become” as the tech market continues to evolve.  Unlike this article, which is the norm, our meeting was highly productive.  In fact, we didn’t have any of the problems highlighted in the picture to the left…why?  Here are some things we did to avoid problems:

  • The premeeting, meeting; First, I did take the time to talk with all of the participants before coming up here. I wanted to understand each person’s needs and goals for this meeting before having the meeting – this makes for an effective, highly focused meeting.
  • Our agenda is highly structured.  Not that we don’t have brainstorming and flexibility in our meeting – just the opposite.  But we have planned times to create and think outside the box in an organized way; we have a way to organize and consider ideas – and ways to stretch the imagination of each participant.
  • We have a facilitation process that works.  Rather than just talking, I use a process called The 6 Thinking Hats, developed by Dr. Debono.  Of all of the facilitation programs I have seen, this one really works.  I learned this method from a certified 6 Hats Trainer; I’ve also studied more than one book on the subject. If you want to run effective meetings, you need something to move people from spectator to involvement, but with order.  But you also need a way to draw out ideas from those who might not see themselves as creative.  You need positive perspective from the naysayer, and you need the optimist to consider the cautions.  You need a way of getting everyone in the group to consider things from many angles.  Debono refers to this as, “Lateral Thinking”.

By planning, structuring, and using a great facilitation tool, I believe the group would agree, we’ve accomplished in one day, what many groups take weeks to sort through.  And by the end of today, we’ll have a plan to execute on.

© 2012, David Stelzl

When I drive by a restaurant with a line coming out into the parking lot, I may not stop and wait, but it occurs to me at that moment that I should try it – perhaps on a less popular day.  The restaurant with no cars on Friday night at 7, is obviously not doing well – my assumption is the food must not be good.

I’ve been writing about marketing concepts over the past few days, as I prepare for today’s webinar on effective marketing and demand generation.  It’s on my mind because it’s important – selling is hard work, and where marketing is lacking, the selling is much harder.  They are clearly not the same thing.  Marketing is much bigger; it sets the stage for the seller – it considers the market, the timing, and the needs your company and its offerings will serve.  It’s the overall strategy that determines what you will go to market with, what people group you will serve, and how you will get their attention.  The line in the parking lot is one small indicator for me – the seats are full and I wish I had one of them.

Yesterday I commented on urgency.  Limited seating is one way to seem urgent.  It’s urgent that I get there early to get a seat.  But you can do more with limited seating to create a buzz.  I once heard a speaker talk about a doctor, years ago in London, establishing a practice. He had very few patients, but rather than opening up his schedule to the world, he limited his appointment times at first so that when people called in for an appointment, it was harder to get an appointment.  With only a few times available, patients had to wait for a time he would be free.  Word soon spread that he must be very busy since it is so difficult to get an appointment.  His limited seating capacity increased the value of each seat.  Before long, his schedule was overbooked – he had created demand for his services through limited seating.

Consider scheduling your week like this.  Plan days for office work at the start of the week, and block out certain times for meetings and client interaction.  Rather than telling clients, any time this week, offer two options with specific times.  When I have a choice of 40 hours to see you, suddenly I don’t know where I can fit you in.  But if my choice is Wednesday at 4 or Thursday morning at 9, I can see right away if one of those times works best.

© 2011, David Stelzl

At the Buffalo US Airways Club

This morning I had the honor of presenting to a group of business owners and sales professionals at Ingram Micro’s Technology Solutions Conference in Buffalo.   I covered material from my, soon to be released book, From Vendor to Adviser…how do sales people move from point product selling to high-involvement selling; how do they reposition themselves as an adviser.  People have been talking and writing about this for decades, yet it still seems to be a hurdle companies have yet to overcome.  In a sidebar conversation I was asked, how long should it take a rep to ramp up?  This business owner was asking, “If I hire someone to sell, how long should I give them to start producing?”  This is a great question, and one more people need to be asking.  Whether you yourself are that new rep, or you oversea a team or company, hiring and getting started with a new company in sales is no easy task.  Some thoughts are worth considering:

1. Watch out for Retreads.  I use this term when referring to sales people who were, at one time, big hitters.  They may have managed large accounts, worked for global companies, and earned significant commissions and awards; but for some reason they failed to keep pace with the industry.  For the past decade (perhaps) they have been hopping from one company to the next, or maybe the company they work for continues to employ them, but they can’t seem to close.  Don’t become one, and don’t hire one.  The technology industry moves fast, and old experience is just that; old.  I doesn’t matter how old you are, it matters that you are a learner – innovative, creative, hard working, and a student of this industry.

2. Forget the Rolodex.    If you’ve worked in sales long enough you may have actually used a Rolodex.  Does anyone know what this is anymore?  The point here is, don’t expect to find a rep that has numerous contacts who are ready to buy as soon as you hire.  It happens occasionally, but don’t count on it.  Instead, your company must be prepared to help with lead generation at some level.

3. Lead generation requires marketing.  If you run or work for a smaller reseller, like many in today’s session, you can’t expect to hire someone who will go out and generate new leads, with enough GP to make it big in the first few months.  I recommend companies hire with a marketing program in force.  Paying base salaries, benefits, and guarantees to someone who is going to start from scratch using the Yellow Pages, is a slow way to start in this business.  Plan events, webinars, and other marketing campaigns, and hire people while in process.  Having a list of qualified leads is the best way to help someone ramp up their territory.

4. The Mentoring Process is important.  Michael Gerber in his book, EMyth Revisited, does a great job of explaining what happens when managers hire in new people without any formal ramp up process.  While it may seem expensive to ride around with your new rep, send them to some training, or hire a sales coach to work with them (one who understands your business already), the cost of not doing this is higher.  Hiring people who take a year to ramp up is far more expensive, and if they don’t make it, you’ve spent a lot of time and money on nothing.

5. Careful who you hire.  Learning to interview is one of those things few have gone to school on.  It seems like hiring is supposed to just come naturally to those who manage, but this is far from the truth.  Years ago, when I was running a large consulting and sales team, I spent a significant amount of time training people to hire great people.  This was one of the best investments I have every made.

© 2011, David Stelzl


Photo Taken on My Blackberry

Well, we completed the first phase of our marketing strategy yesterday, but more importantly, I was delighted to find that Winter Haven, FL, has some great pizza!  Who would have guessed…Not sure of the name of this place, but it’s right next to Arabella’s, another great place to eat if you enjoy Italian food (we did have dinner there).  This Pizza is slightly thicker than a traditional Brooklyn style pizza – more like you would find in Manhattan…cooked in a brick oven, a full size pizza (meaning their large pie is 18 inches unlike the 14 inch large at fast food pizza chains like Papa Johns and Domino’s), and the sauce and cheese are excellent.  I believe they make their own sauce, meatballs, and use fresh mozzarella.   The pizza folds like a real slice should, so that you can eat it without everything falling off.  I had pepperoni, sausage, ham, and meatballs on mine…Definitely give this a try if you are traveling through the area.

© 2011, David Stelzl