Never sell with your best stuff


I never sell with my best stuff.

By that, I mean that I don’t use my best stuff, my best thinking, the height of my capabilities for sales calls. Sales pitches, prospective customers? They generally get my second-best stuff.

Who gets the best stuff?

Current customers.
Current clients.
Premium members.
My tribe.

Two reason why. First, have you ever been in a situation where you see a deal announced by your current vendor/provider and it says New Customers Only? Doesn’t that infuriate you? You see the deal and you say, “But I’ve been a loyal customer for months/years/decades! Why don’t you reward loyalty?” In time, with enough snubbing from your current provider and enough wooing from a new one, you switch.

When everyone does that, we train our customers to be disloyal. We train our customers to always be looking for a better deal. It’s like the person at a party who is always looking over your shoulder for someone more interesting to talk to. Wouldn’t you rather be the most interesting person? Wouldn’t you rather have your current customers eager to stay with you for the best deals, the best stuff?

Second, have you ever been to a movie where the first 15 minutes were awesome and then the rest of the movie was a letdown? If you sell with your best stuff, you’ve got nothing left to impress your new customer with. They’ve seen the highest quality, best goods you can put forward, and everything after that will be equal in quality and impressiveness at best, a letdown at worst.

I’d rather have a TV season start off lighter and then ramp up to “HOLY ****” moments as the story progresses. I’d rather have a meal that starts out pretty good and then the main course arrives and I’m blown away. Wouldn’t you rather have sales prospects be satisfied with the appetizers but amazed beyond belief once they become customers and get the main course?

That’s how you keep customers.

That’s how you build a referral business. When a customer talks to a friend, they’ll say, “Just wait till you become a customer, you’ll REALLY be amazed.”

By no means am I saying sell with crap. That’s just foolish. But don’t give away everything you’ve got to win a customer, only to let them down the moment after they sign on the dotted line.

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Personal Planning for 2016

the hour

As the year begins to wind down, take the opportunity to plan for your personal 2016.

What things held you back this year?

If there was a tool, a technology, a skill that would have helped you advance more this past year, what was it?

For me, the tool and gap that would have helped most would have been more skill with the statistical program R. It’s a difficult program to get started with, but its powers and capabilities make it difficult to ignore or bypass.

For me, learning R better in 2016 is one of my priorities in order to advance, in order to reach that next level. There’s so much innovation happening with it and machine learning that if I don’t get up to speed, I will miss the boat entirely.

Perhaps you face a deficit of a different kind, a different resource. Was there someone that, had you known them or had a stronger/better relationship, might have helped you reach your goals?

Was there a resource like time that you didn’t allocate well?

Before you think about resolutions for the new year, carefully consider what factors derailed or limited your current year.

What things helped you move forward?

Consider what advanced your year. What aspects or resources helped you grow beyond expectations?

For me, the ability to quickly adapt new technologies was a key to success for this year. I was able to pick up and make significant progress with tools like IBM Watson Analytics, Tableau, and Linux to be far more effective than I have been in past years. I still have a very long way to go and so much to learn, but even those first few skills helped me advance.

For the year ahead, in addition to mitigating my knowledge gaps in R, I have to double down on what worked this year. I have to learn how to use Vagrant and Docker containers to virtualize key software and services. I have to learn how to tie APIs together even faster so that as the marketing technology landscape continues to evolve, I don’t fall behind or miss a key trend.

Before you consider resolutions for the new year, decide what you’re going to keep doing or do more of.

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Democratization means commoditization of your business

Mr. Schu reads at a giant button and needle in Kansas City

We tend to speak of democratization as though it were unilaterally good.

  • The democratization of media means that anyone can become a journalist. All you need is a blog or social media account.
  • The democratization of photography means that anyone with a smartphone can become a photographer.
  • The democratization of education means that anyone with an Internet connection can get a world class education.
  • The democratization of marketing analytics means that anyone with a Google Analytics account can have top-shelf insight into their business.

Democratization has a flip side, a negative consequence. Democratizing a thing automatically transforms that thing into a commodity, into something abundant rather than scarce. When something is abundant, it automatically creates a vast spectrum of value, and sometimes that value is difficult to discern.

  • Democratized media is of uneven quality. Some media sources are high quality. Some are abysmally low quality. It takes passion, skill, and knowledge to sift fact from falsehood.
  • Democratized photography is of uneven quality. Billions of photos are taken each day and most are quite bad. If you want to find great photography, you have to invest serious time into curation and sorting.
  • Democratized education is of uneven quality. As a hiring manager, resumes blend together and candidates become indistinguishable on paper. Who truly has the skills you need when everyone looks the same?
  • Democratized marketing analytics are high quality, but our ability to manage those analytics tools is of uneven quality. Anyone can say they’ve worked with Google Analytics, but how many people – even those who are certified Google Analytics professionals – can truly make the tools work for your business?

The most difficult challenge you’ll face as a marketer is when your business or market becomes commoditized. You’ll be fighting a flood of imitators. You’ll struggle with mind share, with customers understanding how you’re different than the thousands of other potential suppliers.

When a part of your business or marketing becomes commoditized, you have an imperative to focus ruthlessly on quality – and to provide blatant, bold, empirical evidence of your quality. Being a needle in a haystack is fine as long as you’re a 5 foot tall needle.

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