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May 2007
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July 2007

Why Albuquerque?

Abq A good friend of mine asked me this question the other day.   Some of my marketing team is in New Mexico.   Some is outside of Chicago.  Some of my operations team is in Arizona, Colorado and Florida  (and out of these 10 people, I've only worked with 1 before).

There are two reasons for such a geographically diverse team.  The main one forces me outside of my comfort zone and into the area of our market.   You see, our company is focused on the SMB marketplace which defies easy demographics.  But we did discover one truism: Our SMB market thinks locally and requires a local touch.   And by having this spread out team it forces me to think about the local differences every day. 

The second reason is these people are craftsmen (and women, to be PC)  in their own right.   If I insisted everyone reported to the same office, well,  group think would set in.   I get much more bang for the buck this way.

So today's question: Do you internally look and act like your market?   Or are you comfortably settled into a  your own walls be it in Silicon Valley, or Boston or New York or Chicago or Phoenix or _________?

Strategy, Strategy? We don't need no stinkin'......

Mary got me thinking about strategic planning this last week.  Which lead me to these two statements:

- The second worse thing you can do for your company is have a strategic plan.  (you know, that 120 page book)

-  The worse thing you can do for your company is not have a strategy.

If you don't know where you are going, you may already be there.   Lost Hey, I worked at Novell where every quarter we had a brand new strategy.  Spent a lot of time and money doing it too.   Hmmm, looks like they're the open source company for enterprises now.

My suggestion is more around defining what you want to be at some point down the road.   But don't try to figure out the most direct route to get there.  'Cause opportunities and roadblocks will pop up on the way.   But keep heading the same direction.

But most importantly believe in what you are doing.   Looking for validation of your strategy from "experts" and "luminaries" is a fools game.  If you aspire to be a leader in your market, be a leader.   If you're a follower, you don't need a strategy.

Southwest Airlines: Burying the bad news

Good marketing is being upfront with your market.  Southwest has always struck me as being great at marketing.  But it looks like someone's evil twin has taken over.  Sw Late last Friday they sent out a newsletter to their loyal Rapid Rewards member.  First off, who reads Friday promo materials?   Ah, look at the bottom and you'll see this:

Effective December 8, 2007, Southwest Airlines reserves the right to amend, suspend, or terminate the Rapid Rewards program at any time, with 30 days notice. This constitutes a revision of Rapid Rewards rule #27, which currently states: Southwest Airlines reserves the right to amend, suspend, or terminate this program at any time, with six (6) months notice.

Which means that Rapid Rewards could go away in January 2008.   And this is good "communications" with your customers?   Building lasting relationships?

For those of you with a bunch of awards, I'ld start thinking about a couple of fall trips.  Or maybe I'm just having a bad day.

Hedging your bets fails in marketing and craps

Craps There are many, many ways to lose your money playing craps.   And the easiest way is to hedge your bets.  You lose.  Classic rookie mistake.

Marketing is the same thing.  You have to stay focused on what you are doing, for whom and your key values.  As soon as you start hedging your bets by chasing too many "opportunities" you lose.  (By all means leverage what you are doing to move into new areas.)

This usually goes with an Eeyore attitude "Well, this may not work, so just in case......"    Play to win, don't play "not to lose".  (apologies to "Searching for Bobby Fischer")  That attitude will spill over into everything you do and your market will ignore you.

Are You a Physicist or a Chemist?

Back in college one of my most frustrating courses was Organic Chemistry.   Para Favorite course, Physics.  Which caused me to leave veterinary medicine.  Why?  I just couldn't see the purpose of memorizing all those formulas and reactions.  And there were a lot of them.  In Physics, everything you ever needed to know fit on a single index card.  You just needed to know how to build on them.

The same principals apply to our products and our customers.   Do you require them to take lots of classes and read lots of documentation to figure out how to use your product?  Does your product do everything for them?  If so, you're a chemist.   

Or do you provide a useful foundation in which your customers can get functionality right away?  But leave them plenty of room so they can innovate, create and learn?  Then you're a Physicist.

Lecture_2 Look at your marketing presence.  If it reminds you of a lecture hall I suspect your market may not be very engaged with you.

And for you producing an innovative product a must read by Grant McCracken.