Category: Uncategorized

Nostalgia isn’t helping

It can be seen from different perspectives, the change that has occurred in the world and its effects on what we do and how we do it.

It can be seen as dynamic, fluid and inspiring change

Or as we are witnessing as proof – A “Inconvenient Truth”

A Inconvenient Truth that is pushed against and resisted as incorrect or even wrong

Nonetheless it endures

What am I writing about?

The paradigm shift in the manner in which we build brands , how we build relationships with consumers and how we embrace the connection economy which is and has changed it all.

It doesn’t take a MBA , it’s quite simple

The way that worked for so long is dying every day

MASS

Mass marketing, Mass distribution, Mass engagement

Seeking the Masses is a lost opportunity taken by a fool who won’t accept the Truth

Someone who is afraid of what this means

All of us are that someone in some aspects

I still hold a nostalgic view on the way it was

But embracing where we are and where we can go is scary but exciting

MICRO

MICRO MARKETING- for specifically someone

MICRO Distribution because we can reach the “others”

All I can say to all those peers who haven’t embraced the change and the ability to be very specific is that it’s time to accept this Inconvenient Truth that bruises your ego and self confidence- maybe

In pursuit of work that matters and joining the others

Do we really believe these old ways are going to recapture their glory? And why should they ?!

Isn’t the entire purpose to solve a problem for someone ? If connection takes away barriers between you and your community then WHY do you seek to keep them???

If you care to succeed you have to as a brand show up every single day with a generous posture

Care

Engage

Respect

Gain Permission and sure as hell don’t violate it!

Let the dinosaurs die

Old marketers

Old sales execs

It’s time

It’s now

Why it has all changed

I often reflect on my start in this career I feel so lucky to have literally stumbled upon as a young man.

At 47 I was fortunate to begin in a very personal, face to face / relationship driven retail environment.

Everything was different but everything was the same.

The best “brands” understood who it was for- the consumer and the means to reach them was engaged , personal relationships with retailers, category mangers , distribution partners.

Fast forward through the years and who it is for absolutely still remains the end user/ consumer

What has changed is the necessary means to reach them

What has changed is the relationship the connection economy has made available to those willing to truly lean in to create solutions and remarkable personal and relevant experiences for their specific Tribe.

What has changed is that it’s no longer the obnoxious act of handing off the relationship and enjoying the fruits of others labor at the point of contact.

What has changed is they see you as you are

What has changed is that if you provide solutions and show up

And show up

And show up

Trust may be earned

And the ratchet will turn

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it” @simonsinek

We need to STOP the obnoxious spamming

We need to stop the Hacks and tricks

It is rarely awareness that is the problem

It’s TRUST

And TRUST is earned

As Steven Pressfield says DO THE WORK

Ideas, opportunities and identity

I keep coming back to several key points that are undeniable in the full on connection economy

  1. A brands in order to truly be a brand must have a direct line of communication with a specific community.
  2. The internet fundamentally changed the dynamic of how a brand relates with its community and provides the means to do so with regularity.
  3. The internet is Not Mass it is Micro – this is the greatest misconception. Television and print for generations was spend = ROI that was measurable. Not any more. We have the chance to engage , and create valuable experiences for someone not everyone.
  4. A brand indeed has zero true leverage if it third parties it’s entire relationship to wholesale and distribution partners.
  5. Brands that have no clear WHY- WHY THEY EXIST are on a slope to no existence.
  6. More than ever CULTURE is what matters “people like US, do things like THIS” people like WHO? Specifically? Do things like WHAT? Specifically?
  7. Over 75% of browsing is done on a mobile – this is yesterday’s news so brands that do not understand and embrace this are killing themselves daily.
  8. Over 70% of product / item SEARCHES ARE DONE IN AMAZON NOT GOOGLE- so stew on that when you don’t control the biggest stage in the modern age.
  9. Price is a story- what story are you telling? You do get to decide.
  10. Better is a dangerous place to hang your hat. Better is ONLY BETTER IF I THE CONSUMER BELIEVE IT TO BE SO . ( see 1-9)

So we have a choice

Create value, be specific, be clear and be respectful. To create experiences that would make some people miss us if we were gone

Or

We can play the race to the bottom, the abrupt old manner to push our way to the front of the line but it’s time to wake up and say goodbye to that way of existing in the world

Have a great day

When nobody cares

As a professional I am amazed at both the opportunities in today’s marketplace as much as I am the limitations.

The limitless opportunities to connect and provide something real to a specific consumer has never been so real.

The limitations in trying to please everyone has also never been so real either.

Nobody cares unless Somebody cares

Brands are so adverse to risk when the greatest opportunities are proportionally attached to the risk of getting specific on WHO and WHAT.

Is it a coincidence BIG brands cannot seem to spend their way to the ubiquitous successes of past glory? I think not. Its the sign that things are working we just have not adjusted as professionals.

24 years ago when my career began it was much more favorable to be one of the Big brands with a wall of skus in every store and to be in every store in the specialty space.

Now those big brands are at a loss. We are in the age of connection and brands that are very specific in what they do, why they do it and ultimately who they do it for.

That is a tough nut to crack for the big brands

The challenge as a professional is where to add the value? Where are we most needed?

I believe that the greatest constraints for big brands is to get out of the “Group think” mentality that accompanies the status quo. To be the one that asks why not and delivers value that is creatively outside conventional thinking. That comes with much criticism as I am experiencing in my career.

Giving people what they want often times serves neither the brand or the professional. It is the goal that matters most.

The small brands that often start from a true desire to solve a specific problem for a specific community have a different constraint altogether- Strategic “conscious” understanding of the process and the ability to navigate this as a experienced adviser to the team.

There is not a map and what we leverage is not relationships to speed the process. The work is the work. The brands part of the deal always remains to its customers and creating experiences for them.

There are lists of questions to be honestly discussed….but it really starts with getting specific because Nobody cares…except specifically somebody

Trespassing

Everything goes full circle

First the newness of electronic mail created a enormous advantage to those willing to embrace the change while others still required face to face meetings.

The few email lists I was on were eagerly anticipated and digested and often passed along.

Then things changed.

Electronic mail no longer provides advantage of the early years. It is easier to Spam everyone with scripted letters and offers and play the old direct marketer playbook.

The result is a very low open rate

The result is marketers who care and respect others time and permission not even being seen.

The result is going back to the start but finding a manner to do so that embraces the best of Tech while it holds true to a genuineness.

Maybe that is face to face meetings but with FaceTime as the tech that allows respect for time?

So many in my meetings create unnecessary travel and costs at the expense of companies that would be served much better with directing those resources into supporting the very placements they meet to discuss. Not to mention all the harm from environmental standpoint flying cross country for a 1 hour meeting!

We seem overly agreeable with saving trees and not printing a email ( and making this part of our email signature) but have no issue with the enormous expense of unnecessary travel.

Business lessons I have learned from watching my wife

Those of you that know me or have read my posts so kindly in all their roughness know that I do not really mention or talk about my family as part of my writing as a professional. I tend to keep these camps separate. I do however wish to tell a little bit about my wife “accidental” business because I believe it holds tremendous value for both the creative that is too fearful to put herself, her real self and her work out there to be judged as well as the companies/ brands that are the a state of alarm in the wake of recent developments with Amazon and earning trust and delivering in a saturated, connected long tail economy.

Last year my wife walked away from a stressful work situation and with our little girl three years old we made the decision that we would do whatever it took to have her be home. We also realized in today’s world we still required my wife to do something of a job to help out. (btw as a aside, I was a fool to believe that as a infant once Carmella was mobile and speaking it would get easier haha! ) So my wife Dana began working a couple days per week as her friends jewelry shop (which she actually still does). My wife has a background in fashion design and with a little girl was one of those moms dressing her up for mommy and Carmella photo shoots regularly! The packages arrived, and arrived and she developed friends, began to have the discussions and interactions revolving around only things those on the inside would understand. Out of genuine sincerity she became a Insider to the culture of Moms like her and as Seth Godin says “People like us, do things like this” , “Moms like her, they buy couture special designs like this for their children” .

She began. She works harder and more hours than anyone I have ever witnessed and I respect the connection she has continued to develop with her Tribe so much! Everything is literally done by hand- Everything- not a exaggeration at all!

I have not seen my dining room in over 8 months, haha!

The challenge I see before her is the ability to scale Carmellas Couture without losing the connection and trust of the community while increasing her connections and engagement to become a go to for more moms.

It is the same challenge I witness plague many highly connected start ups in the CPG space. The challenge is in the ability to know your loyal customers so much that you can make a reasonable attempt at increasing offerings, at automating production knowing what their level of expectation is (because its yours also). It becomes much less about antiquated and rude demographics and much more about personas and psychographics. The scary part is that their is risk and with that risk comes the reality that it could be over if they do not embrace it, but it could also as easily be new horizons of success!

Amazon and the enormous push with private label products is horrifying every brand executive I have spoken to of late. Yes, I’ll admit its a challenge however has anyone truly viewed Amazon as anything but a competitor? Have we not witnessed Borders books? Maybe I am crazy and a marketer that believes his own stories too much but I believe there is a Silver bullet.

The Silver bullet? Connection! I will dare say boldly that brands that are trusted, that give honestly and generously to their community will not lose. I believe they will win! We cannot control what Amazon or any other retailer does but we can absolutely deliver outstanding levels of joy to our communities.

Is it any wonder that of the Top 60 supplement brands in natural channel, 38 are direct, 4 major direct, 3 hybrid, 15 are in distribution? Top brands realize the ease that distribution places on logistics is overshadowed completely by the loss of genuine connection that comes along with direct relationships. This comes with a great caveat- above and beyond service and experience. Look at the brands like Garden of Life, Ancient Nutrition ( any wonder since it is Jordan Rubin and Jason Dewberry from GOL) and Vega- all with brand culture ambassadors cultivating fans everyday!

“But that is unrealistic for a small brand” , ” we cannot afford to even try” says the startup owner.

You can. It is all about learning to be deliberate and patient.So YES a Pennsylvania based startup would go snake eyes trying to support national directives but what about focusing on the Northeast? Demoing Every account. Vetting each. networking online, collaborating- as Gary Vaynerchuk says “being a practitioner”. seeking the be the best in the world – the world of PA/NJ…..and then drip by drip, state by state, account by account. the ratchet turns. slowly but surely..

So what are you dreaming of doing that you wont do because it doesn’t pay? Is it worth your television time? Surely it wont feel that way tonight or tomorrow but what about drip by drip 1 year? (they go fast) 2 years? , 5 years?

I personally am witnessing love and connection everyday. Don’t put of the generous work you know we need you to do..Start today

Here is Dana’s Instagram for anyone who wants to check her work out

https://www.instagram.com/carmellascouture/

More or better ;-)

It has been some time since I have stepped away from social media as well as writing on this blog platform. I made a commitment to myself to not make noise for attentions sake but rather to remain consciously aware and dedicated towards adding value.

I have been attempting to make sense of it all. As a professional I consider myself extremely fortunate to have the amazing experiences and associations that I have developed through over two decades of love and work in the specialty/ supplement / Physical culture communities.

So what do I have to say that has prompted me to post this entry? What is the change I seek to create? Where can I add value that is generous to the point of change?

As the divide between the camps of those who are all in on the digital brand route and those who are dedicated to the resurgence of brick & mortar retail becomes wider I feel the need to air my opinion which many will disagree with I am certain. That is okay and quite honestly my hope if I am on to something worthwhile.

First and foremost we must understand our value proposition, what is our deliverable- and who is it for? When I ask this I often get the return gaze that can only mean that they think it is a worthless and ambiguous question. Lets however be very clear that we should absolutely be dialed in to the Psycho graphic we seek to serve. I know it sounds draconian doesn’t it? I will argue that it comes down to the intentions and values we hold. I will argue that once we understand this piece more than we understand how to build a projection flow chart we will have the greatest chance to do something dynamic.

Understanding the Psycho graphic(s) we seek to provide to ultimately provides all the answers. We cannot however depend on traditional market research as it has indeed been proven to be a flawed and very indirect manner to gain perspective. As professionals it is essential and should dictate what, where, how, and all the details associated with forging a brand.

Understanding your target customers online behaviors, preferences for example makes an enormous difference in how you should direct your brand online shouldn’t it?

Understanding your target customers retail behaviors also matters immensely, doesn’t it?

What I am getting at is that a deliberate approach that embraces listening, asking questions and generously looks to provide solutions through our goods and services is within our reach more than ever.

In a series of posts I will cover topics with the intention of creating dialogue and ultimately moving us forward to less noise and more connection

Monday pondering on a train

The thing about life is nobody gets out alive

A funny statement but deeper upon reflection

The older I get the more inward I turn

No longer seeking approval from certain tribes with certain status areas

No longer seeking as much superficial

Still status is a determining force

Always will be I guess

The secret maybe is to understand truthfully what motivates certain actions and responses

To understand and most importantly embrace that actions happen outside our control however interpretation only occurs under our own control

To lastly understand that everyone lives with some skeletons

Maybe the abstinence from mob mentality and gossip is more valuable than we realize in both attaining a realistic focus on our life and shortcomings as well as focus towards living with virtue

Just some thinking

Someplace

Between Myths and Legends

Truth

What’s one persons Myth

Is another’s Lie

Worldviews matter immensely

How many Truths each of us holds are in reality a luxurious lie

When I hear legends from even my own life

The mind is so powerful

We sculpt and bend history

We need immense levels of empathy now more than ever

Especially to create change

We also have to pick

Not All

Not a few

But ONE

and then invest everything

If it is true and needed maybe it will be embraced , catch on and spread as Seth Godin calls it the “Ideavirus”

If it fails

Well then if WE really CARE to be a PRO

we dust off and go again holding on to the knowledge of knowing one way that is not the way

So what’s your reality?

So what are your Myths?

And how can you leverage knowing there ultimately is not a right or wrong in Anything?