One hour to go on a twelve hour flight into Dubai. A new destination in this life I feel so blessed with. The past week has been a test, a test in putting into practice the learning.
Life is a infinite game. There may be many “goals” and they can be very impactful to the overall course, but make no mistake, the game of life is infinite.
Lately I am very much more in tune with stretching myself to be stronger as a father, a husband and a leader.
This week will be my example, Monday I was scheduled for a short flight from Philadelphia to Boston, with a short stop and then a long flight to Dubai. The problem was that Mother Nature evidently was not in accord.
What started as a short wait and glass of Chianti wound up over four hours. When I began to feel frustrated I took the challenge instead to practice what I prefect. Stoicism. So I looked at it as instead my good fortune to be sitting in a comfortable seat with a glass of wine and relaxed.
Once we boarded I heard a nervous woman asking about the connections and hers to Dubai. I spoke up and told her she was on my flight so just follow me and we would get there. All was good. For the moment.
After multiple hours of delays to our landing in Boston we finally were wheels down in the nor’easter. Once again, grateful.
Now however was the real test. After we ran what seemed the entire Logan airport to the gate we only could watch as the door was closed. Frustration set in. A walk all the way back. And a wait in line 2 hours. I prepared myself- ” ok, how about putting me in a room and rebooking me on the exact flight the next night?”
But again, a test. No hotels. A rebook for 5:30 am back south to NY and then another 3 hour layover and flight to Dubai from JFK.
It’s a bad storm- ok.
Oh btw, missing the original flight- a gift, it sat over 3 hours before it was cleared to take off. I was lucky after all.
So it would be great to say that was it but yes another obstacle.
The 5:30 was cancelled. Ugh. Now this was twenty four hours plus going. The airline sent a following email detailing a rebooked itinerary. But wait, the flight to Dubai leaves four hours before I get to JFK. fuck this! Ugh!
Back in the same line AGAIN!
Now it is about 2am. What to do. What to do?
After 2 hours I am placed back on the original flight for the evening coming.
The nor’easter is kicking in high gear outside.
So what to do?
It’s now around 6am and I smell fresh bacon and coffee. That’s something good.
So I called enterprise , maybe I can drive the 3 hours to GAT Sport HQ, after all we have many major directives in the USA as well as International.
But let’s back up here. It’s horrible out. Let’s get to a hotel and find a way. That I did.
Let’s get my head back into the game. I need to be there. Rest. And go
So I’m 20 minutes until landing now. Change is hard shit. To push comfort zones is painful. The universe will help with the rep but only after we get it “off our chest”
I am looking forward to the relationships worldwide we can forge with existing as well as new partners. I am looking forward to learning the nuances with each territory and how to best serve their needs to ultimately serve their consumers with wonderful experiences. It’s always about the end consumer.
It is precisely why we see the direct relationship brands not only winning but dominating.
Customer facing 2020
And with that is coming the T2 experiment
I turn 48 in less than 2 weeks! I keep preaching evolving with the serious enthusiast and how brands miss staying vital.
So this is my attempt to make it about me lol. About US – those of us ” seasoned warriors” and our evolved journey forward
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 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 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
Gain Permission and sure as hell don’t violate it!
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
I keep coming back to several key points that are undeniable in the full on connection economy
A brands in order to truly be a brand must have a direct line of communication with a specific community.
The internet fundamentally changed the dynamic of how a brand relates with its community and provides the means to do so with regularity.
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.
A brand indeed has zero true leverage if it third parties it’s entire relationship to wholesale and distribution partners.
Brands that have no clear WHY- WHY THEY EXIST are on a slope to no existence.
More than ever CULTURE is what matters “people like US, do things like THIS” people like WHO? Specifically? Do things like WHAT? Specifically?
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.
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.
Price is a story- what story are you telling? You do get to decide.
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
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
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
Welcome to the pilot introduction to the “T2experiment” where I will share a look into what drives me as a lifelong physical culture enthusiast and as a Professional Sales & Marketing executive in the dietary supplement industry..join me in my journey
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.
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
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