Phoenix Rising

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The Company You Keep

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You are only as good as the company you keep. The wrong ones drag us down. I’m not saying we should run out and partner with every 'big' company we can find to prove our credibility. Remember when your folks told you to choose your friends wisely?    They were trying to protect you, but they also knew that you'd be judged based on your friends. People perceive us in part based on who we hang around with, who we point to as 'friends' and associates. That's why all these sayings apply to business and life! Birds of a feather flock together.

3 Leaders Who Follow the Signs

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But there are so many more great companies out there. These companies trust their intuition, signs and the facts, evolving to intercept opportunities for growth! Now, Fruit of the Loom is accomplishing a tough transition: they are evolving a company brand, changing the perception of a global marketplace and entering new markets - without dramatically changing their product fundamentals. Market leaders follow the signs. Leaders are always on the alert for Signs of shifting markets. Many point to Apple and Google and Amazon as innovators who follow the signs.   Why? 

3 Leaders Who Follow the Signs

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But there are so many more great companies out there. These companies trust their intuition, signs and the facts, evolving to intercept opportunities for growth! Now, Fruit of the Loom is accomplishing a tough transition: they are evolving a company brand, changing the perception of a global marketplace and entering new markets - without dramatically changing their product fundamentals. Market leaders follow the signs. Leaders are always on the alert for Signs of shifting markets. Many point to Apple and Google and Amazon as innovators who follow the signs.   Why? 

Is Yesterday's News Preventing Your Success?

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wonder how many companies, executive teams and employees are blocking receiving in the same way I was? Companies develop beliefs based on leadership, market experiences and 'corporate legends' Often I'll walk into a turnaround and find a demoralized culture.    If leaders are grousing in executive meetings about the business - it sets a tone for the company's culture. My good friend Bob Burg, and his co-author John David Mann, opened my eyes to the concept of receiving. Everyone but me. So what does that have to do with business?

B2B Loyalty, The B2C Way

Find out how consumer loyalty principles can help B2B companies reward, recognize, and engage their customers

Extreme Measures

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But then I started thinking about why the  companies delivering these products felt compelled to cover their proverbial derrieres in such obviously over-the-top ways. These companies are going to extreme measures to CYA because NOT doing so means they open themselves up to frivolous litigation. Not going to these extreme measures means they could lose their business to someone who makes a silly move and blames them - and in the end, the company pays, and pays big. Fifteen Laughable Product Warning Labels The above article was in Forbes this week.  have to ask.

But That's the Way We've Always Done It

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Especially in tough economic or financial situations – when the company environment is already tense and constricted. I am the lightening rod for people's response to impending change.    T here's nothing like a strategic consultant showing up to stir the pot and bring all the tough 'stuff' to the surface. eople don't usually respond well to change. Anything but. When things get tense, people tend to hang on to what they know.    The status quo is known and safe, even if it does mean a downhill slide.  That one eludes me.

Recipes for Success

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  Secondly - no two companies can follow the same recipe and be successful. Those B School recipes for success need an update. First of all - we're moving too fast to follow any set recipe. What was true last month may be old news today.    Even as our value slides from 'Oh Wow' to 'Ho Hum' in a matter of months, our markets spin in new directions.    Buyers change, fads change, the economy changes.    Market ingredients will change, so wed better be ready to improvise quickly. Every business situation is unique.

Changing My Game

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became aware of an old, and dangerous, recipe in my own life not too long ago. I've helped companies grow for over two decades now as a consultant.  Hanging onto old recipes limits our success. We all have old recipes running around in our brains.    It's human nature to find and follow a pattern. We creatures of habit feel more comfortable that way.   Must be my name.    When I began to write Defying Gravity , I wanted to self-publish, primarily to have control of my content and direction.    My agent fired me. Forget it.

B2B Marketing Trends for 2016

Collaborate with industry influencers: marketers must creatively build advocacy and content amplification outside the company as well. customer/stakeholder goals of my company, and what do I need to make. company sales rep, it becomes even more vital that both groups understand the buying process from. There will be more companies developing SLAs between sales and.

Fair Play

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  Then there are companies like GM who ignored the markets and followed their own egos all the way to bankruptcy - well they are bailed out by our tax dollars. Fair Play ruled in my upbringing - in everything from horses to golf to piano competitions to life itself.    It's a simple principle promoting that how you play the game is more important than winning. The rules have changed. We have cheating bankers getting federal bailout money while honest people are losing their homes and lives.    Has Fair Play become ancient history?   Hmmm.

Where's Your Focus?

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  The grousing and groaning become part of the company's culture. Do you notice how many people around us are grumbling - sometimes even in expectation of something yet to come? Negative is the enemy of success. Negative attitudes spread through an organization like a virus.  The next thing you know there's an excuse for every slip or stumble. We lose responsibility for our actions while we do the very thing to bring us down. We get more negative.   We focus on keeping our personal selves healthy and in good form. Work would be more upbeat.

That Personal Touch

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Marketing departments in all kinds of companies are using the power of being 'personal' as a way to attract customers and win business.   Then there's the offers of all those boy toys that companies just know Mr. Rebel wants.    Personalized profiles are all the rage in outbound marketing.    We insert recipients' names into email campaigns that are tailored to what we assume are their requirements, thanks to a tailored sentence or two. Somehow - that doesn't seem like a truly personal approach.  So what's my point?

Lessons From a Porch Light

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Companies suggest they'll make me rich, young girls suggest things I don't want to mention.  When we were ready for 'company', I excitedly turned the lights on.  The last few weeks I've had a barrage of pornographic messages on Twitter. They are obscene, graphic and embarrassing. block the senders and delete the messages, but they just keep coming. My other friends are getting them as well. We all feel so powerless to do anything to stop them - so we do the best we can and delete and block - again and again. My email reflects Twitter.

We Need Consequences

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  It's just my way of showing that just because you're powerful, it doesn't mean you can cheat - on your wife, your company, your fans or our country.  Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely   Tiger is only the latest in the line of 'Great, All American Nice Guys' to fall short of our God-like standards. We have Michael Vick and his dogs. We have Bill and Monica, Brad and Angelina, Tom and Penelope. Even Fox Mulder is corrupt. Without consequences, behaviors don't change. So, where are the consequences? Oh sure, Wall Street fell. The rest of us?

B2B Marketing Trends for 2016

Collaborate with industry influencers: marketers must creatively build advocacy and content amplification outside the company as well. customer/stakeholder goals of my company, and what do I need to make. company sales rep, it becomes even more vital that both groups understand the buying process from. There will be more companies developing SLAs between sales and.

We Get more Flies with Sugar

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Instead, this company is focused on proving that it's not to blame and potentially starting a war with the other vendor. My southern mother had all kinds of cute sayings about life and the pursuit.    This one came to mind this morning. "You get more flies with Sugar than you do with Vinegar" I was chatting with an associate  about a client of his who is in a battle with another vendor at a customer site.    There's lots of finger pointing about who was causing which problem. thought he was kidding, but it turns out he wasn't. 

Is Trust Broken?

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  My horse trainer's insurance company refused to allow dogs on her property because they were afraid of lawsuits. Hey company is  taking every single marketing piece - from outbound emails to landing pages to spec sheets, through a legal process. I was looking at a contract with my publishing house last week. It got me thinking about trust. This contract was lengthy and detailed. Fair, but very detailed. Yet there were still a few things I had to take on trust. I did it. But how many others would? My how times have changed. That's all I needed. Right? 

The Power of a Brand

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Not what the folks at both companies told me. All I wanted was to buy and Apple iPhone. It became a rather frustrating journey. I was so disappointed. have always been a huge Apple fan, and they'd let me down. shared my story on this blog, hoping I'd been fair and balanced in the telling. The post attracted quite a few responses - both public comments and private emails. Everyone found a way to support Apple. I was puzzled. reread my post, thinking I hadn't been clear describing the situation. In my reality, ATT was the hero and Apple was the dark knight.  SO COOL.

The Power of a Brand

Phoenix Rising

Not what the folks at both companies told me. All I wanted was to buy and Apple iPhone. It became a rather frustrating journey. I was so disappointed. have always been a huge Apple fan, and they'd let me down. shared my story on this blog, hoping I'd been fair and balanced in the telling. The post attracted quite a few responses - both public comments and private emails. Everyone found a way to support Apple. I was puzzled. reread my post, thinking I hadn't been clear describing the situation. In my reality, ATT was the hero and Apple was the dark knight.  SO COOL.

B2B Marketing Trends for 2016

Collaborate with industry influencers: marketers must creatively build advocacy and content amplification outside the company as well. customer/stakeholder goals of my company, and what do I need to make. company sales rep, it becomes even more vital that both groups understand the buying process from. There will be more companies developing SLAs between sales and.

Cats with Shiny Objects

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  Companies are often like cats with shiny objects. Mighty Mouse taught us that focus is key to competitive success. Vision and change is also key to business growth.    We must seek out and embrace new ideas, new ways of being, new markets and new opportunities.We must evolve and change to thrive. So, how do we blend vision and focus? The key is to identify and focus on those truly great ideas - focusing until we bring them to fruition in our business. That may sound easy, but all too often it's not. Because new ideas and opportunities keep popping up.

Cats with Shiny Objects

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  Companies are often like cats with shiny objects. Mighty Mouse taught us that focus is key to competitive success. Vision and change is also key to business growth.    We must seek out and embrace new ideas, new ways of being, new markets and new opportunities.We must evolve and change to thrive. So, how do we blend vision and focus? The key is to identify and focus on those truly great ideas - focusing until we bring them to fruition in our business. That may sound easy, but all too often it's not. Because new ideas and opportunities keep popping up.

I Really Should.

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But I want to be a consultant and help many companies. How many companies spend fortunes taking care of customers who aren't reciprocating by being reasonable, or true partners? 'Should' can go the way of the Woolly Mammoth. It limits us, keeps us in a repetitive pattern of thinking and behavior. Think about it. Our parents used the 'should' word to teach us their version of right and wrong, to take responsibility and to follow the local cultural and social rules. And yes, some 'shoulds' are good things. As you can guess - I wanted a different path.

Right and Wrong in the Eyes of the Beholder

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For example, when one company sees predatory pricing as 'just part of the game' and another views it as ' not acceptable' - who gets the advantage? Have Right and Wrong become a subjective decision? Not so long ago  we had a clear and consistent value system. Today we ebb and flow based on the situation and those involved. What's OK for one business executive may not be ethical in another executive's eyes.    That makes for an interesting playing field, doesn't it?  How can we possibly win in those conditions? hope not! Who knows why.

Tell the Truth

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  Do NOT fib, make up stories, make promises you can't keep, distract by being negative or blame another company or person. Why do we search for excuses, seek to distract tough questions, throw mud at the competition in attempts to turn the attention from our own sometimes difficult situations?    Especially with customers? Denial is not just a river in Egypt folks - and it kills your credibility. Telling the truth seems especially hard sometimes. You're having some problems. So what do you do?   So cowboy-up and face the music. Be Open and Honest!

Tell the Truth

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  Do NOT fib, make up stories, make promises you can't keep, distract by being negative or blame another company or person. Why do we search for excuses, seek to distract tough questions, throw mud at the competition in attempts to turn the attention from our own sometimes difficult situations?    Especially with customers? Denial is not just a river in Egypt folks - and it kills your credibility. Telling the truth seems especially hard sometimes. You're having some problems. So what do you do?   So cowboy-up and face the music. Be Open and Honest!

The Ghost and Our Integrity

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  I even saw a Tweet last week touting that a VA (Virtual Assistant) can write your company's blog. Companies don't know how to blog.  It's implied that a corporate or CXO blog is written by employees who are 'in the know' in that company or by the CXO themselves - with or without the byline. understand that sometimes companies need help learning to create a social media presence.   Sponsored by Company X.  The topic of ghostblogging and Tweeting is popping up everywhere.  So, answer this question for me. 

Don't SWAG Your SWOT!

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Unfortunately, most companies view SWOTs as a necessary evil. We started a go-to-market strategy project for a technology company. When I asked about 1:1 customer discussions I learned the focus had been around 2 huge companies where the founders had friends. These targets were not in fact available opportunities for this company.    These SWAGS could have destined this company to failure. A SWOT analysis is a valuable tool for taking a hard look at ourselves, our customers and the marketplace in general. Don't SWAG your SWOTs! Case in Point. 

There's Opportunity in that Crisis

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Many great companies have faced tough times and risen from the ashes to soar. Whether it’s a big economic crash, a flattening top line, a problem product margin, a changing distribution model or the loss of a key employee - we face business change on a regular basis. As we chatted about yesterday, each and every event offers a choice - do we see a crisis, or do we choose to see opportunity?    Have you ever 'listened' to your thoughts? Do you know which way you naturally flow when crisis or change happens? Leveling as in devastation. I don't see that. Try this.

How to Find Opportunity in Crisis

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Many great companies have faced tough times and risen from the ashes to soar. Whether it’s a big economic crash, a flattening top line, a problem product margin, a changing distribution model or the loss of a key employee - we face business change on a regular basis. Each and every event offers a choice - do we see a crisis, or do we choose to see opportunity?    Have you ever 'listened' to your thoughts? Do you know which way you tend to lean when crisis or change happens? Do you examine the reality and look for the light on the other side?  Try this.

Sales & Marketing - How to Kick Butt Together!

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Make sales buy-in a priority. I've worked with too many companies who thought sales just took whatever marketing and development threw over the wall - that was their job. Speaking of Rolling Thunder market launches. Sales involvement will make or break market launches. It doesn’t matter how great our marketing story is. Doesn't matter if our whatchafizzle is the fastest one in the west. If our sales force isn’t on board – revenues won’t flow. So how can we get sales more involved in our launches? Be a team. Then sit back and listen to them. They know things we don't.

Keep Your Eye on the Revenue

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Do you think your market launch is 'final' once you drop the press release announcing your new product or company'? Wrong. Great launches continue for weeks or months after the press release. usually have a minimum of a six month post-launch plan for any client, sometimes longer than that. You're probably thinking, "Once it's public, it's public. What's left to do?" First, let's reframe the meaning of launches. Launches have one goal - revenue. Getting all those press clippings won't pay your salary.   Keep driving market momentum.

Powering Momentous Launches

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It was the best coverage the company ever had. The company was touted as an innovator and leader, the product won awards for product and technology innovation in a number of reviews.    Who can argue with that? __ Rebel's Note: My associates asked me to write a series of posts on Company and Product Market Launches - subjects that are near and dear to my heart. Launches are viewed as the Lighting Bolt of our corporate world, the big Ta Da! We get all our materials together in hush, hush secrecy. The problem is that those approaches don't work anymore.

Stop Blaming Marketing!

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They listen to what customers say about their own company and competitors, and they integrate those beliefs into their own.   Marketing has to vet all of those perspectives to derive the reality, the optimum perspective and positioning for the overall company - today and in the future. What a customer says to a sales rep to drive discounts/deals is usually not the best basis for your company's future.   Marketing's role is to keep the company on track for market strategy, positioning and evidence at the macro business level - for all markets.

Profit at Any Cost?

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The company was just too big to check all warranty problems. Businesses are tightening their belts. We all know that. But what happens when that tighter belt puts our customers in jeopardy, when we deliver inferior products and service just to remain profitable? Are we willing to sacrifice our integrity, our values, our sense of right and wrong for the bottom line?    How do we expect our customers to respond? As customers, how are we supposed to respond? I'm faced with just such a dilemma. bought a brand new diesel truck last November. Two months ago (at 7.5K

The Enemy is Out There

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Why is it that when companies begin to struggle, heck, sometimes even when they are doing well - the internal battles are waged? I see Sales and Marketing battles, Marketing and Engineering battles, Sales and Finance battles - everyone blaming others for all the issues, taking little responsibility themselves.    No one gets to badmouth anyone else in the company. Don’t sit there and think your company doesn’t do this - you know exactly what I am talking about. It happens even in the best of companies and we all know it. The enemy is out there folks!

The Ugly Baby (Product) Dilemma

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Holding onto products that have passed their prime is a key reason companies falter. Take a look at the companies that are struggling all around us, right now. You'll find that many of these companies held on to their way of doing business, their favorite products (and customers for those products) for far too long.  The company couldn't see the reality of their situation - that system was unique, but noone cared anymore. The company finally went bankrupt a while back. We become emotionally attached to our products.  Case in Point.

The Problem with Plans

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Picture this. A big company has one last chance to rise from a serious downturn. But the company has lots going for it. We relaunched the company around that game changing solution to widely acclaimed success. Six months later the company is facing tougher times than ever.   BTW - company revenues were increasing according to The Plan, but the company was losing more money than ever and draining cash along the way. This company was positioned to soar again.  watched customer after customer 'light up' as we told our story.

Revenue's Down, Let's Fire Sales

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I met with a former client to discuss his company's current business. In response to their flat (and somewhat declining) revenue, they've cut back their company resources across the board - but they've specifically reduced headcount in sales.    I asked some questions and here's what I learned: The company released the bottom 15% of the sales force, the non-producers. The company also cut all sales resources in their top three emerging target markets.    That surprised me.  This story isn't that unusual.