Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Leap for B2B Branding

Does anyone really believe that B2B buyers are robots?

When you stop to think about it, people who make business-to-business purchase decisions are still people.

They may look stiff and formal in a navy blue business suits with collar and tie, but I'm willing to bet there are multitudes of B2B customers who like to sing in the shower, drive their kids to school and help those same kids look for monsters under the bed.

However, for some strange reason, B2B executives find it difficult to appreciate the qualities people find most appealing in B2B brands are human qualities. Instead they drain any semblance of humanity out of their company with stoic, politically-correct corporatebabble that dominates most B2B websites:

"XYZ Industrial is comprised of many organizational elements with a single purpose: to enable, support and expedite our mission-critical objectives. We provide customized systems and solutions for businesses, organizations and individuals. We work with our valued customers in the creation of synergistic solutions that accurately reflect their operational requirements and our core values of honesty, teamwork, caring, humility and creativity".

If you're a B2B company that wants to be noticed, heard and respected, maybe it's time to consider making a bold leap into creating human connections with people you hope to do business with.

One of the best recent examples, is a company selling virtual phone systems that used chocolate covered grasshoppers, 5,000 FedEx packages and Homeland Security that generated nearly a million YouTube hits and a stir in the marketplace.



The most compelling aspect of the Grasshopper.com re-brand is the lack of focus on the standard "features, advantages, benefits" language, proving that even in B2B environments you need to win the heart before the mind will follow.

And the results are still pouring in.

Turns out, business buyers are just as human as the rest of us.

They may need to be persuaded in different ways, but there will always be a time and place to make an emotional argument that will separate any B2B company from the many competitors who will only ever appeal to logic. Nevertheless, many make the flawed assumption that B2B buyers assume a hyper-rational persona that drains all emotional influencers, leading to dull as dishwater print ads, websites, trade show booths and other marketing collateral.

Do you truly believe people can just "flip the switch" and turn off what makes them human once they walk into the office?

Or do you think B2B companies like Grasshopper.com have identified emotional triggers that help customers take notice and then buy? Could a leap like that work in other B2B categories?

Or would it be safer to pretend B2B customers really do think like robots?



"You can be professional while also ‘keeping it real’ with your customers. By interacting with customers in a less formal way, you’ll build a strong human connection that helps build brand loyalty"

DAVID HAUSER, Co-Founder, Grasshopper.com


You can learn more about Gair's seminars and speaking programs at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/. In the meantime, his book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

If you want the goods on The Seamless Brand and how this team can help sharpen your message and anchor your story, explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#%21/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Seamless Summer 2011

"No more pencils.... no more books...No more teacher's dirty looks! Out for summer! Out till fall, we might not come back at all"
ALICE COOPER


It's that time of year again.

Like many of you, this is the time of year we get ready to trade business casual for shades and flip flops, enjoy a few cold ones and slow down for the summer.

Beginning this week, TSB launches its summer format for July/August, 2010. Regular visitors will notice a posting once a week as we dig into the TSB vault and re-post material that you might want a second look at.

It is summer, afterall.

When the right kind of day is welcome relief for winter-weary spirits.

Summer not only changes the way we approach our work, it also has a way of making the music we enjoy more vivid.

Summer songs are unlike any other.

Once "Schools Out", reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic give way to racing, romance, and rocking good tunes. It is only fitting that today on TSB, we unveil our 2010 list for the Top Five "Songs of Summer".

Our choices are based on three general criteria:

- The song needs to be a Top Ten single on Billboard.
- Reflects summertime values of fun in the sun.
- Comes with a kickass video.

Close, but no cigar honors go to several artists including:

- Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler with his solo effort ...



... as well as ...

- "Summertime Blues" - Eddie Cochrane
- "In the Summertime" - Mungo Jerry
- "Cruel Summer" - Bananarama
- "Surfin' USA" - The Beach Boys
- "Summertime Girls" - Y & T
- "Hot Summer Nights" - John Travolta and Olivia Newton John
- "Soak Up the Sun" - Sheryl Crow
- "Summer in the City" - The Lovin' Spoonful
- "Heat Wave" - Martha and the Vandellas
- "Summer of 69" - Bryan Adams
- "Margaritaville" - Jimmy Buffett

So here it goes ... TSB's Top Five "Songs of Summer":


#5. "Something Like Summertime" - BON JOVI




#4. "California Girls" - DAVID LEE ROTH




#3. "Walking on Sunshine" - KATRINA AND THE WAVES




#2. "All Summer Long" - KID ROCK




#1. "The Lazy Song" - BRUNO MARS



Hope you enjoy many perfect days through July/August when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, lawn mower is broken and the music is rocking!

All summer long.


"Money can't buy you happiness, but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it" DAVID LEE ROTH



You can learn more about Gair's seminars and speaking programs at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/. In the meantime, his book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

If you want the goods on The Seamless Brand and how this team can help sharpen your message and anchor your story, explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Not My Canada


As Canadians we have all been tainted by Vancouver's ugly brush.

What happened in the aftermath of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final will have serious legal, financial social and cultural repercussions for many years to come.

To say, it was bad for Canada's brand as a progressive, peace-loving nation is a gross understatement.



I can't speak for Jimmy Kimmel, but "Vancouver" is not my Canada.

A truer reflection of the kind of Canada I know is the story of the Maeng family in Moncton, N.B., where a community rallies to support hard-working immigrants facing a cruel and misguided federal deportation order. The images in this video aren't nearly as graphic and won't inspire any late-night comics, but they do say something about the true fabric of a nation.



The Maeng story may not receive as much global media attention as the Vancouver riots, but from where I sit, Moncton's reaction to an ordinary family's ordeal says a lot more about this country than the actions of any drunken mob. People in Moncton, and all of New Brunswick responded with a tsunami of tweets and Facebook posting, urging political leaders to take the necessary steps to allow the family to stay in Canada.

"Moncton" is the kind of Canada you would find in any community from Yarmouth to Yellowknife; Truro to Toronto; Ottawa to Owen Sound; Saskatoon to Sherbrooke; Edmunston to Edmonton; Winnipeg to Windsor; Bonavista to Burnaby and all points in between.

In a most symbolic and metaphorical way, "Vancouver" is not my Canada.

But, "Moncton" is.


"There are no limits to the majestic future which lies before the mighty expanse of Canada with its virile, aspiring, cultured, and generous-hearted people"

SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL


You can learn more about Gair's seminars and speaking programs at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/. In the meantime, his book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

If you want the goods on The Seamless Brand and how this team can help sharpen your message and anchor your story, explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More than Words


You've dropped off the kids at school.

Back on the main drag, you are bopping along to the Bee Gees hit "Jive Talkin'", blaring from your radio.

As the tune fades, an announcer cuts in and segues to a commercial.

"We offer fast friendly reliable service at affordable prices. Our friendly & knowledgeable staff is here Monday-Friday 9-6 and Saturday 10-4 for your shopping convenience. Quality selection. Guaranteed lowest prices. Just some of the things that you can depend on and trust from your locally owned & operated value center. Convenient payment plans available. Some restrictions apply – on limited time offers. So call or drop in and experience service, selection and the difference quality makes!"

Never once, have you slammed on the brakes and turned the car around just to head to a store promising "friendly and knowledgable staff".

Later that same day, you arrive home, fire up the computer and search the latest job postings.

As kids focus on homework at the kitchen table, you stumble across an ad that reads like this:

"XYZ Company is currently seeking an energetic, enthusiastic, team player to assume the role of Executive Assistant to the President & CEO. Working with the President & CEO, the incumbent will be responsible for providing a high level of administrative support. This dynamic and rewarding career opportunity offers a challenging, fast-paced, results-oriented environment, ideal for positive, self-motivated and energetic multi-taskers with pro-active problem-solving abilities. You will need strong communication and computer skills, be able to work independently while exceeding customer and key stakeholder expectations".

Never once, when you were growing up, wondering about your dream job, did you aspire to become an "incumbent".

If you really stop to think about it, do any of these one-size fits-all radio ads or generic job postings ever, ever, ever register on your personal give-a-shit-a-meter?

Whether you are trying to sell a product or service or attract top-notch talent, your choice of language will either work for you or against you. The words you choose will either attract, repel or create indifference in the mind of the woman you are trying to speak to.

Choked by decades of hype, white noise and the emptiness of adspeak, your prospect, customer or future employee is hungering for words she can actually believe in. Inundated by more than 5,500 advertising messages a day, her brain has been trained many times over to tune out anything that comes across as "blah, blah, blah".

She is starving to feel something real.

Words that resonate within her soul.

She is the same person who was stirred by the aching words of a song written by the Brothers Gibb back in 1968 that promised:

"It's only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away".

What about your brand?

Is it carefully selecting from a cornucopia of words that seamlessly link your brand promise to something that actually matters? Or is it merely recycling the same old politically correct, guaranteed-not-to-offend, regurgitated crap that everyone else spits out?

Is it time for your brand to embrace a new language?

With words she craves?


"This world has lost its glory, let's start a brand new story now, my love.
Right now, there'll be no other time and I can show you how, my love"

THE BEE GEES


P.S. .... This topic requires no further explanation:




You can learn more about Gair's seminars and speaking programs at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/. In the meantime, his book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

If you want the goods on The Seamless Brand and how this team can help sharpen your message and anchor your story, explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Branding Guidelines: Brick by Brick


Branding can be a dicey subject for small to mid-size companies.

For some, it feels like you roll those bones and take your chances.

Branding is more readily associated with the world of packaged goods or the Fortune 500. Branding books (including my own) use examples like Apple, Starbucks or Southwest Airlines; stories that don’t always resonate with small to medium sized enterprises, business-to-business companies, or industrial product firms. But, these types of companies share more in common than you think with some of the biggest brands in the world.

Take for example, Proctor & Gamble.

The world's largest advertiser.

In 2010, the estimated total spend from P&G was $8.6 billion. It works out to nearly 11% of net sales produced by 24 brands, including Tide detergent, Pampers diapers, and Gillette razors. When it comes to sheer numbers, Proctor & Gamble sets the gold standard when it comes to spending money on advertising.

Knowing those numbers will give you added perspective on a legendary story about a former P&G chairman. It seems this chairman was addressing a high-level advertising conference many years ago, discussing the billions spent annually on marketing, advertising, sponsorships, coupons and many other promotional programs.

The chairman announced to all the other suits in the room, “I’m positive we waste half the money we spend”.

The he paused and admitted with a sigh, “I just don’t know which half.”

Whether your company is a global behemoth like Proctor & Gamble investing $8.6 billion or a small enterprise forking over $8.6 thousand dollars, no one wants to waste half of their advertising budget. More often than not, this is precisely what happens when business owners and executives fail to grasp several guidelines that provide the foundation for successful brand building.

Three things to keep in mind:

#1. Your choice of Message will ALWAYS be more critical than your choice of Media.

Think less about who you are targeting and how often your message is getting out there. Success in this game is less about "frequency" and "reach" and much more about what you actually say in terms of a "message". What can you be best in the world/country/state/province/city at and can you back it up? In what ways are you remarkably different from your competitors and how is that difference relevant to your customer?

#2. Your Message must be DRIVEN by emotion; supported through logic.

Will the message be one that an audience actually cares about and see as relevant? Or will you spread marketing fluff that sounds like "fast, friendly, reliable service at low prices', "we have a full range of products to meet all your needs" and "come and meet our friendly and knowledgeable staff". These phrases lost all meaning and credibility more than a decade ago. No one gives a rats ass about your staff and how helpful they are. That's a given.


#3. The level of COURAGE it will take to develop an emotionally-driven message and share it with your customers and employees.


Do you have the courage to make that leap - even without having all the facts? The courage to face complaints about your ads or videos? The courage go out on a limb, take a calculated risk, listen to your gut and follow your heart?

Never forget, fortune favors the brave.

No matter the size of the firm or whether it falls into the B2B category, any company can apply these principles. Just the other day, I stumbled on to the story of Acme Brick, founded in 1891 and based in Fort Worth, Texas. Acme sells most of its products through the building trades and a good portion of their $1.5 million marketing budget goes into strongly branded tactics including partnerships with pro sports celebrities and teams, supporting charitable causes or PR events (like setting the Guinness World Record for building the world's largest brick as pictured above). In 1995, Acme Brick also introduced an unheard of 100-year producht guarantee (3 to 5 years was the industry standard) to further differentiate themselves from others.

These brand-building efforts have paid off.

A 1998 survey of homebuyers showed Acme had achieved 84 percent brand preference when no other supplier was above 10 percent in their regional market. In fact, Acme estimates their brand is worth an extra ten cents for every dollar's worth of Acme brick sold and $250 in incremental revenue per home. The company also believes about $20 million of Acme's annual $200 million brick sales represents R.O.I. on the yearly investment Acme makes in brand-building. In other words, a 13-fold return on an average annual budget of $1.5 million.

Acme Brick has proven a strong message (100-year guarantee, for example), harnessed with emotion (you'll see in a minute) and the courage to put it out there (watch the video) can pay off in spades.



If you can create a brand of distinction out of a brick, can you see how almost anything can be branded to create value? Acme's efforts may not be on the same level as P&G's "Old Spice Guy", but the same principles hold true when it comes to giving any product or service a little more sex appeal.

A brand of distinction is so reliable and rare that people spread stories about them.

A brand of distinction will never be viewed as just another brick in the B2B or small business wall.

Regardless of size or industry, brands of distinction enjoy a tremendous competitive advantage since word of mouth and referrals are still the most powerful form of advertising. But, the reverse is also true. If your company wears little more than a badge of ownership, your competitors have a major opportunity to beat you to the punch and start building their brand of distinction.

Brick by brick.


"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently"

WARREN BUFFETT


P.S.... Can't help but think of diehard Bruins fans like Mark Eagles, who must be flying like Bobby Orr today after Tim Thomas takes Boston to 7th heaven.


You can learn more about Gair's seminars and speaking programs at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/. In the meantime, his book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

If you want the goods on The Seamless Brand and how this team can help sharpen your message and anchor your story, explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sharp Stick of Transparency


Time and Money.

You can't spend one without saving the other.

Risk and Reward.

You can't have more of one without increasing the other.

These centuries-old truths serve us two sides of the same coin. Rest assured, these truths will still hold true long after we're all dead and gone.

Thanks to technology, the latest such double-sided truth to permanently enter our world is Transparency and Accountability. Like it or not, these values now walk hand-in-hand in our 21st century Digital Economy. Since the web has made broadcasters of us all, the illuminating light of transparency can be directed toward your personal or professional brand at anytime from anywhere. While this represents a potential loss of privacy it also demand a higher degree of public accountability.

Which may not be a bad thing if it exposes less-than-ethical business dealings.

It has become increasingly difficult to hide secretive and shady schemes under the glaring light of social media exposure. At one time, only traditional media could blow the whistle on shysters and slimeballs, but today anyone with a Facebook account can get into the act.

Never has a double-edged sword been so painfully sharp.

Case in point:

Noticed a posting the other day about a Moncton-based car dealership I have never done business with. The less-than-flattering article is now doing more damage than any full-page newspaper ad or 30-second radio spot can hope to repair. Just to get a sense of how accurate the article may be, I re-posted it on my own Facebook profile and was surprised to see the level of criticism and contempt it inspired.

Rodney LeBlanc:
As soon as I saw the heading...knew exactly which dealership was being mentioned. Have heard dirty tactics more than once...my uncle was a victim.
23 hours ago · Like

Glen Munro: The practice they have in place is disgusting
23 hours ago · Like

Sean Andrus: It's really happening here...not to me but to one of my old employees. She couldn't afford to lose the $500, was trying to reduce payments - instead she gained an extra $500 in credit card debt!
23 hours ago · Like

Roger Surette:
My wife bought a car from them about a year and a half ago and the service she has got since the purchase has been horrible!!! It seems that they are out for the money and not customer satisfaction...
22 hours ago · Like

Remi Boudreau: Just recently bought a car there and can't say enough about how frustrating the experience was... I'm good with numbers and knew aprox how much I should be paying monthly since I had the price of the vehicle and the cost of returning our ol...See More
19 hours ago · Like

Larry Busey:
I bought a car there. They screwed me over, too. All kinds of shady tactics, similar to when David Puddy yanked Seinfeld's insider deal. I've also heard numerous stories. This is not an isolated incident/issue.
13 hours ago · Like


Words and phrases like "victim", "frustrating" and "David Puddy" are not what the owners of any business have in mind when they think about how they're going to attract more business. The dealership in question serves as a great example of how every business needs to pay attention to what the Cluetrain Manifesto predicted as far back as 1999.

"All markets are conversations".

Here in Moncton, New Brunswick, this two-sided coin of transparency and accountability can force governments to clean up administrative messes made by bungling bureaucrats (as in the recent case of the Maeng family); or it can severely limit the number of customers who might otherwise be tempted (through advertising) to do business with your company. If its happening in Moncton, its happening everywhere.

Power - real power - has never been more in the hands of ordinary people.

Conversations are taking place whether you and I like it or not, but the word is getting out much louder and faster than ever before. And while it represents a potential loss of privacy does the higher degree of public accountability make it worth the trade?

How is your brand holding up under this level of scrutiny?

Can it withstand the sharp stick of truth that transparency demands?


"There is not a crime, there is not a dodge, there is not a trick, there is not a swindle, there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy"

JOSEPH PULITZER


P.S. ... Can you imagine it getting much worse than seeing your brand compared to David Puddy?



You can learn more about Gair's seminars and speaking programs at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/. In the meantime, his book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

If you want the goods on The Seamless Brand and how this team can help sharpen your message and anchor your story, explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/. You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Brace For Impact


Until yesterday, I had never heard of Ric Elias.

And I highly suspect you hadn't either.

But, there is something about his message that struck me.

And now I am wondering how it will impact you ...



How will Ric's message impact your day?

Is there something you need to get done?

Today.

Is there someone you are thinking about?

Right now.


"Catch that magic moment. Do it right here and now. It means everything"

VAN HALEN



Would you like Gair to add snap, crackle and pop with thought-provoking substance to your organization or event? Details on his game-changing keynotes, seminars and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/

If you are curious to know more about his moderately bent philosophy that drives it all, Gair's book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this award-winning team can help your company or organization zig while everyone zags, why not zip on over with a simple click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/.

You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hiring Lessons from the NFL


You are about to make a key hire.

Someone you hope will figure in your organizational plans for a long time.

After an exhaustive recruiting and evaluation process, two top-notch perfectly qualified candidates have emerged as finalists. Experts who know them both say you could flip a coin between them.

Doesn't matter if it lands on heads or tails, you still win.

This scenario is precisely what unfolded in 1998 when two quarterbacks were regarded as the cream of the crop in the NFL Draft. The Indiannapolis Colts, picking first, spent many months evaluating the choice between the two. The San Diego Chargers, picking second, felt no matter who the Colts took, they were still in great shape.

Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Anderson of the New York Times said before the draft, "Someday these two [quarterbacks] might be what John Elway and Dan Marino are now--on the way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame together after being drafted in 1983 together."

The Chargers GM at the time, Bobby Beathard was quoted as saying, "You can go five to ten years without getting a chance to draft a quarterback like this".

History will show the Colts selected Peyton Manning with the #1 choice while the Chargers gleefully welcomed Ryan Leaf to the team with a four-year contract worth $31.25 million that included an $11.25 million signing bonus.

At the time, this was the highest amount of money ever guaranteed to an NFL rookie.

History will also show that while Manning has fashioned a Hall of Fame career that includes one Super Bowl triumph, Leaf is widely regarded as the greatest draft bust ever. Not just one of the greatest. The biggest flop ever. Period.

It would be easy to blame scouts and management for what happened as the highly-touted Leaf seemd to self-destruct in San Diego. In his rookie year, his attitude was called into question as he nearly fought an angry fan, often screamed at reporters and faked an injury to leave practice to golf. After threee seasons, he was released by the hapless Chargers before bouncing through Tampa Bay, Dallas and Seattle. Once hailed as a better prospect with a stronger arm and more potential upside than Manning, Leaf was out of football after 5 years.

San Diego lost millions and face.

Indiannapolis became home to "Peyton's Place".

Leaf's legacy?

One of disgrace.



But, what does this story mean for your business and the way you recruit and hire talent?

For openers, it helps if you understand that each NFL team will invest millions of dollars and countless man-hours to professionally scout and evaluate talent. With the possible exception of the NASA screening process for astronauts, few organizations spend as much time, money and effort up front to try and make the right hire. The Manning-Leaf story illustrates how difficult ANY hiring process is when it comes to the UNPREDICTABLE nature of trying to predict human behaviour. This is an imperfect science at best. If the best recruiters and evaluators in the world can't get it right 100% of the time, does it make sense to expect whoever does the hiring in your organization to be flawless when it comes to picking the right people?

While convenient to point fingers at the person(s) doing the hiring, the role of the coach in any successful hire can't be discounted either. When Manning joined the Colts, the respected Jim Mora was in charge for his first three seaons followed as head coach by Hall-of-Famer Tony Dungy. It can be argued that while Manning enjoyed the benefit of stability and expertise from his head coaches, Leaf did not. In fact, San Diego went through thre different head coaches in each of Leaf's three seasons and neither Kevin Gilbride, June Jones or Mike Riley ever landed another NFL head coaching job. Nor will they ever be confused with coaching greats such as Lombardi, Walsh and Dungy.

It has been my experience as a business coach and consultant that hiring is but one aspect of the on-boarding process and more time, care and attention needs to be paid to how talent is nurtured and developed once when a person joins an organization. Could the track Ryan Leaf ultimately followed in the NFL have been changed if he had the opportunity to play for someone like Tony Dungy? In football and in business, the performance of any player can be impacted in a huge way by the coaching and leadership qualities of the person in charge. But far too often, narrow-minded owners and managers complain they "can't find any good people" without ever stopping to ask whether they are part of the problem in the first place.

These are the same owners and managers who frequently turn to HR consultants and headhunters promising their clients the world. Its as though the latest "behavioural-based interview techniques" or "effective screening programs" will be the magic bullets that achieve hiring results.

Few in the hiring and headhunting business will point out to their clients the many other factors that impact the development of talent. Coaching is but one of many, taking into account the role the deeper issues of culture and the brand itself plays in terms of who it attracts, who it repels and why that would even matter to certain candidates. In other words, you might have a computer programmer with superior skill sets who might shine at Microsoft, but bomb at Apple. Again, experience has shown the majority of companies advertising for top employees are doing so without fully understanding who they are in the first place and what would make a perfect match.

Beginning with knowing who you are as a brand is vital to the development of any successful recruiting and retention strategy. One of several NFL teams that has this core component down pat are the three-time Super Bowl champions out of New England.

The Patriots have been one the most dominant teams of the past decade. In an era where dynasties aren't supposed to happen, New England has been a dynasty team. And it all starts with the brand values that head coach Bill Belichick brings to the business of recruitment and retention.

When assessing talent, Belichick and the Patriots will place a higher value on intangible soft skills and whether an athlete is "right for our system"; selfless, self-motivated, with the humility to take direction and mesh well with others in the locker room. He and his scouts are less concerned with tangible, physical skills like those revealed in benchpress numbers, vertical leaps and time in the 40-yard dash. In other words, the Patriots are looking much deeper than what's on the resume or what they get fed in the first interview.

Belichik knows even the most talented player in the draft will fail without proper development while someone with less obvious physical skills can still shine in the right system. How else does one explain what happened when the Patriots selected future Hall-of-Famer Tom Brady with the next to last pick (199th overall) in the 2000 NFL Draft? While Brady is a bona fide super star, he is not a prima donna. Despite three Super Bowl rings, he is still a willing student who listens to his coaching staff while leading is teammates with the grit of a grizzled war veteran.

How would Brady fare with another team?

Great question since Pats players tend to look great in New England, but seldom perform well after they've been released or traded. Perhaps, its because Belichick is drafting players that already fit the mold which makes them perform in his system.

While Ryan Leaf has been barbecued in the media for more than a decade, few will call the San Diego Chargers on the carpet for failing this talented individual on two fronts:

#1. Not having their own brand values set in stone to guide the way they recruit and develop talent.

#2. For not having their own coaching ducks in a row.

In business and in sports, you have to select players you can coach, but you also have to coach the players you draft.

If that isn't part of your hiring philosophy, failure is just a Ryan Leaf away.


"On a football team, it's not the strength of the individual players, but it is the strength of the unit and how they all function"

BILL BELICHIK


Would you like Gair to add snap, crackle and pop with thought-provoking substance to your organization or event? Details on his game-changing keynotes, seminars and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/

If you are curious to know more about his moderately bent philosophy that drives it all, Gair's book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this award-winning team can help your company or organization zig while everyone zags, why not zip on over with a simple click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/.

You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Branding Without Advertising


Can you build a compelling brand without spending enormous amounts of money of advertising?

The answer is yes.

Costco does it.

So does Wizard Academy.

While we're at it, let's throw in Starbucks, Facebook and Google.

They may not purchase traditional newspaper, radio or TV ads, but Google, for example, invests heavily in its brand. The home page offers nothing but a search box and links to their services. That strategic decision sacrifices hundreds of millions of dollars in potential ad revenue, but Google weighs that against building its brand around something more important than cold hard cash.

They have put customer needs first.

They have narrowed their focus.

So much so that Google now owns a single word.

"Search".

To the point where "to Google" has synonomous with the word "search". Its now part of our everyday language, used as a verb instead of a noun.

They also have a brand promise that supports their story.

"Don't Be Evil".

There was a time when ad agencies and media companies also served as chief brand architects for their clients. That was back in the 20th century when the media-industrial complex reigned supreme and audiences were easier to reach. But, that era packed up and left long ago, leaving many design firms and media suppliers forced to reconile the fact that high level brand strategy that guides creative efforts are being developed elsewhere.

In today's 21st century Digital Economy, brand strategy requires a fundamental knowledge of business operations, financial engines, competitive landscape, story development and internal culture. In the long and twisting dirt road to building a brand, external messaging usually occurs late in the process - and ONLY if its needed.

While ad agencies and media companies tend to focus on producing spots for short-lived campaigns, great brands are more enduring because the compelling story they represent has to transcend any and all platforms or potential campaigns. And when they do make strategic decisions to invest in on-the-ground advertising or marketing tactics, well-branded companies enjoy better results thanks to a sharper message that lands with a resounding THUD! in the mind of the customer.

Brands of distinction make selling easier.

With or without the ads.

A great example is Brock Wagner’s Saint Arnold Brewing Company. This Texas-based micro-brewery has made suds according to European tradition, without the additives and preservatives common in mass-produced beers. And when you hear Brock's story, it just might resonate with part of your own brand-building efforts.



Brands of distinction like Saint Arnold are built on much more than eye-popping logos, clever taglines or sweeping mission statements. To play at the highest level, brands of distinction share a single word in common.

Trust.

In other words, the ability and capacity to not only make a promise, but to keep it.

Hundreds of companies have blown billions of dollars on Super Bowl ads and other major events trying to build a brand. However, buying your way into the hearts of customers may not be the most effective strategy.

Is there something big companies like Google and smaller ones like Saint Arnold have done with their brand-building efforts you could replicate?

Do you have a remarkable product or service, 100% focused on what your ideal customer cares about most?

Have you been laser-focused on crafting a timeless "story" and enduring message people will actually believe in?

It is possible to create a compelling brand while spending relatively little on advertising. Much tougher to advertise your way to the top without a meaningful brand to take you there.

If you do have to advertise, are you convinced your brand is capable of squeezing every ounce of value out of those precious marketing dollars?

Otherwise, you'll piss that ad budget away like cheap, watered-down beer.


"It is not slickness, polish, uniqueness, or cleverness that makes a brand a brand. It is truth"

HARRY BECKWITH


Would you like Gair to add snap, crackle and pop with thought-provoking substance to your organization or event? Details on his game-changing keynotes, seminars and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/

If you are curious to know more about his moderately bent philosophy that drives it all, Gair's book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this award-winning team can help your company or organization zig while everyone zags, why not zip on over with a simple click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/.

You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tim's Cup Runneth Over


He doesn't win on style.

He has never been viewed as a physical specimen.

His technique will never be taught at any schools that teach the craft. In fact, teachers routinely tell their students he is the exception, not the rule.

His business approach is, in a word, unorthodox.

But, business has never been better for the NHL's real-life Rocky Balboa. A former career minor-leaguer, he is now four wins away from leading his team to their first Stanley Cup title since Richard Nixon sat in the White House.

Unlike his Vancouver Canucks counterpart Roberto Luongo, few in the hockey world thought Tim Thomas would even play in the NHL, let alone become a Vezina Trophy winner and Stanley Cup finalist. While Luongo was a high first-round pick quickly ushered into the NHL, Thomas traveled a longer, much harder road. Rolling out of the blue-collar town of Flint, Michigan, "the Tank" is one of the most inspirational stories in the history of the sport.

Unconventional to a fault, Thomas practices yoga as a way to improve flexibility and keep his mind clear.

His approach tends to frustrate opponents like Tampa Bay's Steve Downie.



This flip-flopping, puck-stopping father of three may never satisfy the many high-browed hockey critics who question his technique (or lack thereof), but there can be no questionning his results. As a former sportscaster who called over 1000 games in the American Hockey League, I've seen my share of goalies who look great in warm-up and appear technically flawless, but don't win a lot.

Tim Thomas just stops shots.

And wins games.

Despite his creds and tireless work ethic, hockey purists still doubt this Thomas.

But when he and the Bruins hoist Lord Stanley, they'll be hard pressed to ever doubt Thomas again.



The 2011 Stanley Cup Finals will be the 118th year teams have competed for hockey's holy grail. The Vancouver Canucks, who entered the league in 1970, have been to the big dance twice, but have never won the Cup. The Boston Bruins last sipped champagne in 1972.

Game 1 is Wednesday night in Vancouver.

We're picking Bruins in 6.

What about you?


"I’ve worked for my whole life, you know to get to this point in the Stanley Cup. But you don’t dream of getting to the Stanley Cup Finals, you dream of winning the Stanley Cup. So there’s still more work to be done"
TIM THOMAS


Would you like Gair to add snap, crackle and pop with thought-provoking substance to your organization or event? Details on his game-changing keynotes, seminars and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/

If you are curious to know more about his moderately bent philosophy that drives it all, Gair's book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this award-winning team can help your company or organization zig while everyone zags, why not zip on over with a simple click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/.

You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Who Hates Your Brand?


What happens when you force people to choose sides?

Some will love you for it.

Others will hate your guts.

Same is true in the wide-frickin' open world of brand strategy where you have to decide who you choose to lose.

Otherwise, no one is really going to love your brand anyway.

Business owners are often shocked to discover their companies are not $100 dollar bills. Their products and services won't be universally liked by everyone. That's why you won't find any "brands of distinction" operating in what's called the "mushy middle"; a cliche-infested swamp of sameness that exists between the razor-edge extremes of love and hate.

For a brand to be effective, it has to be bold.

It has to stand for something.

And be willing to plant a flag on top of mountain it will die for.

Even at the risk of offending potential customers.

The best brands in the world never got to be that way by playing it safe or the role of Switzerland. Neutrality is not what great brands are made of.

Which is why it's worth studying the new Miracle Whip campaign, which has the gonads to say you either love us or hate us.





The Laws of Magnetic Polarity dictate that a force which attracts one substance, will also repel another with equal force. In brand development, it means your ability to attract legions of customers cannot exceed the potential to repel.

Isn't it intriguing how a simple food preference can evolve into an epic battle between the forces of good and evil?

Products and services represent the tangible in terms of WHAT you offer customers. But, a brand represents the intangible elements that signal HOW you are different and WHY they should choose you. Successful brands can help a failed product, but a successful product cannot help a failed brand.

When it comes to developing brand strategy, there’s no yin without yang. You can’t be all things to all people and build a legacy-driven, brand of distinction. The best you can do is wear a badge of ownership, virtually interchangeable with many other competitors in your category.

Which is why so many companies are still mired in the “mushy middle”, afraid to take a stand. Unwilling to risk pissing someone off.

Whe it comes to your own brand, can you identify who really does hate you or should hate you? Is there something your brand can adapt from the Kraft campaign with Miracle Whip?

Does it increase or diminish the value of this brand? How much buzz do you think they would they have generated with a "kumbaya, everyone loves us”, Caspar Milquetoast-type campaign?

Personally, I applaud Kraft for rolling the dice and forcing consumers to "get off the fence" when it comes to the polarizing taste of Miracle Whip. While I'm not a big fan of the product (and will only consume a light spreading under duress), I do see the wisdom in drawing a line in the branding sand.

Could developing an authentic (seamless) brand also mean exposing its less than flattering sides of the product and embrace warts-and-all reality?

Is this a card your customer would love to see you play?


“Better to be hated for who you are, than to be loved for someone you are not”
AUTHOR UNKNOWN


Would you like Gair to add snap, crackle and pop with thought-provoking substance to your organization or event? Details on his game-changing keynotes, seminars and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/

If you are curious to know more about his moderately bent philosophy that drives it all, Gair's book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this award-winning team can help your company or organization zig while everyone zags, why not zip on over with a simple click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/.

You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ultimate Warriors




May 19, 2011.

A Facebook message worth reading tumbles into my inbox.

From my good friend and fellow professional speaking "brother" Martin Latulippe.

The title said it all:


"The Ultimate Teacher is the Eternal Student"

Recognizing the value in what Martin wrote, I immediately called and asked if we could feature it as a TSB Guest Post in advance of Thursday's event in Moncton, N.B. featuring "Chicken Soup for the Soul" legend Jack Canfield.

And it is in that spirit, we invite you to enjoy the thoughts of best-selling author and professional speaker, Martin Latulippe CSP:


On May 26th in Moncton, New Brunswickers will have the fantastic opportunity to hear Jack Canfield, a man recognized as the personal and professional development industry’s number 1 success coach in North America.

As the author of over a hundred bestselling books, Jack Canfield is by far the expert who can best clarify the steps to take to incorporate winning habits into your personal and professional life. As the ultimate success teacher, I feel that what sets him apart from the other professional conference speakers is the fact that he has always remained a student of success.

I still remember my first meeting with Jack Canfield. It was in 2002 and it was the first time I had taken part in the annual conference of the National Speakers Association (NSA), where all the conference speakers, authors, trainers and coaches get together once a year to share experience and knowledge. I remember it as if it were yesterday that this man came and asked me if he could sit next to me.When I looked up my heart stopped.

I had seen this man hundreds of times in books, magazines and Internet conferences. I had read his books, I had seen his conferences and I knew he was a true legend in our industry. It was Jack Canfield in person! He sat next to me and immediately we started talking to each other. To be honest, I was so nervous that it was very hard for me to concentrate. Also back then my English was pretty limited. The only words I really mastered were “yes” “no” “toaster” and “I love to ski-doo!”.So he was the one carrying the conversation and – to my great surprise – he was sincerely interested in my projects and with what I had to say. I found it hard to believe that Jack Canfield could be interested in what I had to say. Shortly after our little discussion, the training session started, he thanked me and I was then able to witness an experience that would strongly influence my career.

There were about a hundred of us in the room listening to the trainer and Jack Canfield was probably the only one taking notes. I don’t mean that he took down a few notes, but rather some fifteen pages of notes throughout the 60-minute session.I couldn’t help but ask myself why a man like this, who had sold over 125 million books, would take so many notes. In the entire room, he was probably the man who least needed to take notes!

So, following the training session, I nervously asked him why he had taken so many notes. He looked at me with a big smile and said, “It is just as difficult to remain a student of success as it is to become a teacher of success! At training sessions, I always strive to listen from the perspective of a student. I like to think that it makes me a better teacher. Too many people participate in these sessions thinking they’ve already heard this or that. I always listen to a session by asking myself the following questions: ‘what has this person said that maybe I’ve forgotten to use in my life? What could I improve in my life with respect to the points the trainer is discussing? What actions should I take after the conference to grow from this session?’ ”

I was totally hypnotized by the beginning of his answer, “it is just as difficult to remain a student of success as it is to become a teacher of success!” I think the same can be said about our daily lives. So many people stop being students of their life, their dreams and their passions. What he’d just summed up in a few words was probably the element that has helped me more than anything else to become an internationally renowned conference speaker and bestselling author.

I must always remain a student of my passions and dreams!It would be hard for me to describe all the lessons for success this man has handed down to me over the years, his bestselling book, The Success Principles, alone holds 64 of them, and they are all small jewels of wisdom. More than just a list of good ideas, Jack has mastered the art of revealing key, unwavering principles that thousands of men and women have always used to become successful. Undoubtedly, the difference between Jack Canfield and other celebrities you may have heard at conferences is that he doesn’t really say what to do to achieve success, but rather he uses a very simplistic approach to teach us how to become successful, which isn’t necessarily easy for everyone.As the great Anthony Robbins said so well: “Jack Canfield’s principles are simple, but the results are extraordinary.”

It’s not every day that we get a chance to see such a talented master of success in our area, so if you don’t have your tickets yet, you can go to www.totalimpact.ca or call 506-878-1544 and give yourself the gift of a day with Jack Canfield. Personally, I'll have the opportunity to share the stage with Jack but most importantly, I will be there taking notes, because a long time ago I learned that it’s just as important to remain a student of life as it is to become a teacher.

MARTIN LATULIPPE, The Potential Awakener





Canfield and Latulippe.

Ultimate students.

Ultimate teachers.

Helping warriors of the light find their way.


"There are essentially two things that will make you wise -- the books you read and the people you meet"
JACK CANFIELD


Would you like Gair to add snap, crackle and pop with thought-provoking substance to your organization or event? Details on his game-changing keynotes, seminars and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/

If you are curious to know more about his moderately bent philosophy that drives it all, Gair's book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this award-winning team can help your company or organization zig while everyone zags, why not zip on over with a simple click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/.

You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fork in the Corporate Video Road


You spend years building a company.

You build a crackerjack team, a loyal following of customers and a solid reputation for having great products and services. Your company grows by leaps and bounds as cash fills its coffers. You wind up with a fistful of business awards and pictured on magazine covers.

And at some point in your company's history, there will be a need to capture the essence of this incredible success story in a corporate video.

Here are two ways a company can go.

Call it a fork in the corporate video road.

Study these two examples and decide which approach you prefer.

Video #1?



or

Video #2?



How do you rate the relative strengths of each video?

Is one more believable than the other?

Which one has more impact?

We really are interested in knowing how you feel about these two very different approaches in sharing a company's story through video.

If you could share your comments below, that would be great. If you would prefer to remain under the radar, you could send a confidential e-mail to gmaxwell@seamlessbrand.com.

And it is your comments that will shape where this story goes next as we explore a deeper subject.




"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart"

NELSON MANDELA


Would you like Gair to add snap, crackle and pop with thought-provoking substance to your organization or event? Details on his game-changing keynotes, seminars and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/

If you are curious to know more about his moderately bent philosophy that drives it all, Gair's book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this award-winning team can help your company or organization zig while everyone zags, why not zip on over with a simple click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/.

You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Markets Are Conversations


Stumbled on to something about a month ago from the Cluetrain Manifesto that still has my brain buzzing.

"All markets are conversations".

Think about it.

Before the media-industrial complex took over, the first markets were filled with talk.

For centuries, the conversations included far more than discussions over products and services.

Throw in news from the Crusades. Gossip about the king. Opinion on the weather and the harvest. Intrigue over the priest and the neighbour's wife. Heated debate over politics and religion.

Merchants in pre-Marconi and printing press markets had little else going for them other than word-of-mouth. Before newspaper, radio and TV, merchants relied on the power of conversations that others were having. As the Cluetrain authors put it, "Buyers spoke directly to each other without the filter of media, the artifice of positioning statements, the arrogance of advertising, or the shading of public relations".

Reputation meant everything. It was the only thing you had.

All that changed when conversation became a one-way street, dominated by the multi-billion dollar marketing and advertising industry. And with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, it's easy to look back and see how one-size-fits-all products that rolled off mass-production lines, required messages to suit the masses.

But that was then.

I am sure you have noticed, the 21st century is not for neat, tidy organized minds.

On any given day, people share 830 million items on Facebook, upload 6.1 million photos to Flickr, add 2.1 million minutes of video to YouTube and send 65 million tweets. According to Google chairman Eric Schmidt, every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003.

It’s messy as hell out there.

Ever since freedom and control shifted back to the consumer.

Looking up a phone number for my dentist the other day and the first website to appear is one that includes no fewer than nine consumer ratings describing her practice. Booking a trip? You can join the conversation on Trip Advisor. Need to make a diaper change when you're lugging an infant through Times Square? Charmin now has an iPhone app that rates and grades clean washrooms.

Yes, markets are conversations.

Now, more than ever.

As Seth Godin explains, "Conversations among the members of your marketplace happen whether you like it or not". But, does that mean all business conversations should be viewed as marketing opportunities?

If conversations are more about listening than talking, who do you see as doing a good job of it in the social media world?

How is your brand doing in terms of engaging in the conversation?

Are you getting with the new program?

Or still stuck in the old?



“A great brand taps into emotions. Emotions drive most, if not all, of our decisions. A brand reaches out with a powerful connecting experience. It’s an emotional connecting point that transcends the product”
SCOTT BEDBURY


Would you like Gair to add snap, crackle and pop with thought-provoking substance to your organization or event? Details on his game-changing keynotes, seminars and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/

If you are curious to know more about his moderately bent philosophy that drives it all, Gair's book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this award-winning team can help your company or organization zig while everyone zags, why not zip on over with a simple click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/.

You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Business Double-Double


The title of the book says it all.

The author has "been there, done that".

He also happens to have a gift for focusing your thoughts on what is truly important in growing a business as opposed to attending to the brush fires of the merely urgent. In other words, when he shares business advice, you do well to listen.

Cameron Herold is the operational genius behind the rocket-fuelled growth of dozens of companies, including 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, which soared from $2 million to $105 million in revenue over six years. I first met Cameron at a conference in Las Vegas a couple years back and it's no surprise to see this hyper-energetic, business wunderkind hit the book market with such a resounding blast. In "Double Double", Cameron pulls no punches in showing you how to take specific steps to doubling revenues and profits, in 3 years or less.

Starting a business is one thing.

Growing it is another.

But it need not be complicated and this is where Cameron's 200-plus page book has nailed it in terms of presenting refreshingly candid and practical advice. There are loads of first-hand examples that explain a lot of "what to do's" and "how to do it", however the most relevant takeaway might also be the most easily overlooked.

And you will find it in Part 1.

Tempted to skip this step?

Do so at your peril.

Part 1 focuses on what Cameron refers to as the "Painted Picture". Shrug this off and you will remain stuck operating in the weeds of tactics without ever seeing the trees of the strategic forest. The "Painted Picture" is an incredibly powerful tool and if you only implement one thing out of the whole book, this should be it.

Cameron also details specific thoughts and actions to take on reverse engineering goals, the role culture plays in hyper-growth, how to hire for attitudinal and skills fit, as well as marketing on a lean budget through the strategic use of free public relations. If there is a consistent theme throughout, it's one of how much value the author provides in terms of insight and action steps required to double revenues and profits in three years or less.

I have been fortunate enough to have met Cameron and facilitate a workshop with him, so I can confidently say he is one of those business authors and mentors worth paying attention to. With "Double-Double" you can dramatically shorten your entrepreneurial learning curve with more than 20 years of market-tested knowledge, first-hand experience and practical advice.

And my advice right now is to not only buy Cameron's book, but implement what he is writing about.

Starting with a "Painted Picture".


"Without a strong culture there will be no foundation for your company's rapid growth. Culture is tied to all your goals and projects. It is the background of your Painted Picture. Culture trumps process any day"
CAMERON HEROLD


Would you like Gair to add snap, crackle and pop with thought-provoking substance to your organization or event? Details on his game-changing keynotes, seminars and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/

If you are curious to know more about his moderately bent philosophy that drives it all, Gair's book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this award-winning team can help your company or organization zig while everyone zags, why not zip on over with a simple click and explore http://www.seamlessbrand.com/.

You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/seamlessbrand or press the "like" button and plug into The Seamless Brand on Facebook - http://ow.ly/3VW68

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Something Rotten in the State of Colchester?


Does this story remind you of a Shakesperian play?

The plot involves a small town Chamber of Commerce, struggling to balance the increasingly opposing and hostile forces of MLS and Private Sale real estate.

On the one hand, the local Chamber is more than happy to enroll the Private Sale franchise as a member, take their cheque and place them in the real estate category. But, when it comes time to handing out the hardware for year end awards, the story changes.

And the drama unfolds.

The owner of the PropertyGuys.com franchise in Truro, Nova Scotia,was nominated in the real estate category in the annual "Best of Colchester" competition. But when Daina Hernden's clients visited the site to vote, there was no listing for her company. Despite owning a fair chunk of the listings in her market, Hernden has been told by the Chamber of Commerce that her company doesn't belong in the same category as full fledged real estate agencies.

It just so happens that the president of the Truro and District Chamber of Commerce is also a licensed realtor. Given the optics, it only adds fuel to the fire of discriminatory allegations. You can read the full account of the story and the readers comments here.

Suddenly, the spectre of full-fledged intrigue, scheming and plotting, begins to rear its ugly head. One can't help but be reminded of "Hamlet." Act I, Scene 4, when Marcellus utters, "something is rotten in the state of Denmark", having just seen the ghost of the late king.

For what it's worth, here are some factors to consider:

- Having served as an active Chamber volunteer for over a decade which included two terms on the Board of Directors, I find it difficult to comprehend what looks to be a most hypocritical position taken by the Truro Chamber. I know for a fact, the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce and others across the country, have had no issue singling out Canada's private sale mavericks for awards and accolades, often inviting company executives to speak at year end galas.

- It doesn't surprise me in the least to see Daina Hernden ruffling some feathers in Colchester County. After having coached and trained hundreds, if not thousands of entrepreneurs over the past decade or more, Hernden stands out as a real gem in that crowd. Her no-nonsense, "cut through the bullshit" approach and obssessive attention to customer service, has a way of attracting listing volume to her franchise. Not surprisingly she frustrates her competitors, who envy her proven ability to grow market share.

- We have no problem whatsoever, revealing that my company and I have worked for many years with PropertyGuys.com to help this brand in its "David and Goliath" type struggle against the multi-billion dollar MLS machine. TSB can be accused of many faults and flaws. However, hypocrisy won't be among them. Whether we have a vested interest or not should matter little when it comes to the principle of fair and equitable treatment.

Few enjoy the perspective we see from the inside out, but in a cultural sense the PropertyGuys.com brand is very different from many other private and public sector organizations. You would be hard-pressed to find a "CYA" or "every man for himself" mentality. In fact, it is quite the opposite. One of the phrases most often heard over the phone or in hallways sounds like, "don't worry, we've got your back".

Daina Hernden and her PropertyGuys.com franchise has been one of the most recognized by the company at the year-end "Revvy Awards", however, small town politics may prevent that from happening in the "Best of Colchester" competition.

But, as you can now appreciate, TSB makes no apologies for having her back.

And it is in that spirit, that we applaud Daina in her efforts to give consumers viable options to consider when listing their homes in Colchester County.



"Lawless are they that make their wills their law"

SIR WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE


Would you like Gair to add snap, crackle and pop with thought-provoking substance to your organization or event? Details on his game-changing keynotes, seminars and speaking programs can be discovered at http://www.gairmaxwell.com/

If you are curious to know more about his moderately bent philosophy that drives it all, Gair's book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" waits patiently for you at Chapters.ca and Amazon.com.

Get to know Gair on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#%21/gair.maxwell

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