on Effective Marketing
This interview showed me new ways to market my business. It’s a game changer!
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Here’s the Transcript
Hugh: I met G recently, and I was just blown away by the level of his expertise in marketing and the level of the programs he has to offer those of us who are social entrepreneurs. We are working in a vacuum sometimes, and we think everybody ought to clamor to our door. But we really have not developed a marketing strategy to attract those people to the value that we have. G, welcome today.
Gaydon: Thank you for having me.
Hugh: We have a very dedicated group of social entrepreneurs who are changing the world. We don’t have a corporate job by choice because we have a value proposition that is just awesome. But we are stuck. Tell us a little more about your background. Why is it that you are qualified to talk to us about marketing? I know, but give us a little snapshot for people that are listening today.
Gaydon: Marketing is the only thing I have ever done. There’s that. I worked at Ford doing the digital agency movement. This was in 2004-2006; this was before social media if you can imagine. At that time, I was really in charge of building an Internet department, getting CRM up and running. That was back before CRM was common. Everyone knows what a CRM is these days usually.
Hugh: Tell us what that stands for.
Gaydon: Customer Relationship Management software.
Hugh: Is that Ford Motor Company?
Gaydon: Yeah. This was at a regional group of dealerships. I was working for them and basically getting infrastructure in place. The punchline is that I did that for long enough—CRM, website, search engines, all that stuff. I was at the forefront of that. Once I got it set up for them, I knew that everyone else needed it. I started a digital agency. Back then, it wasn’t called a digital agency, but now it is. These days, digital agencies are really commonplace. A lot of companies do websites, search engine optimization, and social media. I was at the forefront of all that. Most people who know my background know that the real driver for what I’m doing is always being on the bleeding edge of the market, the innovation side of the market. When it comes to marketing, I am always looking for where it’s going and try to steal ahead.
Hugh: Let me get this straight. You do things that work in real life. This is not just theory?
Gaydon: Not at all. To give you an idea, I started my company January 1, 2007. It was actually January 2 because the city office wasn’t open January 1. The point is, 2007 was not the greatest year to start a business, it turns out. 2008 rolled in, the recession took its toll, but I grew our company 235% four years in a row. We did 700 client engagements, well over a million dollars. We were having a ball. We were having a good time. What happens was through the middle of a recession and growth, I became one of the top people in my field in the West, as it were, certainly in our state, which is the marketing capital of the universe.
In 2012, I woke up. After having done strategy and digital services for 700 customers, I had really curated a case study. The 700-business case study. I knew what was going on because I was knee-deep in strategic marketing relationships with these 700 businesses. What I did was I compiled the data as it were. I put together the things that I knew were a problem. I knew people were missing. I did what I called root-cause analysis. This goes back to theory of constraints and other things I studied. I did a root-cause analysis to figure out what are the real problems in the SBM or small entrepreneurship space. What are they doing wrong? Who are they hiring? Why are they hiring them? Why are the engagements working? Why are they not working? What happened in 2012 was I wrote a plan to solve those problems. Between then and now, I have stopped those digital services and really dedicated myself to solving the problems I have found.
Hugh: I do a one-day leadership empowerment symposium in one city every month. I am coming to your neighborhood, but I haven’t put it on the schedule yet. But I find there are common things: leader burnout. They are doing way too much. They don’t even have time to think about marketing. Their board is underfunctioning, their staff is not functioning at the level it should, and they are not making the revenue that they need to achieve their vision. You have done this real-life work, which matches with what I’m seeing. We are talking to the leaders of these movements. These people have great ideas. What is the leadership decision? Why shouldn’t someone just hire someone to do marketing and then forget about it? What do leaders need to know about marketing in order to make an intelligent decision about getting someone like you engaged for their enterprise?
Gaydon: The first thing they need to know is that hiring a marketing agency and then turning your back—in other words, outsourcing and allocating your responsibility to grow your organization—doesn’t work. Nine times out of ten, it just does not work. The phrase we like to use is: You cannot outsource what you have given yourself the responsibility to do.
The first question you need to ask is: Who is wearing the CRO or the CMO hat? CRO is Chief Revenue Officer. CMO is Chief Marketing Officer. The point is, somebody has that hat on right this second. Who has that hat? What I am saying in no uncertain terms is if you give that hat to someone who does not work at your company or is dedicated to that function and you give it to an outsource provider… I am not saying you can’t bring in a part-time CMO or CRO that serves that purpose that is technically a 1099. That’s fine; that can work. To hand it to an agency and think they will run the growth of your company the way you want it to is fallacious at best. So who wears the CRO hat?
If that person is defined, the next question is: Do they have the skills to play the role? I like to follow that up with a little bit of philosophy. At the end of the day, Peter Truckers’ quote rings in my ears, and it should ring in everyone’s ears who is listening to this call. “The business enterprise has two and only two basic functions: marketing and innovation. All the rest are costs.” The spirit of what he is trying to say is the purpose of the enterprise is to gain a customer. Marketing’s job is to gain a customer. I use customer loosely. We are talking customer, client, patient, donor, whatever it means. I’ll use customer loosely. The point is that is the purpose of your enterprise. If you have a social enterprise and the purpose of it is not to make a profit, that’s fine. This isn’t capitalism necessarily for you. But you will never change the world with your social entrepreneurship if you can’t make money. You can’t accomplish your mission without the cash, and you can’t get the cash without the marketing.
We say marketing in academic terms. Marketing is the process by which we take what we have to the market. It’s not advertising, it’s not PR, and it’s not sales. It’s the holism of all of that. How are you going to get what you have to the audience you want to have it? The science of that is really the spirit of what I do. It’s your responsibility unless you have given it to somebody else. In that case, we are talking to that person. But the conversation needs to have a place where the buck stops. Somebody is wearing the hat. That’s where I start.
Hugh: You have distinguished a number of different things. For 30 years, I have worked with charities doing my vision of strategic planning, which I call a solution map. Where do you want to be, and how are you going to get there? A traditional component is the same components for normal companies, but it is modified for charities. Part of it is realizing that nonprofit is a tax classification, not a philosophy. The other one is to build into this marketing strategy, which is not an area of my expertise. That is part of why we are talking today. I do have other collaborators in experts and sales and PR. People tend to confuse all of those things. You have distinguished what those are.
You highlighted a really important leadership paradigm. It’s the piece of delegation. People who are leaders think they know about delegation. Here, do this and they forget it. That’s not delegation. There is a mentoring piece that goes with that. There is a championing piece. There is an accountability installation. There is a follow-up piece, which is way different than micro-managing. Whether you are hiring someone internally or externally, I would like to add that I agree with all of that. We still as leaders want to define the outcomes, and then we work with whomever it is for them to tell us what the metrics are and the tactics we are going to use to get there. We as a leader still nurture and approve that. If we are not engaged at any level as a leader, that is a problem. The trick is not to overfunction and to find someone gifted and to be engaged enough so that we can tweak it. Who knows more about our vision than us? Who understands the outcomes more than us? We as leaders are not clear on the outcomes, and we are not clear on how to delegate or manage a process. How do you feel about that?
Gaydon: I totally agree. From the context of marketing, I see the problems that you are talking about but from the marketing angle. That’s the lens that I view things from because that is my subject matter of expertise. Let me make this real tactical for you, Hugh.
Once we define who that CRO/CMO is, and for those of you who are listening, you just felt a tremendous responsibility realizing that that hat is on your head. If that is the case, I want to relieve you because that is the first step: realizing that it is your responsibility. Once you know that, the good news is that the case study I was talking about, with 700 businesses, here is what we found. The CRO/CMO position should be a strategic one. Customer acquisition, donor acquisition, whatever you want to call it, marketing departments function best when there is a strategic person whose responsibility is strategy and high-level decision making. When there is someone who is not charge of strategy and is operational, they are in the weeds. The good news is if you are wearing the CMO hat today, you can do that responsibility with as little as 20-30 minutes a week.
Hugh: That’s awesome.
Gaydon: I have engineered a system for that. I am not saying it’s easy. It took me a long time to build something. But the punchline is that you don’t need to be overwhelmed by the responsibility. You just need to take it seriously. I have built what some people call the CMO’s toolkit to enable that person who is playing the CMO role part-time as it were because they are wearing ten other hats to do that job well. The mistake people make in my world, and I don’t know if it adapts itself to the other areas that you focus on, is they think of the CMO as the end-all be-all. They don’t think of them as the strategic outlet. They think of them as strategy, execution, the kitchen sink. The CMO should not be in the weeds communicating with every single vendor, trying to figure out all the details, editing the site, writing all the copy. That is not what CMOs should be doing. The mistake people make is they think they need marketing, so they think they can hire a CMO. Maybe I can hire a marketing manager. That person inherently has skills. Marketing is too broad to give it to someone and expect them to do all of it. You have to get more intelligent about that hire, that function. Whether you are hiring or not is really irrelevant. The function of that role is really what we are talking about. Strategy versus implementation or management, those are two different things.
When I am looking for a marketing manager, someone to work under a CMO, I look for an ops person, someone who is operationally savvy. This is someone who never lets anything fall through the cracks. They are super OCD. They never show up late. You know the type, right? They are not the person who you peg as a marketing person. They are more of an executive assistant who happens to understand the marketing strategy well enough to take it to execution. Those are the best marketing managers.
The punchline is if you have one of those people, and it was your responsibility to be the CMO, all you have to do is a 30-minute-a-week meeting with a marketing manager who knows how to run marketing, who knows how to do all the tactics. I don’t mean tactics from the perspective of a marketing manager as a copywriter or a programmer or a designer. Those are functions you need to hire out. Outsource those effectively to the right programmer, to the right price. Live with the consequence. Have the marketing manager do all of that. There is a system. It’s almost like you were getting into human capital hierarchy. That is probably pretty similar to what you are talking about.
Hugh: It is. I spent 40 years as a musical conductor, and the image on the podcast is me in my tails. It’s Orchestrating Success. What you just defined is orchestrating success. I would hire the best players. I hired members of the Atlanta Symphony when I was in Atlanta who were very skilled. They were also union members. Downbeats when you start, and two hours later, you get paid for a two-hour gig, and they are either leaving or you are paying overtime. My job as a leader is to define the results and make the most out of them. You don’t micro-manage them. You don’t hire the best oboe player and tell him how to play the oboe. You do tell him what you want and you do shape the process. I bet most people haven’t even thought about a CMO, that it hasn’t even entered their consciousness. To have the best oboe player who knows how to play the oboe, well, they need the music. Maybe it’s not music you wrote. Maybe there is a sketch or some improvisatory piece. It might be jazz. But we have a very rigid structure. We have a very clear outcome, and we know where we are going. It’s my job as a leader. It’s pool leadership; it’s bringing the best out of all of these distinct players. Here is the barrier. “I can’t afford that” is going to be the number one objection. How do you respond to a leader’s comment of, “That sounds great, but I can’t afford that”?
Gaydon: It’s interesting that you would say that because people call me a marketing scientist, and I get accused of being a mathematician because so much of what I do is the mathematics behind the customer acquisition system. In your world, it might be a client or a donor. It doesn’t matter what the nomenclature is, but you need to know the mathematics of your business. If we think of nonprofits in a nonprofit sort of way, they don’t really thrive. If we think of them as businesses, they can thrive. Business economics, venture capitalists call it unit economics, and for this purpose, I would call it acquisition economics. You need to know your acquisition economics. You need to know what a donor or a customer is worth to your business. When you know that number, you can reverse engineer yourself. To say you can’t afford it is saying I got a blindfold on and don’t know mathematics well enough to know what I can spend to acquire more donors and customers, etc. You have to take the blindfold off, expose yourself to the mathematics, and understand that this is a business and it is based on math and it’s really simple. Dollars in, dollars out. In the marketing world, it’s customers in, acquisition cost out. In other words, how much am I willing to pay to get a customer knowing how much they are going to pay me to be a customer? The multiple between what they are worth to you and what you are willing to pay to get them is where the magic is. That is where the private equity firms focus their energy. That is what venture capitalists want to know before they acquire a big company. In your world, it’s probably not any different. You may just have not audited before. But you have an acquisition cost right now. You have a marketing budget right now. You have a CMO right now. You may just not have defined it that way.
Hugh: The social entrepreneurs are the COE, the Chief of Everything. Part of that is their problem. They are trying to be experts in everything, and they are trying to pinch pennies. I am a recovering Scottish Presbyterian. I am just as guilty as anybody. We know how to bend a penny. But there is a practical side to this when we need to find really good people and get out of the way. The reason we don’t have money to do that is because our marketing sucks. The client acquisition of the church or the synagogue would be members or community foundations. We want to have members. Those members are our local charities. They are members in mission. They are members in servant leaders in the community. I abolished the word “volunteer” when I worked with organizations like that because it is a different dumbing-down mindset. We are leaders in action.
Reframing the thinking, even though we are a nonprofit—like I said, it is not a philosophy, it is a tax clarification—it is a tax-exempt charity, it is a social benefit organization. We don’t treat our systems as important as our mission is. Our mission has got to make a huge difference. We dumb down on the money part. With charities, we want to save the whales; we don’t care about money. Wait a minute. You are going to build a car, but you haven’t learned to drive it, and you haven’t put gas in it. How is it going to go anywhere? We need to be good stewards on all the resources, including the cash flow. We can’t achieve our mission without the fuel in the car, which is your cash flow. Churches tend to backpedal on that. Sales is evangelism in the church.
I told you I grew up as a Scottish Presbyterian. The old joke is when you cross a Presbyterian with a Jehovah’s Witness, what you get is someone who knocks on the door with nothing to say. Most of us don’t even knock on the door. I’m not cutting out any particular sect. But there is a pattern of knocking on the door and marketing your message, which is what they do in that denomination. But we don’t do that very well. We are closed in on this enclave. We are not a cloister or a monastery.
Rethinking how we do church and charities and enterprise as a small business owner is where I live. This series of recordings is about leadership paradigms. What you have just uncovered is a huge paradigm. It’s taking it off my plate, finding someone competent, and working with them to let them do what we need to have done. Part of it is getting out of the way, and the other part of this is how to select a good marketing person. Part of my work is working with leaders selecting the right team, whether they are board members, staff, or people like you and me who provide goods and services for this organization.
If somebody is selecting a marketing expert, even for a CMO or higher, what are the questions they should ask?
Gaydon: The question I always ask: Who is in charge of growing the business? In a smaller organization, that is usually easy to answer, whomever that is. May I make two comments before I get to your question?
Gaydon: The question you have to ask yourself is this: Do you actually have a growth goal for the organization? Is that even the topic of conversation? Are we trying to grow membership at our church? That is an example. If that is the case, this is the next question you ask yourself: What would it mean if I were to hit that target? I don’t know what that target is. That is on your plate. Did I hit that target last year? If I did, that’s great. How much did you hope it would have grown last year? My guess is if I grew last year, it probably didn’t grow as much as you wanted it to. If it didn’t grow last year, are you willing to do anything to solve the problem? If you’re not willing to do anything to solve that problem, there isn’t really a lot of what we are talking about that it is going to be able to solve.
So I’m going to say anecdotally that you want to grow membership 10%. For those of you who are listening carefully, you may want to think, “Man, what would it mean for me to grow membership by 10% this year? What would it mean for me to grow membership 10% this month?” I grow businesses up to 235% a year. I know what it means to grow the business over 10% per month. It’s a big deal. You have to ask yourself whether that is actually a goal for you, a realistic target for you, and if you actually want to do it. But it does cost some money. The investment will be worth it.
Hugh: Let me comment on your comment before you answer the question. May I?
Hugh: If somebody is going through my strategy process, somebody is going to go through my goals. We tend to run around and do a lot of stuff as entrepreneurs. We implement tactics in the absence of an overall strategy, which is what we do with marketing as well. We try this and try this and try this, and it didn’t work. I say to people, “I tried to exercise one day last year and it didn’t work, so I stopped.” There is this limited experiment that is also we are doing the tactic piece. What you are talking about is a very important leadership paradigm. Have a plan.
Sorry, that is a commercial for me. If you do your strategy, you will know what your end goals are. That is a great question. I wanted to affirm that question. Let me stop interrupting you.
Gaydon: I love it. I’ll be honest. If you don’t have a growth goal, or if growth is not at the top of your priority list, then they don’t need me. They probably need you, but they don’t need me. I’m the growth guy. I’m the profitable growth guy.
If you do want growth, there is so much data that I have in doing this for 12 years in a case study environment as a marketing scientist figuring out all the reasons why it didn’t work. I know why it didn’t work, Hugh. That’s the punchline. They could hand me that case study and say, “This is what I did. Tell me why it didn’t work.” Within two minutes, I will know why it didn’t work.
A little golden nugget is if you have been in this space long enough, 90% of marketing activities that fail fail not because of the medium or the tactic of choice. What most people think is, “I tried radio. It didn’t work. Radio must not work for me, my business, my industry, my geographics, whatever.” The reality is, the magic is never in the medium; it’s always in the message. If you are writing something down, write that down: The magic is never in the medium; the magic is in the message. The message is an overly simplified way to say the magic is in your entire marketing infrastructure that leads to the message the person hears. I’m not saying go out and rewrite a message a million times. I’m saying the message is born of your audience itself. If you don’t target the audience and segment it well enough, that is your first mistake that will come out in the message.
Another thing is your drivers. What is your audience motivated by? What are their problems? What keeps them up at night staring at the ceiling wondering how they are going to solve this? What are their hot buttons? Knowing the audience, their desires, motivations, drivers, etc., really leaves you to say, “Okay, if I understand that audience, let’s keep looking externally and figure out if there is anything about the industry, its competition, its solution alternatives, and other things at play that might affect my ability to speak to them on that level and get them to want to join me in my mission, my quest, and my social entrepreneurship in the purpose of my company.” There might be competitors at bay who can beat you on price and other things. You have to look at those.
Once you define that audience, those industry drivers, those competitive drivers, you start to look internally. Who are we? How are we going to prove our viability to this particular audience? How are we going to position ourselves to that audience? Are we the Lexus in the market? Are we the Toyota in the market? Are we the Scion in the market? Are we the Smartcar in the market? Are we the Tesla in the market? Who are we? If it’s a church and about membership, it’s still relevant. Everybody is positioned. You are positioned relative to the competitors and the space, and you are positioned in relation to the things that differentiate you that you can message to.
When you look at audience and drivers and competition and how that leads to positioning and differentiation, eventually, if you go through the whole process, that frankly I have codified, you get to the message. Nine times out of ten, the marketing activity fails because of that message. It’s not because of the person who you hired to write the message is incompetent as a writer. It’s usually because you are not competent as a strategist.
Hugh: I love it. Of course I think you are brilliant. That’s great. Say this again. It was profound.
Gaydon: The reality is, the magic is in the message, not in the medium. The message is failing not because the writer who wrote it is incompetent, but because the strategist who was behind it is incompetent.
Hugh: It would occur to me that if you got 700-something clients in the recession and you grew your business exponentially in the recession, that you understand marketing. You understand how this client acquisition thing works. Any of us in any of these institutions need critical mass to do what we are doing, and we need to continually grow it because we are growing our vision, which is usually way bigger than we can achieve. We are visionaries. Several people who are entrepreneurs say, “Do all of you suffer from insanity?” I say, “Heck no, we enjoy it.” It’s a way of life. You are one of us, so I just put us in the same bucket. We are individuals; however, the very things that drive us are also the thorns in our side. Our assets are our liabilities. We don’t want to participate in this corporate structure; however, we need the discipline of working within structure in order to let the full creativity of our vision materialize. We tend to poo-poo the discipline and system parts of it because we want the freedom of our entrepreneur.
As a musician, I know this. Once we got the music, once we have rehearsed it, once we have done all the hard work, then we are free to be creative. There is a pathway to creating the strategy, which you so eloquently articulated. There is a discipline part of this. As you said earlier, there is work in this. There is no easy button. I tell people that there is no easy button in the work I do, but there is an easier button. When people try to do it themselves, it takes way longer and we make it way harder and they spend a whole lot of money, especially money they don’t have, and they don’t have time, so they have to go redo stuff.
This is all great stuff. The question was: If somebody is going to hire a marketing specialist internally or externally to advise a plan to help them take their brand to the market, what are the questions they should ask?
Gaydon: That’s a hard question to answer because of the levels that we are talking about it on. In the context of you are the CMO/CRO, the person listening to this, the first question you need to ask…
Hugh: The person listening is going to be the top leader in the organization, and they are going to be bringing in a marketing person. How do they qualify that person, whether it is internal, external, or using a service like yours? How do you know it’s going to be the right fit for your organization? We are talking about smaller organizations here.
Gaydon: I’m making the assumption, Hugh, that these are small enough organizations that we are talking about here that they are not going to hire that CMO. Correct me if I’m wrong. They are wearing the hat. Anecdotally, I have to help them wear that responsibility or hat well. I’m going to take the next five minutes to figure out how to do that better. They are not going to shell out the four, six, or eight thousand dollars a month to bring in the right marketing ninja, right? I hate to say ninja because samurais are probably more tough than ninjas, right?
Hugh: I think the majority of people fit the category you’ve described. If you educate them on that piece, it would lead them to enough revenue to hire the person you’ve described.
Gaydon: Exactly. The cadence of this usually looks like you are wearing the CMO hat because you haven’t given it to anyone else yet. Once you grow the company to a certain point, you can, which is brilliant because you really want to be the leader, and you probably don’t want to wear the CMO hat long-term.
Under the guise of you are wearing the hat, and you are not about to give it to anyone else soon, the first question you need to ask yourself is: Do I know how to write a strategy? I codified a process by which you just use an iPad and peg-leg your way in. I will stop using pirate analogies. You really don’t need to be a samurai. I don’t mean this to be a commercial at all. If you ask yourself how do I write a marketing plan, and you don’t have a step-by-step process, you will write a bad one. That is what this comes down to. It is just too complicated of a subject. Do you feel comfortable writing an enterprise-level strategy to grow a business if you don’t have any training on the subject? That sounds ludicrous. That would be like me trying to train a dog. I know nothing about pets and animals. I chase mountain lions for fun in the back country in the hopes they will eat me. That is my preferred way to die; I want to get eaten by a mountain lion. The problem is, I can’t find one, dang it. The point is: If you are wearing that hat, you have to know how to write a strategy.
If you wrote a strategy that works, that is really engineered for profitable growth, that you are confident and clear on, now the next question you ask is really important. Now you want to say who can be in the weeds on this thing? Who can manage this strategy on a day-to-day perspective in terms of all the deliverables? You don’t necessarily need to hire a full-time person to do that, but let’s call that person the marketing manager.
The first question I would ask is: Do you have the ability to hire a full-time or part-time marketing manager to do all the dirty work so that you can continue to be the leader, and you can put on your CMO hat for just 30 minutes a week? If you can do that, here is what I recommend you do in terms of asking questions around hiring a marketing manager.
You basically put up a job description for an executive assistant. Sounds counter-intuitive. If you ask for a marketing person, here is what you are going to get. You are going to get a yellow personality that is a little bit ADD, super creative, will have a ton of ideas and no follow-through. That’s what you want. Don’t post a job anywhere that says “Hiring marketing…” People will hear that. What you want to do is post a job that says to the effect of, “Looking for an executive assistant,” and then say, “Skills need to include operational efficiencies, doing things on budget, doing things on time, not letting things fall through the cracks.” Then what you do is as you interview the executive assistants, you will find one or two that has a little bit of marketing experience. That is your golden goose. That person will say, “I’m really good at operational stuff, making sure nothing falls through the cracks. But actually I like marketing.” It’s your perfect hire. If you don’t want to do all that, we can talk later, and we can talk on another podcast where I can point them to part-time marketing managers who are certified marketing managers that you don’t have to train or look for or hire. You can just turnkey, boom. A couple grand a month, and they are in your organization helping you out. Most of them work remotely. The point is you can outsource that function. You are really just hiring a 1099 person. That is the real possibility.
The next level underneath this marketing manager who gets everything done is this specialist, the tactician, the copywriter, the designer, the programmer, the person who has that subject matter expertise that is so specific that you need to bring them in to do that specific job. A really common thing is someone to administer the CRM. Let’s say we are using InfusionSoft or something like that. InfusionSoft is really complicated. You probably should not administer it yourself. Maybe your marketing manager will have those skills, but probably not. So it might make sense to find somebody who has very specific skills administering InfusionSoft that you can pay an hourly rate to whenever you need them.
The same goes for your graphic designers, your logo people, your website people, your hosting people, your programming people, a data scientist, YouTube experts, LinkedIn experts, anything.
What I am teaching you to do here is outsource effectively while insourcing effectively. What all your insourcing is is the responsibility you already have. It’s that responsibility you haven’t given anyone else yet. While not changing the scenario, you are changing the paradigm with which you look at it. But you can insource without adding a bunch of costs by just assuming the responsibility to write the strategy. You can definitely insource a marketing manager or hire a 1099. You can outsource effectively by finding specialists.
What people do, Hugh, and I know you have seen this, is they get opportunistic. Think of a continuum. On one end is opportunist, and on the other end is strategist. The opposite of a strategist is an opportunist; the opposite of an opportunist is a strategist. The number one plague in small business is we get opportunistic. I know that resonates with you because you teach leadership. What an opportunist does outside of marketing is they say, “We need to grow. Let’s go find someone to do that.” They hire an agency and turn over the car keys, the wallet, the house, and everything and say, “Run it for me.” It doesn’t work. I can prove to you that it doesn’t work.
More than that, some of them will say, “I don’t know if that’s the right idea. We should hire a CMO.” Then they make the decision of thinking the CMO is some deity of marketing, and they can do the strategy, manage the execution, do the execution, do the reporting, report to themselves, and be accountable all at the same time. How opportunistic does that sound? Yet people do it all the time. I ask people, “Who is running point on marketing?” “Our CMO.” “What does he do?” “Everything.” “Wait, hold on, everything?” Then I interview the CMO, and the CMO says, “Gee, the reason why I don’t dare tell this to the CEO, and the reason I can’t do my job, is because I am writing copy, and I am doing design, and I am managing vendors, and I am looking for proposals, and I am managing our events, and I am writing the strategy, and I am editing the strategy, and I am doing the reports.” All you did by hiring that CMO is duplicating your problem of having too many hats on someone else.
Hugh: Oh that is so spot-on. I talk to people every day that that fits. You have come back to a lot of the themes without even knowing that I teach. My whole paradigm is to reframe leadership as a pathway to profit. This series is converting a passion to profit. You have just tagged a lot of the major leadership decisions that lead organizations to generate recurrable income. Managing that becomes profit. Nonprofits need profit. It’s not for profit; we don’t distribute it individually. But we have to be in the black to achieve our vision and mission.
I think we have given people a lot to chew on today. I think we can probably talk for hours on these topics. How do people find you and your company?
Gaydon: I’m not terribly hard to find. My company is called Savavo. G Leavitt or Gaydon Leavitt. If they are really looking for something to take from here forward, I recommend we put up a freebie for your audience to go to marketingsequence.com/ballou. What I have there is a five-part video training course that essentially gives you the basics of how to start to formulate the strategy. If you go there, you will see the videos that will walk you through sequentially, and I think it will help your audience go on the right trajectory.
Hugh: That’s generous. Marketingsequence.com/ballou. G, you have demonstrated a much higher level of competency than other people I have spoken with. I think you hit a sore spot for 4-12 million companies that are stuck. I find that one very good leadership trait is making a decision to get out of your comfort zone and do something different with different results. Your marketing sucks. You have heard Jeff Magee that says, “SUC is halfway to success.” We don’t get there because we suck. We don’t get there because we are not getting out of our comfort zone and making intelligent leadership decisions that are going to lead us to that profit. That is a generous offer.
As we pull this to a close, do you have a parting thought for the audience to think about?
Gaydon: I’m glad you asked that because I think people tend to get hung up if they don’t feel comfortable building a strategy or even spending a dollar to build a strategy. I think the best thing I could give them is the who we are platform. I’ll illustrate this for you right now. This is a tool you can use to immediately improve your pitch, your messaging, and your ability to get a donor, a patient, or a customer immediately using a challenge you are already using. So I will give you mine in hopes you can model mine and create your own. I will give you the four or five steps that are part of this model.
It goes something like this: I believe marketing is the reason businesses fail and the reason they succeed. I also believe it is the only way they will grow properly. At the rate at which a company or organization is growing is directly related to the marketing acumen, knowledge, or skills and the infrastructure that organization has. I also believe that marketing is a science, not an art, not a lottery, not a crapshoot. You are not at the casino. It’s a process. If you know the process, you could have success with it. Do not think of it as a science. I believe it as a process.
Because I believe all of these things, my mission and purpose as an organization, as an entrepreneur, as someone who is trying to provide value to the world, is to turn marketing into a science and into a predictable, followable, learnable, masterable process for people. We believe we are doing that.
The benefit to that process is clarity, confidence, and ultimately return on investment. It creates ROI. It creates bigger companies, faster companies, and better companies. The question that I have for you is: How clear are you about how to turn your marketing into predictable, profitable process?
Hugh: Gaydon Leavitt, very well-spoken. Thank you for sharing your intellectual property with my listeners today. Hope you have a great day. I look forward to the next conversation.
Gaydon: Thank you so much.
Find out more at https://savavo.com
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