Tt’s tempting to think excellence in delivery trumps
all, but it doesn’t really. Those who know how to reach their market
effectively will always score better than those who fail that hurdle.

Take a trip to Nashville. On any day of the week you can find 10
musicians in clubs that easily out-perform 90% of the commercial
talent. Why is that? Because these monster musicians don’t know how to
wrangle with the big boys when it comes to marketing. They are
talented, but that is nothing without the word on the street.

Yes, you have to be very good at what you do. But, being the best does
not trump an excellent outreach program. It augments it. Just as there
are no shortages of poor performers who have the public eye there is no
shortage of excellent performers that languish in obscurity.

If you want to make it big, you have to both excel at outreach and
delivering a top-rate experience. Those two together are the unbeatable

The organizations that succeed are not only first-rate when it comes to
generating value; they are successful when it comes to marketing.

While still an employee in 1998 I was recruited to lead communications
for a change initiative that had failed miserably to get anyone’s
attention. It was to overhaul every major system in the organization
and yet no one had any idea it was coming. I was the third marketing
officer – the other two had not succeeded.

The first had received no budget. No wonder he failed. The second had
been given an arbitrary 50 grand for the 60 million dollar program. I
saw the bad history I was coming in on and immediately took two
actions. First, I made it a prerequisite to hire a professional PR
person. We needed someone who had been around the block as I had not.
She was without a doubt my smartest investment.

With her on board, the two of us made a line item budget demonstrating
why we needed a million dollars to do the job right. We submitted it to
management and asked them which items they wanted to cross off the
list. Our approach did the trick and we got the entire million. It felt
like good news at the time, but then we were on the hook to deliver.

Ours was a stick-in-the-mud organization, more worried about
appearances than fact when it came to budget. We decided to shake
things up by going with a brand for our campaign that broke with
tradition. We selected Harold Feinstein to provide the images, a Life
Magazine photographer who had works in the Museum of Modern Art at the
age of 19.

It was a long shot for our enterprise, so we mocked up two campaigns:
one used Harold’s photos and another was based on clip art, decidedly
less disruptive. Again we brought management in to make the choice. We
wanted them to own the way forward, for better or worse. When given the
choice they picked the more striking images. Harold’s photos were
sensual (some even said sexual) and absolutely gorgeous.

We went to work, creating posters, the website, mousepads, cups, and
more. As soon as our posters hit the hallways I was denounced by the
CFO for launching a campaign that appeared to be too expensive. He
never asked me for the actual cost.

My boss, the CIO, was known for his political calculations. He stopped
by my office and I thought my number was up. Instead he looked at me
and said, “Everyone knows who we are.” He patted me on the back and
walked out.

A few months later when Michael Hammer, the business guru, came to our
organization to talk about our initiative he told us all, “The systems
will work, but the people may not. Communication, training, and support
are not expendable. The soft stuff is the hard stuff.”

If you have a world-class operation, make sure your communications are
up to snuff. Without reaching your target group, no one will have the
opportunity to experience the amazing things you offer.

Upcoming Workshop:
How to Acquire Clients / Value-Based Fees

January 12,
, Washington, DC
Register here:

To create the most powerful learning
experience possible in a single day I zeroed in on the
teachings that were most instrumental in transforming my business. This
one-day power event will nail these two topics:
1. Becoming expert at finding and getting the best clients
2. Raising your rates to be commensurate with the value you provide

You will emerge with a tight, focused
strategy for targeting and acquiring new clients through new, repeat,
and referral business and a clear action plan for raising your fees,
zeroing in on value your clients will gladly pay for, and taking your
practice to the next level.
You will also receive copies of
Alan’s two books that we will use as texts: How to Acquire Clients
& Value-Based Fees.