Vol. 10, No. 15 – Nov. 1, 2010

November 1, 2010


The 8020Info Water Cooler

Highlights from the latest information
for managers, leaders and entrepreneurs

1. How To Write A Marketing Plan With Five Questions

Entrepreneurs often struggle with preparing marketing plans. On RainToday.com, marketing consultant Mark Heinz simplifies the task by outlining five questions that you need to address for a client-centric marketing plan:

  • What/who are your targets? The danger here is answering the question too broadly. For a big market, you need to break it down into unique audiences that share certain common attributes. If that leads you to an overwhelming number of unique audiences your company might serve, narrow it initially to just two to four groups.
  • What do they care about? What outcome are they seeking? Your client wants to buy something that solves a problem and/or delivers an outcome they desire. So think about their motivation. Address the ends they are seeking.
  • Where do you find them? Don’t invent atypical channels, platforms or destinations for reaching your clients until you have earned the credibility to do so. Know their current path: what they do now that may open up a connection for you.
  • What or who influences them? You need to map the ecosystem of people, places, and things that influence how your clients think and what they do. Then assign value to the different points of influence, so you know how best to reach them.
  • How do they want to engage and (eventually) buy? Map the buying process as well, going back to even before they knew they wanted to buy something. How far upstream can you connect with them?

2. Creating A Master Task List

Before you create a To-Do List, Thomas Nelson CEO Michael Hyatt says there’s an important prior step. You need to develop a Master Task List, which groups your work-related activities so that you do what you were hired to do and keep from getting side-tracked by trivial pursuits.

The approach, which he adapted from Todd Duncan, author of Time Traps, requires you to identify your five to seven most productive and important work-related tasks. “A Master Task List is similar to a job description but more useful. It answers the question, ‘What was I really hired to do?'” he writes on his blog, MichaelHyatt.com.

Here are some typical characteristics of master tasks:

  • They are usually important but not urgent.
  • They spell the difference between success and failure.
  • You have a hard time getting to them.
  • They are things you usually do on your own.

Once you develop your Master Task List you can schedule those activities in your calendar, blocking off time to ensure you are not letting them fall by the wayside. And measure your performance against it. His own Master Task List, for example, involves managing up, business planning, new business development, employee development, author relations, customer relations, media relations, and financial oversight. Under each, he lists several subsections.

The Master Task List, he believes, is a high pay-off activity for a short investment in time.

3. Lessons From An Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur Alicia Morgan recently shared these lessons of entrepreneurship on her FastCompany.com blog:

  • It’s rare when someone is true to their word; treasure it in others, and cultivate it in yourself.
  • Call and email — the squeaky wheel does get the grease.
  • Pay attention to detail.
  • Adopt the Cindy Crawford motto: never point out your flaws, but do admit to your mistakes.
  • You always have a choice.
  • People will fight you on everything — stick to your guns.
  • Perception is reality — you’re always creating an impression.
  • Everything is a negotiation, even if you don’t think it is.
  • People hear what they want to and usually only remember the negative.
  • Have the difficult conversations — they’re always worth it.

4. How To Be A Better Coach

If you spend a good part of your day coaching — and that’s a task most managers should have on their Master Task List — it’s important to not be overbearing.

Consultants Jack Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett suggest in Executive Excellence that even if you set the agenda for the sessions, it’s vital you focus the conversation on things that are of great interest and value to the person you are helping, rather than issues of concern to you or that you think might be of interest.

Also, they urge you to ask for feedback. That turns the sessions into a two-way collaboration, which is more effective, offering the possibility of you getting assistance as well as giving it.

5. Zingers

  • The more messes you allow into your life, the more messes will become a normal and acceptable part of your life. (Source: Robin Sharma’s Wisdom Newsletter)
  • When sales are slow, sales consultant Jeff Mowatt says, we may begin to believe that customers only purchase whatever is the cheapest. Employees who buy into this myth start fighting for lower prices. Instead you need to help buyers understand what makes your product or service worth paying a premium for. Often, that simply requires talking about benefits rather than features. (Source: Influence With Ease newsletter)
  • Productivity guru David Allen suggests that every once in a while you should schedule a day for the not-so-critical stuff. That prevents them from escalating into emergencies. (Source: Productive Living newsletter)
  • Marketing consultant Seth Godin says that when we set deadlines for ourselves, we tend to be lax about sticking to them. So don’t set a deadline for yourself informally, in your head. Write it down. Hand it to someone else. Publicize it. And change the name of deadlines to live-lines, because that’s what they are. (Source: Seth’s Blog)
  • Consultant Jim Logan says that what separates success and failure in business is whether the person accepts failure as a possible outcome. At some point when things are going poorly, people start to think of a buyout, job hop, or other business-ending alternative. If it’s OK not to succeed, creativity ends. If you eliminate failure as a possibility, leaving success as your only option, almost everything is achievable. (Source: Bizinformer.com)

6. Q&A with 8020Info:
Customer Surveys

Question: I have heard of something called the “ultimate question” that can be used for customer satisfaction surveys. What is it, and does it work?

8020Info Associate Harvey Schachter replies:

Loyalty expert Fred Reichheld of Bain & Company developed this approach. After trying out a host of questions over the years to find the link between customer satisfaction and profits, he found to his surprise that only one needs to be asked:

How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?

Respondents are asked to give a score to this ultimate question, on a scale from a low of zero to a high of 10.

Scores of 5 or 6, or even 7 and 8, despite being above the midpoint are simply not good enough. You want people rating your organization or service at 9 or 10. At that level, they are considered promoters of your company. They are telling others to do business with you.

Customers who value your company at 7 or 8 are considered passive. They aren’t likely to say negative things about you to others, but they also aren’t likely saying anything particularly positive.

Anyone who gives a score of 6 or less is considered a detractor — somebody probably hurting your company by saying negative things about it. “Some of these customers may appear profitable from an accounting standpoint, but their criticisms and attitudes diminish a company’s reputation, discourage new customers, and demotivate employees. They suck the life out of a firm,” he warns.

Ratings can be translated into a net promoter score, a measure of your effectiveness. To do that, subtract your percentage of detractors from your share of promoters. So if 60% of your customers are promoters and 40% detractors (with none giving passive ratings), your company gets a net promoter score of 20%.

His studies found the average firm sputters along with net promoter scores of only 5 to 10%. For the average firm more than two-thirds of customers are passives and bored with the company, or detractors who are actively angry. But some companies achieve net promoter scores between 50 and 80 points.

The key is not just to find out your net promoter score, but to supplement it with a customer service system that makes you more effective.

One final point: This rating approach has also been adapted for staff surveys. Would your employees recommend your company to a friend? Don’t assume. Find out.

7. News From Our Water Cooler:
Validating Draft Strategies

When you reach out to external groups as part of your strategic planning effort, you often must decide how closely to frame the questions that elicit their input. Do you ask very general questions — the equivalent of starting them off with a blank page — or do you present more specific questions or even hypotheses or draft proposals for feedback?

This year we have noticed clients canvassing opinion in a more focused and directed way.

For example, in past years clients often favoured general, open-ended strategic questions, such as: “What fundamental issues, decisions or choices do you feel will be critical to our success over the next three years?”

Recently we’ve noticed planning teams are inviting external input on more focused ideas: “What are the implications of an aging population on how we deliver services?” Or, “Some have suggested that our top priorities for 2011-2013 should be [X,Y & Z] — what is your perspective on those priorities?” It’s the difference between asking about what kinds of food you like vs. specific restaurant options.

There may be a combination of reasons for this sharper focus:

  • The organization may have previously conducted a broader survey of opinion and feel there’s little left to discover at a general level.
  • Usually it is also faster, easier and cheaper to gather feedback from stakeholders on specific options or concrete proposals.
  • Strategic planning teams may already have a strong sense of their intended strategic directions and only need validation from external groups. (It makes sense in terms of cost-effective research design — seek out only the information you need to make pending decisions.)


8020Info helps teams develop, communicate and implement their communications, research and strategic plans more effectively. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries at (613) 542-8020, or by email at watercooler@8020info.com.

8. Closing Thought                                                                 Top

“Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of witnesses.”

— Margaret Millar