Tell The Story

No one cares about your cause. There are too many of them. So you’ve got to be a marketing firm… with a cause.

  1. “Simplicity is key. An 8-year-old can tell our story. We spend a lot of time and energy on it.”
  2. “We’re a marketing organization – the key is the message.”

No matter what a business/organization does….it has a story to tell. The end result-is the message heard and acted upon. It is just as important from time to time to tell the story as it is to sell the product or service.


Team + Vision

“Vision dripping is more important than vision casting: Great organizations produce visionary teams, and visionary people who share (drip) the vision in the course of daily leadership and life. Vision ought to be a team sport and engage an army of everyday story-tellers in the community. Vision should never be relegated to special gifting of a the point leader only.” – Will Mancini

I am a firm believer in a vision/purpose. Any business/organization has to have a reason for existence. I like what Will Mancini wrote. I belive we had a fairly clear purpose in our family business….not so clear in the manufacturing company in NC.

Team + Vision is an intangible….the less defined stuff….of most businesses. When vision is a “team sport” ….the effort results in everyone pulling in the same direction in sync. Daily leadership has to communicate that idea….otherwise many organizations lapse into meaningless mediocrity and eventually become ineffective.

Strategy or Plan

A Strategy Requires Execution

The first step in developing a business was always to have a plan. The bank wanted one….so did the SBA. I’m pretty sure the plan was never looked at once all the documents were signed. Most business plans are more than likely tossed in a file cabinet never to be seen again.

So today….what would  be a workable startegy….that provides a foundation for a business or organization to grow and prosper.

Five building blocks to an executable strategy:

  + Clear purpose and reason why the business exits

  + Concise strategy to meet a market need

  + Focused connection to people (customers and people within the business/organization)

  + Simple organizational/decision structure

  + Astute leadership/management

Reality is that in many enterprises these attributes are not in place….and for many people these are the hardest to execute.

Another Sub Shop

Lenny’s Sub Shop

Does the world need another sub shop? Apparently so. On another blog….I discovered Lenny’s Subs. Lenny’s was started in 1998 in Memphis, TN. In 2004, an investment group bought the concept and began expanding the brand.

Lenny’s market position is:

Authentic Philly Cheesesteaks & Deli Fresh Experience.

Lenny’s is primarily in the southeast, southwest, Indiana and Michigan….and a few other states. In North Carolina….three….two in Charlotte….one in Asheville. The reviews all seem pretty good.

The real story:

There is always room for someone to do it better and different (often repeated on True North).


A Square Bag

Just a little Training

In the big scheme of things….packing a square grocery bag might not mean the difference between failure and success. Yet my grocery bag story is about why details are important.

My first “real” job was packing groceries for Plumbs Markets. No plastic bags….only paper.

It was Plumbs service done properly. The senior bag boy trained the newbies. A perfect Plumb bag was a square bag….heavier items like cans on the bottom, fit to the shape of the bag….boxes in the middle….and lighter items on top….absolutely no squashed bread or broken eggs. Packing a square was a bag boys art. After packing the bags….they were loaded on to a cart and wheeled out to the customers car….even in two feet of snow.

A recent excursion to the local supermarket revealed the bag people have never been trained in packing a square bag. Just throw it all  into the bag….paper or plastic or a recycle bag….and they are done….on to the next customer

I still like to pack a square bag….once a great bag boy….always a great bag boy….and something to be proud of.

After 50 plus years….Plumbs is a very nice supermarket and the store where I learned it all is still there. A little bit of training is all it takes to get a square bag.

It’s the small details that are important….that make a difference.


Starbuck Lessons

Question mark

The Reason for Existing


“Starbucks was founded with a clear sense of Why – that purpose, cause or belief that goes beyond the products we make or the services we offer. At its founding, it was all about the “third space,” that space between work and home. When Americans chose to hang-out outside of home or work, Starbucks wanted to be the place they hang-out at.  And they for many years, they were.

But, like so many companies that make it big, Starbucks forget the reason it was founded and started to think it was their product that made them successful. Put simply, Starbucks has lost its Why.”

Sometimes it’s too easy to start a business or organization. People seldom recognize the complexities and don’t think far enough down the road. It is my belief that a solid foundation….the why….has to be in place early on in the organization life cycle.

Our job in the family business wasn’t to sell furniture….although that is what we did day in and day out. The real “why” was to help make our customers homes nicer with furniture that was affordable.

When I consulted with small businesses….it wasn’t what I did as what I did that contributed to a positive and rewarding outcome for the client.

In the NextStep seminars….while the content is excellent….the end result is what the participants can take and use in their enterprises.

Simon Sinek is a very good resource….always ask the question why.


It’s the Little Things

People remember the “little” things that make a difference in how they look at a business. While the product and service may be good….it’s the little things that complete the picture.

I admit I may be somewhat more aware of these small details….nontheless the details make a big difference between being good and being great.

While the product/service may be outstanding, if other parts of the encounter are mediocre….than the experience is less than excellent. This is where 90 % of businesses/organizations miss the boat. They lose sight of the big picture and fail to realize that each aspect of any engagement has to be A plus.

It’s all in the details.