What does focus mean in this world, where functioning with an attention-deficit is normal? Where every minute we are fighting both electronic and in-person attention-stealers? I think it means evaluating every endeavor, interaction, meeting, conversation, and communication in the context of your goals. It means maintaining a continuous awareness and examination of where your attention is.

Evaluate Your Marketing Efforts Against Your Business Goals

In terms of marketing, this level of focus means evaluating every tweet, email, ad, and blog in the context of your business goals. (Notice, I didn’t say marketing goals, as all these efforts should already be aligned with those or why are you doing them?) Now is the time to re-evaluate all your marketing efforts. Are they getting you closer to your business goals? (Last January I wrote about turning your business objectives into marketing goals. )

Drill into those key performance indicators (KPIs) and examine if your marketing efforts are performing the way you had hoped. Then look at how the efforts are or are not reaching your business goals.

Business Goal: Grow Revenue by 3 Percent

Let’s say your business goal is to increase your revenue by 3 percent. Look at your social media posts. Are they engaging your audience? Are they informing, inspiring, and educating them to buy or recommend your product or service? Are your email newsletters adding value to your audience’s inbox? Are these marketing efforts contributing or detracting from your revenue goals?

Look Carefully at Your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Before you started any marketing effort, you should have mapped out what success would look like. Your KPIs should be the metrics that show if your marketing campaign is delivering. (Those KPIs should also be tied to your business goals.) Look at those KPIs again. Are they still the indicators of whether your marketing is working?

Going back to our example, let’s say you discover that your social media KPI is the number of likes or shares each post gets. However, your posts aren’t getting these, but every time you visit with a client they mention that they really like your posts. What then? Do you dump your social media posts based on the KPI or do you keep them because of the positive verbal feedback? The answer is two-fold. First, revisit your KPIs. Perhaps you need to adjust them. Second, you may need to prioritize your marketing budget differently.

Prioritize Your Marketing Spend

Keeping with our example, look at your social media efforts against your other channels (like email, SEO, Adwords, etc.). If your search engine optimization (SEO) is bringing people to your website who are buying, then maybe you increase your SEO budget and pull back on social media. Find out which posts your clients like and create more just like them.

Make Time for Marketing KPIs

If you think you don’t have the time to go through all your marketing KPIs and re-evaluate them in terms of your business goals, think again. If your marketing budget was on fire, would you throw water on it, or give it more oxygen? Not evaluating (or even having) KPIs is equivalent to throwing kerosene on your money and lighting a match. And if you really don’t have time to drill into KPIs, then contact us. We can help.

Keep Your Marketing Focus

In marketing as in life, evaluate what you are doing every day in the context of your goals. Do more of what is getting you closer to those goals and less of what isn’t.


Half the battle of getting anyone to do business with you is gaining their trust. If you could get someone to have total confidence in your product or service immediately, what would you be willing to pay for that? If you didn’t have to invest in marketing campaigns that messaged your reliability or value and people just showed up at your doorstep, eager to do business with you, what would that be worth to you?

Smart Marketing: $900 Million Worth of Consumer Trust

For Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. they decided that it was worth $900 million. That’s how much they paid Sears for their Craftsman brand. To some, that may seem like an exorbitant price tag. but what Stanley Black & Decker is really paying for is decades of consumer trust and familiarity with the Craftsman brand. True, they are also purchasing all the capabilities of the company but, honestly, they already have those.

The Craftsman brand has been woven into American culture for more than 90 years through commercials, radio ads, billboards, and countless customer experiences. Throughout those decades of offering quality tools and customer service, Craftsman built a reputation of reliability–something every tool buyer prizes. Just as you’d be hard pressed to find any camper who doesn’t know the Coleman brand, tool buyers know Craftsman. That kind of brand familiarity and consumer trust is very valuable.

Competitive Marketing Strategy: Purchasing Less Competition

You can spend nearly 100 years and hundreds of millions on marketing to build that kind of reputation or you can acquire it for nearly a billion dollar. In addition to purchasing trust, they also bought less competition on the store shelves. Similar to when you go to the supermarket and deliberate between Cheerios, Chex or Wheaties, you aren’t really shopping between competitors (because all these brands are owned by General Mills.) By buying Craftsman, Stanley Black & Decker will own more of the product choices in the tool aisle of the hardware store. Consumers may think they are buying a different brand but they are simply buying an extension of a corporation’s brand holdings. The more sub-brands a large brand offers, the less chance the consumer will actually buy from a competitor.

Marketing a Brand: How Brands Began

The ability to dominate a store shelf isn’t why brand delineations started. During the Industrial Revolution, companies began burning their names into the wooden barrels used to transport their goods. It was a means of differentiating one company’s product from another. Over time, the brand became a symbol for particular product attributes. Today, “customer-based brand equity occurs when the consumer has a high level of awareness and familiarity with the brand and holds some strong, favorable, and unique brand associations in memory (Keller, 2001). Awareness, familiarity, and favorable associations take time, resources and lots and lots of marketing.

Marketing ROI: The Value of A Brand

Now, brands are shorthand for a myriad of ideas, information, and emotional references. Pick a big brand, let’s say, Coca-Cola. You immediately have certain associations that jump into your mind. Those mental constructs are built from years and years of advertising imagery, experiences, and personal consumption. Everything you have seen and heard about Coca-Cola filters through your neurons when you think of it. And you aren’t alone. Billions of people also have mental associations that come to mind about Coke. Those mental associations are the reason Coca-Cola is one of the most valuable brands in the world. Over and above their secret formula, Coke’s value comes from the mental shelf space the brand owns in billions of minds.

Marketing Outcomes: What Is Your Brand Worth?

In the end, your brand is what people think about you. It’s shorthand for the value you offer, how you are different from your competitors, and what your consumers can expect from you. (If you’re not sure what your brand stands for, maybe it’s time for a brand audit.)

Considering that Sears bought Craftsman in 1927 for $500, I’d say they made a pretty smart move by selling it to Stanley Black & Decker. Meanwhile, Stanley Black & Decker just added a legacy brand to their portfolio. Win-win, right? Well, only time will tell if the Sears brand can survive without Craftsman and all the positive brand equity it built for its parent company over the years.

(And just for fun, here are the 10 oldest brand logos.)

Thanks to Colorado’s booming economy, many companies are struggling to attract and hire talent. Fundamentally, getting the right applicants is both a marketing challenge and an HR issue so here are four marketing techniques that will solve your talent problems.

To Attract The Best Talent, Interview Your Best Employees  

Think about your best employees. Would you like to have 10 more just like them? Then, take some time to get to know them. Interview them and find out what they get out of work besides a paycheck. Discover how they found you, decided to work for you, and why they continue to stay. See what motivates them on the job and what gets in their way of feeling successful. Ask them what they tell their friends and family about their workplace. What you think is great about working at your company may be different from what they think. Even if you think you know what makes your best employees happy to work for you, don’t take it for granted. Their answers may surprise you.

Speak Their Language

During the interview, pay attention not only to what your best employees say but how they say it. Write down the kinds of words and expressions they use, so that when you begin searching for people just like them, you will know how to speak their language.

Hang Out Where They Do

Just as you wouldn’t go fishing in the desert, don’t look for talent where it isn’t. Go where potential candidates are digitally and in real life. Are your best employees coincidentally into science fiction and comic book characters? Maybe you need to host a booth at Denver ComicCon. Are they Reddit fanatics? Then it makes sense why your LinkedIn ads aren’t snagging interested applicants. Are there Meetup groups in your area for people in your industry? Maybe it’s time you started frequenting them. Perhaps your company needs to sponsor a meetup. Hopefully, you are getting the idea that you have to go above and beyond posting a job description on Indeed and go where your best potential employees are.

Use Your Website to Publicize Your Culture

Your website is one of your primary means of communicating with your customers, but it is also telling potential employees who you are and why they should (or shouldn’t) work for you. Make sure you have a fully built-out “careers” section on your website, complete with photos of your employees and some testimonials about why they love working for you. Be sure to use the same words and phrases that your best employees used in their interviews with you.

Learn How to Stop Employee Turnover

While you are working on all of the above, read Why Can’t I Hire Good People? by Beth Smith. It will give you some fresh insights into the roots of your struggles. 

In this TAB Denver North seminar you will:

  • Learn how to listen to job applicants and measure their fit for your organization.
  • Discover better lines of questioning for interviews.
  • Be introduced to the active listening skills required to hire the right candidates.

Space is limited, so register now.

Between the marketing techniques we have outlined and the seminar, you are halfway to solving your employee hiring challenges.

In September, I am speaking at an online conference sponsored by Missinglttr called Uppercase. The conference boasts that over two weeks, it will host 100 free talks by industry leaders to help you “learn, grow, and transform your business.”

In my years working with small businesses, I have never worked with a business owner that did not want to grow his business. (Despite the tactics put forth in my article on how to keep your small business really small.) However, some entrepreneurial mindsets are more effective than others.

So before you enroll in one of the 100 workshops offered, (or one of the many presented during Denver Startup Week September 24 – 28) consider cultivating the right CEO mindsets, so you can get the real value from any new information you learn about growing your business.

1. Choose Success Over Being Right

If you (and by you, I mean your ego) want to be right more than you want to be successful, you will limit your success. Just as there are 250 ways to wash dishes, there is rarely just one way to approach a challenge. When you dig your feet in on something, ask yourself if you want to be right or successful. Surely, there are many ways to approach the problem you’re struggling with.

2. Choose Culture First

Your company values and culture should guide all of your company decisions. Who should you work with? What kind of work should you do? Let your company values and culture guide your initiatives. This isn’t easy. This takes deep thought into what you want your company to be and commitment to those ideals, but the clarity it brings is priceless.

3. You’re Still In Training

A growth mindset is far more likely to produce the results you want than a fixed mindset. A growth mindset looks failure in the face and says, “I learn the lessons that propel me forward when I make mistakes, so let’s dance, failure!”

4. Process Is My New Best Friend

Always be thinking about how to make your efforts a repeatable, trainable process. Processes are critical to building a sustainable business. You need a repeatable sales process to train your team. A client onboarding process will increase your client satisfaction. A marketing system will help you get more leads faster. (I’ll be focusing on marketing processes in my talk on How to Add Marketing to Your Strategy and Get Higher ROI on Your Marketing Dollars. You can Register here.) Go braid each other’s hair, or down some brewskis together, but do whatever it takes to make process your best friend.

5. Let Go To Win

If you’re trying to control everything, you are doing more of the actual work than you should and you’re headed for CEO burnout. No one will measure up to your expectations and nobody wants to be micromanaged, so stop that nonsense. Instead of trying to control how everything is done, your mindset should be, “Train and delegate.” Then just let go and let people do their jobs so you can do yours, which is to grow the company and attend the Uppercase conference.