Hats off to John Jantsch (and Inbound Marketing)

The Paradigm

My partners and I attended a SAGE software conference in Washington, D.C. last week.   There, I had the pleasure of attending a marketing “SuperSession” conducted by Duct Tape Marketing founder, John Jantsch.  A double pleasure because a marketing mentor of mine, Dawn Westerberg, also attended and we had a chance to visit and trade notes.

I’ll confess I wasn’t too keen on attending this particular session.  My lack of interest had more to do with the dirty secret I’m about to reveal and my years of experience with marketing in general than either John Jantsch or the subject matter.  I knew of John Jantsch and his Duct Tape Marketing approach and respect them both.  Lucky for me it was the only session that remotely interested me during the time slot, else I might have missed it.

Since I’m confessing (and you’re still reading), allow me a much bigger confession (and the real reason why you may benefit from reading on):

The Dirty Little Secret

I have secretly hated sales and marketing for more than forty years.  I still suppress a look of disdain or suspicion whenever anyone confesses to me they’re in sales or marketing.

There.  I finally said it out loud.

I’ve hated both sales and marketing with a burning passion, in spite of the fact that I met my incredible wife in a sales and marketing fraternity in 1975 and have been involved in sales and marketing up to my nose ever since.  I’ve hated them in spite of the fact I work hard to make the lion’s share of my living coaching and working with small business and large businesses to improve results from their:

    • business planning and execution
    • customer relationship management (CRM) tools and processes
    • call centers
    • data warehousing and data management
    • DotNetNuke websites
    • marketing
    • sales
    • sales force automation
    • SalesLogix software
    • time and priority management  


The Paradigm Dilemma

At the risk of watering down the intensity of my emotion and for the sake of clarification – I don’t so much hate sales and marketing as I love the golden rule

Until John revealed the beliefs underlying his approach to marketing and some of the new tools and techniques he’s been experimenting with, much about sales and marketing made me feel like I had to ignore the golden rule to be a successful salesperson and marketer.  It’s seemed interruptive and manipulative.  And for most of my adult life, I’ve struggled to make myself do marketing.  The advent of selling for a living has actually made me physically sick when I seriously considered it.  Even when I clearly identify my ideal candidate, understand their wants and needs, create strategic and tactical marketing plans, reduced selected techniques into a calendar, justify to myself that I’m offering a tremendous gift, write an unsolicited anything and put my foot down on the gas (marketing execution), I always have one foot on the brake – a sure way to achieve less than mediocre results.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a simple guy.  I love the truth, and I love the golden rule.  I’m goal-oriented and purpose driven.  I make plans and work them.   People tell me I know how to get more done in less time than anyone they’ve ever met.  If true, it’s because I work hard to focus and remain focused until I finish what I start.  Because I so value the golden rule, I find it incredibly difficult to treat anyone in a way I don’t like being treated myself.  Because sales and marketing results SEEMED to REQUIRE me to step outside myself and be what I consider interruptive, pushy and disingenuous, I’ve had a real self-limiting dilemma:  I am who I am, won’t be someone I’m not, yet realize every successful business MUST DO marketing and sales.

Arghh!!!  Internal Conflict!  Go?  Stop?  Change?  Be Consistent?  Arghh again!!

Blessedly, I realized some time ago that I don’t hate EVERYTHING about sales and marketing.  Just:

    • Anything sales or marketing might do to/for me that I wouldn’t do to/for myself or others
    • Bloated promises
    • Disrespect for the value of your (or my) time
    • Disrespect for native intelligence (again – yours or mine)
    • Half-truths
    • Interruptions
    • Lies
    • Manipulation
    • People who pretend to like you until they find out you have no money or aren’t a buyer
    • Talking to someone when they clearly don’t want (or have time) to listen
    • Talking more than listening
    • Taking permission before its given
    • Useless complexity

As I’m checking my spelling, just saying I hate these things seems an understatement.  They REALLY tick me off!  To me, interruptions are all nuisances unless I make myself see them as potential opportunities.  Generally, I completely ignore uninvited interruptions altogether.  I open my mail over a recycle bin outside my office.  I screen 100% of unsolicited calls, circulars, emails, letters, messages, post cards, text messages, warnings, etc.  I mute commercials, accept communications ONLY from people I know AND want to hear from, and took enough self-defense to reflexively discourage people who tap me on the shoulder from behind.  If you doubt this and don’t know me, try calling me sometime or sending me an email or a post card, or a cleverly disguised advertisement made to look like a dun letter from the IRS – See if you connect.  Lie to me and see if I ever forget (I said forget; not forgive).  Do any of the other stuff to me and see what, if anything good, it gets you.

Interestingly, as I’ve forced myself to experiment with the interruptive marketing tools in my roles as business owner, dad, entrepreneur, friend, investor, sales and marketing process consultant I’ve learned that most people share most, if not all of my hate list.  And yet – (I’m told) these are things one must do to succeed with sales and marketing.

The Paradigm Shift

What I was expecting from Mr. Jantsch was at least SOME if not much more of the outbound, interruptive, sometimes less than 100% truthful stuff that often accompanies sales and marketing that I detest.

What a pleasant surprise.  John shared nothing but good stuff.  Stuff I can use to market and sell more WITHOUT FORSAKING the person I am and want to be!

Let me begin by saying that what I liked most about John Jantsch before I met him was his ability to reduce the complexity of marketing processes and systems into his seven, extremely simple, common sense, understandable categories.  They are:

    • Know
    • Like
    • Trust
    • Try
    • Buy
    • Repeat
    • Refer

Every marketing tool or tactic I’m aware of clearly fits into one or more of these categories.   I don’t want to steal his thunder here, so I won’t elaborate.  I do want to encourage you to look hard at John’s marketing materials and how-to whether you’re a beginner or an experienced marketer.

On to what I learned.  Again, without stealing John’s thunder – I saw the “inquisitive, quality-minded, details guy” side to Mr. Jantsch that isn’t at all obvious in any of his materials I worked with to date.  OK, that’s not fair to John.  The “inquisitive, quality-minded, details guy” things are there.  I just didn’t see them.  He’s reached a marketing mastery level where he’s so good at explaining things and speaking plainly- his work “seems” casual.  No, it’s insightful, visionary and well written.

Somewhere during the tools and techniques, new buzzwords and marketing knowhow John shared during this four-hour session, I had an epiphany.  I saw the very real possibility of doing improved marketing and sales at greatly reduced costs WITHOUT ANY OF THE STUFF I HATE!  As a golden-rule minded, serial entrepreneur, I can’t tell you how much this excites me.

With the ubiquitous internet, emerging B2B social networking tools, unrepentant buyer behavior that literally thumbs its nose at any of the sales and marketing techniques that I (and all my good friends and customers) hate, marketing and sales may now become what I and many others have wanted them to be all along.  In fact, it is now possible for me (and you) to be exactly who we are, genuine and candid about it (without giving away the farm), find, qualify, convince and sell new prospects simply by being straightforward and real.

When our good friend and sales Vice President died, I secretly doubted we’d be able to stay in business as neither me nor any of my partners are good at the requisite prospecting, interrupting, qualifying, persuading (or manipulating) it sometimes seemed necessary to be a really good sales person.  In sales parlance, Ed was a great hunter; all the rest of us are farmers.  We’re all good closers and break our necks to take care of customers because we like honest people and just tell the truth to the best of our ability.  People who like honest and candid want to do business with us.  People who don’t, run away – and that’s OK with us.

I came away from John Jantsch’s presentation relieved and excited.  I’m now convinced we’ll not only do well in our business with this new sales and marketing paradigm, I suspect we may even excel – Even without our friend and salesperson.  Perhaps even more exciting for the altruist in me – Anyone who’ll take the time to embrace what some are calling the “inbound only” marketing approach may excel in sales and marketing.

I could (and will if anyone’s interested) write more on this new way of marketing.  Let me know if you’re interested.

Time Management Skills 101 – Goal Setter’s Time Management Tips

Life as a pie chartFor the last thirty-four years, learning about and pursuing goal setting and achievement have been passions of mine. While not my favorite skill (it requires self-discipline), time management takes effective goal setting beyond wishes to project management and achievement.

I stumbled on time management and goal setting as a college student.

Wrestling with lackluster results, I hadn’t yet grasped the concept of personal accountability. As I recall, I made an appointment with my professor for an intro to financial analysis – Ostensibly, to discuss my performance to date. My real purpose was to talk him into raising my grade.

I kicked off our meeting by observing he’d simply assigned too much homework and allowed too little time to do it. I went on to ask him to cut me some slack on homework grades because I could prove empirically there was simply no way a regular guy could do all the homework in his class and do all the other things one absolutely had to do just to get by in life. A natural list maker, I’d brought a doosey of a list with me.

His eyes lit up when I showed it to him.  He grinned like he’d just won the lottery. Then he leaned back in his chair, stared me right straight in the eyes and said, “Bruce, welcome to life. That’s a great list, but what’s that to me? My job’s to teach you finance. No homework; no learning. If anyone can do all the homework and make an A, you can do it. You have the same amount of time as everyone else. Question is, are you using your time wisely?”

Geez! Thanks! Lecture plus rhetorical question – I didn’t want one of those. I wanted sympathy.

I tried again to explain how my circumstance was unique and simply beyond my control. For crying out loud – I was working full time, going to school full time, trying to stay on top of my guitar. I’d joined a professional fraternity, I didn’t get enough sleep, my car needed fixing, my feet were aching, and I’m the only one of my roommates who can cook. Years later I heard Zig Ziglar use a similar story to describe what he calls the “Poor Little Ol’ Me Disease”.  “PLOM” for short.

Dr. Green nodded knowingly. To his credit, he didn’t burst out laughing, but his eyes were twinkling like sparklers on the Fourth of July.

You probably already guessed I didn’t have much luck persuading the professor. I received no gratuitous grade bump, but I did make an A in the class thanks to his sage counsel.

The sage counsel came in the form of great questions.

The first was, “What are your goals, Bruce?” Followed immediately by, “How do you manage your time?”

Goals? What the heck did goals have to do with my grades? Why’s he talking to me about goals when I came to talk about why I deserved to get an A in his class, but didn’t have time to do all the homework? I recall thinking, “This guy’s just not fair!” In fact, life’s not fair.

How do I manage my time? Now that’s a stupid question; it’s absurd. How can you manage something that comes and goes?

I wasn’t clear about either goals or time management and I told him so. I admitted I didn’t really have any goals beyond getting through the semester and that the two words “time management” didn’t even seem to fit together.

He didn’t comment. Instead, he opened his planning system and pointed at the first page. After letting me study it for a few minutes, he explained how he used it focus all his actions on written personal goals and manage his time to ensure he accomplished the goals.

I’d like to say it all made sense in that moment and I immediately thanked him for his wisdom, but I hate liars – so I won’t. What I did do was get mad. I can crank up a good rage on demand and apparently get a kick from the adrenaline rush. Besides, a good mad made me listen just a little more carefully than usual if for no better reason than it often helps me win arguments. That day I listened very carefully. I wanted an A and had just enough wisdom NOT to blow my top at the guy who stood between me and my final grade for the semester. Just enough wisdom to listen, and then think about what he showed me.

Then, he showed me his to do list.

Looking back it was crude, but effective. His own design, he’d used lined, 8.5 X 11 notebook paper (this was in B.C. – before computers), and hand labeled the columns:

What (To Do)?

When (Due)?

Why (Do It)?

Who (Will Do)?

Where (Happens)?

ETC (Remaining)?

Next (What)?


He’d printed each To Do neatly in pencil, and for each item, he allowed as many rows as necessary to describe the action that would lead to a specific desired result. I noticed only six items on page one and most of the page remained for making notes.

The value of the simple system escaped me, but I made myself listen. I REALLY wanted to ace that course and I could tell I wasn’t getting out of there without learning how to use the system myself. In spite of my initial disinterest, his demo hooked me. By deciding exactly what I wanted to accomplish (goals) and then deciding what to do and not do, why, when, where and how (time management), I could do the best possible job of ensuring I ended up with what I wanted most.

That began my more or less continuous study of goals, goal setting, goal achievement, time management, priority management, effectiveness, and a lengthy list of this, that and the other that all boils down to what I now call Common Sense Time Management. Most of the ideas I teach are NOT my own. I borrowed them from many books and the likes of Jesus Christ, Marcus Aurelius, Dale Carnegie, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Gantt, Frederick Taylor and more recently David Allen, E.R. Haas, Anne McGee-Cooper, Alan Lakein, Stephen Covey, Bettie B. Youngs and a host of other goals and time-management gurus.

Fast forward to today. I often share a tool called my “GoalMind To Do card” with business owners because almost all agree they struggle with distractions, management by crisis and the sheer number of plates they must juggle to make it through a day. Some use planning systems. Some use computers. Some get dragged through their days by crises, customer agendas, endless false starts and “those monkeys on their backs”. Most of them rarely get around to their “bucket list” and setting and achieving goals, much less priority management and time management. Seems that business ownership creates the perfect setting for occupational attention deficit disorder. As a serial entrepreneur, widowed father of three teenagers, head scratching manager of a retirement portfolio and sometimes mentor, I understand juggling priorities.

As is often the case, the secret to juggling anything effectively lies in knowing the right questions to ask.

So, whether I’m connected to a computer, a planning tool or a project plan or not, I carry an index card with the following questions on it so I always have a place to jot down ideas as they occur to me. This, in turn, gives me the ability to banish any nagging thoughts and consider each idea as thoroughly as necessary when it’s appropriate. The questions work with any planning system without requiring one if you’re an out-of-the-box person like many of my clients. The cards will fit in your purse, wallet or shirt pocket and are incredibly powerful tools.  If the card idea doesn’t work for you, put the questions in your iPhone or your scheduling tool.  The power’s in the questions.

Judge for yourself.

For each thing you believe you must or want to do, ask yourself:

1) What’s the action?

2) What’s today’s date?

3) Where will the action take place?

4) What’s the action’s relative priority?

5) What’s the action’s LOE?

6) What’s the action’s ETC?

7) Does the action recur? If so, how often?

8) What’s the action’s status?

9) Is the action important? If so, why?

10) Does the action have a hard deadline?

11) Must I do it? If not, who? If so, why?

12) Does action require my total focus?

13) Will I enjoy this action?

14) Will I dislike this action?

15) Does this action relate to a bigger goal, project or objective? If so, which one?

16) What action logically follows this one?

Here are working definitions:

1) Action: What you intend to accomplish. Begin description with an active verb and complete it with concise, envisionable description of desired result.

2) Date: Today’s date. Valuable because it gives you a date stamp that helps you calculate elapsed time. Elapsed time helps you determine whether an item is still as important as you initially thought it was.

3) Where: Where, physically will you complete this action? At home? At work? At grocery store? On business trip? Valuable for grouping activities for most efficient accomplishment.

4) Priority: Today’s assessment of this action’s relative priority. A = Urgent (has approaching deadline) and Important, B = Important, but not urgent, C = Urgent, but not important, D = Neither urgent nor important

5) LOE: Level of Effort. Today’s best guess about how long it will take you to complete this To Do in man-hours. Valuable for helping you see how well or poorly you approximate effort.

6) ETC: Estimate to Complete – How much (currently) remains to accomplish this task, again in man-hours. – You will erase and rewrite your estimate often, if you work on a To Do over several days. Valuable for helping you decide what to and what not to tackle within your overall schedule.

7) Recurs: Y/N – Freq – For tasks that recur. If so, answers the question “how often?”

8) Status: Valuable for answering questions about where you are in an action’s completion?

9) Important: Y/N, Why? _______________ – Is the To Do important TO YOU? If it’s important to someone else, but you didn’t PROMISE or OTHERWISE commit to do it, AND it’s not all that important to you – your answer will be “No”.

10) Deadline: Y/N, When? _______________ – Does to do have a practical deadline? If so, when is it?

11) Must I do it: Y/N, If Not, Who? If so, Why? – Helps you figure out what you can hand off to others and a pretty revealing self-evaluation tool for control freaks

12) Total Focus: Y/N, Enjoy Doing? Y / N – Asks the question does completing or working on this to do require total focus? It’s an opinion question; therefore, I follow it with habitual procrastinator’s biggest hidden excuses:

13) “Enjoy Doing”, Y/N and

14) “Dislike Doing” Y/N

15) Related Project: When you catch yourself thinking about To Dos related to a project, this is where you may pencil in the name of the project

16) Next Step: While I don’t encourage using this form for multi-step activities, I often find that I THINK something’s going to be quick and simple only to discover it isn’t

Also, I encourage people to answer only what’s immediately important about each task as it occurs to them, and NOT to worry about answering all the questions for every item. It’s important to set aside some time daily or once a week to clear your mind of all the “To Dos” floating around in your head, just to get them out of your mind and into some more manageable system. Often, by the time I’ve written down the date and the task, I realize the To Do isn’t that important to me anymore and I’ll answer the rest of the questions only when and if it moves up on my radar.

Finally, I keep a master To Do list. Some call it a master task list and some simply call it stuff I want to get done. Whatever you call it – I highly recommend keeping one, but understand that each must plan in the way that works best for them. When I set out to plan my day or week, I pull the most important items from my master task list and add them to my schedule – a topic for another time.

In case you’re having trouble envisioning the index card, here’s one way to do it:

One way to arrange questions on a 3 X 5 card

GoalMind 3 X 5 To Do Card