Tag Archives: Marketing

MVP or “Only one chance to make a 1st impression”?

MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is a topic that won’t die down in 21stC Biz Dev. I covered it – and its weaknesses earlier, but had a practical personal example this week when I launched my London FinTech Podcast

London FinTech PodcastOne summary of MVP theory is “you should be embarrassed by your first version” – the whole point of that methodology being to get something out there and iterate fast.

However there is a very interesting and very relevant principle in Taoism here … Continue reading


What You Can Learn from Long Sales Cycles

I was at a London Tech week event recently and one of the panelists was referring to having been through 3 years sales cycles into banks.  There was some discussion as to what to do in these circs.  Strangely no-one mentioned the obvious conclusion “get a new job!” 🙂 I mean if you are selling a fleet of Airbus or some such you expect the process to take some time – but there is a very big-ticket at the end of it. But just selling something into a bank?!

get a life

But what if it is not quite that bad? What do you need to learn short of moving to Airbus where you would at least land a whale not a fish after 3yrs? Continue reading


The Best Things In Business (&Life) Are Free

Actually not all of them are for example the Dhara Devi in Chiang Mai is one of the best things in life and it most certainly isn’t free 😉

dhara deviHowever an increasing number of things are.  One of the best and simplest ways to accelerate your business (or personal) life and development is to leverage these.  Furthermore if you don’t you risk being left behind – we live in a world that changes at the speed of light – literally as anything new gets tweeted round the world and soon copied.

There’s just one small problem – which is the tsunami of content and free stuff out there. Wading through it takes time – or a guide… Continue reading


Brain Hacks – The Immense Value of Doodling Stories in BizDev

Funny how some weeks you see lots and lots of the same pattern.  As if the universe is trying tell you something… The one I kept noticing this week in BizDev conversations was one of the most common roadblocks I see folks confronted by in Business Development. Namely being “stuck with the facts”.

Now there is nothing wrong with facts or descriptions. That is unless you are trying to do BizDev 🙂 For BizDev we need messages, we need to arouse emotion (emotion drives action), we need to convey the essence of what we are trying to get across.

Once folks are stuck in this descriptive place there is no easy way out.  The logical parts of the psyche are in control and the logical parts of the psyche don’t like anything that’s not logical 🙂  Like creativity or seeing the way out of the logic trap 🙂

But there is a great Brain Hack.  A way out of the cul-de-sac of prosaic and unsexy explanation…

visual thinking Continue reading


The Importance of Dating

Darth Vader doesn’t date. Mind you, based on a poll I saw, Anakin Skywalker and Padme’s on-screen “romance” was judged the least believable ever – so Anakin barely dated either. But they – and “American style” 20thC manipulation marketing – belong in a galaxy a long time ago far, far away.

In our galaxy, here and now, different principles need to apply. In the second part of The Tao of BizDev YouTube trilogy on how Business and hence BizDev has changed in the 21stC I emphasise the importance of dating as an antidote to many of the challenges of 21stC business development.

The Tao of BizDev - Dating

In talking to folks subsequently it’s clear that many – or even most – agree, but few understand all the ramifications. I believe there are five main reasons why dating is vitally important (it is after all The Tao of BizDev’s second principle}: Continue reading


Case Study of a Strategic BizDev Audit

I first saw Hawkind in 1978 at a gig that the local evening paper suitably described as “a weird evening”. Never mind that punk had happened – every hippy and assorted entity who lived under a stone had been drawn there as if by a tribal dog whistle.

masters of the universe

The previous year they had written a song called micro-man, which has a key line which has only become more applicable over time:

It’s the age of the micro-man, who sees the detail and never the plan

Which is highly relevant to business development today.  In this world of speciation and specialisation we are all admonished to be ever more detail focused and ever less plan focused – to drill into and live amongst the pixels. This, de facto, means less time attention and thought for the big picture.

Detail is fine and dandy – and essential in many professions, or even the arts – ever seen a ballet rehearsal?. However time and time again I see that it’s The Big Picture that makes the biggest difference.  No amount of tactics will make up for strategic drift.

One Tao of BizDev strategic consultancy gig was Continue reading


Beyond Networking – Micro-Partnerships

Last week I discussed the problems around networking. One key way into this was these two images:






Too much “networking” is of the left variety – sometimes a spark will jump across but rarely.  In most cases in a few months time you have no idea who that contact is on your LinkedIn list.

On the other hand (ha!) it can take some time to get to the right image – walking hand-in-hand in the same direction.  Besides, in a world of change, one rarely walks a long path parallel to any person or organisation. Furthermore in a world of overload one can simply lack the time to develop such a “hand in hand” approach.

The answer is micro-partnerships 🙂 Or for those lean startup fans a different type of “P” in “MVP”. What are they? Continue reading


What is the Minimum Minimum Viable Product?

Funny how coincidence goes. I was only last night watching Eric Ries gig at the LSE – which two years on seems surprisingly dated (see eg Wu-wei, Growth Hacking, and The Rise of Marketing-less Marketing) when what should I get today but a text from a buddy asking about the above koan. How could I resist 🙂


For those of you not in the loop. Ries’ (a silicon valley programmer turned manager turned director) book is based on his experience of spending 6mts and a whole bunch of funding developing a product that no-one ever downloaded.  A pain I can relate to as my first gig way back was porting Unix to an ICL mainframe (when the UK had a mainframe company). Lots of work, lots of stress, huge efforts, brilliant work. And it never got used. Ever. [ICL was sold to Fujitsu].  Not long after I promptly became a Merchant Banker 😀

Ries methodology centres on having an MVP – a Minimum Viable Product – that you can put out there ASAP to at least find out if the market wants it.  In the extreme case it’s a single page website which says click here for more info.

It’s a solution to the old Supply-Push, Demand-Pull balance. It’s product development interacting ASAP with Sales.

We can also Continue reading


Will Purpose-Driven Businesses Blow Away Marketing-Driven Businesses?

In the seminal, if dated, 1999 HBR article “Unbundling the Corporation”, Hagel and Singer declared that every company contains three different kinds of business and that in future they would unbundle. nice work for consultants if you can get it (which is probably why it’s free at McKinseys site lol) … followed only 5yrs later no doubt by them “Rebundling the Corporation” 😀

unbundling the corporation

This is a nice way in (well I think so lol) to framing things in a different take.  Using the first three steps in the BizDev Cascade – Value, Marketing, Sales – we can “Unbundle the Corporation” in a different way.

Starting with Marketing-driven business, I would say that the sans pareil definition of most Global American Mega Cos in the food industry – is that Marketing has become the product.  When you drink Coca-Cola you are drinking a brand not benefitting from a dozen teaspoons of sugar and some chemicals. Continue reading


BizDev when there is no Conduit to Market

I have had some interesting conversations recently with various different folks who are all doing different types of business where the clients are in Financial Services.  They all break the simple textbook Product-Conduit-Market model.  This model is fine for selling your cornflakes in supermarkets perhaps but of little relevance in more consultancy-based businesses. For Financial Services perhaps most of the sellers into it have to build up their own contact list.  There are no real channels as such.

As I wrote last week the modern “Beyond Marketing and Selling” process is heavily dependent upon searching for and attracting leads.  This is even more vital when you and your firm “wearing out the shoe leather” is the “channel to market”.

Churchs shoe sole

So what is the secret to “21stC shoe leather” marketing?  Continue reading


Moving Beyond “Marketing” and “Sales”

Do you like being “marketed” to? Do you like Ads? Do you like being “sold” to? Do you like some guy selling you stuff?

Thought not. Me neither. So why does everyone persist with Marketing and Sales?  Well the same reason everyone persists – inertia. But if “we always do what we always did” … in the 21stC we will not continue “to always get what we always got” – this is my whole point – 21stC business development needs a radically new mentality.


I believe we can all make a leap forward by taking a step back, re-examining the intent behind “marketing” and “sales”, why we resist them and how we can expand our business in a harmonious way that we flow with the Tao rather than swim against the flow. Continue reading


21stC BizDev in 5 Words – What? Who? What? How? Why?

Once I wrote a nice simple, clear post … doesn’t happen often 😀 – 21stC Communication Essentials – Simplicity, Clarity, Brevity You simply must get that inserted into your DNA to succeed in our noisy, overloaded 21stC world.


Basho should have been a 21stC marketer

Basho should have been a 21stC marketer



Easily forgotten.

In a noisy world.


I was reminded of this recently Continue reading


Can Marketing ever get beyond Manipulation?

It’s koan week this time 🙂 Is “manipulation-free marketing” an oxymoron? Is it the sound of one hand clapping?


Oddly there are plenty of folks who don’t think they are being manipulated.  Well I guess they should either watch more Derren Brown shows more or check out the lust for “A/B” testing in the interweb age (where you test two titles, two layouts etc for hits, click-thru et al).

Did you know that if you have a red button to click on your site rather than a green one you will get twice as many clicks?

Did you know that “Improves your relationship” gets ten times (as I recall) the hits of “Improve your relationship” – as the latter sounds like you have to do some work whereas the former there is some simple pill/solution to do it for you? Continue reading


How to be English and do Marketing

Any English (or probably Brit for that matter, although the periphery always had to be better at staking its claim) of a certain age certainly has absorbed the “hide your light under a bushel” vibe.  It’s just not classy to go out and “brag” is it?

Tyndale tralsated bowl as bushel 500yrs ago.

Tyndale translated the Bible using “bushel” rather than bowl.

Well ironically that saying is from a parable where Jesus says that you should precisely not hide your light under a bushel (or under the bed or under a stand). Less historically at present in the 21stC world of information overload, even fellow Anglos have left their bushels behind and taken to the roof-tops with 100Watt stacks.

So what do you do? Abandon your principles and tell everyone how awesome you and your products are?  Probably not. So what then? Continue reading


Why Next Steps is the First Not Last Part of a Presentation

I had a hard time once when working with a client on a pitch persuading them to put the “Next Steps” slide first.  They (being logical, bright, technical folks) thought this looked ridiculous.  Why have next steps right up front?

next steps

Well let’s consider the opposite.  We go through a nice educational presentation (after all we are not trying to flog folks stuff they don’t need are we?) and then – last slide is “next steps”.  Like every other presentation.  At which point the audience always gets defensive as they feel this is the stage where they stop relaxing and have to fend off these people coming back in or selling things etc etc.  That’s always the stage where you get some polite “we need to think about this”, “we have to discuss this further internally”.  And that’s always the kiss of death 🙁 … as you may have noticed 😉

On the other hand what happened when we put Next Steps at the beginning was Continue reading


Content Shock, Rear-View Mirrors and the End of a Gold Rush?

I am sure you have noticed how the number of books have gone up in your lifetime.  How the number of webpages explodes along with emails, blogs to read, podcasts, YouTubes, and links to cute kittens.

Mark Schaefer Grow Blog

Mark Schaefer Grow Blog

Exponentially increasing content, a limit to eyeball hours in the day and naturally it gets less valuable.  Coupled with the fact that in this world of instant sharing how much is genuinely new?

Of course strong rebuttals.  A buddy who is an expert in government website content sent me (when I mentioned the phrase “another snowflake in the content blizzard”) a link denying all of this.  It was written by “The Content Marketing Association” (and had little real logic).  No shit Sherlock the X institute says X is no way getting less important to the world 🙂

It’s a good excuse to recap the whole picture and let you know my take… Continue reading


Marketing is Spreading Ideas

Let’s invade the neighbours village. Let’s move out of this stone cave. Let’s build a flying machine. It’s easily forgotten that everything begins with an idea or an urge in the mind.  When life crawled out of the sea must have been driven by an urge – a primitive form of an idea.

Whatever you are intending to do in changing the world, commercially or personally, has an idea at its heart.  First you need to manifest that idea into the realm of form – as a thing, as an action.

einsteinSecondly in most cases you need to get other people onto your idea-bus. You need your idea to spread … “hey joe fancy a beer” … “hey joe let’s build a better Facebook” – exactly the same structure. So we have marketing – the spreading of ideas. How does this work? Continue reading


Decision Fatigue – Took A While To Decide About This Post

So I looked at the menu and chose the turkey with quince jelly – well it is nearing Xmas. Hmm list of starters – oh well won’t bother – that will save thinking about it.  My chum arrived later and stared at the menu. The waitress came. He was still staring.  Then he decided he wanted a starter … oh no, I better have one too. Here’s the pub by the way.. (or rather the sign).

hare-and-houndsStill he hadn’t chosen. Grr.  What is going on and why is this really important for 21stC BizDev? Continue reading


Every Model Is Wrong But Some Are Useful

This is a great one.  Well it would be great if it was accurate lol – the actual quote (from George Box) is “all models…”.  Unless Hugh MacLeod (aka gaping void) was using recursion by misstating the quote 🙂



It’s very Taoist. … the ungraspability, the undefinability of reality … the pragmatism about whatever works works … until it doesn’t.  The opposite of Confucian certainties about right and wrong.  The opposite of the West’s current love affair with ludicrously complex laws, regulation and bureaucracy.

So what’s the application to BizDev? Continue reading


Wu-wei, Growth Hacking, and The Rise of Marketing-less Marketing

Last week I wrote about wu-wei and the perfect presentation. Now let’s go the whole hog and consider profound non-doing/effortless-doing/natural-doing and marketing as a whole.  What’s better than Marketing?  No Marketing!

And I joke not. Gazillion dollar start-ups such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, AirBnB and Dropbox grew without marketing budgets worth mentioning. I saw some linkbait today about getting 10,000 hits a day without marketing.  Growth hacking (well it does come from California lol) is all the rage.  What can we learn from it?

growth hacking Continue reading


Wu-wei and What’s the Ideal Presentation?

Wu-wei is the quintessence of the Taoist vibe.  Like the Tao it’s also utterly untranslatable 🙂 The usual translation of not-doing doesn’t really cut it.  Many times in life when stuff needed doing I tried the “doing nothing”, “sit on the sofa drinking beer, eating pizza and watching TV” approach and nothing ever did get done 🙁  Perhaps “effortless doing” is nearer … like when you do a near perfect golf swing with no strain and the ball sails off.  Or “being completely natural” … like when grass grows … it “just grows” … no efforting about it.

From David James Lees blog

From David James Lees blog

So what would the equivalent of being “perfectly natural” be when applied to presentations?  I think the answer might surprise you… Continue reading


The Scariest – But Most Important – Ingredient In 21stC BizDev

Start your meeting with “This might not be of relevance to you”.

Nothing scares the amateur BizDev-er more than starting with what they would see as “failure” – ie the end of a conversation and no chance of a sale. But nothing is more important to 21stC BizDev. In a world of excess “selling” we must adopt an “educational” approach and be simple and clear about our value (see Value Encapsulation).  Then (and spot the 21stC concept here) the BizDev process stops being about “sales” and becomes about “search”.

search-marketingThis “search” approach is the antithesis of the archetypal “slippery second-hand car salesman”, “sell to anyone and everyone using every trick in the many books on ‘how to sell’ “.  Besides as “sales resistance” has increased and customers wise-up to at least some of the “moves” that approach has got much harder (and less succesful) anyway.

So what is the 21stC “search” way? Continue reading


Value Encapsulation – the 21stC Key

I resisted this for a long time.  I resisted the “Twitter-isation” of society. So how come I gave in? Why do I now think it’s vital?  Why is it the next 21stC BizDev step which must come after the all-important Value Mining and Refining?

beach-surrender Continue reading


The Buddha Knew The Importance Of Doing Marketing Before Selling

Actually he got it wrong first time … unsurprisingly not something emphasised by tradition lol.  But he learned fast.  After his enlightenment the first person he met asked who he was. The Buddha replied along the lines that he was the fully enlightened one – at which point the guy said “may it be so friend” and wandered off.  Thereby missing out on the start of one of the longest bull markets in history – 2,500 years and the stock is still rising 🙂

Standing BuddhaActually did you know that the Buddha forbad images made depicting him?  One of life’s ironies as there are probably more statues in the world today of a man who forbad his followers from making statues of him than of anyone else (or maybe even everyone else put together?!). Doh!

Anyway back to the Buddha and marketing. So his first “pitch” – tell the facts – had failed. What was his next and how come it’s still appropriate today? Continue reading


The Ne Plus Ultra of BizDev Secrets – Value Mining and Refining

This is biiiig.  I rarely meet anyone or any firm who really gets this.  As I mentioned in The 6 Stages in the BizDev Cascade the BizDev process is like a series of stages of water flowing downwards.  Time and again I observe implementors having a hard time at a client site as the sales guys promised the moon.  Time and again the sales guys get bogged down as the marketing guys hinted at the moon but they are just selling rock.  Marketing messages can only reflect the Value but if that’s not clear the whole thing takes on a life of its own .. we might consider Coca-Cola.  What is the value in 12tsp of sugar and a bunch of chemicals in a can?  The product has become the marketing message – that’s what sells.

So value mining and refining is absolutely key… any error here and the whole stream is polluted.  So what do I mean by this?

mining Continue reading


Sales Secrets II – Staircases Not High Jumps

I learned this lesson the hard way.  And like all lessons learned the hard way it’s worth its weight in gold.  Mummy may have told you not to put your hand in the fire, but it’s only when you put your hand in the fire that you never forget again.

Over a decade ago I was busy marketing and selling my strategic risk system – Stratos.  This was (and is) a unique approach in so far as it looks at the chance of revenues falling below costs – ie a “real loss”. It may surprise you to know that all of the banking risk systems in the world – zillions of dollars worth – just look at the chance of income falling below zero – which is a very different thing.

The first thing I learned the hard way is evangelical selling.  This a rare thing – so rare I don’t think I have ever read much about it at all.  If you are selling a new toaster or new car people already understand the concept of toaster and car, and you are doing comparative selling.  Why is your toaster/car better? But if you have invented a whole new concept the sell is more around why the concept is valuable – you need to create the market – a veeery different type of sale.

The second thing I learned which has been extremely useful in all subsequent sales contexts is incremental commitment.  Contrast this staircase…

small staircase Continue reading


The Marmite Principle

Personally I can’t stand the stuff but many people love it. Allegedly lol.


Most of us – corporately or individually – dislike being disliked.  Much of our behaviour is orientated towards not being disliked. Well post-teenage maybe 🙂

However the price of trying to blend in, not stand out, is well we don’t stand out.  Now historically that wasnt a problem as there were jobs aplenty and less over-competition amongst companies and organisations.

Now however its important – in order to get attention and action – that we stand out.  That we move from reasons not to dislike us or our products and services to the possibility of loving us/our products/our services.

If we want to be chosen we need to stand for something.  In standing for something we don’t stand for something else and folks will criticise us or dislike us.  However others will want what we have and will choose us.

The time for being bland and generally likeable has passed.  You (or your products/services) need to be lovable, desirable.

You don’t have to be a purple cow as in the prior post, but you do have to be Marmite.


Purple Cows – Getting Noticed vs Being Distinctive

The High Priest of 21stC BizDev thinking must be Seth Godin – love him or hate him (a few do).  If you have been hiding in a cave since the last millennium and rather missed 21stC BizDev thinking, I’d recommend starting to catch up with any of the YouTubes by Godin I have never actually managed to finish any of his books … they tend to read like a strong of blog posts stuck together.  He has blogged daily for years and there are some great pearls in there – surrounded by a lot of sand.

One of the distinctive titles of his over a dozen books is the Purple Cow.  This has been interpreted, reinterpreted and misinterpreted.  You drive past a field and amongst all the same-old cows there’s a purple cow:

Purple Cow image

So it gets noticed right? And you remember it right? And you tell your mates right? So that’s the “get noticed” vibe. And you can see it makes sense.  I recently heard of someone in an office where they put a job online. Within four hours they had received 200 CVs (and that’s probably not a lot). So how to stand out? How to get noticed?

Set against this “standing out” can be taken too far (especially as this is culturally determined).  You could send in a lavender-scented CV on bearskin – now hey that would stand out but would it help? Continue reading