HOW TO FIX YOUR MARKETING PLAN AND START WINNING AGAIN

Tips on how to fix your marketing plan from Derek Champagne

  • Have a plan!
  • Marketing doesn't have to be that complicated. There are some fundamentals that if we follow these, we can all be enthusiastic about marketing.
  • What makes you different than others?
  • Know your target customers
  • Use the right tools
  • Build relationships

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Marketing doesn't have to be that complicated. There are some fundamentals that if we follow these, we can all be enthusiastic about marketing.

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Doug: Well, welcome back listeners to another episode of Real Marketing Real Fast. Today I've got joining me in studio Derek Champagne. He is a serial entrepreneur with over 15 years experience developing effective marketing campaigns. So tune in, get your notepad ready, and sit down, get ready to learn about how to drive your business, increase sales by having an effective marketing plan.

Derek will share his history of growing up from humble beginnings on stage at the age of three, his years as a Hollywood musician, and his diverse journey to where he is today. He is the founder and CEO of the Artist Evolution, a full-service agency building memorable brands, marketing tools, and campaigns for startups to household brands. Derek is also the author of a best selling book, “Don't Buy a Duck,” and I'm sure he'll be happy to share more about that and the host of a popular business leadership series podcast that also airs on a weekly business show on ESPN radio regionally.

Derek now aims to educate entrepreneurs and business owners and marketers through a marketing webinar, which I'm sure he'll share a little bit more with us a little later, and he is a published musician and a contributor with soundtracks that have been featured on ABC, MTV, Bravo, and Oxygen. So welcome to the Real Marketing podcast today.

Derek: Doug, thanks so much for having me. I'm a big fan of your show as well and I love what you're doing to help entrepreneurs and business owners out there to become better marketers.

Doug: Well thanks so much. You and I are both kind of in the same camp and I think marketing is super important and I'm not sure why not everybody's in our camp, but that's why we're here, right?

Derek: Absolutely. Hey, I think I know why not everybody is in our camp.

Doug: Okay.

Derek: I think I have a hypothesis on this.

Doug: Okay.

Derek: That is, and I talk about this often, is in the '60s there was five marketing channels. If you've seen the show “Mad Men,” it's easy to get excited now. It's easy to be … I'm not saying it's easy to be creative, but many of us, many of your listeners, we're creative. We like the marketing issue, but there are things about our business we can be creative with, but back then in the '60s, you had a few choices. You did your creative and you put it in a print ad, on radio or television. So that was easy. Now there are over 70 marketing channels.

Doug: Wow.

Derek: The reason some of us aren't excited is that we don't know where the heck to put our money. We're not sure what to do. I don't want to waste it, it's expensive. I'm a small business owner, too. I've worked with over 1000 brands and reviewed what works and doesn't, and that's what I talk about in my book. But I'm a small business owner too and I know how much it costs and how you have to tighten the belt in other areas when you make bad decisions. I think that's why some of us are … the word marketing kind of eludes and evades some of us and so one of my missions in life is to help pull back the veil and go, “Hey, it's not … It doesn't have to be that complicated. I know there's a lot of marketing channels, but there are some fundamentals that if we follow these, we can all be enthusiastic about marketing.”

Doug: I think often we get … and I'll speak for myself. You get excited about what's new and the shiny new object and so I find myself looking at new stuff and often pulling out my credit card and saying, “Hey, let's buy this and try this. If it works, I'll take it to my clients,” but it really becomes something new. Why don't you start us off with the basics? You're saying, get the basics right and I know before we started airing, we talked about some of the crisis points in marketing and I think that would be a great place to start if you want to just share with our audience how do we get going?

Derek: I'd love to do that. In my book, “Don't Buy a Duck, Stop Wasting Money and Only do Marketing That Works,” that's a bold thing to say, right, especially with all the shiny objects we have out there. I love shiny objects, too, but over the last 15 years, I've had a chance to review closer to 1500 brands. I say 1000, but it's been well over that now, and to see what works and what doesn't. I'm talking about household brands. Our industry works with some household names and startups. So from startups to household brands, and we started to find these five crisis points. I didn't just make them up. They just kept occurring, even some of the bigger brands. When we looked and said, “Why are these brands getting stuck? Why are these campaigns not working? Why is there frustration?” It kept coming back to these five anchor points.

I'll talk about them. Some of these are very simple, but I've rarely seen even a smart marketer that at the end doesn't go, “Yeah.” And when they look at it closely and go, “Yeah, we need to tighten that up a little bit, we need to fix that,” so here's the five, and don't feel bad if you don't have them all.

The first one is really simple. It's who am I? Who are you as a business? What do you stand for? What's your value proposition, in other words, what makes you different than others? What makes you relevant? What's the framework that you want to be known for? We have several exercises we do here, but understanding who you are also means understanding your competition. I've heard people often say, “Well, Derek. I don't want to copy my competition.” I don't want you to copy them either, but I want you to understand your entire landscape of your marketplace, your entire industry.

I want you to understand it, because knowledge is power. When you understand who your competition is, you understand who you are, go to your competition and do a really simple study. Figure out everybody who's in competition with you, directly, indirectly, look what they're doing for their press releases, their promotional offers, their key messaging. Who are they talking to? How are they doing on social media? What kind of responses are they getting? Are they doing direct mail, print, TV, magazines? What's their SCO like? Document it. Put it in a Word document. I don't care where you put it, but put all of your competition and see what they're doing.

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Marketing doesn't have to be that complicated. There are some fundamentals that if we follow these, we can all be enthusiastic about marketing.

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Here's one reason why that's important because you can see where there's a gap in the marketplace for your voice, for who you are. I like to do an exercise that says, “How do I want to be known in five or ten years from now with my business? What do I want people saying? What moods and emotions and adjectives and phrases, what's the experience like?” We have a really unique opportunity as business owners, as marketers, to shape perception in an authentic way. We don't want you to deceive, obviously, your target customers, but if you're saying, “Here's who we aspire to be. Here's who I am and who I want to be,” we can start shaping everything we do around that and that's important for 100 different reasons, but a couple of the top ones are if you have employees, they need to know who they are and who they're representing.

Doug: Sure.

Derek: They're your brand ambassadors.

Doug: Yeah.

Derek: And your customers, especially those who are enthusiastic about you, need to know how to refer you. When you understand who you are very clearly, you can help shape an experience.

Think about a company like Starbucks. Love 'em or hate 'em, when you go in one you know what you're going to experience. I can smell the smells in Starbucks, I can hear the clinking of the … you can hear it right?

Doug: Absolutely.

Derek; I can even see who's in the corner working on their computer, I can taste a blueberry scone, I can smell the aromas. I get it. It's consistent and they know who they're going to be. Number one, knowing who you are. I call it the brands Bermuda Triangle. So many brands get stuck and they're spending all this money and they're like, “Why aren't we getting traction?”

Well, let's start by looking at the crisis points. You understand who you are, you understand who your competition and the landscape is, who are they? Do you really know your target customers? That's the second one, who are they?

I call it the brands Bermuda Triangle because brands get lost often in not knowing this connection. When you're understanding your target customer, I want you to understand more than just their age, or it's a female. You need to know more things about them.

Doug: That 25-54.

Derek: Right, exactly. People go, “Derek, Facebook advertising doesn't work.” “It doesn't, well, who are you trying to reach?” “Well … “. If you're getting foggy anywhere, stop right now. Pause all your advertising until you get these crisis points, because then when you un-pause and make adjustments, you are going to start seeing traction.

But marketers and business owners, we get lazy a lot of times and we just … we see the next shiny object. Every time you log into Facebook, you're going to see another option of the new funnel that's going to be magic. Another person that overnight made $10 million. They're going to teach it to you, you buy it, and then you leave disappointed and void and empty.

Doug: It's not just me that sees those, eh? Wow.

Derek: Even us just talking about it, now we're going to see more ads.

Doug: That's right.

Derek: It never ends. So to come in methodically and understand these crisis points, it empowers you. I'm telling you, this is … we have a proven track record and these are the five anchor points that when you fix them you'll do well. You understand who you are, you understand who they are, and think of a relationship. It's not enough just to know your target customer in a few ways. If you take your significant other out and they're vegan and you take them to the best steakhouse in town, how's that going to go for you?

Doug: Not so well.

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Marketing doesn't have to be that complicated. There are some fundamentals that if we follow these, we can all be enthusiastic about marketing.

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Derek: Not so well, and so you need to understand them. Build a relationship with them. Then understand other things about them, their buying patterns, their hobbies, the stage of life they're in, their education levels, their religion, all of those things. The simple ones are age, gender, income, things like that, but really get to know them. We've had target customer … we've had our own clients before when we started working with them, didn't know the geography, the geographical location of their customers, and they were spending money on ads.

Doug: Wow, that's interesting.

Derek: That's not uncommon. I'm telling you, it's not. Don't burn through that money and go, “Oh, it didn't work.” Let's understand why things are and are not working. You understand who you are, you understand who they are, and the third one is having the right tools.

This happened at our own agency, I'm embarrassed to say, a couple months ago. We did this kind of re-launch, niche down campaign, and then somebody didn't want to redo the website and they said, “We can use the current tools we have.” I said, “We teach on that. Don't … if you have a great brand and a great campaign and you know who you're going after, you understand your messaging, you know who you're talking to and what matters to them and you can make an emotional connection, you know what world they live in, you know their environment and you know how to break bread with them now because you know who they are and you know who you are, why then would you not adjust your marketing tools, your website, your landing pages, your messaging, to match that? So often we see brands get some other parts right and then skip making the tools right.

Have you seen a great campaign and you follow and then it leads to a dead end website? I have.

Doug: Yep. Yeah, I've seen bad links.

Derek: Why did you not-

Doug: Yeah, and their social people post.

Derek: Connect the dots?

Doug: Absolutely.

Derek: You're spending money, they're spending money on it. Again, stop wasting money and only do marketing that works. These are the steps. So fix your tools, please. Pause your campaign if your tools don't work because those little tweaks that you make on your tools, that's the smallest. “I don't want to spend the money.” You're about to waste a lot of money if you don't. I'm not saying, “Go buy a new website.” I don't sell websites. I'm just saying make sure your tools work.

Go in and look at them and put them under a criteria of questions. Is this accomplishing my desired objective? Am I holding their hand and leading them through to a sale because they came here? I spent money to get them here, now am I finishing the job? If not, I'm doing a disservice. Is this representing the brand that I want to represent? Is it inspirational to the level that I want them to know me for, or am I just phoning this part in?

Doug: Sure.

Derek: Well, it's not going to work if you do that. So we understand who we are, who they are, we have the right tools, and the next part is having a plan. Have a plan. I have a chapter in my book that says if things aren't going according to plan, perhaps you don't have a plan. Because if you don't have a plan, you're in trouble. I've seen so many companies, even growing companies, even huge, multi-million dollar companies that don't have the right plan and they're hoping that what got them there will get them to the next phase and it won't. It might, but not forever, because if you think you have no competition, look in the rear-view mirror. There might be some on the way, or you might hit the maturity of your business. You've got to have a plan in place. You have to.

When you have a plan in place, it's easier for your team to follow and it's even easier for your referrals and your customers and everyone else around your brand to follow, so have a plan. It doesn't have to be a complicated plan. Write it on a couple pieces, on a piece of paper if you have to, but follow it. Having a plan is important.

Then the fifth thing is consistent execution. I've seen so much great creativity fall on the cutting room floor when it was not meant with implementation and execution.

Doug: Yep.

Derek: When I see things not work in our audits, often when we do deep audits with companies to see what's going on, and that's why we have these five crisis points, we often see that they had the great ideas, they had great tools, they understood who they were, and they did not follow through with consistent implementation and execution. You have to. My two words I live by in my life are without fail. That's my mantra since I was a teenager. If I'm going to do something. I'm going to do it without fail. I'm going to write the plan, I'm going to follow it without fail.

Doug: Yep. That's cool.

Derek: When you do things without fail, you start to get results. I like to make a football analogy, and I'm a casual sports fan, but think about first downs. Most football happens first downs at a time, especially college football, first downs, first downs, first downs. It's not usually someone catches a pass and then runs 90 yards. Those are the fun, exciting ones, and that's what you're looking for with those shiny objects, but most good marketing, most good football happens to another first down. Get to another first down. That end zone are your objectives that you write out in your plan and when you look back, every time you look back, as long as you're making first downs you are farther down the field.

So in that analogy, there has to be a quarterback. Execution requires a quarterback. I had the opportunity, the privilege of owning a couple of companies with one of my mentors who worked with some of the largest companies, wrote with some of the largest business authors, and when I would do business strategy sessions with him and I would watch him write out on the whiteboard, we'd write all these execution pieces and then he would always go to who's the number one on this? Who is responsible for this action? Okay. Now who's responsible for this action? The quarterback makes sure that there's an assign of every single action item for execution that is assigned to somebody and that's their job. When you have a number one on everything in your marketing plan and you're executing consistently, you will make first downs. Those are the five crisis points.

Doug: The other thing that's interesting about your analogy of first downs that came to my mind was you talked about knowing your customer more, so who are they, and knowing them more deeply and I think often as marketers, we want to get that 90-yard run.

Derek: Right.

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Marketing doesn't have to be that complicated. There are some fundamentals that if we follow these, we can all be enthusiastic about marketing.

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Doug: We don't think of first downs and the first down is connecting with somebody and then engaging and starting to build a relationship. It's not somebody seeing me on social and then going to a hard 16-page sales copy with a video, pull out your credit card, buy now, limited time offer. There's no relationship. That's looking for the home run, the grand slam, the punt return for a touchdown.

Derek: Absolutely, yes. You bring up a great point. If I can, there's a chapter in my book that's called “The Yellow Pages are Dead and Other Lies Businesses Tell Themselves.”

Doug: That's funny.

Derek: That really is meant to ruffle feathers, Doug. It is. Because we all know … The Yellow Pages? Come on. But it was meant to have people go, “Oh, come on,” and open it up and be like, “Is this guy really going to make a plug for the Yellow Pages? It didn't even work for YP. What's his deal?” No, I did not. But my point is I want to challenge to just write something off because you just think it doesn't work. Once you objectively look at who you are and who they are and then I want you to build bridges, so on my left side is my product and service and it's good, right, I know who I am. On the right side is my customer. I understand them. I want to break bread with them. I want to build a relationship.

Now objectively, without bias, I say, “What are all the bridges I can build to take my left hand and right hand and bring them together so that we can live together and roll up our sleeves and work together and build a relationship?” I want to challenge all the things that we think don't work and just go, “How do I reach them?” Now that I know them, I get where I reach them. I like to build campaigns in three buckets if I can share those quickly.

Doug: Sure.

Derek: The three buckets I like to have, and to your point, yes, you can't always just run to a quick sale, but I put weight in three categories, and I do this to empower marketing managers, often who are going, “I want to do these PR campaigns, but there's no … or this community outreach, but I'm not getting any buy-in from the board,” or whatever it is. I go, “Great. Well, share these three buckets with them.”

The bucket on the left is all about new customer acquisition. This external marketing. Everything here I do, I do have a weight on it. If I put a dollar in, I want to know what my return's going to be. This is all about bringing people in to become customers and everything I do here is focused on that. It's all focused on that.

My middle bucket is a little different. It's about retaining customers. It's my internal marketing. In this one here, I want to cross pollinate my services because my existing customers are more likely to buy from me, I want to do signage and discounts and referral programs and just make sure they're happy because there's a finite number of customers some of us have and depending on what nature of vertical we're in, and we can't just burn through all new customers all the time. We've got to take care of our existing ones or we're going to run out of people to sell to.

Doug: That's right.

Derek: Oftentimes I see businesses only focusing on buying new customers and they're neglecting. I'll say, “Don't buy any new customers until you're taking care of your existing ones. Take care of them first and template that and then bring on new ones.” There's the external campaign all on new customer acquisition, there's the middle one based on retention and cross-pollination of services and upsells.

The other category is my blue skies good will category. That's the one where I am in the community and I'm doing community involvement, I'm doing good will. I'm doing networking and giving back. That is all about staying top of mind and tip of tongue, but I have a different weight on that category. Those three buckets are a really healthy way, from my experience, of building an integrated marketing campaign that is not just about a quick sale. It's also about growing market share and value for a brand that wants to become an institution.

Doug: Yeah, that's a really good way to break it up, because you're right. Often you don't get budget or buy-in unless it's all about new acquisition. It's all about, “Hey, bring us new people, bring us new people.” It's like, hey, the bucket's got a hole. We're losing customers. Why don't we plug the bucket before we spend any more money on marketing and figure out what the problem is?

Derek: Absolutely. That's spot on. Absolutely.

Doug: So with the … I want to go back to one point, because when you were talking about who are they, or who am I rather, one thing that came to mind is that it seems like, and I've done this before, we want to be all things to all people. I think sometimes people are afraid to define who they are because they go, “Well, I might miss somebody.” How do you help people get past that? Figure out exactly who you are because the people that are like you, or like you, will do more business with you.

Derek: Doug, I like to use a personal example because I am a consultant, I'm an agency owner, and I've been helping people do that for a decade. It was not until the beginning of this year that our agency finally practiced what we preached. I like to use myself as a case study for this answer.

We were trying to be all things to all people. We were a me-too agency, to be honest with you. We're really good. We're helping a lot of clients do a lot of things, but if somebody needed a website, we'd figure out how to make it. We didn't want to miss anything. I remember talking with a friend who's also a consultant and I was kind of telling him what we do. We've got household brands we work with and I was naming all these different industries, and he goes, “Huh.” He said, “That's kind of trouble. You need to niche down.” I was like, “Oh, you're so right.” We can't be all things to everybody, we can't.

We actually … when you're trying to do everything, you can't do it as well.

Doug: Yep, absolutely.

Derek: When you're juggling 99 things and you've got integrity and you're good at customer service and you'll figure it out, well guess what? At some point, you're going to drop a ball when you're juggling 99. You're better off holding the three that you do well or the two that you do well and focusing on the right people to juggle that for and to build it for. We didn't do that, for 10 years, and we took a hit in January of this year, a big hit. Now we outsold it, but it was significant. We had some non-renewals on a few retainers and it hurt, Doug. We had some people that had been with us for eight, ten years that retainer didn't renew and we realized that we were not practicing what we preach.

So we had to do the who am I all over again. Here I am with a book about it.

Doug: That's right.

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Derek: And I wasn't practicing. I should have stopped and read my book for a few minutes.

Doug: That is funny.

Derek: And so we did. Being painfully honest here, and so we realized, we went back to the drawing board and said, “What do we do well? What is it that we do that is not easily duplicatable? What is our value proposition? What do we hang our hat on?” We are one of the best in the country at building strategic plans, we call them playbooks. They're second to none. So we decided we're going to focus on building a good strategy. We're not going to be the web agency, we're not going to compete with all these digital agencies, because we were making a bunch of enemies that we didn't need to have. We don't want to be a digital marketing company.

We decided to be the company that is going to be build expert strategy and do a three-phase implementation program. Then we're out. We're going to be the best at that. We said, “Well, that's not really enough, because we can't work with everybody. How are we going to get good?” Our team was starting to get frustrated because, and that wasn't fair as an owner for me to frustrate my account managers, to have to be everything to all people, so we said, “How else do we niche down?” We said, “We're going to focus on who we best serve and that is banks, growing banks, financial institutions, and healthcare technology companies.” But we work with all these restaurants and dentists and all these things. Great. We can keep them, but from now on, we are going to focus on helping healthcare technology companies, because we do really well for them and they appreciate our services and they're growing fast and they need our help, and banks.

Well, that's not enough either. You've seen how much we've niched down. We're going down to two things, to two groups, we've got to go even farther down. What are we going to do? Well, we have to get the buy-in from a marketing director for a CMO. Yikes. That's a tough cookie. That's a tough nut to crack for an agency. It's a love, hate relationship between a CMO and an agency. Well, we've got to get their buy-in if we're going to work with them. We shifted even farther and we niched down to be a CMO's BFF and all of our targeting is all about, all of our messaging, went all the way down to health technology and banks saying, “We are your CMO's BFF and our job is to make you look good. You're Batman, we're Robin. Can you relate to these challenges? Does this sound familiar? We're here to help. We'll help to fill in that gap.”

You see how much I've explained with my own agency how we went from being everything to all people, we have an international pizza company we work with to an Ivy League school to a dentist from New York to California. Well, not anymore.

Doug: That's really amazing and cool.

Derek: You see how broken that is? Doug, it's really hard to do, but one of the consultants we talked with said it is better to not make a decision. It's better to niche down too far than to not niche down at all.

Doug: That's interesting because I had just written a book on email marketing and someone had asked me, “Who's your ideal customer?” Exactly what you said. I paused for a minute because the book is all about renting third-party email lists and who is my ideal customer? My ideal customer is a venture capital company that's raising money.

Derek: Perfect.

Doug: They went, “That's pretty niche.” I went, “Well, that's where I add the most value, but that's also my most profitable client, so could I rent a list for somebody that wanted to spend $1000 to sell XYZ,?” Yes, I could, but that's where we went. As you said, it took me … even after writing the book, it took me a while to say I can't help that guy with what he wants to do, that's not my expertise. It's financial guys in the US that are raising money.

Derek: I understand being a scrappy entrepreneur in the early days, bootstraps, you're kind of seeing what works. If this resonates with some of your audience, I've been there. I've had eight companies, four have failed, four have done pretty well. And so I understand that you kind of takes on … you're kind of exploring what will I be the best at? Who should my target customer be? I'm okay with that. I'm okay if in your early days you're taking on a few extra to see where your sweet spot's going to be and your offering and your target customer, but you've got to get to a decision pretty quickly of niching down and understanding here's what I'm really going to offer because it's got the best value. And you're right, you can't serve everybody. But it's easy to say yes when you're trying to get your business off the ground, say yes to everything, but it's dangerous to stay in that for too long.

Doug: Yeah. I tell people when we started the business we'd take anybody who could fog a mirror and write a check.

Derek: Right.

Doug: And then you realize-

Derek: It is true to become a master of none and that's what we can eventually become with the best intentions, and at the end of the day let me tell everybody, and I learned this the hard way, having the will and the best intentions and integrity for your customers and having the best customer service, that's important but that alone is not your unique value. It can't be, it cannot be your unique selling proposition at the end of the day. It can't be your only one.

Doug: So how has that transformed your team, your people?

Derek: Well, it's taken away frustration. It's allowed us to be really good at what we're doing. It's allowed us to do several things I'm really excited about and we're at the end of this process, so Doug, I'm sharing with you kind of us coming out … we're a butterfly coming out right now. It's really exciting for us. Even the way we're adopting new technology and I say new technology, even like using a Trello board. We went from having a retainer that was just an ongoing retainer, which kind of sounds boring now, a lot of CMOs don't want just an open-ended retainer with their agency. They want there to be an end date, so we put an end date. So we have an eight-week development of our marketing plan and then we have three 12-week implementation phases. See how I phrased that?

Each one is very intentional. That's really an 11-month retainer technically, but we don't phrase it that way so we were able to reposition how we offer the same thing almost. Now we're able to use a Trello board and we're like phase implementation one looks like this. Implementation two looks like this. We're able to paint a better vision. There's an off-ramp for the company so they don't feel like it's an unending retainer, and we're able to give a better visual of what's going to happen for the customer and that builds their trust more.

Doug: Yeah, and I think that approach obviously is more clearly defined, as you said, and something you can see and measure with an expectation that this is what we're going to execute in 12 weeks so at the end of that there's going to be a deliverable, some reports, and some analytics and some results we can look at before we take our next 12-week trudge.

Derek: Absolutely. Actually, all three 12 weeks are built out before the campaign even starts.

Doug: Yeah.

Derek: There is no guesswork on that. Now, is there adjustments that happen? Are there adjustments? Absolutely, but we follow an acronym I share in the book that we coined called PETMAG, and we follow this with our campaign, because I talk often about being emotional or strategic, and it's hard not to be emotion into your marketing when you're spending money. It's personal. It hurts.

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Marketing doesn't have to be that complicated. There are some fundamentals that if we follow these, we can all be enthusiastic about marketing.

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Doug: Sure.

Derek: When you see that you spent it, whether it went well or not. So we have this PETMAG, which is plan, execute, track, measure, adjust, and grow and we follow that with ourselves, our own campaigns, with our client campaigns, and when we've done the right plan and we're executing properly, we're tracking, there's no emotion there. We're strategic. We measure, we adjust, and we grow. It's that simple. We take the emotion out of marketing. We keep the emotion in for making a connection. Emotion is important in making a connection but it's not … it doesn't have a place … I have a chapter in my book that says marriage should be an emotional decision, but marketing decisions should not be.

That's important to have that mindset. It's really important in all business growth, not just in marketing, is that your decisions are made from the top of the pyramid. If you're familiar … most are familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Doug: Yep.

Derek: When you're acting out of desperation and emotion, you're just trying to fulfill those basic caveman, cavewoman needs, food, shelter, air, water. That doesn't serve us well as business owners or as marketing decision makers. We need to be at the top of the pyramid where we're creative and we're strategic and operating out of acceptance and preparedness and meaning and potential. When you're doing that and you have a great strategy and plan, it's easier to do that and actually have fun with.

Doug: Well, I suggest too, and not only does it remove the emotion, but it helps to remove the ego because we've been in conversations where we're having discussions around what works and what doesn't work and when you come back to the analytics and the real numbers, you can be as emotional or as egotistic as you want about it, but the numbers are the numbers.

Derek: That's such a great point. What that reminds me of too is, and I talk about this in the book some, is research. We have a lot of interns that come in and we've had a great internship program here at our agency, and they always leave going, “Man, I had no idea there was that much research involved in marketing.” Like, yeah, it's mostly research. It's not about being the smartest person in the room with the best idea. It's about yes, creativity has an important role and it needs to be cloaked. That's one of the outer layers that are important, but in strategy, there have been others that have paved the way and if you're first to market you can still look and see well who am I marketing to?

If you're new to the market, this is a great way to build a campaign. One of the keys that's worked for us is even if it's a first time going to market, if we understand who we're reaching out to like I talked about early on, we can go find other companies that have reached out to them and what they've done. There are all kinds of studies and reports and how they communicated and there's a lot of primary research they've done for hundreds of thousands of dollars sometimes that you can go and get and get a pretty good idea of what's worked in communication and platforms to that new customer that you're trying to reach.

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SHARE THIS EPISODE: HOW TO FIX YOUR MARKETING PLAN AND START WINNING AGAIN

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HOW TO FIX YOUR MARKETING PLAN AND START WINNING AGAIN

Marketing doesn't have to be that complicated. There are some fundamentals that if we follow these, we can all be enthusiastic about marketing.

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Doug: Yeah, and sometimes the research is inexpensive and sometimes it might be thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, but compared to doing it yourself in terms of the time, like you said, writing a six-figure check, it's a good ROI.

Derek: Right, absolutely.

Doug: What are you most excited about in the next six months in your agency, in the ad business, the marketing business, what are you most excited about?

Derek: Yeah, I'm excited about. I talked about our niche down campaign, but I'm so excited to launch this. I'm just excited about we're operating in our sweet spot now. I'm excited about … I'm excited in general in the industry. It seems like the marketing industry is supersaturated, but by us niching down, we've actually made a lot more friends.

I'm going to give you a specific example. We had a competitor that after we did our niche down, I've got a show here, a radio show and so I talk about it. Our competition heard it and our competition actually reached out to us after we niched down and became a non-competitor and they started … they referred a big percentage of their business to us because they're also niching down and going a different direction.

Doug: That's cool.

Derek: That was another value for us, yes. Now we're able to go and make more partners, not that we weren't before, but because we're staying in our sweet spot. I'm excited about partnerships with other agencies, to be honest with you. There's a great opportunity for us to cross-pollinate services and all grow in an authentic way. I really want to … Another thing I'm excited about too is we're really lifting, we're trying to lift the veil on marketing. I think marketing gets … with our target, who agencies are considered a necessary evil.

Doug: Yep.

Derek: To a lot of our target, these bigger companies. They're like, “Well, we have to work with the agency,” but they don't always know what they're getting. You're kind of taking a gamble sometimes when you hire an agency. We're trying to pull the veil back and say and show here's what your experience is going to be like. There's no guesswork once you work with us. Here's what you're going to get and we're doing a new video right now that shows behind the scenes of everything of here's how we're working in Trello together, here's how the updates look. We want the experience to be the same from the second they consider working with us all the way through the end of the year.

Doug: I think it was in a book I had read years ago by an author Chet Holmes, “The Ultimate Sale Machine,” and he talked about the advantage of niching down being just if nothing else all of your language, your terminology, and your collateral material and all your learning that you get in one industry. You don't have to recreate if you're selling to 50 different industries because you've got it.

Derek: Right.

Doug: As you said, then you're building relationships with those industries and you're being positioned as the expert in that industry.

Derek: Yeah, that's a great point. We did a … we took this word from somebody else. We had a guest speaker. It was a lady who was on Shark Tank. She's just a great leader. I'm trying to remember the name, but Retail Shock Therapy is her book endorsed by Daymond John who's on Shark Tank and we brought her in as a guest for a team building event we were doing. She looked at our materials and challenges we were having and she said, “[inaudible 00:30:53] wants to be the aspirational agency.” And I said, “That is the right word. You coined it. That's it.” We want to be the aspirational agency. The choice where people are lining up in our niche because we're the ones to work with because they aspire to work with us because of how we're doing our work.

Doug: I think the one thing we didn't cover in the niching down and working kind of in your superpower, and I think you alluded to it, is that when you're in your sweet spot, that's where you're probably not only most productive but you get the highest level of satisfaction.

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Marketing doesn't have to be that complicated. There are some fundamentals that if we follow these, we can all be enthusiastic about marketing.

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Derek: Yeah, absolutely. You know, most of us, when you're not operating your sweet spot, you start to have other challenges, and I know every business owner can relate to this. I did not get into the business I'm in to deal with HR and client and customer complaints and all that stuff. Oh my goodness. It bogs you down. If you know “The Big Leap,” which talks about your zone to genius and I did it to be creative and build things and help people and help businesses, but you end up spending most of your time when you're not in your sweet spot, you end up spending a big majority of your time restructuring and re-proposing and re [inaudible 00:32:02] and just … it's exhausting. Long-term it puts fatigue on you, so yeah, to your point when you niche down and you really get really good at your craft to a few good things to a few good people then you really start to operate and have that zone to genius satisfaction because you're doing what you should be doing.

Doug: I want to share a question I'm borrowing from Tim Ferriss's latest book, and that's what's some of the bad advice that you hear in the business world about marketing and marketing agencies?

Derek: In the business world. That they want to take over everything. They start to become the competition to the business, and that's … I was talking to somebody yesterday who said, “Man, it's hard to work with these marketing directors.” I'm like, “Well, you need to know how to position yourself to them. You need to be a servant to them.” The bad things we hear about agencies, really the biggest thing is that they want to take over. They end up being competition instead of an ally and your support to be a support team. The agency needs to be the support team and not … if you're feeling threatened, if you're threatening your customer with their job because you're coming in and taking over, that's not going to last very long for you.

Doug: No, it's not.

Derek: You're not going to do well. You have to come in … and of course, that's going to happen. Think about it. If you have a marketing director and they make a lot of marketing decisions, you need their buy-in. We have a company we work with, our publicly traded multi-billion dollar company, growing year after year, they've been with us for six years and one of the heads of their company pulled us aside and said, “I don't know if you've ever been told this, but you make our marketing director look really good and they've got a big marketing team.” Right away I said, “It's not us, it's them, but we're here to support them and that's our job.” It took five years of hearing that.

You know why we've had them for five years? Because we make them look good and we stay in the background and they stay the hero. I think our new URL as marketing strategy hero.net and that's to marketing directors and managers and it's making them the hero the whole time. We're like, “You're Batman and we're Robin.” So it's all about understanding their needs and saying, “We are here to support you and not to threaten you. Our job is to make you even better and that's what we're here to do. You can't do everything yourself and we're to help you do it.”

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Marketing doesn't have to be that complicated. There are some fundamentals that if we follow these, we can all be enthusiastic about marketing.

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Doug: And the other thing that you probably, you're aware of and share with our listeners is that CMOs, the turnover in CMOs is fairly high. When something's not going well in the company, often the CMO, the chief marketing officer gets the ax. If you've made an enemy you've just now removed yourself from one more potential customer because they're going to land someplace else. If you've made a friend and an ally, you're like to be their very first phone call and say, “Hey, I just landed a new place. I liked working with you. Give me 90 days to get my head around where I'm at and then I want to bring you guys in.”

Derek: It's such a great point. See, if you can position yourself as a tool for them, as a resource instead of a competitor, then when they go to that new place, they're like, “Oh, I've got an edge. I've got this company here that has … “. They're suddenly bragging that they have you.

Doug: Yep.

Derek: Instead of it being the other way around. It's all in positioning. That's been a big lesson for us as an agency. We know how to help position businesses, it's what we do, but we had to reposition ourselves, our internal mindset, how we present ourselves to our customers, how we relate to them, how we offer our services and it's really important to understand how you're relevant. We're always looking ahead to the marketplaces going where is my … and I'll encourage everyone to do this for your business or whatever you're in, is going how relevant is your product and service and your message? Is there things happening in technology and trends that you need to be aware of? We build this in our plans, that might be happening in your industry? Don't bury your head in the sand like an ostrich. Be aware of it because you might need to pivot. You might need to pivot.

Doug: Yep, absolutely.

Derek: Who would have thought 15 years ago in marketing, I was a gorilla marketing guy in Hollywood for a long time, there was no Facebook. There were none of those things.

Doug: That's right.

Derek: I mean, at 18 years old I went and got my first bulk mailing permit. I was sending out 200 press kits a month at 18. I was so proud of myself for being cutting edge.

Doug: That's funny.

Derek: I didn't know there as going to be this instant communication around the world where you could start a business in 24 hours. It's all changed so just be aware in your industry that your product, you may need to make a pivot at some point so just know your industry, know how to stay relevant and then you will have longevity if you understand how to do that.

Doug: Well I'm looking at your picture. When I'm doing a podcast I always have the picture of my guest up. So I don't think you're old enough to remember microfiche but I remember pulling data off of microfiche to get contact information.

Derek: That's awesome.

Doug: We could call the VPs at all the brokerage firms to get appointments and it was just cold calling so it was, get the microfiche printed off, get a highlighter pen and get on the phone and call.

Derek: That's back to when people looked forward to having the phone ring.

Doug: That's right. Yeah.

Derek: Imagine that mindset. Wouldn't that be fun?

Doug: Well. As you said, things have changed. Like you said, to your point, things are going to continue to change and we can't … none of us have a crystal ball, but we should anticipate that they're going to change.

Derek: And radically. What we're seeing right now with websites, with communication, with technology is just the intro of where it's going. We've barely scratched the surface of how technology is going to change the way we all communicate and that affects every single person no matter what business you're in.

Doug: You know, this might sound a little bit odd, but I like change. I went to an event in New York and it was called the Innovation Summit. I'm trying to remember who put it on, whether it was Inc or Forbes or one of the big magazines, but anyhow, so they had an artist draw a picture and they said what image could we draw or have our cartoon guy draw for you? It was exactly what you said. It was people with their head in the sand. A picture of a guy standing on a box with a pair of binoculars. They said, “Well what does that mean to you?” This is the image that I see in businesses. People are trying to hide from their problems, the issues, the changes, and so what I see is a better opportunity because I have a clearer view. Everyone is out of sight and the market is going to change and just accept that and embrace it and you'll be further ahead than trying to put it off.

Derek: That's great advice. That reminds me of the Stockdale paradox if you've read “Good to Great.” This is something I did in my own life, I did with our business. It's how we had the courage to make a change in January. The Stockdale paradox basically says be brutally honest about where you're at and what your current situation is.

Doug: Yep.

Derek; Be brutally honest but then have the vision, the hope, and the faith of where you're going. When you do that with your business, it's actually a positive thing. But do that with your personal and your professional life and just say, “Where am I?” Really honestly because it's so easy to read our own headlines and feed ourselves with the hype, especially in my marketing business when we're doing shows. We're always making headlines all the time because we're creating the headlines because we all can now. We all can be stars all the time. We all have our own platforms, but you've got to be brutally honest and have the courage to be brutally honest about where you really are and that means looking at how's my business, how's my service, how's my products. Okay, great, but do I have a good plan? Do I have a clear vision on how to get there? When you do that when your team can really rally around you because they know. They know what's going on. If you have a good vision, you can start to get your customers, your team, everybody to join you in going towards that vision.

Doug: Yeah, I think you brought up a good point. That's … Jim Collins is a great author and I've read his books, I've heard him speak and I think that there's lots of value in … because I think he aligns himself with a lot of the stuff you've talked about, having the right team and the right people and the right seat and get the wrong people off the bus. It makes a lot of sense. My favorite quote from him really that I take away because it's my personality style are BHAGS. The big, hairy, audacious goals. I set them to challenge myself. It's not a competition with anybody else, but I think that often as business owners and as marketing people we sometimes set our goals too low and if we just have a bit more courage and a bit more faith and I'm sure that comes from having a good plan, set the bar a bit higher.

Derek: Right. Yeah, that's great advice.

Doug: So two questions. Here's the tough question for you. Who's one guest I should absolutely have on my podcast?

Derek: Have you had Aaron Walker on your podcast?

Doug: I have not.

Derek: Man, that guy. He's contagious. Amazing. Must have, he's great. He speaks at a lot of marketing events but he is a world-class human being and businessman as well.

Doug: Excellent. Well, thank you. You knocked it out of the park. That's normally the toughest question I ask a guest. That stumps them all the time. Tell us a bit more about what you're doing and where people can find you.

Derek: Absolutely. Something I'm excited about now that we have going on is a webinar that I just released last week and there are some upcoming sessions and it's on the five crisis points. I go into more detail about it. I share some exercises and it is marketingstrategywebinar.net. I've also got a marketing course that my wife and I did together. She's an expert in branding, a branding expert, with me and that's champagnemarketingcourses.com. We've got some free resources on that page as well. Then I love connecting on LinkedIn. LinkedIn Derek Champagne. It's done well. It's been a great roadmap and resource I talk about how to set a budget, I tell you actual numbers on how to set your budget, talk about execution, talk about all these things here. Talk about brand strategies. That's at don'tbuyaduck.com, or you can find it on Amazon.

Doug: Okay. Do you want to share with our audience of why you named it Don't Buy a Duck or do you just want to let them buy the book and figure it out?

Derek: I'd love to share it. At eight years old, I remember being eight years old and my mom had one of these vehicles that every vehicle she had had the same feature and that was when we'd go by a yard sale it would automatically park and eject us into the yard sale. So I spent a lot of time at yard sales.

This particular time we had a 1984 Oldsmobile station wagon, green with the wood paneling. Just to give you an idea about our yard sale chariot. We went around the corner and I'd never wanted one before and I'll never want one again, but the stars aligned for me at eight years old and there was an actual real duck. Had a string on its webfoot, I named him Quackers right away and I said, “Mom, I got to have him.” I had $5 in my pocket and my brother had five and I convinced him to pull it together. It was $10.

My mom knew something I didn't. She said, “Are you sure you need that?” I'm like, “Mom, I gotta have it.” So we put it in a cardboard box, put it in the back of the car and I know all your listeners can relate to this, you know that feeling of buyer's remorse? Where the purchase was more fun than actually getting and using the product? We can relate to it with bad marketing decisions we've made or maybe you bought a designer dress or a boat or hopefully not a house on impulse, but something you shouldn't have bought.

About that time was the first time I had that feeling. Right when I had that feeling, the duck flew out of the box, like an albatross, took the whole wingspan of the car, went crazy in the car. We almost wrecked. Pulled over, got it to the neighbor's pond where it lived out its days.

But, when I talk with clients, I say, “Don't buy a duck.” Make sure you understand what you're buying. Don't buy the shiny objects. Let your money work for you. Then if you bought a duck, don't get stuck with the duck. There are ways of making adjustments. The whole premise of the book is based on that experience and then going through the over thousand brands that we've audited and reviewed over the past decade plus.

Doug: So there you go. Well, hey, thanks for sharing.

Derek: You bet, my pleasure.

Doug: So there you go listeners. It's another episode and your take away is don't buy a duck. We'll make sure that we've got all the contact information for Derek in the show notes as well as his social media links. I'd encourage you to check out his website, don't buy a duck but buy his book. Thanks for tuning in. Don't be shy. Leave us a comment or some feedback on the post once it's live and a review on iTunes would be great. Thanks for tuning in. We look forward to serving you on our next episode.

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SHARE THIS EPISODE: HOW TO FIX YOUR MARKETING PLAN AND START WINNING AGAIN

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Marketing doesn't have to be that complicated. There are some fundamentals that if we follow these, we can all be enthusiastic about marketing.

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