Your Sales and Marketing – Duck Hunting and Tough Questions

“Marketing is spreading out corn for the ducks to eat… Sales is taking a shotgun and shooting the sitting ducks.”

-Eli Goldratt

It’s obvious. Marketing brings them in. Sales takes them out. But in our chaotic, multi-tasking, unfocused, fighting fires, slaying dragons, keeping the business running kind of days our execution of the obvious goes askew and we get into trouble.

When we’re not careful, here’s the definition we business owners seem to apply…

Marketing is spreading out filet mignon for the ducks to eat, because I love steak. Sales is taking a shotgun and shooting up in the air like a madman at the ducks who happen to fly overhead.

Or, even worse…

Marketing is putting out filet mignon for the ducks to eat, because that’s what we sell, filet mignon. Sales is taking a shotgun and shooting ourselves in the foot in a desperate attempt to convince the ducks that they really like steak instead of corn.

It’s a mess, isn’t it? It doesn’t even make any sense, does it? But when you are caught up running a business the obvious and the sensible sometimes are hard to come by.

Are you putting out steaks? Do you know?

So what? What’s your point?

Ok, try answering these questions. These are not “how-to” type questions. They’re a kick you in the pants, slap you in the face, rethink how you think set of questions… but you’re an adult, you can take it.

  • Why am I marketing the way I am? Do I even know anymore? Can I answer this question?
  • Am I saying the things I say in my marketing mostly because it makes the company look good…and by extension, me look good? Am I? Be honest.
  • If I were to put my marketing message on a balance, which side would weigh more? The stuff talking about us (our product, our company, our stuff) or talking about the customer?
  • Do I know what the customer wants? How? Is this knowledge based upon the interpretation of 10 year old data or the experiences?
  • Am I spending the bulk of my effort pushing things on the customer? Or, am I naturally pulling customers into things they actually want?
  • Am I requiring my salespeople to be world-class snipers just to get easy sales?

What do your answers to these take-no-prisoner questions say? What do they hint? What would your company be like if you had different answers for them?


Marketing and sales isn’t always what you would enjoy or what makes sense to you. As a matter of fact, it’s safe to just assume the messages that work best won’t make much sense to you… because you’re not the customer.

Your fears are not their fears. Your ideas of success are not their ideas of success. Your concept of class, elegance, functionality, or effectiveness are not theirs. Your ideas of clarity are not theirs. Your ideas about desirability are not theirs.

Remember, you’re on the inside. You are inside the industry, insides the market, inside the company, inside the production process, and inside sales process. Your customer is on the outside. Things look very different on the outside versus the inside.

Finally, remember, those on the outside don’t have to do business with you. But you, on the inside, must do business with them to survive, much more to thrive.

Better results will come if you keep this wake up call in mind as you make decisions improving your marketing and sales processes.

The Small Business and The “One-Man-Show” Mentality

The “one-man-show” mentality is a reality for most people who decide to start their own business. It simply means deciding to do everything yourself. And it doesn’t work…

When you have your own business you have to wear many different hats. That’s true! But it doesn’t mean that you have to or should wear all the hats. Going “solo” doesn’t mean “going alone” all the way.

Most people are good in certain things and not so good in others. So it makes sense to do yourself what you do well, and leave what you can’t do to someone else. You can’t do everything from marketing your business to answering emails. You simply won’t have the time or the skills.

So here are 3 simple rules you should follow closely:

  1. Do yourself what you can do well;
  2. Focus your efforts on marketing and growing your business;
  3. Get competent people to do what you can’t or don’t have time to do.

These are simple but effective rules. The way to go about this is to make a list of everything that needs doing. You’ll certainly have a long list. Just by looking at it you’ll know you can’t do it all on your own.

Now ask yourself what out of that long list you can do yourself to a good standard and that will not take you away completely from what matters, which is marketing your business. Make those your responsibility. For the other tasks you’ll have to find the right people to help you.

Now I know what you are thinking: “I don’t have the budget for this!” The fact is that this comes with the territory of owning your business. Yes, you will need to spend some money. But the work will get done, to a much higher level and a lot faster than if you ever attempted to do it. So you can start making money sooner.

Don’t be an Island. Don’t attempt to do it all on your own. You’ll be so overwhelmed you’ll want to give up. Share the weight and you’ll see that it pays off. Get good people to help you with the tasks you’re not so good at. Do yourself what you’re good at and focus your efforts on marketing and growth.

Retail Web Solutions Market Small Businesses And Let You Laugh At Recession

Let me tell you a story. A success story.

My grandfather was an Irish immigrant’s son with a third grade education. He was also a tireless salesman and astute planner who taught me the power of strong revenue. He started Southern Supply and Manufacturing Company in 1927, which prospered and survived through the depths of the Great Depression. This humble ‘paddie’ made himself a millionaire before WWII. Back then, that was a lot of money.

“Gaga,” as we grandkids called him, raised 9 children in fine style, selling his Gold Seal Cutlery products. He left the Company to his sons, my uncles. As listed in Hoover’s, Southern Supply continues today with 25 employees and $1.2M of annual revenue.

Eighty years is a long history for a small business, considering 95% of all startups fail within 5 years. What made Gaga’s success possible? No doubt there were several factors. But Southern Supply survived on great adaptability.

At one point, it became impossible to compete with imported cutlery by continued manufacturing. Gaga responded by importing and selling the very foreign products that were stealing his market share. Which restored revenue. Bold, masterful strategy was his hallmark.

In good times or bad, any business will prosper or fail on revenue. Local, national, or international, whatever the product or service, it’s the same for all companies. Strong sales will pull you through transportation system failures, national economic downturns, or any other hardship, because when times get tough, whatever the reason, you can ramp up marketing to compensate by driving higher sales volume.

How to accomplish this may not be obvious if your retail business is location-dependent. Everyone knows you need local traffic for retail. But read on.

Nowadays, any business can escape from classic ‘retail location-dependence’ — the bane of old-style storefronts. If your business works on a local street, chances are excellent it will work on the internet, with traffic that moves on electrons instead of sidewalks. You can find out about the web as an option in a few weeks with a few hundred dollars of working capital. Plus big doses of moxie and sweat.

Any business based on products or services which can be delivered digitally, or shipped to a buyer, can succeed internationally on the web. My locale, Jefferson County, WA would benefit hugely from more online conversions and startups. Expert know-how is available right here in Port Townsend.

These days, internet technologies make it possible for just about any business to ‘go virtual.’ You don’t just ‘need a web site,’ though. And I’m not talking about Ebay.

To make virtual business work, start with 5 key elements of marketing — strategy, niche, media, timing, and offers. Create a coherent, rational system. Hone your marketing message to a keen edge. Plan to get the right message in front of the right market, at the right time, through the right media, with an irresistible offer.

Then put up a serious e-commerce web site. It’s easier than you think. Create a digital storefront that really sells your offerings. Drive traffic to it. Get new orders. Fulfill your sales. Then relax while you count your increasing revenue stream.

I personally built my business web site, referenced below, with my own hands, to represent my marketing services — and just recently added information products. No programming was required. The cost? $120 per month includes the e-commerce shopping cart and hosted site-builder service.Any average business person can learn to do this. You could use a lot of expensive web design services if you prefer. But it’s better to spend your money on developing your marketing message because the real purpose of a business web site is not to look pretty or give out information.

Your business web site exists to market your business.

Forget the ferry. Laugh at recession, like my Gaga did. What it takes to survive and prosper is the right adaptations, You can make this success story into your success story.

© Joseph Riden