What To Do If You Own A Company and Need to Produce Better Digital Marketing and Sales Results with Less

Marketing ManagementSales LeadershipSales PipelineStrategic Planning

Discover the fastest, easiest way to empower your team for better digital marketing, sales, and overall business results.

You're a business owner, and wondering how to produce better digital marketing results with fewer people and dollars.

You’ve taken a pretty big hit by the pandemic.

Now, you're wondering how the heck you can produce better digital marketing and sales results with less.

As a former digital marketing agency owner, I've learned the intricacies of optimizing websites, managing digital marketing insanity, and hiring remote technology and creative workers, and I know I can guide you to produce better results with what you have.

You Don't Know What You Don't Know

How can you know what you don't know? 

You can't, and neither can I. But I find myself now the oldest guy in the Zoom rooms. My CEOs, vice presidents, and small business owners all seek the same thing; better business results by finding improved ways to manage digital marketing and sales teams.

The first thing you need to know to get better results is what's holding you back. 

When digital marketing and sales result suffer, invest time exploring the root cause by asking intelligent questions. The more you know about your clients, the more you will help them uncover what they don't know.

The Root Cause of Failure

The root cause of failure is failed thinking. When you fail to think clearly, you miss the mark. To avoid missing the same mark is to learn from your mistakes. The best way to learn from mistakes is to keep score of what counts the most and learn from the data on your dashboard and financial statements.

Failed thinking hurts successful execution. Maybe you hired another marketing genius who couldn't produce better leads. Or it could be the classic case of salespeople with fat base salaries who can't or won't sell. In some cases, it's you, the leader, who hasn't been ready to take a hard look in the mirror.

When you're thinking about the next best thing instead of thinking about how to empower your people, you get distracted. In turn, the team also gets distracted, frustrated, or worse. 

Making mistakes feels bad until you see the true purpose of failure - growth. The best leaders and teams learn together. Imagine losing the Super Bowl. Would you review the game tapes?

How to Get Clarity and Close Gaps

Do you see a pattern in how failed thinking could be an issue for you? How about the cost of failed thinking when it comes to your leadership team and front-line managers? What could the gap be between your thinking, vision, mission, and purpose for your company and the thinking of anyone on your team?

It's time to find out.

What's your Clarity Score?

Click here to take the assessment online. It's a free and strictly confidential online assessment that you and anyone on your team can take in less than five minutes.

When you read the list of statements, answer each item on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest.

  1. I am clear about the company goals and desired results. 
  2. I am clear on the company mission statement and can easily remember it. 
  3. I am clear on our company vision statement and find it inspiring when I share it. 
  4. I am clear on our company's purpose and feel it aligns with me as a person.
  5. I am included in the company's strategic planning process.
  6. I know the company's core values, and I believe we are committed to them in our actions.
  7. I am aware of our company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT).
  8. I am accountable for the plan of action along with everyone else on the team.
  9. I know the primary measures of the organization's success.
  10. I am trusted and able to trust others to help us achieve the primary goal.

Total your score and see how close you come to 100 - the perfect Clarity Score. Our strategic coaching programs are not about helping you be flawless, but to perform better each and every day.

Whether you ask yourself and your leadership team these questions informally or online here, you can begin on a path toward better marketing, sales, and business results by asking the questions that truly matter, and being honest. That's the first step toward better thinking.

Your success will be driven by clear thinking, knowing what not to do, and learning how to produce better digital marketing and sales results with fewer resources.

Ready to get started? Schedule your free strategic coaching session today. Click here.

The Root Cause of All Small Business Marketing Problems Is Leadership Mindset

Most small business owners and leaders agree it's easy to lose our minds and shirts making marketing work. Why does marketing fail so often, and what's the root cause? Leadership mindset. Here's why.

In my experience, marketing, sales, customer service, and financial success for all organizations is the function of a leadership mindset. Mindset comes from your character and core values. If you're ever tried to do a great job and follow a leader with less than virtuous core values and commitments they keep, you know how madding it can be.

How do you assess the core values, beliefs, and qualities of character that stem from good virtues versus behavior that drags us down into the trenches of darkness at work? Simple. Leverage professional assessment tools that are scientifically validated and capable of revealing what's in the head, heart, and soul of any leader.

Born To Market, Sell, and Serve

I was born into marketing, sales, and being a servant leader. I learned my earliest lessons in small business ownership and leadership by watching my father manage his small businesses over the years. My father has been to me a legendary small business owner, marketer, and caretaker of humanity. (R.I.P., dad. I'm doing my best down here!)

Most of my professional life has been invested in learning to market, communicate clearly, and help others get what they want. I've been blessed to start, self-fund, and sell two small businesses.

The primary success I've enjoyed has been helping other business owners and leaders get what they want. My goal is to encourage more small business owners and leaders to know that we're all in sales if we care about helping others and making a difference everywhere we go.

#1 Lesson

Here's the #1 lesson I've learned from my life-to-date work building small companies and learning to love the small victories amid all the failure we find making marketing work well for investors, business owners, and leaders.

The root cause of all marketing failure lies in the mindset of leaders and owners. Mindset is the character and core values, or lack thereof, of the ownership and leadership team of the organization. In other words, marketing only works when willing and able people with aligned core values that are most virtuous make it work over long periods of time.

What else holds us back when it comes to making marketing work? Impatience and lame expectations are among the worse offenses we can make in marketing. We are far too impatient with marketing results. We wing it when investing in websites, search engine optimization, stupid Ninja marketing tricks that never work, and salespeople who can't or won't sell who are allowed to remain part of a failing culture and bottom line. Then we complain that nobody can do their job.

Look in the mirror, leaders! How can anyone follow us well and in good conscience unless we know how to master the "Inner Game" of being the best leaders and business owners we can be? The buck stops with us, the owners and leaders.

Here's What To Do Make Your Marketing Work Without Losing Your Mind and Shirt

The solution to fixing all marketing, sales, and customer service issues always lives in the heads, hearts, and souls of the owners and leaders of the organization. You can't solve any problem at the level it was created and this is very true with sales and marketing problems that choke us out of business.

Leaders must approach marketing as a process that extends for disciplined, inclusive, diverse strategic action planning. Most small company owners I meet do NOT have a written business plan. These are the same leaders who complain to me the most about past experiences hiring and managing marketing and salespeople. Customer service fits into the same matrix because if you run crappy, inauthentic sales and marketing campaigns, your crappy Karma will make life miserable for your customer service people.

Solution #1 is committing to writing a strategic plan of action that includes your diverse team of contributors who help you and buy into owning their part of your plan. Imagine the power of everyone aligning based on shared values and commitments we keep. We know how to get our jobs done right the first time because we are Varsity players and you pay us to practice, train, and play harder than the competition.

There is no exception to the root cause of failed leadership that I'm addressing. I know this now because I've managed thousands of marketing and sales campaigns in my life. I've created thousands and tested them. What I learned is the results always filter back and up to the decision-makers controlling the budgets.

Overcome Fear of Failure

If fear and failure are the mindsets, marketing fails and sales suck. Remember, marketing and sales is a game of failure. You have to be willing to invest, fail, learn, and grow.

If clarity and confidence are your mindsets, you'll hire the best and ditch the rest of the people you attracted who make you mad. But you have to change first from the inside out. Then, you will get players on your team who know their job and get it done right the first time. You would see the difference in financial performance just like you see the difference between champions who take the podium and the majority who look up to the winners.

Let me assure you, most of my marketing and sales tactics don't work well. But they work well enough in the tiny margins of conversion success to transform smaller companies into bigger, better performing organizations lead by servant leaders who take care of their strategic planning and people.

In closing, if you want better marketing, sales, customer service, and financial results, look in the mirror. Perform behavioral science-backed assessments for hiring and aligning the best players for your team. Then, empower them to own the new plan of action with you.

Your marketing and sales results will improve when the core values and commitments of your owners and leaders are in line with the heavenly virtues that are good; chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience,
kindness, and humility.

The bottom line is the more virtuous the character and core values of your leadership team, the better the marketing, sales, and financial results for your business.

Virtuous leadership counts for a reason.

Did this article help you? I'm always grateful for constructive comments, questions, and suggestions. If you want to learn more about mastering your "Inner Game" of leadership development, contact me here.

Stress Is Killing Millions of Us: Here's What You Can Do for Executive Stress Management

Make stress your friend before it kills you. That's the best suggestion I know to offer for executive stress management in case you only have six seconds to read my article. Here's the rest of my short story if you feel stress, and want to know how to make stress your friend.

Stress almost took me out of the game more than once. I was approaching the peak of my game as a small business owner, consultant, and ghostwriter. Then, because of unchecked stress and anxiety, it all came crashing down. I lost clarity, confidence, all of our money, my faith, my health, and a big, fat chunk of ego.

It wasn't the first time this happened. Executive stress management is a big deal in the workplace, especially if you've had to work for jerk.

Each failure I faced as a leader growing my businesses gave me new "moments of clarity." I learned about clarity when I was at one of my lowest points. I walked on a walker. I found a hell on earth I would not wish on my worst enemy. But in the darkness, I found a light called, "Clarity."

After a massive, recent, new moment of clarity, I rebranded my company into Clarity Strategic Advisors, LLC. We teach, coach, train, and empower other business leaders to discover the art of the "Inner Game" of leadership.

I vowed to make executive stress management part of my mission, my mantra.

Are You A Leader?

Yes, I believe everyone is a leader. If you don't lead your life, who will? The best leaders I know work "on" their business. But they don't blow off their family to win a fortune. Instead, the most conscious clarity-empowered leaders I study, know, and coach put family first.

Business is simply a bonus. That's because people like me and the many I've coached all seek to wake up every day and make a bigger difference. Yes, it's true, we all love to make money, and we appreciate a tad bit of fame, but we keep clarity and balance for a healthy life at the forefront of our human consciousness.

Some of us don't know we are born to lead. This type of person only follows, and that's okay because we need each other! I can't help anyone who's asleep or not coaching. I need conscious leaders stuck in temporary moments of darkness. From there they come to be humbled and willing to change.

This article is for the Producers of the free world, not so much the Looters. Looters always get left behind in the end, especially when the Producers always know how to find a new way to make a difference. Looters take. Producers serve others. We make a difference in little ways that add up.

The #1 enemy for thought-leading agents of change and all creative, outlying, misfits is unchecked stress. My dance with stress, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and out-of-control fear that lead to anger and rage changed my life for the better. It's the only way to describe the upside of what seems in the moment as an utter disaster.

My goal is to help you make stress your friend, to increase your self-awareness, and to empower you to make your difference in the world everywhere you go.

I learned to make stress my friend through awareness, meditation, and mindfulness training; the "Inner Game" of peak leadership and human performance.

Here's how it works.

Stress Kills

Did you know that stress-related ailments cost the nation $300 billion every year in medical bills and lost productivity? Even if you told me this statistic when I was younger and unaware of how stress was affecting me in very negative ways, I wouldn’t have paid attention because I thought I was indestructible! (Source: 2015, TTI Success Insights)

Many of us learn to make stress our friend. We see stress by virtue of exhausting hours of practice and rehearsals. Endurance athletes, professional entertainers, and performers from all walks of life learn to master their "Inner Game." We do this by learning to practice meditation and mindfulness retreats, long escapes into nature for recharging your batteries, millions of people suffer severe consequences due to stress, anxiety, and trauma.

Executive stress is silent while it's killing us. Too many warrior business leaders ignore the signs until it’s too late. I know I did. Learn from the mistakes of others like me.

Here are the seven primary stress factors for leaders, executives, managers, and employees at work. Whether you identify with the stressors you see at work or at home, stress is real. Clarity is my way of helping others align their head, hearts, and souls; radical clarity.

As you read the list, take note of the stressors “calling you” the most. What you're hearing is your soul calling to you. Your soul is your inner teacher.

  1. Demand Stress: Poorly designed jobs and poor job fit cause demand stress.
  2. Efforts/Rewards Stress: High output in your job drives minimal reward or result.
  3. Control Stress: High responsibilities at work combined with low authority, control.
  4. Organization Change Stress: Change, poorly communicated or inconsistent policies.
  5. Manager/Supervisor Stress: Your superior causes you enormous pressure, stress.
  6. Social Support Stress: Lack of support from the team, peers, and overcompetitiveness.
  7. Job Security Stress: You fear to lose your job. You never feel safe at work.

Everything we teach and coach centers around "radical clarity" which is knowing your purpose, vision, mission, and how to get there.

Let's move on to the cost of ignoring the "Inner Teacher" and her warning signs.

Ignoring the Warning Signs of Stress

I was unaware of and ignored all the warning signs my "Inner Teacher" was sending me. Looking back, the main problem was being headstrong. I had yet to be humbled much due to ease of success. My self-critical, perfectionistic personality got the best of me. I lost track of right thinking, speech, and action. I was way off track for a few years. Because of my discomfort within, I drank tons of ethanol nightly, and the older I got the less the booze worked for me to ease the pain.

When I was growing my first business, a financial planning and investment management business for high-net-worth executives and business owners, I learned the cost of not being aware of how stress was affecting me. Making lots of money and feeding my ego was the focus. I paid dearly for having less-than-virtuous priorities.

Too bad I had to lose my mind, all of our family money and investments, my faith, my health, and any sense of clarity or confidence about what to do next with my career, small business, and my family who I cherish more than anything else. I found living hell on earth, but I also found a way back.

Stress kills us much like a fish doesn’t know it’s swimming in warming, plastic-filled, toxic seawater. We just swim on until something goes terribly wrong.

How sad and tragic is our lack of awareness with more than five billion of us having a smartphone in our hands? One of my best friends, Steve, recently had a heart attack. He's one of the smartest, most caring, hard-working family man I know. Stress almost killed him. Here’s the article.

Don't ignore the warning signs including lack of sleep, irritability, self-medication tendencies, addictions, overuse of prescription medications, and unchecked, human ego gone wild.

Being too busy is hazardous to your health and wealth. That's why it does no good to trade your health for wealth. You'll trade back all the wealth before you croak.

How To Get Clarity and Bounce Back

Clarity is everything to me professionally. Every day of work is like a holiday to me because I get to pay back what was given to me, but not freely. Clarity is a way of living mindfully.

Not having clarity was the worst feeling in my life. I knew not my vision, mission, or purpose at work let alone in life. Even though I was blessed with a young family, the business of life was about me. Looking back, I overestimated my abilities and underestimate the risk. My attachment to money and looking good from the outside took me out of the game.

Don't be afraid of the dark! Darkness is the absence of light like evil is the absence of goodness. I saw a light that shined internally when I was still and praying for help. It's as if I heard a gracious voice telling me, "Everything is going to be okay, Cliff. He's the clarity you asked for from me. Now go ahead and do your very best to make a difference in the world. You are humbler now, and better for your recent experience."

For leaders with a higher calling than a fifth house or bigger car, the lesson learned is the power of finding "radical clarity" and acceptance of all that is. Detachment from the outcome, loving the process, is what rising above stress in a healthy way is all about.

Clarity is a priceless process for executive stress management and transforming teams at work. Clarity is not an event. When you learn and practice clarity, she becomes a habit for life.

What Clarity Feels Like

Here's what you can do about stress to make it your friend; find clarity. Be intentional about leading your life. Write a strategic plan of action for yourself just like you would for your business.

When you follow my Clarity process, you find flow. When I coach or facilitate a team of people at work to go through Clarity, they always come out ahead feeling flow and confidence. The biggest difference I've seen organizationally is when executive stress management makes the leaders at the top their very best.

"Flow" is the opposite of being stuck at the bottom of the deepest depths of the darkest oceans. The breakthrough in clarity for me was as close as I've come to having a "burning bush" experience. What I'm about to write will seem goofy to many, but here goes: I discovered there's a steady stream of consciousness that is infinite and it lives within me, you, and all of us. The key is learning to be still enough and connect with it.

Stillness leads to awareness. Awareness is the key to finding clarity. When you have the clarity you seek, you can more easily accept stress and not let it accumulate into anxiety. Clarity about who you are, where you are going, who you are serving, and how you will get there is liberating if you've been lost in dark many times before.

Surrender, accept, submit, and detach yourself from all outcomes. When you do this you learn to be content, happy even, with everything. You meet yourself and others where they are. There is far less judgment of what is and what is not. You are free from the judgment that judges you the harshest, yet projects itself leaking out around you.

As you learn to be more accepting and trusting of all that is, you become more caring for others in your new awareness. I used to be one of the most selfish people on the planet. Then, I learned the power of humility and gratitude. That's when I began to believe for the first time in my life that no matter what happens, I'll be okay remembering acceptance.

The more clarity you achieve, the more confident you become, and you take the right action toward your intentions and goals. The people around you who help you every day see a change in you, but they can't describe it. You can call it clarity.

Clarity is the way to become more conscious as a leader of your life, family, and coworkers. Clarity shows us the way to live a more virtuous life. When we live by The Golden Rule, the law of attraction kicks in our direction. That's when you recognize the feeling of effortless work, a blissful flow in life as if you're riding a bicycle with a tailwind.

Clarity Is A Process for the Business of Leading A Richer Life

Clarity is my newest body of work to help business owners and thought leaders discover the "Inner Game" of being a peak performance leader at home, work, and everywhere you go.

When we learn to be more aware, and the "Inner Game" of being a peak performer transform your results, work and life seem effortless. Here's an overview of The Clarity Peak Leadership Performance Coaching Program™ and workshops. This is a proven system for executive stress management. It's helped me, my family, friends, and hundreds of other leaders from all walks of life take strategic control through clarity.

With "radical clarity", you can bounce back from tough times and into the flow of radical clarity. Clarity is a system for reducing executive stress and aligning teams for peak performance.

The Clarity Peak Leadership Performance Coaching Program™ - A Proven Process for Achieving Peak Leadership Potential

  1. Introduction
  2. Chapter 1: Problems for Peak Leaders
  3. Chapter 2: Achieving Radical Clarity
  4. Chapter 3: Assess Yourself As A Leader
  5. Chapter 4: The Power of Purpose for Resilience
  6. Chapter 5: Clarity of Vision
  7. Chapter 6: Your Mission Is the Mantra
  8. Chapter 7: Achieving Goals with The Power of Intention
  9. Chapter 8: Virtues, Values, and Commitments
  10. Chapter 9: Culture of Accountability and Alignment
  11. Chapter 10: Toolkit for Peak Leadership Development
  12. Chapter 11: Clarity Strategy, Habits, and Action
  13. Chapter 12: Measure Impact, Difference, Outcome
  14. Chapter 13: Achieving Clarity for Life
  15. About Clifford Jones
  16. Appendix

When you go through this process by yourself, or when my team and I facilitate you, you will get new results in ninety days or less. The more you implement and practice the healthy habits we teach leaders, the faster you find clarity and flow.

How to Get Clarity Now

Ready to put the hurt on executive stress by learning the "Inner Game" of peak leadership and human performance? It's painless because I offer you a risk-free way to get a science-backed, written assessment of your "Stress Quotient."

Your "Stress Quotient" uncovers the hidden productivity killer using an accurate diagnostic for revealing the stressors at play in your office.

Connect with me here for a conversation. We'll discuss your goals as a leader, the obstacles you face including stress at work, and how to create a plan of action to "get clarity, confidence, and peak leadership performance.

Ask me how to get 20% off the normal price for the "Stress Quotient Assessment." Click here to get on my calendar for a conversation.

The Power of Clarity for Small Business Success 3.0 - How to Create A Strategic Go-To-Market Action Plan That Gets Results

The Clarity Road Map is one of the many tools we offer to owners and leaders.

This article reveals the steps you can use to write your own strategic go-to-market plan of action. Reading this article will give you new clarity and confidence for building and managing your business with more focus, less cost and stress. In the end, people who use Clarity get better results.

Being In Business: Simple, Not Easy

Have you ever met a small business owner who struggled with hiring people, finding customers, keeping customers, or making digital marketing work without losing their mind or shirt? I know how hard it can be to start, fund, and manage a small business because I've been doing it for almost thirty years. I've lost most of my hair, but I'm powered by my purpose which is to help you get better results using a process you can depend on.

Clarity is the process and system I created to build my most recent small businesses. I've also shared Clarity 1.0 and 2.0 versions with hundreds of other small business owners to make Clarity the success and solution it is today; a bulletproof way to grow a business without losing your mind and shirt.

Clarity carries great significance for me and my clients who use it. Clarity becomes a living, breathing element of your business. I created the Clarity process to bounce back from small business bankruptcy and disaster to grow my next successful coaching and consulting business. It's called Clarity. Imagine that.

One of the worst feelings in the world is to be lost. When we are lost in our small business, career, or personal life, it gets dark quickly. For me, building a small business, selling it, and losing everything I had in the aftermath was humbling. And it also gave me a "moment of clarity" during which I knew what was next for my professional life and career as a freelance business finance, marketing, sales, and technology strategist. I get to be a trusted advisor to people who seek to go where I have been.

It's possible to live, work, and retire on purpose if you succeed in building your small business. But we can all agree that building a business is hard. Most of us fail because of leadership choices. We make costly decisions. We fall into fear. We stop investing, learning, networking, and setting bold intentions with clarity and confidence.

If you have no clarity or confidence in what you do, sell, create, fabricate, design, code, or distribute, you're screwed. It's that simple. I know that pain of not having clarity because I've been there just like everyone else with a prefrontal cortex.

This Is How to Get Clarity

The purpose of Clarity is to prove a proven methodology for getting results in all areas of your business including strategy, plan of action, team, hiring, sales, marketing, technology, and financial statements. Why financial statements? Because the bottom line is what counts.

When you complete this entire process you have a written strategic go-to-market plan of action for any new initiative, product launch, startup, or growth initiative. It's simple, but it's not easy because humans hate to change. We also have trouble focusing. Clarity fixes these and many other blind spots that hold us back.

If you want to live a rich, happy, healthy life, seek to master the inner game of leadership. I suggest you do this by following these steps. These are the principles that make up the process delivering alignment, clarity, and confidence for any committed, willing, high-performance leader and team. If you need help and facilitation through the deepest levels of Clarity, click here to schedule a conversation.

The Clarity Action Planning Process

Here is an overview of the Clarity process for growing your business without losing your mind or shirt.

  1. Invite your key people to the Clarity process. Building a business and creating wealth is a team sport. Do you want champions on your team or wimps? Included relevant trusted advisors as needed.
  2. Set one primary goal using the power of intention. Clarity breeds confidence by helping you know what NOT to do. This increases the probability you and your team will reach your goal.
  3. Outline the first three objectives or milestones. When you do this for each goal it is much easier to stay on track. You know where you need to stop, regroup, adjust, take a break, and get back on the best track if the wind knocks you off course.
  4. Empower your business; life, and team with purpose. Your purpose powers your plan of action and aligns your team. Imagine the potential for success when everyone shares the same purpose. Your why gives you the power to persist through the obstacles you face.
  5. Write your vision statement to be inspiring. Keep your vision statement short, inspiring, and easy to remember. Imagine the power of you and everyone else knowing exactly what the intended future looks like. That's one power of Clarity.
  6. Write your mission statement as a mantra. Your mantra is your mission stated in a concise way using as few words as possible. Draft a mission statement that defines what it is you do for your customer or audience, and make it meaningful so when everyone reads it they are inspired to align with you.
  7. Write your core values as commitments. Have you ever met a person who didn't keep their promise to you? If you know how that feels, you know the power of the Golden Rule. Our ability to keep our word is a matter of integrity. People who have integrity are "whole" which means they generally know who they are. This means they are generally more honest and truthful. When you write core values as commitments you get better alignment by sharing, "We commit to being honest, doing what is best for everyone, and ... "
  8. Define your S.W.O.T. elements. This means you intentionally become more aware as a team of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and potential threats or dangers to your business or people. Creating heightened awareness is crucial for anticipating ways to be more efficient, adjust to failure, and get better results progressively.
  9. Optimize your brand identity, promise, and company culture. Your brand is a reflection of the core values you and your people share. These values will be consistent with your audience and customer base because birds of a feather always flock together. Creating a bold brand identity, image, and consistent message is a process we teach during our workshops and coaching programs. We make it easier for you to agree as a team on the brand assets so we can focus on revenue.
  10. Know your customers better than competitors. During the Clarity process, we invest the time to get crystal clear defining precisely who your ideal customer is and where to find them. If you know where to fish you might catch one. Do your homework by asking intelligent questions including the use of Lost Business Reports. This helps you know why you lost what you worked hard to earn; customers and cash flow.
  11. Define your best solution, product, or service in the most attractive way possible. The value of what you sell or do is not the same as price. Know your value, then know this rule. The #1 rule in marketing is test, test, test. We always start promoting and advertising with small, test investments. This helps us see data we can use to make informed decisions. This element of Clarity is about writing a killer Unique Value Proposition that leads to amazing offers that attract and convert more customers.
  12. Outline the ways you choose to advertise and promote. This related to #11. How can you grow a business if you don't invest wisely in business development, marketing campaigns, and sales follow up that leads to amazing fulfillment and customer services? You can't. This is why we invest several hours initially laying out the elements of your marketing campaign that attract leads and prospects to meet your sales, revenue, and cash flow needs.
  13. Define your sales process in five stages. Every business needs a sales process that everyone in the company understands clearly. We coach a "culture of accountability" for Clarity clients because when everyone sees sales as "helping our team and customers get what they want" the sales head trash the holds us back is gone. Map out a simple, clear sales process including five stages.
  14. Use technology and systems and keep it simple. One of the worst things you can do for your business is to make it harder to succeed. I love technology. But I also fear how it can crush the soul of mere mortals who want nothing more than to find a way to make the business of life easier. If technology complicates your business and life, what good is it? If you buy software at a seminar and rush back to the office telling everyone about it, how long before your team starts giving you a fit? Keep the tech simple. Use tech that makes sense. Work with a trusted marketing technologist, not a salesman.
  15. Keep score of what counts the most. I'm a data-driven guy when it comes to investing in any business. Sure, opinions are okay. But data is better especially when it comes to NOT LOSING MONEY on stupid marketing tricks or technologies that won't work. Not losing money is rule #1 for Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world. Follow his example when using the Clarity process. Set activity goals, production goals, and revenue goals that count the most for you and your people. If you choose suitable technologies for this, you will see a massive difference in financial results.
  16. Take action with Clarity and confidence. The final part of this process is taking action. When you have clarity you know what not to do. When you know what not to do, you have confidence. When you have confidence you have a competitive advantage and edge.

This is the power of Clarity. Clarity gets results by using a proven process for aligning you and your team.

If you'd like to have a conversation about how Clarity can work for you and your organization, click here to schedule a conversation.

I always appreciate constructive comments and questions. Feel free to leave them here on the blog.

P.S. Clarity was created by a conscious leader for conscious leaders. If you don't know what a conscious leader is, maybe Clarity isn't for you. Sorry, but my experience suggests this is true.

Six Tips for Improving Your Strategic Action Planning Success

If you own or lead a successful company, here are six tips for improving your strategic action planning success. Most successful CEOs and business owners agree that having an effective strategic planning process is a major contributor to success, if not the driver of scale and sustainability barring acts of God.

It’s also true that great strategic plans happen with careful consideration. The strategic planning process serves as an essential stepping-stone for your company, allowing you to set priorities, make important decisions regarding investment, and chart long-term plans for growth. Unfortunately, the strategic planning process can quickly devolve into too many actions, too little follow-up, overcomplicated budgets or verbose analyses and presentations – they may have the right jargon, but they lack a plan of action that your company can set in motion. For many companies, strategic plans become little more than wall decorations for the corporate office, or, worse, documents that get lost in the company cloud.

If your company is preparing to delve into strategic planning this season, take a hard look at your current process and whether you’re guilty of the bad habits common in planning for the future. Then, take actionable steps to improve your strategic action planning by following these tips.

Tip #1: Focus on the Issues

This seems like an obvious tip, but the process of creating strategic plans has become so data-driven and formulaic that the root of strategic planning – anticipating the company’s biggest challenges and highlighting trends that will prove integral to the company’s success – has devolved from its original purpose. Financial forecasting and budgets have effectively replaced critical thinking. To bring quality back to the strategic planning process, complement the data and financial information (undoubtedly important aspects of the process) with a focus on the issues.

At the onset, take some time to identify the issue that will have an impact on your future business performance – a so-called SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). Rather than throwing numbers on the table, frame your strategic planning sessions in a way that facilitates discussions about the key issues your company faces. Follow those issues with specific actions that align with the direction your company wants to take. By complementing your objective data with open-ended discussion points, your resulting plan will be much more comprehensive.

Tip #2: Define Your Strategic Plan from the Outside

One of the biggest mistakes that companies make when developing their strategic plans is by starting from the inside and working their way out. However, when you start addressing the problem internally, you may only see the closest “symptoms” that are indicative of a larger issue that you need to resolve. On the other hand, by looking at changes in the external environment, you can begin to create the foundation for a successful strategic planning session.

Tip #3: Test What You Know

A strategic plan will, by definition, involve making hypotheses that your company outcomes (increased revenue or a higher return on investment, for example) will rely on taking pre-determined actions. However, one of the biggest mistakes that companies make is supporting hypotheses with secondary research or assumptions.

When creating your overarching strategy, rely on the information you know – such as field tests – to drive your plan forward. When you have proprietary information from which to work from, the C-suite will be more willing to commit resources and time to the initiatives that drive business success. Some companies refer to these field tests as “scouting missions.” By including short, specific “experiments” as part of your strategic plan, your company will be better aligned to fulfill the objectives of the plan for meaningful business growth.

Tip #4: Opt for Clear, Meaningful Language

Anyone who has sat in a strategic planning session is familiar with the jargon and fluffy language that the process can entail. Too often, companies fall into the trap of providing a lot of words without meaningful impact. For example, phrases like “leverage,” “synergy,” “world-class,” and “harvesting efficiency” all communicate one thing: that the team does not have a clear idea what it takes to create a meaningful roadmap to change. Opt for clear language that communicates what it takes to succeed – without obfuscating phrases or jargon.

Tip #5: Avoid Using Templates

Another common appearance in the planning room is the template. When templates function at their best, they encourage strategic planning teams to consider topics such as external markets, performance gaps, and direct competition, while comparing data for each. On the other hand, the nature of using a template – with its rigid, formulaic structure – keeps teams from thinking about innovative ways for growing the business. When the strategic planning team completes the same template each year, it often leads to formulaic responses without addressing the real, dynamic issues that a growing business encounters.

Choosing an open-ended format can take the hum-drum out of your strategic planning and encourage teams to think critically while developing meaningful growth plans. For example, a narrative structure gives your team more room to develop innovative growth strategies that develop into action.

Tip #6: Ask Probing Questions

Another downside of the template is that it can discourage probing discussions or provocative questions; though this is a common mistake that businesses make even in the absence of one. For example, it makes sense that all strategic planning decisions should be data-driven; but certain aspects of the process can also constrain or stilt the conversation. For example, team members may falter when faced with a rigid structure or dense company data, necessitating a moderator who can ask the tough questions. Open-ended, probing discussion points will help enrich thinking and help participants break from the rote mentality. For example:

Tackling the most common mistakes inherent in strategic planning requires revisiting the fundamentals of the process. Take a step back from the formulaic negotiations that result in stolid, rote responses and uninspired roadmaps. Encourage meaningful discussion by asking provocative questions and breaking free of templates, but still use objective data and form a hypothesis based on actual business experience, not secondary sources.

Frame your discussion by taking a holistic view of the issues your company faces, both externally and internally. Use your insights to create a flexible charter that maps out your business goals and objectives. By following these steps, you can effectively improve your strategic planning sessions and create a document that leads to meaningful change, not just a C-suite wall decoration.

Got a question or constructive comment? Thanks for contributing to the community by adding your comment or question below.

Sources:

https://hbr.org/2013/10/four-tips-for-better-strategic-planning
https://strategymanage.com/resources/strategic-planning-basics/
https://www.bdc.ca/en/articles-tools/business-strategy-planning/define-strategy/pages/7-steps-create-action-plan-business-strategy.aspx
https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/how-to-improve-strategic-planning

How Marketing and Other Technologies Take Business Leaders Down

Did you know that modern-day marketing and other technologies can actually hurt business leaders and in the worst scenarios take them down and out of business altogether?

It's also true that when you invest in the right technologies by empowering your best people to choose them based on their needs, your technology can lift you up to new levels of success. But the former is more often the case based on my direct experience as a trusted strategic marketing and business development advisor for many years.

I know a fair amount about the technology world well because I've lived on the front lines working with the leading technologies for over twenty years. Somehow I love learning and working in any technology that helps me and my clients align the people to the plan of action for revenue and success.

Listen to me say what you would otherwise read here.

Growing A Business Is Not Easy

Let's face it, starting and growing a small business isn't easy. And considering only about 3% of all businesses break through $1 million in revenue, you can see there must be a reason so many of us fail.

The biggest reason is a lack of good judgment as business owners and leaders. In the simplest sense, we do dumb things like blow precious start-up capital on fancy office furniture, or even worse, the software you think will "double your sales" even if it never can or will. We do many things wrong when it comes to technology because we don't know what we don't know about it, and we fear to ask for help or training or coaching because leaders with power don't like to feel or look stupid.

When it comes to today's technology, there are definitely some big blunders business leaders and owners make. The first and biggest is not being willing to learn the essential fundamentals of technology. If you can't speak the basic language of marketing automation, customer relationship management, search engines, social media management, content and lifecycle marketing, etc, how do you expect to lead the team who needs to respect you to do their job?

Another big mistake is winging it on technology or sticking your head in the sand pretending it will all go away when the power grid goes out. For example, I talk about not buying software in a seminar. It's based on a true story I've seen many times in which business owners buy software in a seminar and wonder why everyone back at the office is pissed.

None of this technology stuff will go away before you go out of business unless you get a grip on how marketing tech can hurt more than helping you.

Know the Fundamentals or Retire

It's essential for all business leaders to speak the fundamentals of technology and do what is suitable for their team. If not, you might as well retire.

Suitability is a term I borrow from my former business as an investment advisor and wealth manager for more than a decade. The investments we made for clients had to be "suitable" for their financial profile and needs. The same is true when business owners make investments in people or technology. It's all money and that money needs to have a return on investment unless you're a non-profit or have a big trust fund to deplete.

What I want to emphasize most is you as the owner and leader need to know enough to empower your people in marketing and sales so that they get what they need and are able to align and perform well. This is the primary way my strategic action planning process called Clarity makes an impact - we cut unnecessary costs and focus on empowering people with the technologies they choose to use to do their jobs.

You have to plan to make technology work for your company or business. This begins with everyone willing to be trained, coached and advisors who are not selling software or making a direct living by selling software. If the software is one of the biggest investments you make to empower people, and people you hire are by far the most important capital for you to grow without losing your mind or shirt, why would you buy software from Dundersoft while attending a motivational seminar?

You can see I'm using hyperbole to make a point - business owners and leaders need to learn what NOT to do. Then, like all great strategists, we can focus on what to do next.

That's how a life-long sales, marketing technologist, and business owner strategist approaches getting to more revenue and operational stability. Getting a grip on the tech is just part of the bigger strategic planning objectives we meet. But it's a big one that creates a lot of conscious and unconscious fear and mayhem. I know because I've eliminated this mayhem hundred of times from all kinds of companies.

I always appreciate your constructive comments and questions here on my blog. If you'd like to preview my new online training program for free, sign up for

What Are You Talking About When It Comes to Making Your Marketing Work?

In case you're short on time, watch this video.

This article is about the conversations we have as CEO's, business owners and leaders with the people we employ in sales, marketing, technology, talent acquisition, and strategic alignment for better business performance.

Did you know that the words you use affect how you think and behave? That's the bold and brave science of Linguistic Relativity. If you don't know the work of Nora Lidisky*, you need to check out her TED Talk. First, read the rest of this article because then you will have proper context for what you're talking about most in your business.

Having a conversation is a two-way street. When you endure the stress of making your marketing and sales work, the stress compels you to have crucial conversations without letting emotion take over and ruin you.

When it comes to making your marketing work with less cost and stress, what conversations are you having? I ask because I find most CEO's and business owners are not having essential, crucial conversations with their marketing and salespeople.

The High Cost of Winging It

In the worst cases, small business owners completely wing it when it comes to investing in sales, marketing, people, or technology to grow their business, which is typically the best investment they will ever make. Then they wonder why their investment returns are low and their frustration levels are high.

"We spent another $100,000 and a year trying to launch my product. This is the third agency I hired. They all said they could get this done. I ended up losing three years and $300,000 for nothing." - Anonymous New York Times bestselling author.

I hear hundreds of stories like this because people find me and need help fixing their pain which is not being able to attract, engage, convert, and retain enough customers. That's because they don't have a sound strategy, plan of action, or the people they need to get the job done right the first time.

What happens when you wing it in business, sales, marketing, or hiring people? Utter chaos. Nobody enjoys coming to work without feeling aligned with the leader, owner, manager, and team. That's why it's essential to talk about what's working, what's not working, what's missing in marketing or sales or customer service, and figure out what's next to fix it and get better results. This is crucial conversation stuff for marketing, sales, and tech.

This Is Why Marketing Pros Change Jobs So Often

Turnover is a massive cost and hit to your bottom line. There's no reason not to get to the root cause of this and fix it as best you can.

The reason marketing pros change jobs so often is the same reason Marcus Buckingham with Gallup discovered over a decade ago - marketing people don't leave jobs, they leave their marketing supervisors. Check out this article about what great managers do in this HBR article. The bottom line is people leave supervisors, not jobs or companies.

When we talk about marketing, it's usually not fun. That's because marketing is a game of frustration and failure. Think about the thin margins for conversion rates on your marketing investments. For example, what was the ROI on that big trade show you and your team hits every year?

Sometimes you don't know the questions to ask because you're too busy working in your business. I can be guilty of this too. But since I sell a powerful strategic action planning process that aligns and fires up marketing and sales teams, I must walk the walk. That means I follow my process, hire the best people my money can buy, delegate what is not my role or responsibility, empower everyone in my strategy, purpose, vision, mission, goals, and plan of action, and we get better results together. Yes, I have an active, written strategic plan. Most days it works.

We Fear Hiring the Best and Firing the Rest

We've all hired toxic people and let them work for us too long. That's because it's hard to fire people. Yet one of the biggest costs we incur as business owners is failing to hire with process and discipline. If you fail to hire the best people you afford, and you delegate well to empower them, then get out of their way, you've got a shot at scale and sanity presuming you lead and manage well. If not, oh well. Maybe you'll learn when you fail enough. When it comes to making the tough call to let someone go, you have to have a process to fire anyone who's not willing or able to perform their role on their team. This is what a "culture of accountability" is all about.

A high-performance sales and marketing culture MUST be created, committed to and lead by someone who IS that person. If it's not the owner of the business, he or she needs to hire someone to lead the team. A true leader will practice tough love and empower your marketing and salespeople. You have to be what you say you plan to do with your action plan. This is the Clarity strategic planning process teaches you to "hire to the company values you are willing to write, learn, practice and keep as commitments."

If you own the business and you manage marketing, sales, delivery, and fulfillment, how effective do you believe you are? When was the last time you conducted a 360 degree feedback survey or took a hard look in your mirror? It's not easy to own or lead any business. It's even tougher to manage marketing and sales. It's impossible to do it all for long. All we need to do is look at how few of us succeed over the long-haul. The people who succeed have a strategic plan of action that gets implemented with success. This is what happens when everyone aligns and does their part of the plan. Everyone performs like a championship team.

How to Make Your Marketing Work Without Losing Your Mind or Shirt

The way to make your marketing work better, and to fire up your sales process is to empower your PEOPLE to be part of the creative, strategic and tactical PROCESS to define and achieve the GOALS. Clarity is a bullet-proof action planning solution that works when you work it. That's why I focus on teaching, training, and coaching the Clarity workshops online and in the real world.

Make the time to work "on" your business. Why would you ever stop working "on" your business? Because you get stuck working "in" your business just like Michael Gerber taught us in his bestselling book, EMyth. Clarity helps you work "on" your business with your team. Diversity and inclusion make the Clarity process even more powerful. The extreme alternative is you think and plan alone in a box. Clarity is about thinking OUT of the box. And getting results.

Check out my video that walks you through a FREE Clarity Training preview. Take a look at the simple, step-by-step process I use myself and have taught and coached for over a decade to hundreds of other business owners. Clarity is a strategic action planning process you can use to write your own strategic plan. I teach it in customized onsite workshops, virtually, and soon the online classes and community for coaching.

P.S. *A big shout out and thank you to Paul Gowin, one of the best human performance coaches I've ever met.

Why I Chose to Focus On Training and Coaching Marketing Managers and Marketing Directors

Working in a marketing job, or managing your own marketing for your small business is one of the toughest jobs in the world. The truth is, marketing is a game of failure because most marketing campaigns successes are measured in small percentages. But that's okay as long as you have outstanding marketing management disciplines.

I get to create new online and real-world training and coaching programs now that I've sold my digital marketing agency. Having worked in sales and marketing my entire professional life, I've got some war wounds.

The reason I focus on working with marketing managers, directors and small business owners who need to get out of their own way and build a small, in-house marketing team, is because I know how difficult the work can be and I created a system to ease the pain.

How To Get "Clarity" and Confidence in Marketing and Sales

The system I created is called Clarity. It's a strategic action planning process I've used with my own businesses and thousands of others since I started using it in 2007. My online courses will soon be featured on a brand new online learning platform.

The current version of Clarity emerged from earlier action planning models I used to set up marketing automation software for my customers between 2008 and now. I was one of the earliest marketing automation guys on the planet because I have always loved buying and using any software tool or system that can help me be more efficient with my marketing and managing a business.

Here are a few suggestions if you're wondering how to get better sales and marketing results with less stress, time and money:

  1. Business, sales, and marketing are team sports. If you need customers, you need to contact many prospects. So all of this marketing stuff is about helping you make contact with people who might do business with you.
  2. Most small business owners and big-time CEO's can't or won't manage their own marketing. Small business owners often blow it after they get the basics. It's not easy to learn to trust and delegate. Every big company CEO already knows better, and they can well afford to hire others to do what they do best.
  3. If you don't have a written, strategic plan of action, let me help you write one. Include your key, valued people in marketing, sales, and finance in the process. When you have a sound plan, you will have "clarity" and you will know exactly how to market and sell with the utmost efficiency.
  4. Hire the best advisors, employees, and contractors your money can buy. Ditch the rest. You can't afford to hire and pay people who can't or won't get the job done right the first time. If you don't the roles, the jobs, how can you hire and manage effectively?
  5. Wake every day with a strategy and team you believe in. Work from a serious, shared plan of action. Measure everything in sales and marketing. Manage it all like your business is your best investment because it is.

Gratitude Counts

I'm grateful for my experience as a career sales and marketing guy. One of the biggest transitions I made over the years was learning to invest wisely in marketing to build my own small businesses. When you work for a company and you invest their money, not yours, the emotions are much different compared to when you invest in your own business.

Either way, one of the biggest and most-costly mistakes for business owners, leaders, and even some of the world's most famous business people, have to rely on the right marketing professionals to get the job done.

Now you have a simple list of things to consider if you want to get better business, sales and marketing results.

Clarity gives you confidence. That's why I called my company Clarity Strategic Advisors, LLC.

Let us give you clarity and confidence so you can sleep well at night.

Got a question or comment that's constructive? Please add it to the comments section.