Monday, February 18, 2013

We Don’t Need No Stinking Change!

Today we have a guest blog from Dan Weedin:

Change management is a hot buzzword in business circles today. Everywhere you turn, experts espouse ways to deal with change in the workplace, in the world, and even in your home. CEOs and executives want to learn how to manage change; implore change; beg for change; and even get exact change. Well, I’m here to tell you that you can stop. You don’t need no stinking change. You can go on forever doing just what you’ve been doing all these years. It’s your life and your business. No change!

If you go that route, you need to know what you’re in for. In all decisions that we make, there are consequences. Let’s see what happens when we avoid making change in our organizations…
  • You become stale and obsolete. You can only sell the same “stuff” to the same people for so long. Daily newspapers, phone book ad executives, and video stores all found it out too late. There’s always a bigger and better ship coming around the corner. You need vision and the ability to be nimble to stay relevant.
  • Your people leave. Without change, people get bored. They don’t see growth or potential and will find greener grass. Maybe an even bigger problem is that they get complacent and just decline in efficiency and ability.
  • You can’t recruit new talent. This goes along with good people leaving your business. You have a certain “street cred” (credibility for all you non-changers). Your reputation gets around and the perception of you as being dull or dynamic will either bring in young talent or repel it.
  •  You lose business. People want to work with cutting edge and vibrant organizations. If you are stale; can’t keep quality people; or run ineffective operations, then you’re yesterday’s news (which happens quicker today than ever before).

 You don’t have to change in business. You also don’t have to brush your teeth, eat healthy, exercise, read books, or wear sunscreen. Those all have consequences, too.

If you do find yourself wanting to avoid those calamities I’ve listed, here’s a short and sweet guide to affecting change management in your organization.
  •  Do a pulse check on yourself as a leader. What do your key employees think about how well you run the organization and treat them? You have to start at the top if you plan on effectively leading change.
  • Be very clear about your vision. Your employees, your customer base, and your entire supply chain need to know the destination. Change without vision is doomed to failure.
  •  Be patient. Change is a slow moving beast, especially as the organization gets larger. There is bound to be “gravitational pull” to default back to the good old days. Be patient, yet firm in the transition.
  •  Don’t quit. The worst thing that can happen is that when the going gets tough, you capitulate. This is terrible role modeling and the quickest way to slide back. In the end, the decline would be worse than had you not tried to change at all!
  • Celebrate successes. I fear that one of the things we as humans are worst at is complimenting and rewarding good behavior. Recognize and applaud positive effort. Pretty soon, you will find others trying to do the same.

 We live in a global, highly technological, and fluid business world. The economy and business practices are going to change whether you’re on board or not. You don’t have to change, but not being prepared and skilled in change management will lead to dire consequences at some point.

Those businesses that embrace change, and know how to effectively manage it within their organizations, will ultimately be successful regardless of where and how the world turns.

Hey can you spare some change, pal?

© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved


Dan Weedin helps turn his clients business risk into rewards. He is able to take the abstract concepts of risk and crisis management to help business owners prepare and respond more effectively and with less time and cost to crisis. Since he doesn’t work for an insurance company or agency, he is able to act as an unbiased advocate for his clients. You can lear ore about Dan and how he can help your business on his web site at

Monday, February 11, 2013

Six Sigma marketing, a formula for success

Today we have a guest blog from Andrew Ballard:

Six Sigma is no longer just for large manufacturers. Smaller service companies can benefit too. The term Six Sigma refers to a measure of quality within six standard deviations, which translates to a maximum of 3.4 defects (or errors) per million...near perfection.

Near perfection may sound intimidating; however, in terms of applying Six Sigma to your business, I’m referring to more of a mindset than a metric. A customary Six Sigma exercise, which translates well to the functions of marketing and sales, involves process mapping.

Michael J. Webb, president of Sales Performance Consulting, put it well (in an iSix Sigma Magazine article), “Effective sales process mapping focuses on the goals and problems of buyers and sellers.”

The objective is to define the challenges and opportunities in the process of 1) identifying responsive segments, and making them aware of (and interested) in your product or service – the function of marketing; and 2) qualifying prospects’ needs and satisfying them – the function of sales.

We had a client that was unsatisfied with their sales numbers; their remedy was to increase the budget to pull more leads through the pipeline. Using process mapping we found that their weak link was conversion, and had nothing to do with quantity of leads. The real issue was sales training and tools. In essence, they were burning leads and would have thrown more good money after bad.

Begin the mapping process by defining and grouping your seller inputs (marketing and sales stimulus), and buyer outputs (prospects’ response). Using a flowchart format, map the linear progression from lead generation through customer service. Process maps differ by industry, business situation, objectives and resources. Customize your map by using MS Excel (it has an adequate flowchart tool).

Use Six Sigma as a philosophical and data driven approach toward improving your marketing and sales processes. It’s not just about generating more revenue; process improvement encompasses reducing costs, mistakes and time-to-market as well.

Near perfection may not be realistic for your business, but improving your marketing and sales process will likely lead to better customer experiences…which is the formula for success in any enterprise.

How do you detect your company’s strengths and weaknesses, with regard to marketing and selling processes? And, how would you use process mapping to identify opportunities that may improve your customers’ experience? Give process mapping a try…you won’t be disappointed. 


Andrew Ballard is the president of Marketing Solutions, a Seattle area agency that develops research-based growth strategies for small to midsize businesses.  He has over 30 years experience specializing in marketing research, strategic planning, brand development and revenue generation.  Ballard has helped hundreds of organizations (from startups through Fortune 500 companies) realize significant growth.

Andrew is a graduate of the Ford Marketing Institute and Certified in Six Sigma.  He is also a respected author and educator.  His articles on marketing strategy have been published in business journals through all 50 States.  His first book, entitled Your Opinion Doesn’t Matter, recently released to rave reviews in both corporate and academic circles.  In addition, he is adjunct faculty at the University of Washington.

 He can be reached at 425-337-1100 or

Monday, February 4, 2013

Why Business Plans Fail or How to GPS Your Way to Success in 2013

Today we have a guest blog from Dan Weedin:

January is the time to plan big, right? Business plans are created, amended, folded, stapled, mutilated, and disseminated. Business strategies are set when these business plans pop up and everyone gets very excited.

Then it’s February.

Resolutions and business plans - both business and personal - are made with great intentions. And most are doomed to fail. Why? Because resolutions and business plans are over-rated. They fail because you might just hit them.

It doesn't matter what kind of business you are in. My advice to you is to eschew a business plan and create a powerful marketing plan. Having a business plan without a strategy on how you're going to bring business in is like taking off for a secluded vacation getaway without a GPS, a map, or a Boy Scout compass. You might end up getting there, but it took you longer and wasted more of your valuable time.

Here is your GPS to success for next year. Just insert my voice (rather than the lady with the English accent) imploring you to recalculate when you go off track.

  1. Determine how you improve the condition of others. What is the value you bring? What sets you apart from your competition?
If you can't sum it up in your own words, ask your best clients. Find out why they do business with you. Two things happen. First, you learn why people actually do business with you. Second, they remind themselves why they should continue to work with you! That helps with retained and future business.

  1. Who is your target market? Are there new audiences you should be reaching out to and grabbing around the shirt collar? How do you get yourself and your brand in front of them?

  1. Put asking for referrals on the top of your list. Many businesses get referrals just by doing a good job for their clients. Most do a poor job of asking for them. Develop a system and language for your sales professionals (and you) to mine for gold. Asking for referrals is not difficult once you know how. Make it a priority.

Note – there is an art and science to not only receiving, but also converting referrals into business. This is low hanging fruit. If you get good at picking fruit, you will consistently be “eating healthy” in any economy!

  1. Create your own intellectual property. For professional service providers, that might mean webinars, teleconferences, articles, columns, blogs, and podcasts. For other businesses, that might mean creating new services, products, and offerings. Find new and creative ways to become an object of interest. 

  1. Stop wasting time and money on tactics that aren't working. Does anybody even own a phone book anymore? Find out where people hear about you and go there. There has never been an easier time to be creative for far less investment.

  1. Find ways to speak publicly about how you dramatically improve the condition of your clients. You aren't there to "pitch." However, if your presentation is deemed as valuable then you will get opportunities to speak. The thundering herd of people approaching you afterwards to talk to you is your sign that people might like to hire you.

  1. Be better at following up on revenue opportunities. We have all been guilty of getting great leads and then letting them slip through the cracks. Set up a system that doesn't allow that to happen. These chances rarely offer you second chances.

  1. Set metrics and review data to see what is working and find out why. If it isn't working, adjust and re-try. If it still isn't working, stop. If it is working, rinse and repeat.

  1. Be shameless in your promotion. If you really and genuinely believe that what you offer to your customers is highly valuable and will help them lead better lives, then why wouldn’t you?

Marketing is no place for modesty. We are all in the marketing business and there is no shame in that. It just simply is a shame if you do not become competent in letting your potential customers and clients know you exist and how much you can help them. If you provide a great value through your services or products, you should be telling the whole world. If you truly believe that you are improving the condition and lives of others, then not aggressively tooting your own horn is actually selfish. You have great value; believe in yourself first.

Bottom line - Ditch the business plan and create a powerful marketing plan. A marketing plan that works well will ultimately blow away anything your business plan would have set as a goal.

Take a left at the next light. You have reached your destination...

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved


Dan Weedin is a Poulsbo-based management consultant, speaker, and mentor. He leads an executive peer-to-peer group here in Kitsap County where he helps executives improve personally, professionally, and organizationally by enhancing leadership skills.  He is a 2012 inductee of the Million Dollar Consultant Hall of Fame. You can reach Dan at 360-697-1058; e-mail at or visit his web site at