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Headache One of the first lessons of leadership is to constantly acknowledge that we operate in a very dynamic environment. While the ongoing nature and rapid pace of the change is often frustrating (if not mind-boggling!), we can also acknowledge that there are specific categories of environmental forces at work that can be studied to help us predict possible changes that may affect us. Then we have the chance to plan accordingly. In fact, investment columnist  Malcolm Berko alluded to these very items as a way to make investment decisions in this article a while back.

The four basic categories of environmental forces are: Political/legal, Economic, Socio-cultural, and Technological (PEST). Before we talk about what each of these are, I think it’s important to note that there’s good news and bad news with regard to environmental forces. The bad news is that  they are ultimately out of our control. The good news is, anything that can impact our decisions will ultimately fall under these categories, so if we study them constantly and ask how they relate to our business, we can use them as indicators of what the future might hold. The fancy term for that is “trend spotter” and if you can become one who wears this label, just watch your market value shoot up. Later on, we’ll look at examples of each of these categories and what to watch for.

 You can observe a lot just by watching” – Yogi Berra


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tunnel what lies aheadA while back we talked about what your customer thinks about all the time. You can click here to revisit that article if you like but the simple thing your customer thinks about constantly is the future. Perhaps not surprisingly, that relates very closely to what your customer ultimately, REALLY wants – A BETTER future!

It’s just basic human nature. If things aren’t so good today, tomorrow we hope they’ll be better. In fact, most of the actions we’re taking today, including the less pleasant ones (like dieting or saving instead of spending), are about getting to a better future. If today things are going great, we hope to keep it that way tomorrow. Whatever a “better future” is, that is the benefit the customer is ultimately buying.

So how can we use that information?

Well, for one thing, we need to understand what “a better future” really means to our customer. You may know this through formal market research or through what your most satisfied customers have told you they appreciate most about your product, or you may have observed how your product benefits your customers first hand. There are any number of simple ways to visit the customer’s world and understand what’s most important to them, what they value, and what represents a better future to them.

Once you do, you know what to dramatize as you’re promoting the value of your offer. View any number of commercials on television, view ads in print, or listen to commercials on the radio, and chances are the really good ones, the ones that ultimately get you to want to learn more about them or take the actions they suggest, are the ones that dramatize the benefit of their product or service in terms of how it delivers a better future for you.

 The philosophy behind much advertising is based on the old observation that every man is really two men – the man he is and the man he wants to be.” – William Feather, Author


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Here’s a 5 Hour Energy commercial that demonstrates the concept of cause marketing (or cause-related marketing if you prefer that term) at work. As we’ve discussed before, cause marketing is a win-win-win opportunity for marketers (revisit that here if you like).

This commercial is almost a walk-through of how cause marketing can affect the consumer’s decision-making process. The consumer’s decision to purchase may be weighted more heavily in favor of the purchase which gives her the opportunity to not only get the benefits she’s seeking, but to also help a cause she likes. It’s value-added for her in that regard.

Something that may also occur is that the consumer may be attracted to a product because they like to support a particular  cause. They may, in fact, seek out products in particular categories that support specific causes they like. In any case, when it all comes together, everybody wins, which is why cause marketing can be a very powerful strategy.

Of course, there are cautions to be observed, too. If either the organization offering the product or the cause represented suffers negative circumstances, one can have an adverse affect on the other. So like any relationship, a good deal of thought needs to go into its development.

Cause marketing definitely offers some benefits and definitely warrants consideration as a strategic option, so think about what causes might help your organization deliver a win-win-WIN relationship for the marketplace!



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system error screenIf you’re all of a sudden seeing more posts from me than usual, and if a lot of them look like you’ve seen them before, like a few months ago, my apologies.

Something went haywire with my Feedburner a while back and I was thrilled Wednesday to think we had the problem solved, then Thursday a post from months past just sort of showed up unexpectedly, so I’m still not sure what is going on (or of  exactly what’s gonna happen next!).

I have always appreciated having you as a reader and subscriber, and I try really hard to respect your time and the space of your inbox, so my apologies in advance if you get more messages than usual, posts that are either “old” or posts that you’ve seen before.

And as always, THANK YOU for the privilege of inviting me into your inbox and into your world every now and then. It’s an invitation I value and promise not to take for granted!







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headsetA while back I had the privilege of being interviewed by one of the marketers I admire most, AMAOKC Past-President and social media guru, Brian Blake. Brian hosts an informative podcast called the 7 Minute Smarketer and we had a good visit about how successful marketing is a lot like lifelong learning in that it’s about learning, and constantly improving upon, the basics. You can click here to hear it for yourself!

I have greatly respected Brian for a number of years not just as a great marketing mind, but also as a great leader and family man. As noted a while back (both here and here),  he’s accomplished an awful lot in his career and his star is only beginning to rise! You’ll be hearing a lot more about him in the future and we’ll have the scoop for you here!

Learning is not compulsory. Neither is survival.” – W. Edwards Deming



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PH.D. in Leadership. Short Course: Make a short list of all things done to you that you abhorred. Don’t do them to others. Ever. Make another list of things done to you that you loved. Do them to others. Always” – Dee Hock, Visa Founder


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flag - windowsThere’s a reason why we stand and put our hands over our hearts when the veterans carry Old Glory down the street during the 4th of July parade.

We live in, and reap the benefits of, the free market because our men and women in the armed forces, throughout the history of this great nation, took an oath to defend that freedom with their own lives if necessary.

I know several of you who are readers here have military service to your credit and I am embarrassed to say that I am often so selfishly enjoying the freedom you helped provide, I don’t take time to appreciate it.

No freedom, no free market. Lest we forget.

If you’re a veteran, THANK YOU for making Independence Day something we get to celebrate again this year!

Happy 4th of July!

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