After teaching yesterday and then attending a customer dinner, I drove here to Vermont late last night to run a 2022 sales planning meeting today. Just stepping out of the car a bit before midnight with the headlights stretching to light up the barn between the dense fog, the rain and the pitch dark of November, I immediately sensed that in just the two weeks since I had been here last, it had become the Taint Season in Vermont. That very weird time between leaf peeping and skiing when it Taint Winta', Taint Summa', Taint Leaves. Taint Nothin'.
Drove late last night here to VT for a fully packed day today of normal Derby Management meetings and the first two of our seven final student presentations for the semester.
BTW, although snow is still on the ground here at the house in the woods, down in the big city of Winhall (pop.769) 2.8 miles away at the general store, our own VT version of outside dining at Starbucks, the sun is out although a brisk 50,
13 weeks after that first always-a-bit-awkward, full-tilt, information-packed start to the semester back in January, we're now down to the final 90 minutes of meetings with the senior management of our marketing project companies:
Last week, I mentioned that Brian Bresee, an alum from our marketing course, and now Hubspot's North America's Director of Partnership Sales, provides a lecture every semester starting with an outline of Inbound Marketing.
Brian and I met 11 years ago at Tufts, became friends with a common love of being on the Vermont snow. After graduating, he worked for one of my companies as a BDR, moving to Hubspot 10+ years ago and has become a highly valued Tufts Lecturer in my courses for the last 8 years. Brian provides content and Hubspot platforms for our course and has become a coach for numbers of my students who want to move into a sales role. Same way that I coached Brian a decade ago, which is all about giving back to our Tufts students through our alums.
Brian masterfully brings the strategy of Inbound right down to the reality of teaching the specifics of blogging to junior and seniors who have marketing plans to deliver to real companies in just 10 weeks from now.
For me, having been a writer of books, newsletters, magazine and newspaper articles and now blogs, I know that blogging is one of the most important tactical tools in any marketer's toolbox. In fact, prior to 2018, when video content began to rise and then just exploded in use in 2020, blogs led the list as the most heavily used media tool
I've had the privilege of teaching at MIT and Tufts for 20 and 15 years respectively. The experience...
- Blends in perfectly with my other passion of consulting in sales, marketing and business planning
- Reminds me of just how much I still do not know, and my requirement to be a life-long student
- Provides me with continuing opportunities to catch up with and engage my alums.
With the end of the month, and my last day of selling activity for October, I'm reminded this morning of the business of every business...no matter what it is....even if it's coffee.
As I started this morning with inches of snow on the ground and what will be many cups of Keurig Sumatra Dark Roast during the day today, I'm drawn to think about the value and therefore the marketing, the selling and the pricing of coffee. I had the unique opportunity years ago to work with the Keurig team of entrepreneurs and the initial investors when they were just starting the company figuring out the market, the various sales channels and hiring their first experienced head of sales. Lots of hard work, very exciting on-the-ground and in-the-weeds entrepreneurship which led to an exceptional growth opportunity.
- When will we get back to work?
- When can I start selling again?
- What's the messaging I should be using?
In a few hours, I'll be leading a webinar with 100+ business owners of New England destination hotels and vacation resorts who are looking for answers to these and 60 plus other questions that they've submitted in advance.
These are the people right at the epicenter of the struggle who have had hundreds of cancellations for long-planned weddings, reunions and business conferences planned specifically around "getting away to the peaceful, bucolic and quiet beaches and mountains of New England". And now, they have nothing but questions, time on their hands and the adjacent fears of unpaid bills and not knowing what to tell long term employees that they've already laid off.
In a time of fear and concern regarding the personal and business impact of the COVID-19 virus, where do I turn?
My recommendation is listen only to the experts!
If I listen to most radio channels or watch David Muir on the evening news, in all respect, I don't know whether I should immediately drive to my Vermont bunker up on the ridge and hunker down with my six months of rations, or merely drive to Home Depot and pick up more antiseptic wipes.
At the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center, in addition to shepherding 450 enthusiastic and curious students a semester among 16 wicked smart professors, I've been focusing on building an event structure throughout the year that leads up to our $100K New Venture Competition in the spring. Right now, you should Mark April 5th in your calendar and come and participate in what Forbes ranks as one of "The top 15 business plan contests in the country."