With teaching every Wednesdays at Tufts, I always have a process (should not be surprising to anyone who knows me) to making sure that everything is in place since I well know by now that both time and students are unforgiving.
Tags: marketing effectiveness, marketing productivity, Tufts marketing projects, free marketing projects from universities, marketing plans, how to write a marketing plan, entrepreneurship, Tufts Entrepreneurship Center
I heard from many of our blog subscribers about last week's NYT article on my tiny Vermont town of Winhall. [The Virus Sent Droves to a Small Town. Suddenly, It’s Not So Small. ]
- A very human and objectively correct article
- Filled with real facts about the boom in real estate
- Yes, Scott, a very good friend, is "One Cranky Dude"
- Yes, lots of change...all very healthy change for VT.
Scott Bushee, a solid 6th generation Vermonter, is the supervisor of Winhall’s transfer station (do not use the phrase "town dump" around Scott), spent the summer training all of the newcomers in recycling. “The minute you come through that gate, you’re in Scott’s country,” he said. “I’m the dictator here.” Scott is also the Town Moderator. and he runs the annual town meetings with the same level of practical, no-nonsense, direct-talk that he does everywhere...including his FB posts. We could have used him the other night as the moderator of the most embarrassing management debacle ever.
Scott's a 6th generation Vermonter, just like me, and I could hear his Vermont accent when I read in The Times...“Now you’ve got to deal with Vermonters,” he said. “They will tell you straight up. I try to do it as politely as I can, but if you push the envelope, things are going to go sideways because right now the closest word I can tell you is it's sheer pandemonium.”
I'm in Winhall this morning, where it's a balmy 50 out by the barn, and what I've seen during the summa' because of the emigration out of NY and CT is that...
- there are zero houses for sale other than the worst teardowns and even those have bids
- Mike, my broker for my "extra five acres" of land up on the ridge is getting lots of calls
- the post office ran out of available P.O. boxes in mid-June.
- electricians and plumbers are booked until Christmas.
- a simple pane of glass for the window broken by my lawn guys took 8 weeks to replace
- complaints about bears have quadrupled.
All of which represents change, and from my perspective, very healthy change in a town and in a state that has been eroding for years. Yes, Vermont is very picturesque, and yes, that smell of fresh cut hay in early July and the perfect photo of fall leaves taken out by the dairy farm is all very wonderful, but the harsh reality of the real Vermont is that it's a tough place to live, and an even tougher place to find good jobs.
- Drive 10 miles out of the ski towns, and you're in rural America with a declining population
- Other than retail, and those jobs are now disappearing, real, good-wage jobs are non-existent
- Drug addiction has been declared an epidemic by two governors with no sign of abatement
- Energy costs are the highest in the US save for Hawaii
- Don't get me started on senators Leahy & Sanders, neither of whom do much for VT.
Bottom line of any small town and of any small business, new people bring new ideas and vitality. New ideas create new businesses and new jobs. New jobs bring money and the flywheel keeps turning.
With new families moving into the town doubling the size of the local school population (which had been declining for a decade plus) and bringing new ideas, new energy and new dollars into a fragile economy, this change in Winhall is very positive creating a new sense of vitality and experimentation that comes only from new young families.
“It’s hard to know who is living in what house,” said Ms. Elanor Grant, 50, who is also Winhall’s treasurer, registrar of deeds, tax collector and presiding officer of elections.
She is also the ex-wife of Mr. Bushee. It is an amicable divorce; recently, when a wasp became lodged in his ear canal, she rushed over to his house with tweezers.
...only in Vermont!
Embrace the Opportunity
Absolutely, the chaos created as a result of Covid has been and continues to be a disaster. We know what to do to protect ourselves, our families and our employees, and we're also fact-based enough to know that this problem will continue deep into 2021. The harsh reality of the virus was brought to the forefront in the early hours of this morning with the announcement of the president and first lady testing positive.
We're facing a long winter ahead, and from the perspective of our own businesses, we now need to focus on what we can control and bring our positive energy, our expertise and our innovation to the forefront of what we are doing every day for the balance of this new quarter.
Winhall is never "going back" and neither will the professions of Sales & Marketing
- Many of the age-old tactics of Sales & Marketing have been out of touch with customers and prospects for years. In B2B tech sales we've known for years that 70ish% of prospective buyers have reported that their first meeting (both phone calls and F2F meeting) with a salesperson was a waste of time, and that they would never take another call or meeting. And yet salespeople have continued to relentlessly batter down the doors with more and more blind emails and cold calls that make a used-car salesperson look good by comparison.
- Sales & Marketing success today is all about demonstrating customer value. Unless our sales and marketing messaging and outreach tools can demonstrate fundamental financial value to both prospects and customers, we're just an unnecessary interruption in an environment where no one anymore has any extra time or desire to listen to yet another empty statement which is focused on the seller's table and not the buyer's.
- Live trade shows are gone forever. We've been trying to kill this antiquated time-sink of energy and money for decades, and the stats have told us for all of those decades that the cost per lead was 10X the cost of any other form of marketing, but we've continued to play the trade show game. Maybe it was because we were afraid what our competitors would say when we didn't show up, or that we often used that same time for training our salespeople since they all felt that they needed to be in the booth. Very simply, no one is going back to live trade shows ever! Virtual trade shows and conferences, sure, but physical meetings? Who would take that life and death risk? Remember that the infections from the Biogen conference in Massachusetts in February started from just one person and has now been traced to over 20,000 direct infections.
Like Scott Bushee and Eleanor Grant and the 769 residents of Winhall, embrace the change, figure out the new opportunities that this time provides and experiment with new marketing and sales tactics during the next 60 days as you now turn your attention to closing Q4 and the year ahead of plan...still plenty of time to do that!
I'm headed out to the general store for a breakfast sandwich before my 9:00 AM sales meeting this morning !
Have a great day selling today as we push forward into embracing the changes of this fall and Q4
CONFIDENTIAL SOUNDING BOARD
If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board in business planning or for Sales or Marketing, just connect with me at any time. Text or email me, and I will quickly set up a call.
I'm a pretty good listener. Obviously, no cost for a call or two; just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.
By the end of a normal Friday morning, the front of my brain would have heard, dissected and categorized some hundreds of ideas, and I would have figured out one thread of hopefully a meaningful subject to twist around my travels to Vermont, my teaching at Tufts or my working at the NH beach. This Friday is complicated by way too many jumbled "new normal" activities...not any different from any of you, I'm sure.
One does not need to be an entrepreneur to be entrepreneurial, so it's with that thought that I share a few ideas to take you through the holidays and hopefully a couple of days off for a much-needed break.
In the spirit of sharing, the first three of these came to me last week from one of the all-time great entrepreneurs, CB Vaughn, the founder of CB Sports, who revolutionized the world of skiing and championship ski racing by designing and manufacturing outwear that became the market leader in design, while being extremely functional on the hill. Still today, when people notice that I worked with CB, they will stop and tell me about the first CB parka that they bought, its color, and how they had saved up for a year to make the purchase at top ski shops like Pedigree Sports.
Always Inspire !Above everything else, inspire your team and your customers to want to do work with you! At CB Sports, we weren't the biggest, but we were certainly the leading brand in terms of design, quality and functionality! There was never a question as to the absolute focus on our customers and the value that we provided. Long before the clinical marketing term of "persona" was conceived, we knew exactly who are customers were...and were not. With CB's very strong leadership, all of us from associates to suppliers to retailers were totally driven to focus exactly on the team on the hill.
Be Prepared for Your Own SuperBowl !During the time that I worked with CB, he had the drive and, most importantly, the discipline of preparation to be able to interpret and translate the smallest detail into the impact and the value that it delivered to our customers. His SuperBowl has always been the customer experience, which, when you think about it should always define our own success in everything we do.
4th & 1: You Don't Need a Playbook !In any company, whether it's one of my many emerging startups that we innovate out of the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center, or it's an established rapid-growth company like CB Sports, there are those critical times when you need to take control of the ball and just drive decisively down the field and win!
Entrepreneurship is About Making Change Happen in your own world!Growing up as a corporate guy at Becton Dickinson, even though my great-grandfather, my grandfather and my father were all very different entrepreneurs, I couldn't spell "entrepreneurship" before I started sitting in the audience at the MIT Enterprise Forum, where years later I became an avid volunteer and a committed board member and chairman.
Back-in-the-day, even after working with CB and then starting a company when I returned to Boston, and then another company and another and more, I always thought of entrepreneurship as doing just that. I thought that entrepreneurship was all about starting companies and moving up and to the right from Concept to Team to Structure to Scale to Success. And, while that's somewhat true, that path works only in a tiny 1% of 1% of companies that actually succeed, and even then, it's never a straight line.
Of much more importance is our own entrepreneurial ability that's present in all of us to initiate and make change happen in whatever piece of the world where we choose to make it happen!
In among the holiday presents, the marvelous food and the travel, I would ask you to take a tiny slice of time and think about mapping out your own entrepreneurial journey for 2020. I've just completed mine and looking forward to hearing about yours!
Have a wonderful holiday!
Enjoy ! Hug! Be Safe!
Make Change Happen!
Please stay connected! firstname.lastname@example.org
I've probably listened to, coached or presented in 10-20,000 presentations.
- Early volunteering and chairing the MIT Enterprise Forum, was my first love!
- Being involved in the leadership of 4 or 5 other entrepreneurship associations
- 20 years of teaching at MIT in early stage business planning
- 14 years of teaching at Tufts in entrepreneurial marketing and sales
- Director of the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center & Cummings Professor of entrepreneurship
- 9 of my own startups-a few very good, some just ok, and some "what was I thinking?"
- A venture guy in three early stage venture firms and chairing Common Angels.
A couple of years ago, when we took over what has now been rebranded as the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center, we knew we could most importantly take entrepreneurship to the next level at this extraordinary University with 10 of the highest ranking research schools in the country. We're really urgent, so we quickly moved ahead breaking more than a few rules along the way always focused on creating the absolute best student experience!
Sure, I get it...work, life, and relationships are often wicked complicated, maybe even overcomplicated, but that's life! Way too often we overthink things, especially at work, to the point of making the already complicated impossibly cluttered, slow to enact and painful in which to participate. Recently, I've adopted with my work and my teaching a concept of frequently taking a view 100 feet off the deck and asking myself and others..."Aren't we overthinking this?", and, typically, I am discovering that the answer is a resounding "Yes".
May is always a bittersweet time !
It's the end of the academic year and the realization that hundreds of our students at the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center will graduate opening the next chapter in their books of life and in their careers. We know from our data that the majority will join larger companies where they will bring their entrepreneurial spirit of curiosity and innovation. Right alongside our congratulating the seniors going to work at Google, Hubspot, Linked and other companies where we can open doors, we are also closely watching and coaching a handful of companies being birthed right now as a result of this spring's very successful Tufts $100K New Ventures Competition
My Hubspot blog template asks me this morning "What are we writing about today?". This Thursday morning, I'm pretty consumed with the excitement and the logistics of tomorrow's day-long Founder's Workshop and its incredible line up of real-life entrepreneurs, early stage investors and expert coaches, all focused on making sure that our early stage entrepreneurs do not fall off the cliff.
Tags: entreprenurial, business coaching, Tufts Gordon Institute, entrepreneurship, Making Tough Choices, sales success, jack derby professor at Tufts, Tufts Entrepreneurship, Tufts Entrepreneurship Center
Back-in-the-day, working in corporate healthcare at Becton Dickinson, I didn’t know how to spell the word, “entrepreneurship”. Even though three prior generations of my family had built businesses, that word would have been confusing at best since all that was talked about around the kitchen table was “the stores”. It was the stores, open six days a week and Friday nights where my grandfather, father, mother, and me and my brothers worked. It was never thought to be anything special.
Tags: entreprenurial, sales and marketing best practices, The Competitive Edge, Tufts Gordon Institute, Tufts internships, Tufts ELS, entrepreneurship, jack derby professor at Tufts, Tufts Entrepreneurship
Been a wicked busy and wicked cold January, so not much in the way of blogging, but now with this leap into February, I’m back at it. It was my great grandfather Horace, who lived up the road a piece in the beautiful town of Poultney, Vermont, who talked about 8 months of snow, 2 months of mosquitoes and 2 months of “just damn poor sleddin’”. My family has lived in this valley for just about 250 years, and what I know is that it takes real work to live here. Vermont’s beautiful on one hand, and just hardscrabble tough on the other.
Tags: entreprenurial, how to write a business plan, writing a business plan, Tufts university, entrepreneurship, Making Tough Choices, jack derby professor at Tufts, Tufts Entrepreneurship, Tufts Entrepreneurship Center