Your Medicine Cabinet

April 14, 2021

Today’s marketing question is…

“What’s in your medicine cabinet?”

Really. That’s the question. Before you think we’ve gone completely off the rails, let me explain.

There are really only two reasons that people do anything…including making a purchase. The first is to avoid pain and the second is to achieve pleasure. Every other motivation is a subset to one of these themes.

Are you selling a product or service that saves time? The pain associated is wasting time…the pleasure is having more time or more control over your time. Same with money.

When we talk about marketing with our clients, we describe this as offering either an aspirin or a vitamin.


The Aspirin

One of two buying motivators live within every customer driving them to act.

The first buying motivator, avoidance of pain, drives your Ideal Customer to get rid of a problem. Think of it this way. They are living with a headache, and they want it gone…the sooner, the better.

They actively seek a remedy to their headache. They are not indifferent to their problem. They want it removed. They want their headache to go away. They are reacting to something undesirable. It’s quite possible that they don’t really know what will take away their headache.

Research shows only 5% of all your Ideal Prospects believe they know the solution and are looking for that solution. Five percent! What are the other 95% doing? They are searching for answers, turning over boulders, inquiring of friends, digging through the Internet because they don’t know what will take away the headache. When they have a headache, you become their aspirin. They just want to move away from pain, challenge, issue, dilemma—whatever word is appropriate.


The Vitamin

The second buying motivator propels your Ideal Customer to take something pretty good and make it even better. Their desire for something even better moves them forward to find what will create greater pleasure. People seeking to turn something good into something great are proactive rather than reactive. You’ll find them in motion when things are good. They act with their eye to the future, perhaps heading off a problem before it even appears or accelerating today for an even more positive tomorrow.

The buyers moving toward pleasure might not know exactly what they are looking for either. All they know is this “thing” can get much better. They want to move towards gratification, towards pleasure, towards greater happiness or joy. When they want something better, you become their vitamin.

Your primary product or service comes packaged for your customer as either an aspirin or a vitamin. Your marketing language and strategy will be quite different depending upon which type of “medicine” you are dispensing.

In either case, you are taking your customer on a journey of change from where they are to where they want to be. Your marketing language should paint a vivid picture of how things are for the customer now and how they will be after working with you.

The customers choosing an aspirin are going from pain to relief or from problem to solution. The vitamin shoppers are traveling from good to great or from acceptable to optimal.

Smart business owners have both aspirins and vitamins in their medicine cabinets, but they focus more on the type of medicine their ideal customers need most.

Make sure your medicine cabinet is fully stocked and your “medicine” is well-labeled. Specify exactly what type of headache your product will relieve. Tell the customer precisely what will be enhanced by that vitamin.


Take a good look at what’s in your medicine cabinet and then…

Go forth and do great things,

Martha & Chris

Marketing Lessons from a Smart Cookie

April 7, 2021

My mom taught me more things than she realized, and while she wasn’t in marketing directly, oh boy, did she teach me a ton about the subject!

I was a Girl Scout, and it was cookie season.  Today’s Girl Scouts’ marketing strategy is to park themselves in front of your grocery store with a gaggle of other Girl Scouts, surrounded by overseeing moms.  Back then it was: Head out and walk door-to-door, take orders, and deliver the cookies several weeks later when the shipment arrived.

This then-shy Girl Scout was just going to ask family and some close friends to buy.  But the rub in that idea was that I wanted to sell the most cookies in our troop.  My Mother sat me down.

Time for Marketing 101

My goal and my plan did not match.  My goal was to sell boxes and boxes of cookies.  My plan was to call family (actually, my plan was to have my mother call the family).  That strategy would not get me to my goal.

Mom made several things obvious—I needed a new plan, and I was making the sales, not her (how did she know?).  This was my goal, my “business,” and I had to run the thing.

Out the door and down our street I went.  I came home a few hours later with a lot of single-box orders and a long face.  If I kept up this way, there was no way to meet my goal. I had “launched and learned” as we so often talk about.  And what I learned was that my middle-class neighborhood wasn’t going to be a source for success.  I needed to adjust my marketing plan.

Enter Mom.

“Who can buy more than one box of cookies?”

“Richer people,” I guessed.

“Where do richer people live that’s near to us?” she continued.

“Over there in that neighborhood,” I guessed again.

“Okay, that’s where you go.”

I believe this was an early version of “Who’s your Ideal Customer and where can you find them?”

Over I went to knock on the doors of the “rich” peoples’ houses.  To my great surprise, people bought more than a box or two. Some as many as 10 or 12 boxes. I finally got up the courage to ask one woman why she bought so many boxes.

“Because my children love these cookies,” she said, “and they want them all year long. I don’t want to explain why they can only have them for a few weeks in the Spring.”

I had discovered her aspiration…and the obstacle to her aspiration was that Girl Scout cookies only came out once a year. So, stock up, woman!

I ran home and told my mother about this extraordinary discovery.

“What are you going to do with this information?” she asked.

I looked at her with the most vacant look.  “What do you mean what am I going to do with it?  Some people bought more cookies.  That’s it.”

“You’re missing something,” my Mom said.  “If one mom wants to make sure she has enough Girl Scout cookies to last and last, other mothers will, too.  Go back and make sure you visit the houses where you can see that they have children.  They are who you want to be talking to.”

I guess, looking back, that was my first marketing lesson. It was learned through my Mom, like so many other valuable life…and business…lessons.

So, what lessons has your mother taught you about marketing?

That old saying is true: “Mother knows best.”

Take her advice and…

Go forth and do great things,

Martha & Chris


PS: Yes, I did win the contest for most sales that year!

PPS:  Girl Scout cookies are on sale until the end of April.  Click here to find a troop selling cookies in your area or to order cookies on-line.

Who’s On Your Bus?

March 31, 2021

You probably never planned on being a bus driver, did you? Me neither.

Think about it. If you own your own business, it’s kind of like being a bus driver. You have to keep the bus moving and going in the right direction. You’re responsible to make sure the bus and all your passengers get safely to the right destination.

The key to success – according to Jim Collins, author of Good to Great – is having the right people on the bus with you. Along the way you might need a mechanic, a navigator, a peacemaker or a relief driver. If you’re missing one of these vital people, it can slow you down, take you off course, or stop you in your tracks.

Having the right people on the bus can make the ride smooth and pleasant, but having someone who doesn’t fit can be a miserable proposition for everyone. It can cost you time and money and prevent you from reaching the destination – serving your customer better than your competition with maximum profits.

It’s not enough to have the right people on the bus. They also have to be sitting in the right seats.  The right people are the ones who:

  • Share and support your company’s values,
  • Have a strong sense of ownership for their area of responsibility,
  • Possess high-level skills in their field of expertise,
  • Communicate clearly, and
  • Adapt easily.

Once you know you have the right people on the bus, it’s also important to make sure that they are in the right seats. Ask yourself these questions to make sure your team is sitting in the right seats:

  • Are all of the key seats filled?
  • Are people assigned to the roles that best match their skills?
  • Does the team mesh and work effectively together?
  • Could a person move to another seat if necessary?

If things are not going well, ask yourself first if the person meets the criteria for being on the bus, then examine if a change of seat might make an improvement. If the answer to both questions is “no,” take action to get the person off the bus as quickly and compassionately as possible.

As conditions or destinations change, the mix of people on the bus may need to change. The best bus drivers (and business owners) make sure the ride is smooth and successful by constantly making sure that they have the right people on the bus and that they are sitting in the right seats.

You might not have planned to be a bus driver, but now that you are….

Go forth and do great things,

Martha & Chris