What is essential is invisible to the eye

The little prince

There was a time when I used to wake-up in the middle of the night, thinking about everything that was wrong and how to fix it.

Continue reading “What is essential is invisible to the eye”


How to create a marketing plan 101

A goal properly set is halfway reached

This is the time of the year where most companies need to deliver their next-year business plan. The idea alone is a nightmare for too many managers and marketing executives. We have to acknowledge it is a painful process. Especially cause most of us focus on the wrong problem.

How to start a Business Plan

Set an achievable goal

If you are the offensive-coach of a football team and start without asking every single one of your players for X number of rushing yards, or Y number of completed passes. You are doing it wrong.

Most definitely, if you start your business plan without a solid goal, you will fail, because you don’t know where you want to go, therefore, you’ll never get there.

Review your product strategy

Home much did you sell this year?
Sun Tzu said “Know your enemy and know yourself, find naught in fear for 100 battles” before go out there to research others research yourself. Learn from yourself, learn from the mistakes you made this year and move on, but more important than that is to learn from your success.

101 – Know yourself

Product Strategy

Review all sales, considering cycles, seasonality and every possible variable. Make sure to attribute success to the right variables, set them apart, create a statistical approach if you have the tools for it, or follow an objective logic if not.  Also consider that across markets you may have different approaches. People in Napa valley are more likely to have a car than people from Manhattan

Distribution (People / Channels)

Now that you know which products generate 80% of your revenue, you can move forward and analyze the distribution (the people / channels) used to sell your products. Ask yourself these questions.

  • Who were the top performers?
  • Why did they get to sell more than the average?
  • How did they do it?
  • Is it the markets?
  • If it is the markets what do they have in common?
  • Is there a drastic change in one market?
  • What are the trends that can be expected for the upcoming year?

What do we have so far?

  1. We sold 15 million USD
  2. We sold 21 different products across 13 markets. 5 of those products represent 64% of our revenue
  3. The markets A, B, D and G experienced change. While market G grew significantly, markets A, B and D lost share.
  4. The Y-segment started purchasing our products 3 months ago helping us increase sales in the market G.

A solid marketing plan will be to present last year figures, consider the needs of the company for new revenue, create a marketing strategy that will increase the sales of your main products and alternative scenarios, where you can bring together strategies to market your products through new distribution channels.

If you company needs 25 million USD in sales for the upcoming year, that means you have to increase your sales almost 70% to meet your quota.

You want to present the board members with a bullet-proof plan. It really depends on what kind of situation you are in. Yo can always pursue one of this strategies

  • Diminish-on-returns
  • Restructure to increase prices
  • Lower inventory in poor-performing products
  • Clear inventory on poor-performing products
  • Creating a synergy with your top performers

You are in a service oriented industry. Then you may not have inventory, but you have a quota to make. You have to consider whether or not paying commissions the way you are doing it is really making any money for the company.

These articles are developed to show the logic behind one of many ways to create a marketing plan. The success depends on the implementation.

Part 2 – Know the enemy

Part 3 – How to win the battle

1.46 Billion USD – Cyber Monday sales

Cyber Week

Retail is great. Retail is freaking awesome in deed. There is so much people talking about how digital is going to debunk real stores that is hard to hear anyone. To be honest with the world we need to stop believing such a lie.

There’s a market for everyone and everything. Humans are social by nature, as long as there are humans in this world, there will be malls and market places. Digital is not a replacement of your life it is an enhancement.

This year I failed to live by my code and decided to join the wagon of the Black Friday / Cyber Monday maniacs. Instead of just going with the flow I should have seen and learn from digital market leaders such as Bestbuy, e-bay and amazon. Bestbuy  extended their promotions for well over a week after Cyber Monday, welcome Cyber Week.

We did fine in sales, however there’s always something we can do better. Next year, I’ll remember to double check my basis, and not to try to compete against retail when it is not my place. My place is the Internet and the Internet has its own set of rules.

Read more about Cybermonday sales at Inc Magazine

A good old marketing campaign

Crazy Heart Poster

That’s the way it is with good ones, you’re sure you’ve heard them before. Bad Blake, Crazy Heart

I’ve been listening to The Black Keys lately, specially that album El Camino. I have to tell you I was immediately hooked. It seems like old music made new, like an Indy band is playing covers on old blues songs. And yet they’re not.

Here are my thoughts on how to apply the same principles to marketing.

1. You are not an artist

Understand and accept this; better yet own this principle.

I am not a musician, not by far. I am a marketer, I do what I love to do and people pay me to do it. Keep yourself humble and remember you are not the only creative out there. Save the Rock-star attitude for the press conference time.

2. A great song is not just lyrics

The media, the wording, the product and how you relate to the market are key elements for campaign success. But above all is the message, how you relate to the audience is what matters the most. Resonate with your target audience like a song who seems to be an old song they’ve heard before.

3. A Great artist stills

If you are going to look at someone else’s job, make sure you pay for it, but above all make sure to still it.  You know the song “My Way” by… wait a minute Paul Anka? Yes, we all remember Mr. Personality himself Frank Sinatra singing My Way. Although Paul Anka is the original singer and songwriter, Sinatra’s performance is unparalleled, he made that song his song. He has stolen that song for generations to come.

4. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

If you are anything like me, you will probably obsess over the quality of the final product, even risk to delay its launch and have everyone working for endless-days until it is perfect. Achieving perfection is time consuming and a never ending job. The best way to do this is to create perfect campaign for a particular audience. Write every single creative idea into post-its on a wall. The key to perfection is assessing what really is elemental to resonate with the audience. After all it was Antoine de Saint Exupery who said “Perfection is achieved when there’s nothing else to take away

5. Practice makes perfect

Practice finding the key elements to great campaigns on accounts you want and you don’t have. Practice on those campaigns you hated. Practice on those customers who turned you down. Practice until it hurts and you don’t want to do it no more, and then practice some more.

6. Write 2-minutes songs

When you are able to see the key elements that will make your campaign resonate with your audience you’ll be able create great campaigns. Learn to do this as fast as possible, businesses don’t give second chances, if you delay to much a campaign presentation only to deliver something your customer doesn’t want it will cost you a lot of money. Not only from the customer that turned you down but from all the referrals you will not get.

7. Do burn your guitars

Jimi Hendrix iconic guitar burning moment happened when he felt he was playing so bad that audience was not paying any attention to him. He decided to sacrifice his guitar by setting it on fire. Or so the story tells. Burn your guitars, learn that you will not be able to get every single client and that everyone fails but winners never quit.

Update from comments

My Way lyrics were written by Paul Anka and set to music based on the French song Comme d’habitude composed in 1967 by Claude François and Jacques Revaux. “My Way” is often quoted as the most covered song in history and its lyrics are not related to the French Song or it’s english version. More on Wikipedia My Way.

Visually-Aid Navigation – Differences Between Boys and Girls

Boys and Girls are different.

Aside from the obvious differences in our anatomy and behavior, there are other rather not obvious differences between our two genres.

While working in the new design for Hacienda Tres Rios interior pages Idida and I decided to implement a rather more visually-aid website navigation. Tabs and drop down menus are evil when over used, aside from the fact that overusing tabs indicates that you are indifferent towards your visitors needs and goals, but that is another story. The two chosen pages to implement the new navigation were:

  • Restaurants & Bars
  • Weddings & Honeymoons

Both pages have an even amount of traffic at the Hacienda Tres Rios website. We implemented our visually-aid website navigation about 6 weeks ago. Today I am showing you the heat maps for the last 4 weeks.

I implemented reinvigorate 4 months ago and it has been a joy ever since. I am able to see what our website visitors are up to and how they react to our interaction enhancements. However, this difference between Boys and Girls, was not foreseen. The two pages have an even amount of traffic but there audiences are not the same, and this is significant. Visitors in the weddings page click in links more, while visitors in the restaurants page prefer to click on pictures.

I was expecting people to click in images, because that is what I do.

My father once told me, the day you open a store choose products for every one, not based in your personal taste but in what people might like. He was right.

When I decided to implement this graphically enhanced navigation, I had no prove whatsoever that it will work. There where no analytics, studies or hard data to support my case. However the confidence that Ariel Castro has always invested in our E-Marketing team led us towards the implementation, we both knew it would work the minute we saw the interaction.

Happy holidays to everyone. 2011 is not only a new year, but the start of a new decade, a decade for success and evolution. God bless you and your families with joy and health.

Below you can find screenshots of the heat maps.

Google confirms plans for social features | Technology | guardian.co.uk

A very well written article providing an unbiased look at “The Shape of Things to Come”

Since I read at mashable.com that Google was set to create a Facebook Killer, I thought it was just obvious. Google’s great power remains in search. Google has failed in its earlier attempt to create a social media network. And that mistake did not come without a price tag on it. Why will they want to be something they are not? –It makes Schmidt look like he is really getting it.

Of course they still want to know every little piece of information we consume in order to better serve ads crafted to our particular needs, even if WE don’t really have any current need.

My take is that it is just too soon to tell. But it is in fact a diversion. Only a handful of people at Google know the real roadmap.

Having a web site is a full time job

If you want to get something out of it.

Web sites that sell

I happen to love sales and marketing more than chocolate, that may be cause my grand mother was in sales, both my parents are, and working in the beautiful Cancun, Mexico most of the time you are surrounded by a sales environment.

Every now and then I see fascinating things that should be shared with the world  in order to inspire the business people out there to replicate and improve the models. The Internet is the marketplace of a global economy, there is market for everyone who knows how to get the best out of it. That is the reason I am writing this series. I hope you enjoy them, share and provide some feedback on them.

If you think you are being a clever marketer, you are doing it wrong.

When I first started developing web sites back in 2002 I was naive. I was under the impression that doing something different meant to use elaborated words that no one else was using, I thought that the web was missing fashion and style, and that for some magical reason, I was the one who was meant to make it right. Sadly, I was wrong.

Being clever when developing your site’s content is one thing, using the wrong words that no one is searching for is in the other hand… A stupid thing to do. I spent some time doing the latter myself, only to understand later on that all my work was worthless, I want to give you a word of advice here: Use common sense.

The logical way of thinking is the best possible way to start your site, whatever is it that you are doing, do not try to be as original that no one ever get to know who you are and what is it that you are saying. If you need some help on learning to write for the web you can get some good advice on Copywriting tips for online marketing at CopyBlogger.com, that is one of the sites that I use and visit the most these days.

Practical Example

Lets say that you are starting a new Day Spa in Aspen. You want to provide some super cool sort of service and you want people to know about it.

Ask your friends and family, or even strangers –Choose people that fits your market–  the following question: When you want to look for a Day Spa, how do you google it?

If you happen to master the understanding of how people googles, you will become a start in the Internet marketplace. There is a line where we all come together, may be a word or a phrase, use this phrase to elaborate your keyword vectoring, the content of the blog in your site, and the product pages too.

Keep away from talking about technicalities of the massages or the products at your spa if it is not relevant to your business. Talk about what is relevant to the people that is looking for your product, in other words, provide value to your visitors.

Keep your customer always in your mind. He is the one that is looking for you, for him to be able to find you, you gotta make it happen. Focus on your main business, not in details that no other but the therapist may be talking about –unless of course your day spa offers some sort of training. Focus on what is relevant to your business: Your customer and what he wants.

In order to sell you need to be noticed. In order to be noticed on the Internet, you got to understand your target market.

You cannot change the world if no one knows you. By Whitney Hess

Whitney Hess: Evangelizing Yourself

Whitney Hess, is a great girl, who shares super cool information on the web, she is a User Experience Design based in NYC, she and Jared Spool, are two of the most motivating persons out there.

Basically what she says is that wee need to put more work on what we are doing, talk about it on our personal blogs, and twitter, also be networking with people in networks like linked in. Most of the times our worst enemy is ourselves. Keeping us from reaching our goals.

The opposite of networking is Not Working, is one of the great quotes of the presentation.

I hope you find it useful as much as I did.


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Customer is always right

Sales articles main image
Sales articles main image

Customer is always right, it is our job to help them discover what they want.

Every time a man comes into our shop asking to get a project done, they pretty much know what they need, it is responsibility of the sales professional to understand the customer, and then based on a deep analysis of his needs sell the appropriate solution.

You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new. –Steve Jobs, Apple CEO.

Its a common thing to hear that Henry Ford once said: If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said Faster Horses.

People is well aware of their needs, in the times when Henry Ford was building an emporium, they new they needed to get from one place to another faster. Then it is perhaps logical to assume that the current transportation means can be improved in order to meet those needs, changing the transportation from horses into model 5’s was innovation!

People is reluctant to change, and both things are equally inevitable.

Ford knew he was right, he needed to change the paradigm of cars into something better, into something new, for this he decided to prove himself and his customers, how a horseless car was in many ways better than the traditional transport means, he sold the world into the idea of a modern vehicle.

Therefore, if we analyze the plot of the story, we could conclude that not only shall we expect our customers to be reluctant to change, but that a sale will be made, either we as the experts sell our customer into the idea that a modern product will serve better his needs, or he sells us into the idea that he only needs a small set of changes to his current solution.

I am not trying to get you to upgrade all your customers, the purpose of this post is to help you understand that we the sales professionals are entrusted by our customers to help them get the best possible solution. Also, to remember that you are the sales professional, it is your responsibility to sell your customer into the right solution, to expect and face his reluctancy, to prove how much benefit will come from making the right choice, it is not the big commission check you are going to get at the end of the month, it is all the subsequent checks you are going to be making for the rest of your life from the referrals of your current customer.

Never compromise your principles, developing low quality products for couple of bucks may seem such a great deal when we are young and unexperienced, but it wont bring the big cash in tomorrow. It is better to refuse a sale when you know that you customer does not fully understand what he needs, than just taking his money once. However, before turning any proposal down you should make everything in your power to convince your client to commit to your suggestions.

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