Fifteen years ago, I published my Unfinished Marketing Manifesto. This morning I went back to read it and was very happy to see I agreed with almost everything I said.

What would you add, subtract, and/or edit to my list?

  • Find a need and fill it is bogus. The truth is we all think everybody needs our products and services. The problem with that thinking is that most of our targeted customers don’t necessarily agree with that statement. It should be “Find an acknowledged need and fill it.” Uncover those prospects who agree they have a need.
  • Satisfied customers leave all the time. Forget satisfied. Satisfied means you met expectations. People don’t stay customers when you meet expectations. They stay when you exceed expectations…over and over and over.
  • Don’t study your competition for new ideas. Study people and organizations outside your daily world and steal their ideas.
  • Under promise and over deliver. The world is overcrowded with companies, small and large who make big promises and then fall short on delivery. (Of course, you need to make sure YOUR smaller promise is still more than good enough.)
  • Focus on a niche. You can’t please everyone, so don’t even try. Hunt moose.
  • Get thee to a podium. Professional speakers and writers have a distinct advantage. Every time they get in front of the right audience, they’re showcasing. Publishers are always looking for new authors who are also professional speakers. You can build and market a business on someone else’s dime.
  • People do business with people they like. People do business with people they know. People do business with people they trust. AND people do business with people they remember. I really don’t care how big or small you are. People don’t do business with companies.
  • Your Brand is what your customers think it is and what you think doesn’t matter.You can create a Branding Proposition, but all that is is a promise to your customers. Your customer decides if you’ve kept, not kept, or exceeded your promise. Their conclusion is now your Brand.
  • The last thing you want to be is really, really good at something nobody wants to pay for It’s all well and good to be passionate about your product or service. But if nobody wants to write you a check and you can’t make a profit, then your passion is just a hobby.
  • Don’t be afraid to challenge the pros and/or conventional wisdom, even in their own backyard. If you look at your industry “leaders,” more often than not, they are trapped in an industry orthodoxy. They look alike and act alike. People don’t want to work with people who are the same as everybody else (and besides, its boring). Rock the boat.
  • Depth & breadth of knowledge. Being really, really smart in your field is a good thing. Being really smart in unrelated areas gives you a different perspective and separates you from the competition.
  • Have a bias for action. Perfection is overrated. One lesson I learned from working with a Japanese company was that 80% is good enough. There comes a point in any thinking or planning when the project is good enough. Stop working on it.
  • Don’t be afraid to fire clients. If you’ve never fired a client, you’re probably compromising your values at some point. Obviously, it’s tough to fire clients, even bad ones. It’s only human nature to look at the money you make from some clients and rationalize reasons for keeping them. But if you really are your own boss, then you work for YOU, not them. This may sound harsh, but it’s true.
  • Occasionally surprise your clients, even after they get used to it. I call it the Expected Surprise. It’s what you have when you open a box of Cracker Jacks or when you go to Disneyland for the 43rd time. You know you’re going to be surprised, you just don’t know what the surprise will be.  Create that same situation with your customers.
  • Maintain healthy paranoia. I actually learned this first from Phil Wexler. We were having dinner about 18 years ago, early in my speaking and consulting career. I asked what it was like to be a million-dollar a year generator. His response was, “I’m deathly afraid the phone won’t ring tomorrow. I’ve got to stay paranoid.”