Second Mover Advantage

man in gray suit playing chess

The first rat gets the trap. The second rat gets the cheese. While entrepreneurs love touting their success when deploying first mover advantages, they typically overlook the established foundation that permitted early success. Before establishing a business relationship, responsible parties on both sides of the transaction typically learn about each other. This activity is called intelligence for a reason. Advantages surface by knowing more about the other side.

By understanding the other side at the beginning, savvy competitors already have begun their education. Branding delivers the first lesson. Effective branding announces benefits, attributes, and expectations before relationships formally start. Branding is the calling card that accelerates initial introductions. By the time both parties actually connect, an effective brand has already began communicating its foundation. The first vendor may be able to identify needs and introduce solutions to a prospect. But, the second mover with superior branding enters the competition knowing that their reputation has already initiated progress toward a solution. Reputations pave the way. Then, the winning relationship can flourish based on the foundational needs and terms established by the eager first mover.

Modern Pioneers
Pioneers once described an individual or group that entered a new frontier looking to establish rights to new wealth. More modern pioneers are innovators and professionals who discover new value through progressing into unknown territories and finding previously unidentified market opportunities. For example, who really needed sales pipeline software more than 25 years ago? After specific pioneers benefitted from technology that facilitated successful growth by tracking success traits in the sales process, today’s question is who can maximize sales without it?

Pioneers that really strike it rich are the ones that solve new problems. The initial pioneer merely discovers the new problem. Whether the environment is oil drilling or e-commerce solutions, the entity who proves to the marketplace that they can deliver significant benefits will win. The modern pioneer focuses more on the value-add, than the value-chain. Ultimately, the organization that connects enough value-adds eventually dominates the value chain. CGI (computer-generated imagery) dominated the movie business once the technology enhanced the storytelling. Early adopters simply paved technological paths for more sensational images. Giving great actors and directors, incredible stories and technology that propelled the entertainment experience, ultimately paved the way to billion-dollar movie releases.

Better Beats First
Regardless of a product’s or solution’s brilliance, its adaptability ultimately delivers dominance. For example, video conferencing has rapidly improved in functionality and ubiquity. While various forms of video conferencing have existed for decades, who really remembers who delivered that functionality first. Its ubiquity has surged in the last decade. Consequently, the advancement in features and price competitive has likewise escalated. Better does not mean the most feature rich option, but rather the most value-rich alternative. Price, reputation, functionality, accessibility, and service all contribute to value-richness.

Whether a personal favorite is Zoom, Skype, Go-To-Meeting, or another provider, purchasing is a byproduct of individually prioritized feature sets, price, and reputation. Whether the functionality is sold to solo-preneurs, entrepreneurial enterprises, or multi-national organizations, first has quickly become irrelevant. While personal recommendations and effective branding influence decisions, the best choice for the individual entity’s specific needs closes the deal. Each subsequent mover crafts a message that may resonate with any individual customer. The established brand explicitly secured confidence which resulted in the purchase.

Innovation across industries continues to accelerate. Furthermore, value chains rapidly morph as retailers compete on delivery, and software providers compete on flexibility. Nowadays pioneers are rapidly passed like a station wagon with a trailer heading across the heartland next to a Mercedes speeding down the Interstate expecting to beat FedEx Freight to their next home before their worldly possessions arrive. Best beats first. Second mover advantage routinely surpasses innovation on new benefits that are constantly being discovered. To stay ahead of the competition, businesses with better branding prevail with trust and proven performance. Now, I need to hurry home to get my package when the drone delivers it!!


By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

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Grinding Again, or Still?

man holding mug in front of laptop

Back to the Grind delivers out-of-the-box inspiration and great coffee in Riverside, CA. Creative people visit because the atmosphere facilitates great storytelling. Likewise, the bistro projects a brand that encourages eclectic coffee drinkers to congregate and nurture new ideas. With minimal marketing, the place grinds away promoting a diverse, intellectual, counter-cultural environment that happens to serve awesome coffee. This establishment enjoys success because it is completely faithful to its vibe, moreso than its audience. True to its name, Back to the Grind routinely produces fresh ideas, and unexpected results for customers. This relationship works because it predictably delivers to its regulars unexpected outcomes every visit.

Ramping up meaningful business growth requires several steps. Building an inviting story is a good start. This step requires creativity, then tenacity. Creativity drives curiosity leading to sampling new experiences. Tenacity pushes necessary effort to capture attention, which then drives buying decisions. Effort is never a singular event. Consequently, marketing tactics demand trying different actions until one or more works. Stories, in turn, create the emotional connection for outcomes to be memorable. For example, Tab had to tailspin into oblivion before Diet Coke emerged with brand clarity, paving the way for diet cola to be sexy.

Optimally, raving fans connect with stories about the products that they eventually love. It once was called word-of-mouth. Now, it is called influencer marketing. Regardless, consumers adopt stories which become drivers for new products, services, and experiences that capture imaginations resulting in the next star brand. Marketers who seek the next mandatory possession inevitably endure mistakes and missteps. Yet, marketers who keep grinding toward a product or service with an irresistible story ultimately win. Amazon bled cash until its story evolved from online book seller, into mind-numbingly easy shopping for everything through technology. Business success is delivering a story that customers want to hear, understand and share!

While telling a great story launches interest and excitement. Creating a story that begins to tell itself is the key to legendary results! Great brands speak clearly for their products and businesses in their absence. Stopping at Starbucks with the risk of being late to work is one story. Standing in line, outside Krispy Kreme, after midnight, because you absolutely believe its hypnotic red light is shining just for you, is a different story altogether. Obviously trading hot, Original Glazed donuts for an hour of sleep is a reasonable sacrifice for Krispy Kreme’s raving fans. More importantly, the customer will repeat the late-night-run story to others.

Great brands are always on the grind, because their customers continuously work hard for them. Whether a business calls their best customers a tribe, followers, or fans, their influence on a product’s success ties directly into the brands ability to communicate value. Operating with integrity and consistency is essential to any brand’s success story. Literally, great brands take no days off. They must repeatedly deliver on promises and expectations, or customers will find a substitute that demonstrates more fidelity. The grind only matters if standards are high, and only survives if execution is consistent.

Businesses grind so that their brands can demonstrate their superiority. Superior performance leads to growth. Growth opens doors to scaled profitability. Repeating the process results in success. Why should a successful business continue to grind? Grinding engages the marketplace’s unyielding appetite for superior performance and kept promises. Legendary results emerge when engaging the business’ audience, then communicating its success. Household brands still grind because customers actually want to continue aligning with superior performers and proclaim their success. The brand is bigger than any individual. Customers enjoy the social benefits associated with brands’ performance results. The business enjoys the financial benefits. That is the purpose.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC


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Plant A Strong Brand

Plant A Brand (2)

One planted acorn grows into an enormous oak tree, in the same way a clever campaign can grow into a business empire! Just think, Netflix started out as a lazy alternative to standing in line at Blockbuster. No late fees and home delivery for videos evidently created enough of a distinction to birth an iconic brand. The result has redefined how a media hungry public consumes entertainment. Fundamentally, branding communicates business benefits and images. Well executed, targeted branding can clearly result in superior business growth. However, bad branding leads to failure faster than this season’s infested crops! Yet, good planning, then effective execution overcomes potential devastation. So, how does a single plant eventually grow, then dominate an entire landscape?

Recognizing that a brand speaks on a business’ behalf, strong messaging must flourish continually. A seed does not grow because someone buried it. The seed grows, then a harvest results because the seed is nurtured, pruned, and weeded in fertile soil. The process delivers the abundance. Similarly, the brand begins the story that successful enterprises ultimately communicate. Then, the marketplace provides feedback which contributes to the brand’s growing personality. Specifically, in current, dynamic marketing environments, cultivating the story and spreading the responses yields success.

A simple social media ad can appear on a website, then based on feedback a different iteration of the same ad can quickly appear. The ongoing communication between business and the marketplace makes brands memorable and effective. Tactics to nurture the brand require both internal and external communication. Likewise, messaging must be consistent and authentic. The tools that establish deliberate, meaningful and profitable dialogue within the marketplace, empowers brands to own their narrative and keep promises. When effective brands claim next-day delivery, the package appears at the doorstep tomorrow, every time.

As the business’ story evolves and the market accepts the consistent vision, the business earns the right to harvest, i.e. engage customers in relationships. One simple sale based on a good brand experience, does not create a relationship. Businesses thrive by cultivating ongoing relationships. Even when products represent an occasional sale, like a car, the utility and overall experience continues to deliver value with every drive. A new Tesla does not stop communicating style and eco-friendliness when the owner accepts ownership. That vehicle continues to deliver value every time the vehicle hovers through traffic, or the singular driver speeds in the express lane.

Success demands planting, harvesting, selling, and planting again. The ongoing cycle creates enduring value. Consequently, messaging must be dynamic because it serves as the seed. Static advertisements may be part of the seller’s marketing mix, but effective images must also be delivered in dynamic environments. A celebrity spokesperson that appears in a magazine advertisement, also needs to be incorporated into social media clips. Personal appearances and events also contribute to the virtual connection between the product and celebrity. Fundamentally, coordinating marketing elements so that brand messaging cultivates individual connections provide the most profitable harvests.

Memorable brands constantly evolve. Likewise, productive campaigns regularly experiment. Establishing communication between buyer and seller must be based on trust and execution. In building a brand, trust in the planting process only starts activity. The ability to harvest, sell, deliver, and satisfy keeps the cycle going. For results-driven branding, growth and production cycles must be established, then allowed to iterate toward progress. If a campaign fails, then try again. Perpetuate the brand’s growth cycle through creative trial, performance improvement, and measurable results. Let meaningful storytelling inspire customers to return eagerly for more. Repeat planting, reaping, and harvesting. Nature has clearly proven that this process produces abundance. For businesses, the same process produces an abundance of profits!

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

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Sales Make The Mundane Magical

Sales Magic (2)

The magic behind business success is hard work and excitement. Listen to great business professionals long enough and you will hear grand visions, boundless enthusiasm, and mesmerizing storytelling. Storytelling is the hallmark of business success whether the information is presented as a mission, vision, values, features, or benefits. The message must inspire belief, and then execution must deliver beyond expectations. When performed well, the results are truly magical. Whether the business grinds in a corporate hierarchy or through an inspired entrepreneur, results are the currency that matters. So, how does daily mundane execution transform into magical results?

Regardless of leadership’s charisma, spectacular business growth actually develops through repeating specific tasks with excellence. Routine execution is as much of a part of success as closing newsworthy deals. Consequently, activity must meet vision for enduring success. Fortunately, in today’s dynamic work environments, operations that encourage all employees to take ownership of customer relationships, whether internally or externally, demonstrate success. Regardless of industry, workers who cooperatively assume responsibility for delivering extraordinary outcomes create impact in the businesses where they work.

This impact occurs when contributors embrace and perform roles that they believe matter. Consequently, customer-facing employees do a better job of keeping commitments knowing that their behind-the-scenes teammates perform their duties well. While these activities may seem mundane, they are actually the equivalent of the assistant who gets sawed in half during a magic show. Without their flawless, detailed execution the whole performance dramatically fails. Frankly, any magician will confess that success depends on every performance element doing its job. The magician may take the first bow, but without coordinated execution no one gets applause, nor rewards.

Without anyone to applaud great performances are impossible. Thriving businesses realize that beyond internal communication, external communication is necessary to create awareness, then attention. Consequently, professionals with roles to attract attention must be interesting. But, before they can be interesting, they must first be interested! Big personality, high energy, power networkers are an antiquated stereotype. Effective business developers are first interested in current relationships, their industry, their prospects. Personality matters, but only when it draws attention by first being interested in connecting with others explicitly to deliver value. In networking, “No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” In short, serve, then sell.

Branding is another step that sets the stage for the magic to happen. Realizing that a brand speaks on the business’ behalf in the marketplace, external messaging must be clear and consistent. Creating copy and producing visual content is tedious work. But, awesome output conjures magic once consumers experience stories that the business tells with images, words, and voices. Aligning marketing messages across medium is the next step to set the stage for magical experiences. Cooperatively completing the work of graphic artists, copywriters, and social media wizards drives directly to success. Yet, the magic only happens when people are connected in such a way that establishes trust, recognizes individual talents, and realize rewards.

Business wants to communicate with customers so that they will make decisions resulting in more sales. Whether the vehicle is clever campaigns, or engaged individuals, articulating value requires coordinated efforts of images and messages. Then, effective delivery and exceeded expectations attract relationships that exceed goals. Making the mundane magical is the heart of business success. When every business element executes with zeal, style, and success, then customers eagerly want to participate and contribute to the storytelling. Blasting that marketing message drives value, which then makes the magic happen!

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC


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Profit or Non-Profit – Just Satisfy The Customer

white framed rectangular mirror

Too many entrepreneurs with a social conscience truly believe that they want to launch a non-profit organization to enhance their business. Aligning with a nonprofit organization potentially enhances the business’ branding because of the good feelings attached to their perceived social awareness. The strategy creates better storytelling as it connects with their audience. Undoubtedly, non-profit organizations have an explicit purpose. That structure provides specific accounting advantages in accomplishing that explicit purpose. Having the ability to beg for money and only answer to hand-picked cronies is clearly not the explicit purpose. In fact, fundraising is hard work which often takes leadership’s focus away from delivering maximum value to customers. So, should non-profit and for-profit organizations work together?

Organizations who wish to operate values-driven businesses with a social conscious have assorted options for business structures. The most essential component is navigating the ability to deliver tangible value to a target market, as opposed to begging for money to run a social program. To execute an effective business model with feel-good outcomes, collaboration between organizations with explicit and complimentary missions is a winning tactic. Connecting two complimentary organizations with aligned goals allows both organizations to accomplish more together. They also can meet the individual goals of their stakeholders.

The story that both organizations present to the marketplace must be aligned from a marketing perspective. Beyond showing up at press events hand-in-hand, their combined messaging, target markets, and services has to be intentionally coordinated. Equally important, identifying opportunities to leverage resources maximize the joint contribution. Particularly concerning marketing efforts, communicating more broadly toward two separate, yet aligned audiences, grow opportunities to increase awareness for both entities. For example, if both organizations involve education, then combining for-profit services that improve students’ academic performance along with philanthropic advocacy for parental rights creates synergy that builds family values in a community.

In some cases, a specific joint structure, like a formal partnership may be the best solution. A nonprofit organization that receives funding based on the quantity of people they serve, can reasonably sub-contract with a for-profit, service providing partner to deliver the service efficiently. Considering that the non-profit may need to pay taxes and benefits for having in-house resources, the outsourced partner can be positioned to offset many other operating costs. Furthermore, the for-profit entity may be designed to drive increased awareness leading to more individuals receiving the services. Cost effectively delivering more services is clearly a win-win.

Key to effective partnering is recognizing that a non-profit organization is a tax status, not a business model. From a partnering perspective, non-profits can contribute built-in advantages with regards to storytelling. Successful nonprofit organizations understand that with respect to contributors, they cannot pull the purse strings until they tug at the heartstrings. The emotional connection in operating with their mission at the forefront, reflects another advantage. A sense of community results among clients from the feel-good perspective of working with a non-profit. This belief offsets the typical assumption that only profits drive conventional business activities. Optimally, the joint businesses both prioritize delivering cost effective service within their operations. The non-profit partnership allows the message to be accepted more easily.

Ultimately, the customers’ perspective prevails! The benefit of the collaboration’s nonprofit piece is the operation’s inherent emotional connection. From a marketing perspective, better storytelling directly links to effective fund-raising, in addition to attracting customers for the organizations’ services. Combining warm feelings in messaging with a for-profit partner delivering great results allows both entities to maximize each other’s strengths. Fundamentally, bringing the two structures together intentionally to maximize value is the goal! Combining individual strengths in terms of storytelling, branding, and operations achieves the goal most powerfully. The profit or non-profit business model becomes less relevant when the customer is best served and more value benefits the organizations, customers and community.


By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC

Posted in Business Coaching, Business Development, Client Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Self-Promotion or Referral Promotion

Marketing Retail Crowd Millenial

Businesses want attention. They want to be easy to find. Elaborate branding strategies generate marketplace awareness. Logos on skyscrapers, searchlights reflecting off clouds, key words to increase SEO, promotions featuring A-List celebrities are recognizable tactics that attract customers. When promotional activity performs well, either the business itself or a credible source, is responsible for communicating superior attributes that drive the desired attention. Whether, the attention starts internally or externally, raising awareness is promotion’s purpose.

My Story (What I Say About Me)
Self-promotion’s foundation features tactics where businesses draw attention to themselves. Storytelling is the heart of this approach. The enterprise creates a favorable narrative by controlling the story. Fundamentally, the business or product communicates why a particular selection is the superior choice. In this case, the business gets to pick its favorite attribute, then impose its benefits on the marketplace. While the facts may be biased, the posture is that the products superiority dominates counterarguments. Starbucks positions itself as the best coffee place because the masses flock to it, and the group must be smarter than the individual.

On the other hand, problems with controlling the narrative features balancing benefits with truth. Self-promotion’s challenge is that both advocates and adversaries have individual truths wrestling for credibility. Sellers consistently delivering on promises seize a huge advantage. Quickly acknowledging mistakes and correcting them helps, too. Ultimately, self-promotion requires integrity, credibility and consistency. If the story is false, then customers will not patiently wait for the improvement or correction before selecting a competitor.

My Brand (What You Say About Me)
Branding aligns with referral promotion. Even when a business obsessively controls its brand, the marketplace still has a loud voice regarding acceptance. In N’ Out Burger can claim its California roots and fresh ingredients loudly and clearly. But, not until its customers choose to wait in long lines at all hours of the day or night does the claim drive value. Nothing says great marketing like most drive-thru customers ordering Monster-Style fries, despite they are nowhere on the menu. Furthermore, every customer in that eternal line leaves tremendously satisfied because their meal is only available to insiders.

When great branding works, customers are satisfied in their superior selection. Referral promotion suggests that a brand loyalist has invited the next customer into the inner circle for a superior experience. Essentially, the seller has cultivated defenders of the product’s superiority, who explicitly encourage more fans to embrace the brand and shun competitors. These raving fans now assume responsibility for recruiting like-minded purchasers to join established agents who willingly reinforce the brand’s embedded supporters. Referral promotion induces others to tell the stories of the brand’s superiority so that the enterprise does not have to do it. Such agents willingly embrace this role to proclaim their adopted brand’s superiority to the public.

Driving business growth demands superior storytelling and branding. Understanding the difference in their similar, yet distinct, functions is key to effective and successful marketing. The marketplace’s voice assumes tremendous power because of its implied, unbiased perspective. To build on that foundation, embrace others to broadcast the sellers’ brand superiority. Then, consistently deliver on customers’ expectations. Storytelling works because self-promotion clearly communicates the brand’s story, and typically tells it better. Referral promotion benefits by building a movement that will own the brand’s success because they have determined that the brand reflects the greater good. Ultimately, voices, telling a story, elevate a brand that delivers on its promises. Marketing success results from such voices generating attention, then maximizing credibility.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC


Posted in Business Development, Client Relationships, Creating Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Targeting High Performance Biz Results


Sitting in a swanky hotel lobby, a marketing consultant waits for a sales professional to arrive for their meeting. The two professionals are actually old friends who have been looking forward to reconnecting. They typically start by arguing whether the meeting’ purpose is networking or accountability. Regardless, the real focus is sharing individual business challenges, exchanging high performance strategies, and retelling old jokes. Once the sales guy arrives, he immediately gripes about his unreasonable goals. A debate starts regarding strategy versus execution, leading to the classic question whether the best marketing solutions maximize sales results. Or, do marketing and sales serve different masters?

The marketing pro calmly asks about friction between sales’ and marketing’s input in determining the targets. Too often, sales targets are missed because information driving projections is inconsistent with activities that salespeople actually perform. When marketing departments deploy strategies requiring interacting with the broad marketplace in ways that conflict with sales professionals’ ability to engage prospects and customers, poor results are inevitable. Coordinating practices where sales brings back customer intelligence to integrate into marketing’s analysis, leads to understanding customer demands better. Consequently, better analysis of attractive target markets’ trends results in sustainable sales advantages.

This advantage only comes to fruition when tactics and strategies align among the sales and marketing functions. Replicating success with specific solutions sustain sales growth for a time. Eventually, communicating new applications for established products and service are necessary to satisfy dynamic customers’ evolving demands. What retailer does not want to introduce broader, faster, personalized selections accompanied by quicker delivery to their target market? When current and future customer desires align, as marketing intelligence and sales execution cooperate, epic results happen! Effective internal communication quickly executing on anecdotal evidence and strategic analysis wins every time.

Unfortunately, striving for sustainable advantages often results in incentives and commissions rewarding common results from routine activities. The trap where leaders stumble is paying sales people for routine results that they regularly deliver. Clearly compensation is important. Business professionals tend to like money: everyone loves the color and it always fits. However, at some high performance level better rewards evolve. Recognition, opportunities, self-fulfillment begin to enter the equation. Just like the business wants to grow in new and fascinating ways, so do the professionals who ignite that growth.

As business success increases, expanding incentives becomes more important. Opportunities to grow, influence, and control emerge as priorities to key contributors. Rewarding accordingly becomes a necessity. Regardless whether the reward is financial, experiential, or status-based, the value needs to be communicated in a timely and personally desirable fashion. As business environments evolve more quickly than ever, recognition must match the pace, or else competitors will match it. For business leaders to perpetuate contributor’s success, incentives must be clear, attainable and meaningful. Culture determines the specifics. Effective leaders deliver on the explicit expectation.

Returning to the initial meeting, the two professionals never do agree on whether the purpose is networking or accountability. They do agree that: “Efforts are applauded. Results are rewarded.”. Clearly articulating what constitutes outstanding results is essential for establishing proper alignment and subsequently incentives. However, before effectively distributing rewards, expectations must be clearly and fairly established. Communication is a first, yet essential step toward alignment. Ultimately, success criteria must be measurable and identifiable to structure effective incentives. Getting business results represents a timeless aspiration that unites marketing strategies and sales tactics. Ultimately executing internal coordination and trust results in organizational value, which is the primary purpose.

By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director of Hunter And Beyond, LLC


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