I recently posted about how we can grow our business by choosing different and better marketing channels.

The crux of the approach is to think carefully about your marketing channels in relation to what you have used and what other people use in your industry – and then add different marketing channels to your mix.

This was based on ideas from Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares, in their book Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth.

They introduced the “Bullseye Model”:

Traction - Bullseye Model

To improve your marketing:

  1. Identify all the possible marketing channels that you could use
  2. Test the most promising marketing channels
  3. Optimise and scale the marketing channels that worked best

This post is about how to think a little more deeply about the model and get better results.

Applying the model more deeply …

The Bullseye model is solid. But there are some things we can focus on to get even better results.

Add more channels to the mix …

The list of 19 “traction channels” provided by Weinberg and Mares is a good starting point.

But there are also other viable channels.

For solopreneurs and small business owners, who are starting out, a big one to put on the list is is Networking.

Networking includes:

  • Live networking at live networking events
  • Social networking, on social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter

There may also be new channels emerging as a result of new technologies, innovations, or entrepreneurship.

There may be other channels specific to your industry or locale.

If you think you can add good new channels to the mix – add them in!

Brainstorm all the marketing channels you can think of while you are working on the “outer ring” of the Bullseye.

Dig deep and get very specific …

Think about each of the 19 “traction channels” as categories of marketing channels, not as the final marketing channels themselves.

For example, if you pick the traction channel of “Existing Platforms,” then there are many existing platforms you could use – like Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, iTunes, Appstore, Instagram, Slideshare, Twitter, and so on … you could probably name dozens of them.

If you pick the traction channel of Offline Ads, you have everything from billboards to fliers in mail boxes to streaming a message from a zeppelin to radio ads to TV ads – and more.

So go deep into brainstorming channel ideas within each of the categories.

And don’t stop just one level in.

If you choose “Existing Platforms,” for example, and you are looking at Facebook – don’t stop there. Ask: “how can I use the Facebook platform as a traction channel?”

You might identify multiple strategies or ways to use the Facebook platform, like:

  • Facebook groups
  • Facebook pages
  • Posting on the Facebook timeline
  • Social networking on Facebook
  • Facebook lives
  • Facebook events
  • Facebook advertising
  • Facebook apps (like quizzes)
  • Use the Facebook API to develop a custom interface

Each of the above stems from particular features of the Facebook platform. And I’m sure this list does not exhaust the possibilities.

The strategies I listed overlap with the other traction channels.

This is OK. The point here is not so much to create a precise taxonomy (definition) of all the possible channels, but to help you brainstorm original and useful channels that might help you grow your business.

These channel categories are starting points for channel ideas. But don’t stay at the surface – dig deep into each channel category to discover multiple possible channel possibilities.

This is time for your creativity and lateral thinking to shine, as you come up with new ideas and possibilities.

Brainstorm the possibilities …

Be creative and list as many channels and channel strategies as you can.

If you think of networking, are there different places that you could network, like while on plane flights, or at high-end events?

If you think of offline advertising, think about what other people aren’t – like remnant media ad buys.

Be creative as you look for ideas in each of the traction channels – and beyond.

Break up the channels by stages of the marketing funnel

We often think of marketing and sales activity in terms of a sequence or “funnel” of steps:

Marketing Funnel Sequence

  1. Contact
  2. Connect
  3. Engage
  4. Enrol

Contact is where people come across you for the first time. For example this might be when they do a Google search and your page comes up, they meet you at a networking event and find you interesting, or they go to a live event and hear you speaking on stage.

Connect is when people decide to hear more from you. This can be, for example,

  • Opting in for email updates,
  • Connecting with you on social media like Facebook or LinkedIn, or
  • Registering (opting in) for a webinar you were advertising on Facebook.

Engage is when you provide valued content to the people who are connected with you, and deepen the relationship.

Enrol is when you make appropriate and relevant offers, and people accept – they become customers.

With this frame in mind, not all of the “marketing channels” are the same.

When we are considering marketing channels, we need to have a mix of channels that covers off all four stages – starting with Attraction.

To elaborate for a moment, consider the following four marketing channels:

  • Email marketing,
  • Viral marketing,
  • Two different “community” channels: A “closed” group on Facebook built around a topic of shared interest, and a “closed group you created in a Facebook group, made up of clients who have all brought a product or service from you.

Traction Channels By Marketing Stage

These channels are all different, when we consider the stages of marketing and sales activity.

Email marketing does not bring any new people into your orbit – unless you ask them to refer a friend, or send link or invitation to a friend. And if that’s the case, it’s viral marketing.

Email marketing is really focused around the Engage and Enrol phases of the marketing and sales process.

Viral marketing, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. It is primarily about getting new people to see your content or product and then connect, as a result of being referred by a trusted friend. It is true that if people forward a link to an inexpensive product with a sales page then it can lead directly to enrollment. But by and large, viral marketing is focused on the Contact and Connect phases.

If you have a “closed” Facebook group, say a Facebook group around a healthy lifestyle, relationships, or growing a business, you can create an engaged community. But Facebook also recommends your group to other people on Facebook who it thinks might be a good fit for the group, and those people can then apply to join the group. A closed Facebook group therefore covers off Contact and Connect phases as well. And, while you continue to add value in the community, you can also announce offers or product launches or other activities that lead to sales – the Enrol stage.

If you create a Facebook group that is only open to people who have enrolled in a program or bought a product or service from you, this can be very effective for Engage activity. It can also set up Enrol activity for a next level of service offering. But since the group is specifically restricted to people who are already buyers, it does not bring new people into your world.

All four of these stages of the marketing and sales process are important,

But if you want traction, you need Contact. You have to find a channel for Contact that “fills the funnel” with the right people.

And that’s worth doing some experimentation to achieve.

Find Your “Clusters”

If we look at a long list of 19 (or more) marketing channels categories, it’s tempting to think of them individually, one at a time.

In real life though, several of these channels “cluster” together.

For example:

  • Targeting blogs, content marketing, SEO, existing platforms, and email marketing all tend to hang together and reinforce each other
  • Speaking, live events, community building, business development (JV partnerships), and exhibiting at trade shows also tend to reinforce each other

If you are going to create a presentation for speaking, then it’s not that big a jump to

  • Speaking to an audience at a trade show at which you also exhibit
  • Delivering a webinar, teleseminar, or interview to JV partners’ audiences
  • Putting on a live event where you are the speaker and the host.

If you are already writing content for content marketing, it’s not a big jump to

  • Generating SEO traffic
  • Targeting blogs with guest posts
  • Collecting email addresses from opt-in boxes from the blog, and doing email marketing

Think about your marketing channels in terms of a set of related, mutually reinforcing, activities.

Then come back to the stages of the marketing and sales activity, and make sure you’ve got them all covered off as well.

Put It To Work For Your Business

If you can add something else to your marketing mix that works great, and your competitors haven’t thought of yet, you’ve just given yourself a big advantage.

You can take this in other directions as well. For example, thinking about your marketing channels in relation to the current level of market maturity can be interesting.

Nothing will work until you apply it. Put aside a couple of hours, and apply this!

About Me

I am passionate about activating human potential – helping make the world a better place.

I work with smart, creative leaders – transformation leaders such as coaches and consultants, thought leaders such as speakers and authors, and change agents and difference-makers –  to help them make a bigger difference through their work.

I focus on the areas of strategy, alignment, and full-expression – turning your ideas and expertise into messages that cut through and programs, services or products that make a difference.

I do what I can to improve the thinking and tools we have available in our industry and in the world.

You can learn more about me from my home page www.lauchlanmackinnon.com 

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If you own or run a business, or you do any marketing, you probably know how hard it can be to cut through and get attention in a competitive market.

So how do some companies get their market raving about their product or service?

Guy Kawasaki was the chief evangelist for Apple, back in the early days of the Apple Mac. He is chief evangelist for Canva.

Kawasaki knows a thing or two about cutting through the noise and creating a cult following for a product.

So what is the secret?

In his book The Art of the Start 2.0: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything, Kawasaki shares a strategy for breaking through.

Kawasaki said he learned that it’s easy to evangelise a great product – and hard to evangelise a bad one:

“I’ve tried to evangelize people with great stuff, and I’ve tried to evangelize people with crap.
Evangelism is much easier with great stuff.”

So, choose great products or services to promote. Kawasaki puts it this way:

“I call this ‘Guy’s Golden Touch.’ It doesn’t mean that whatever I touch turns to gold. I wish. It means, ‘Whatever is gold, Guy touches.'”

If the starting point is a great product, what does that look like?

For Kawasaki, that means find a product that is both:

  • Differentiated in the market (it’s not just the same as what everyone else is doing)
  • Valuable (it delivers a real and valued value proposition to an audience)
Guy Kawasaki Evangelism Diagram
  • If you have high differentiation in the market and high value, you are in the zone for cutting through and creating value – and evangelising to build a cult following.
  • If you have high value and low differentiation you are in a competitive space – and it will be harder to cut through and to evangelise.
  • If you have high differentiation and low low value to a market, it will be hard to sell – and perhaps it’s time to pivot to a new market focus where your differentiation can add greater value.
  • If you have no value and no differentiation, it’s time to rethink the business.

The underlying principle here is:

  • Being highly differentiated helps with marketing – you stand out more easily, there is less competition
  • Being highly valuable helps with your sales – your value proposition is clear and compelling, and aligned to the buyers’ needs.

Put the two together, and you have a very compelling combo.

Put It To Work For Your Business

Whether or not you want to evangelise a product, this is a good strategic lens to keep in mind.

Let me know how you apply this – I’d love to hear your feedback!

About Me

I am passionate about activating human potential – helping make the world a better place.

I do what I can to improve the thinking and tools we have available in our industry and in the world.

I work with smart, creative leaders – transformation leaders such as coaches and consultants, thought leaders such as speakers and authors, and change agents and difference-makers –  to help them make a bigger difference through their work.

I help these leaders sharpen their ideas and messages to cut through and be heard.

And I work with strategy so that have clarity, the right plan, and the right action steps to get to where they want to get to.

You can learn more about me from my home page www.lauchlanmackinnon.com 

Connect For Updates

Like this article? Would you like to get updates about new articles and subscriber-only content?

Subscribe for regular updates from me at newideasandinsights.com. You can opt out at any time.

You can find me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauchlanmackinnon/

There’s a very popular model for finding work you love.

It’s doing the rounds now.

It’s the Ikigai Venn diagram:

Ikigai, the model tells us, is our “reason for being” – and if we find what is at the intersection of these four circles, we will know our Ikigai.

This is very helpful and motivational for people going through career reinvention, or who want to find their niche in business.

But to use it effectively, it helps to understand some more about it.

Where did the Ikigai diagram come from?
What is the Japanese concept of Ikigai anyway?
Is Ikigai the best model to use to find my purpose or vocation?

Let’s find out …

Some common advice given in marketing circles is to “date your niche” – not to marry it.

This advice tells us to try out the niche, to give it a go. It’s not our whole life, we don’t have to do it for forever if it doesn’t work out.

But what does it really mean to date a niche?

Think about dating.

Imagine that Bobby and Sue are on a date – they are out for dinner at a local Italian ristorante on Tuesday night.

They first connected through an online dating site, and they messaged each other for a week. This is the first time they have met in person.

But Bobby has three other dates lined up this week – with Anna, Julie, and Monique.

And so does Sue – with Jim, Fred, and Andy.

Bobby and Sue are doing what we might call exploratory dating. They are casually dipping their toe in  the waters, seeing who is out there, and finding out who the other person is. They are testing out if the person is a fit for them or not, if they are worth exploring further. If not … on to the next one!

There is no kind of commitment, and they can and do happily date multiple other people at the same time.

The focus of exploratory dating is finding potential matches, sifting through options, and finding a good fit – people who might be really worth spending time with.

Rani and Pradeep, at the next table, are also on a date. They’ve been going on dates for three months now, they have both qualified each other and  like what they see – they think there may be something good here.

Pradeep has stopped dating other girls. He wants to give it a go with Rani and see how it works out. Rani feels the same way, she’s stopped dating other guys. They haven’t talked about commitment yet, and haven’t really talked explicitly about exclusivity. And they’re definitely not getting ready to get engaged. But they are starting to meet each others friends. They are starting to really get to know the other person.

We might call this tentative dating. It’s “giving it a go.” Rani is loving being around Pradeep. But if she found out he was secretly married to someone else and hadn’t told her, that he was abusive and he’s an ex-con, her feelings might change. On the other hand, when she instead finds that Pradeep is a good man, he has great friends, works hard, plays her love songs on his piano, and he writes her beautiful poetry, her feelings deepen. Similarly, Pradeep is trying out being with Rani.

Oh, and they both have checklists for what they need. Not huge lists, but Rani knows that she has two or three must-haves in a relationship for it to work for her. And Pradeep is the same, he’s learned from his last relationships and doesn’t want to repeat any previous poor choices.

On a third table, we see Ivan and Maria. Ivan and Maria have been dating for two years. They’ve really got to know each other well. They like what they see. And they’re in love. They haven’t got around to thinking about getting married yet, but it’s kind of in the thinking for somewhere a little down the road. They want to stay together. And they’ve already faced some challenges, some tough times. They’ve seen different parts of each other, the ugly side. But it doesn’t matter, because they helped each other through it, and the good outweighs the bad. They’re sticking with their choices.

Let’s call this confirmed dating.

So, what about niching?

In terms of marketing, exploratory dating represents things like:

  • Evaluating options and opportunities conceptually
  • Doing market research
  • Interviewing people who run that kind of business now, or work in that field
  • Doing some volunteer work in that field
  • Doing some small projects, for free or a low fee, to get experience, test it out, and get credibility
  • Putting up pilot products and services

Its doing things to check out a market, that are low risk and low investment – like Bobby taking Sue out for drinks or dinner.

And you can run through a checklist, to see if it’s a good fit for you.

For example, does it interest you – can you see yourself as happy if you work in that area for 5 or 10 years? Is there demand for that product or service? Do you have a competitive advantage? Is it a growing market?

Tentative dating is something more like taking a position in a market. It’s deciding to focus on one niche, to see how it works out.

It has to be a reasonable commitment to the niche, because it takes time to go deep enough, tweak the messaging, and get real traction with prospects, and then evaluate your experience.

But it’s not just for a day or two either. It’s not a one-night stand or a holiday romance.

It’s getting serious about serving the niche for 3, 6, or 12 months – long enough to give it a serious go, to see if the niche works for you both creatively and commercially.You are really giving it a go, showing up, committing, during that time.

It’s going out with the niche.

But you don’t want to just jump in casually, and commit to just any niche for three or six or twelve months.

That’s why a bit of exploratory dating, first, helps.

Although tentative dating is a bigger commitment than exploratory dating, it’s much easier to make that choice after you found your favourite in exploratory dating.

Tentative dating is what people really mean when they say “date a niche.” They mean make a commitment to it. For now. For a realistic and meaningful chunk of time … but not (yet) forever.

If all goes well, and after a while you still like the niche and it is going well for you, you can commit to it. You can then really invest in it over time. You develop more experience, more capital, as you go.

What do you think?

Let me know in the comments.

Richard Branson’s Success Strategy


Strategy

Does Richard Branson have a strategy for his success?

Yes, he does.

Strategy+Business magazine summed up the strategy in 1998 like this:

“Mr. Branson has entered one business after another in which he perceived a customer set that was being underserved by a fat and complacent dominant player. Whereas most would avoid such elephantine competition as British Airways or Britain’s entire financial services industry, Mr. Branson sees a ‘bigger, softer underbelly’ that is vulnerable to attack. He calls it the “Big Bad Wolf” theory. ‘We look for the big bad wolves who are dramatically overcharging and underdelivering,’ he explains.”

Branson described his strategy to CNBC in 2017:

“I love to sort of tilt at very big companies and see if we can shake them up and keep them honest and come in with products that are a lot better than their offering,”

Branson explicitly seeks out opportunities to create a new, fun, higher value brand in markets where there were stale, overpriced incumbents, to better serve consumers.

He identifies the market opportunity, researches the  opportunity, designs and creates the brand, finds the right talent to lead the company, launches the company, and promotes the brand.

He has done this successfully for airlines, telephones, and gyms – and will all likelihood do it again in the future.

Does this strategy always work? No. It failed dramatically when Branson took on Coke with a Virgin Cola. Business Insider lists 14 Virgin brands that have fallen by the wayside.

But it works often enough, and well enough, to have made Branson a billionaire – and a global icon.

What else makes this work?

Richard Branson has some key skills that underpin his strategy.

These include that

  • Branson is a master at launching and supporting a brand with publicity, and that
  • Branson maintains a phenomenal network of smart, influential people across industries, who he can turn to when looking into new markets or opportunities.

About Me

I help people start and grow businesses based around their expertise.

Each week, I send out new ideas that can help you grow your business.

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If you’d like to talk with me, connect with me here.