The human mind is anything but simple. But the mind is where marketing happens for you and your customers. So in order to effectively market your products and your company, you will need an insightful understanding of the minds of your customers.

In our Executive Mentoring programs we study the demographics of your target markets so that we are able to quantify and understand the objective, and characteristics that are important to you.  But capturing that information is only half of the equation.

After we have looked at the statistical data, we turn our attention to subjective data:  psychographics. We investigate people’s mental characteristics; specifically their perceptions, expectations, and conscious and unconscious decision making.

Psychographics are the mental characteristics that typify the people in markets and market segments; specifically, their self-perceptions, their drives, their perceptions and expectations of the world around them, and their emotional associations.

The good news is that uncovering this information is fascinating, and you will enjoy the discoveries and insights you develop about your customers and yourself. The bad news is that many business owners are resistant to doing this kind of critical research, and they can potentially miss out on the powerful insights into the human natures of their target markets that the psychographic data will give them.

I had a client, a veterinarian who also owned a small vet supply distributorship. He knew the demographics of his most typical customer, and that part of it was a breeze for him. But when we got to the psychographics, his initial response was: “Why is this important? I am not a psychiatrist, and I really have no interest in getting inside their heads.”

I explained that many large companies spend thousands of dollars to develop marketing strategies like the one he was building himself and that a large part of a corporate budget went towards market research. Psychographics information is a major piece and missing part of that puzzle. I asked him if any of his suppliers (major feed and drug companies) ever contacted him over the years with questionnaires or surveys to respond to. He said, yes, but he never responded. He always thought they were a waste of time.

We continued with the marketing processes, but he made it clear that he was not interested in doing the psychographic research. He did not see the value. I knew it was important, but he did not see that yet. So, I asked him instead to simply trust his intuition and give it a try. He had been in business for 20 years; he knew his customers pretty well and he could make some educated decisions about them. I suggested that he just fill out the worksheets based on what he felt he knew about these people.

And that’s just what he did. He started to work out the psychographics of his customers. As he worked through it, he began to change his mind about the value of it. In fact, he became intrigued and started to think outside the box. So he decided to write one of his vet product suppliers, all the letter said was, “I would like to know if you have a ‘Psychographics Model’ for dairy farms with 100 cows or more. Thank you for your help.”

He came to our next meeting with a response from the manufacturer. In their cover letter to him, they apologized that their Psychographic Model was based on farms of 500 cows or more, but they hoped it helped. It was followed by three pages of information they compiled on the needs of his most typical clients- their self-perceptions, beliefs, needs, fears, and wants. He was stunned!

The most dramatic impact was that the model he had created, based on his own experience in the beginning, was in complete alignment with the descriptions he got back from the manufacturer, who had spent thousands of dollars in their research.

From that point on, not only did he have renewed faith in the power of market research, but he believed in himself. He truly saw the power he had locked away, and his ability to develop a great marketing strategy for his clients, based on what he “did not know he knew”. He put some new systems into place to start intentionally capturing psychographic and demographic data. He has since been able to even better align his marketing strategy using this solid information and insight.

The Power in Understanding

There is a logic to successful marketing. It begins with demographic information about your markets and your customers. But information is not enough. What you are really after is understanding and insight – understanding about the way your customers and prospective customers think, act, and make decisions, as well as insight into what really motivates them and how best to communicate with them.

Do not overlook the importance of psychographic research. As my veterinary client realized, there is great power in understanding what makes your clients “tick” and it is there for you to discover.



Bobby Jones

I have been playing golf for nearly three decades. I love the game and I hit the ball well, but I am far from the player I wish I were.I’ve been thinking about this a lot the past couple of weeks, because I have taken the opportunity, for the first time in many years, to play golf twice per week.  My game has gotten progressively stronger.  I’ve had a number of memorable moments which I have played like the player I long to be, and this is truly the ‘drug’ that keeps me coming back.

For most of my adult life, I’ve accepted the myth that some people are born with special talents and gifts, and that the potential to truly excel in any given pursuit is largely determined by our genetic inheritance.

I have read books which challenge the assumption that genetic inheritance determines our athletic capabilities.  One book, “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working”, lays out a guide, grounded in the science of high performance, to systematically build our capacity physically, emotionally, and mentally.

In our work with executives at dozens of organizations, we have found that it is possible to build a given skill or capability in the same systematic way we build a muscle: push past your comfort zone, and then rest.  Aristotle, the philosopher, had it exactly right 2000 years ago: “We are what we repeatedly do”.  By relying on highly specific practices, we have seen our clients dramatically improve skills ranging from empathy, to focus, to creativity, to summoning positive emotions, embracing significant changes in their business and life.

Anders Ericsson, the world’s leading researcher into high performance has been making the case that it is not inherited talent which determines how good we become at something, but rather how hard we’re willing to work-  something he calls, “deliberate practice”.  Numerous researchers now agree that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice is the minimum necessary to achieve expertise in any complex domain.

There is something powerful about this. It suggests we have remarkable capacity to influence our own outcomes. One of Ericsson’s central findings is that practice is not only the most important ingredient in achieving excellence, but also the most difficult and the least enjoyable.

So, if you are committed to becoming really good at something, it is going to involve pushing past your comfort zone, along with some frustration, pain, struggle and failure.  That is true as long as you want to continue to improve, or maintain a high level of excellence. The reward is that being really good at something you have earned through your own hard work can be immensely satisfying.

Here are six keys to achieving excellence we’ve found are most effective for our clients:

1. Pursue what you love. Passion is an incredible motivator. It fuels focus, resilience, and perseverance.

2. Do the hardest work first. We all move instinctively toward pleasure and away from pain. Most great performers, delay gratification and take on the difficult work of practice in the mornings, before they do anything else. That’s when most of us have the most energy and the fewest distractions.

3. Practice intensely, without interruption for short periods of time before taking a break. Ninety-minutes appears to be the maximum amount of time that we can bring the highest level of focus to any given activity. The evidence is equally strong that great golfers practice no more than 4 ½ hours a day.

4.  Seek expert feedback with a trusted advisor, Coach or Mentor. The simpler and more precise the feedback, the more equipped you are to make adjustments. Too much feedback creates cognitive overload, increase anxiety, and interferes with learning.

5. Take regular renewal breaks. Relaxing after intense effort not only provides an opportunity to rejuvenate, but also to metabolize and embeds learning. It is also during rest that the right hemisphere becomes more dominant, which can lead to creative breakthroughs.

6. Ritualized practice. Will and discipline are wildly overrated.  The best way to insure you will take on difficult tasks is to ritualize them- building specific, non-negotiable times at which you do them, so that over time you do them without having to consciously think about the activity.

I have practiced golf ‘deliberately’ over the years, but never at the ‘committed level’ with the committed times every day to achieve a truly high level of excellence. What has changed is that I no longer fault myself for falling short of my potential, for I know exactly what it takes to get to the next level.  Do You?

Why Business Plans Don’t Work

Most business plans are flawed right from the start unless it’s based on the right focus.  In order for a business plan to work—to truly be useful—it must be based on your business vision.

The idea of a business plan is very comforting. It makes people feel safe and secure to know that there is a plan which is guiding business activities in the “right” way.

But why is it that business plans almost never come to life? Why do almost all of them, once written, sit on a shelf and gather dust, while the futures they describe never see the light of day, and the businesses they describe get lost their uncertain futures?


Your vision is your dream documented for the future of the business, including your personal life, and the path you must take to make it a reality.  No matter what stage of the business development cycle your business is in (infancy, adolescence, or maturity), as the leader of your business your personal and business visions must be absolutely clear, documented and closely aligned to everyone in your business.  This common shared vision clearly describes where you are going and what is the ultimate destination.

Much like a boat without an engine, a business without a vision is directionless.  It lacks real purpose and heart.  Furthermore, it lacks the essential ideas of commitment, growth and achievement.  Your business plan is the link between the vision of your business and the final output that work is intended to produce.

Your business plan needs your vision to make it come alive, to make it a reality. And similarly, your vision needs the form, direction, and clarity of a business plan to give it relevance to the day-to-day operation of your business.

The Traditional Business Plan

Writing a traditional business plan is usually precipitated by one of two necessities: 1) we need to write a business plan because “that’s what successful businesses do;  or, 2) we need to write a business plan for the banker, in order to borrow money.

Most business plans, therefore, are developed from a “head-centered” emphasis.  In other words, they are analytical and dry. They are full of charts, graphs, forecasts and mindless dribble. A typical plan starts in the head, and is based purely on logic, reason, and therefore lacks passion, excitement and purpose.

As we all know, humans make choices based on emotions. That’s why we mentor our clients that when attracting and converting new customers, appeal to their emotional mind rather than their rational mind. It is the emotional part of the mind that makes the buying decisions. Therefore, it makes sense that your business plan should inspire that same kind of emotional “buy in” with your employees, lenders, investors etc.?

The Vision-Based Plan

Your vision-based business plan is a statement of your vision and a current description of the main strategies and tactics you will use to make your vision come true. From the strategies and tactics discussed in your plan, each department and position will be able to develop the additional strategies, tactics, and systems to achieve their results and, ultimately, the strategic objective of the company.

Here are some critical points about planning that will make the task a worthwhile endeavor:

1- Start with what is important to you. A mediocre plan that you (and others) feel passionately about will serve you better than a technically superior plan that you do not feel strongly about.

2- Approach planning is more art than a science. Professionally-formatted plans with tons of quantification and data can give a false impression of certainty and precision. Use your best thinking when you plan, but don’t forget that even the best thinking involves educated guesswork.

3- Create a planning framework that accommodates change. Do not think of your plan as a rigid, “final document” with every detail pinned down. Think of it more as a dynamic series of guideposts of key topics to focus attention on and targets to aim for.

4- Solicit input from all employees.  The employee input is usually more valuable than the owners.  By gaining the input from the employee, you also gain their buy-in into the plan.

5- Treat the plan as a living, growing document. Review it, evaluate it, and revise it. Keep questioning your assumptions. Stay flexible and open to change.

6- Share it with everyone. I challenge you to go any employee and have them produce a copy of your most recent plan.  Put the plan in a common area, so everyone can see and share the plan.

A traditional business plan will not give you the results you want because no one is committed to working it. The business plan that always works may look a lot like the traditional business plan; in fact if you could put them side by side and not notice much difference. But their appearance is where the similarity ends. A business plan based on vision, enthusiasm and purpose will trump your traditional business plan every time.


According to Dr. Jeff Tanner, a Social Media Expert . . .  “So what is the purpose [of Social Media]? Really, there’s more than one. Social media can support sales efforts throughout the entire buying cycle, which means that the purposes are to stimulate interest, generate demand, shorten the sales cycle, and set expectations for value. Social media stimulates interest and demand. This function works two ways: First, influence the influencers, and second, identify actual leads.

Social Media identifies actual leads and allows prospects to self-identify. Stimulating interest in people because they expect to receive something of value.”

Most Recently

I found a recent discussion of this at a Social Media Club event! So what happens when you put a number of Social Media managers into the same room? The outcome was some very spirited and intense discussions about Social Media.

The two schools of thought were:

1. Social Media is about branding. Social Media allows you to uniquely Brand and Position yourself in a very competitive marketplace.  Thus, making people feel good about the brand and wanting to tell others about your brand.

2. Social Media is about achieving sales. Let the world know what your brand offers, and drive them to a place (landing page, website, blog, or Facebook), where they can learn more and purchase your product or service, request a demonstration, or take action that drives them further into your Sales Funnel.

Making Noise

From this meeting I also learned of an interesting Social Media case study. There was a bank which ran a Social Media promotion whereby current customers could purchase tickets to a private performance by Justin Bieber, provided they could accumulate the appropriate number of credit card points. For those that don’t know, Justin Bieber is an 18-year-old pop singer-songwriter.

The public response to this promotion was an intensely polar reaction, generating comments on their Facebook page ranging from, “Why is [this bank] asking me if i wanna see Justin Bleeber, Miley Cyrus or some other stupid ……. makes me wanna change banks!” to the complete opposite, “Can I please have some tickets – I love him so much”

The obvious question is, did such a promotion connect with their correct target market customer and did it drive real and measurable results? Personally, I don’t know many teenagers that have mortgages or have a ton of money (except Bieber) in the bank. Not to mention the message being conveyed was encouraging young people to spend large amounts on their credit card in order to gain points to redeem them for the tickets.

What the Social Media Manager forgot was the underlying message that increasing personal revolving debit is not a sensible thing to do in these financially challenging times, nor in accordance to the bank’s lending policy.  Nonetheless, the Social Media Manager for the bank claimed a Victory, for success of the promotion as it “got people talking about the brand”.  I disagree with the Manager; I would consider these as a total Failure.


In my role as a Business Mentor and Coach for a number of clients, I strongly agree that Social Media (when used well and appropriately), is one of an assortment of effective and successful strategies for generating quality sales leads. As a matter of fact, we see an increase in leads being created by our clients through their Social Media activities, as well as their paid ads in highly targeted Social Media platforms. We know this for a fact, because we have them track everything and they know the number of leads generated, the conversion rate, the average sale and the ROI they generate.


For our clients, it’s not about making lots of noise online, it’s about achieving real and measurable results. So, what is the real purpose of your Social Media activity? Keep in mind that Social Media is just one strategy, that when combined with other key strategies achieve the desired results in a marketing strategy.

What are your goals?  What Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) do you use to measure your results? Do you have a strategy in place to reach your Social Media goals? How do you track and drive performance? What other strategies do you have in place, which you are currently testing and measuring to optimize your ROI (Return on Investment)?  All these questions need to be answered before you put a comprehensive marketing strategy in place.  Here at Focused Business Solutions LLC, we can help you with that!