Environmental Hypocrisy

Lately, I’ve found myself frustrated with how Alberta’s oil industry is being treated. As an environmentally conscious person, I never thought I would be defending the oil industry, but here I am.

I believe there’s a higher probability of two missiles spontaneously transforming into a sperm whale and a bowl of petunias; than our federal government doing anything useful or pragmatic in support of the environment or industry.

Since I have zero faith in government motives or environmental leadership, I have always tried to do my part to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Environmentally speaking, I believe our current choices boil down to getting comfortable with global apocalypse scenarios, or stepping up and taking action as individuals and small business owners.

Protests Are Good, But Panic Is Unconstructive

As a person of conscience, I’m encouraged to see the swell of interest in protecting our planet from human ignorance and mismanagement.

However, while I’m encouraged to see people demanding change, I’m concerned about the vilification of Canada’s oil industry. We’re getting emotional versus focusing on practical solutions. The attacks appear to be politically motivated destabilisation tactics, rather than legitimate environmental leadership.

Rather than vilify an industry that’s vital to our national security and our day to day lives, we need to focus on actionable change. What can people act upon now? There are so many practical things we can do to reduce our carbon and ecological footprint, without letting our politically motivated so-called leaders mess things up further.

Don’t Buy Over Seas Oil

Let’s be honest. Not producing oil in Canada does not mean we’re going to stop using it any time soon. All it means is we buy it from other countries. The resistance to pipelines is entirely political, hypocritical as hell and economic stupidity.

The last thing I want to do is buy oil from or send money to the most corrupt and socially repressive regimes on the planet. I’d much rather buy ethical Canadian petroleum products, preferably that we refine here in Canada. Then at least the money stays here and supports our environmental and social change initiatives. We also need to make sure the risks and impacts are mitigated.

We’ll Get Off Oil By Curbing Consumption

I would love to see us transition off oil. I already own a Prius, and I can’t wait to buy an electric vehicle. But we need viable alternatives to be widely available before we can realistically ween ourselves off of oil.

We’ve barely got a functional electric charging network in place and we’re still mired in the politics of allowing micro generation on the grid. Rather than villify the only functional option, how about we champion regularoty reform that will allow the transition to occur? We need to get these change initiatives underway, before we have a hope of getting off oil. In the interim, buying oil from the most ethical suppliers (ourselves) only makes sense.

How To Make A Real Difference

Protesting and voting with your conscience are great places to start. However, if you want to make a real difference, right now; look to your own behaviours and make changes there first.

Once you start, you’ll find there are dozens of ways you can make a difference. After you’ve educated yourself and learned a few practical lessons, you can be a role model for others to follow. With billions of individuals on this planet, it’s up to each of us to be the change we seek.

Here’s A List Of Things To Consider

Start with small changes. Then expand your efforts to see how far you can go. Try on some of these progressively challenging ideas.

Very Easy Habit Changes

  1. Take an interest in conservation, learn about the environment, and how to protect it.
  2. Use your recycling and compost bins daily.
  3. Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  4. Bring a reusable water bottle with you.
  5. Carry a reusable mug to fill at fast food stores.
  6. Use reusable or compostable bags at the grocery store.
  7. Buy recycled paper and avoid products from virgin forests.
  8. Use natural pesticides like diatomaceous earth, garlic and pepper sprays in your yard.
  9. Capture rainwater to use in your garden.
  10. Find opportunities to work from home or telecommute.
  11. Ride a bike or take the train when possible.
  12. Buy locally produced products and foods, when available.
  13. Eat more foods that are lower down the food chain.
  14. Try to buy products in paper and glass containers, rather than plastic ones.
  15. Buy products with minimal and recyclable packaging.

Time Investments – Activism & Ethical Consumption 

  1. Lobby your provincial government to reform regulations in support of micro generation
  2. Lobby your city and provincial / state governments to sponsor incentive programs in support of energy efficiency, recycling and other green programs.
  3. Lobby for regional plastics recycling plants
  4. Get to know which brands are ethical producers and support them.
  5. Publically call out unethical brands online with negative reviews and posts.
  6. Stop buying products from countries with terrible social and environmental policies and encourage your social media followers to do the same.
  7. Voice your opposition to big pesticide companies before the birds and bees are gone.
  8. Stop spending your tourism dollars in countries with terrible environmental policies. Make sure to let them know why you’re boycotting them.
  9. Write posts and articles, exposing how your member of Parliament votes.
  10. Support environmental lobby groups and eco-trusts who buy and protect habitat.
  11. Lobby your city and provincial / state governments to sponsor incentive programs in support of energy efficiency, recycling and other green programs.
  12. Lobby your government and favourite brands to abandon single-use plastics.
  13. Vilify Quebec for dumping raw sewage into their waterways.
  14. Vilify BC for cutting old-growth forests and mismanaging Salmon stocks.

Longer-Term Financial Investments

  1. Install LED lights throughout your home.
  2. Switch to low flow toilets, showerheads and faucets.
  3. Install more or better insulation in your attic.
  4. Fix things, buy used and refurbished products vs always buying new.
  5. Plant a garden to support local pollinators.
  6. Plant trees and shrubs in your yard.
  7. Upgrade your old polluting lawnmower and yard equipment.
  8. Drive a more fuel-efficient vehicle or a hybrid / electric vehicle.
  9. Install high-efficiency windows with triple-pane glass.
  10. Install a high-efficiency furnace, hot water heater and major appliances.
  11. Look into whether solar, wind or hydro projects are financially and politically viable in your city and on your property. Then lobby the government to eliminate implementation barriers.

While each of these incremental changes might seem small on its own, the cumulative effect can be significant. You’ll also save money on your gas and utility bills. If you inspire others to follow your lead, you can magnify your efforts further.

Don’t Be An Environmental Hypocrite

Remember, shifts in consumer demand and consumption patterns drive real change. Producers and manufacturers have little incentive to change their practices until consumers demand them to.

I’m not suggesting you stop voting and protesting. Just don’t be an uninformed sheeple or a hypocrite. Educate yourself. Make sure you’re voting and protesting intelligently. Don’t become an unwitting pawn in a foreign destabilisation agenda.

Keep in mind that change is available right now. You can be the change you want to see in the world. It starts with you choosing to increase your environmental awareness and then acting consciously. It’s all about your everyday choices. Personally, I find making conscious choices much more empowering than complaining about government incompetence and corruption.

I know I’ve been working on my list of choices since I took environmental science classes in university. I’ve still not made it all the way down my environmental to-do list, but I keep working at it. I invite you to create your own list. Then start by making one environmentally conscious choice and turn it into a habit. You might find the possitive feeling addictive.

Many Small Changes Accrue Big Results

What I’ve found is consistent efforts to make thoughtful incremental changes over time, accrue big results. They can also save you money. This is as true for small business owners as it is for individuals.

You can make a difference with what may seem like insignificant changes like office recycling and composting, buying wooden stir sticks versus plastic ones, or compostable coffee pods versus non-biodegradable ones, and paper cups versus plastic ones.

Making a difference boils down to making a thousand little changes, versus geting bogged down on the seemingly impossible ones. We see the exact same thing with marketing performance optimisation. It’s a bunch of seemingly insignificant changes that make a large cumulative difference.

If you have some great ideas to share, post them. You can be part of the change that saves the planet, one choice at a time.

Ways Of Being

Have you ever stepped back and asked yourself “who do I need to be right now to make the best of this situation”? If you have, it was likely a moment of some importance to you.

In times of importance, you may consciously choose a version of yourself to handle matters more effectively.

Imagine if you consciously chose your Ways of Being and Acting regularly, rather than just on special occasions. What if there were specific ways you actively worked at to help improve things in your life, your relationships or how your business performed?

That’s what this article is about; the active choosing of specific Ways of Being and Acting to bring about target outcomes.

What Are Ways of Being and Acting?

Ways of Being and Acting are connected like two sides of the same coin.  Your Ways of Being reflect what’s going on for you internally (your mental and emotional state, your thoughts and how you feel in your body). These ways of being generally give rise to your Ways of Acting. This means how you respond – what you think, say and do. To learn more about ways of being and acting, consider looking into the study of Phenomenology and Ontology. For readability sake, I’m collapsing Ways of Being and Ways of Acting down into “Ways of Being” or “Ways” for short.

In every moment, you get to either react instinctively, using your unconscious patterns of behaviour, or you can actively choose who you need to show up as in the situation.

Take for example, Being Kind.

There are hundreds of different behaviours you can use to express kindness. No individual act of kindness constitutes being a kind person. However, a regular pattern of kind behaviours becomes a practiced Way of Being.

We all have Ways of Being that people use to describe us. She is kind, he is honest, she is untrustworthy, etc. One incident does not represent a pattern. It’s the frequency and consistency of our behaviours that earn us our labels and results. No one is a particular Way all the time. We do however exhibit some ways with great regularity, and these patterns of behaviour are cummulatively responsible for our results and who people believe us to be.

Getting Started With Ways of Being

Years ago, my business coach helped me connect with my core values and purpose in life and work. Then we focused on uncovering who I needed to be, to live into my values in ways that supported my purpose.

I’ve spent almost 20 years learning to express those values and to make them who I showed up as. As I started to understand and adopt the practices, I wondered… “could I apply the same principles to sales and marketing?”.

I’ve now spent many years working on that question and developing a framework of Ways to help business owners design, build, operate and refine their sales and marketing systems. We call the marketing leadership framework The 20 Ways of Being. We believe this framework is core to the effective development and operation of sales and marketing systems that drive sustainable earnings growth.

Deer In The Headlights

After so many years of study and practice, I’ve become a fan of Ways of Being. However, when I mention the topic outside the coaching community, I tend to get blank stares from people. This deer in the headlights response reinforced my desire to bring the Ways conversation into the mainstream, in particular, to how it applies to sales and marketing leadership.

Ways We Value

In our culture, there is a general expectation that people will be certain ways. Not that we all do it, but there is a general expectation of baseline Ways, such as:

  • Being polite and helpful
  • Being respectful and tolerant
  • Being honest and trustworthy

In your business, you tend to recruit people who fit your culture and express Ways suited for particular job roles, for example:

  • Being friendly and empathetic in a customer service role
  • Being logical and innovative in a software development role
  • Being bold and creative in a design role
  • Being committed and forthcoming in a leadership role

You may not be consciously choosing your ways, but you will have a set of ways that you value and live into as a matter of your upbringing, training and work experience.

Which Ways Are Vital For You?

Do you know? Have you explored your Ways of Being and their role in your life? A good place to start is by completing a Kolbe A Assessment; a self-assessment tool to help you explore your inherent modus operandi. It brings to the surface your default ways on four different scales, but that’s a blog post for another day. For now, the assessment is a great tool for uncovering some of your default ways, how they shows up for you, and how they effect your interactions with others.

The long-term cumulative effects of your Ways will shape the experience others have of you. The results you create are, in many ways, are the sum of your Ways of Being.

Think of the difference between weather and climate. The weather is dynamic and always shifting (like who you are being in the moment), where as the climate is the sum of long-term weather patterns (your cumulative Ways of Being). If you can learn to manage your behavioural weather patterns in the moment, you will alter your average climate conditions.

The cumulative effect of your daily Ways as a company, result in the experience you create for others and how your reputation (your brand) is perceived.

Managing Ways Is An Ancient Practice

Choosing and practicing Ways of Being is far from a new idea. It’s a practice thousands of years old. Unfortunately, the practice tends to get buried within discipline-specific conversations like philosophy, religion, ethics, performance coaching, behavioral psychology, mindfulness and others.

How Does This Help You?

Learning to apply Ways of Being in business represents a tremendous opportunity for company leaders. Why? Because Ways of Being are free and completely within your control. There is no need for technology to practice them. They are fundamental to culture, productivity and brand development.

In simple terms, it works like this…You determine which ways are necessary to achieve a goal. You make living into those ways the expectation, the easiest to practice and the most rewarded option. The more you practice and make your target ways your chosen expression, the easier it gets and the more progress you make.

Ways of Marketing and Business Development

In 2006, we started developing our 20 Ways of Being for small business owners. Each way nests into three stages of program development (Design, Build and Grow). The ways all build upon each other to make target outcomes the natural result of your effort.

You practice this approach by selecting a way that is central to the outcome you need to create. You learn what the way is, why it is necessary and how to incorporate it. Then you build procedures, training, systems and compensation around it. You then take on another and another. Mastery over the set of ways and practices is what creates results. When you master the complete set of ways, you’ll have your entire business development program in place.

The Ways of Being approach is in stark contrast to the Random Acts of Marketing we so frequently encounter. We see people chasing new technologies because “everyone is doing it” and they don’t want to get left out, or something similar. It’s the tail wagging the dog.

Ways of Being shift the marketing conversation towards purpose and intent. For example: With the ways of being approach you would pose the question, “if we take on this new marketing tactic, how will it help us improve our practice of being a target way”?

We’re publishing a book on our 20 Ways in 2020. Until then, I hope this post serves as a “thin edge of the wedge” teaser on the topic.

Resources For Learning More

Other places to learn about Ways of Being include leadership development. Look into the Being A Leader course, read about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Mindfulness. One of the most ancient examples is the Noble Eightfold Paths in Buddhism. Martial arts training, elite fitness and athletic programs are often based on a similar practice of consciously choosing, rather than sliding into unconscious patterns. There are so many different resources available, you just need to find something you connect with that gets you over the mental hump.

Even Steven Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People can be viewed from the perspective of Ways of Being and Acting.  For example if you’ve internalised his second habit of “Beginning with the end in mind” and made it part of who you are, it becomes part of your natural way of thinking and acting. You could call it “Being Intentional”.  I realize a level of abstration is required, but consider looking at a familiar book through a new lens. How might you turn an effective habit into a powerful Way of Being?

Got You Curious?

I hope so. Ways of Being are a very powerful mechanism with broad application. I’m always eager to share our experience using ways as a parent, in business leadership, in recruiting and in sales and marketing. It’s directly applicable to internet marketing too.

If you’d like to learn more, please reach out. I’m happy to refer you to resources and to practitioners who focus on Ways of Being in areas outside of sales and marketing.

Until you Contact Us, I invite you to be conscious and deliberate in choosing your Ways of Being and Acting. Consider taking a Kolbe A Assessment as a personal introduction. Once you’re engaged in the conversation, you’ll get a glimpse into the potential for improving your life, leadership and business effectiveness.

What Is Marketing?

When I started my first company, I started asking the question “What is marketing?” Why? Because I needed clients.

My approach to answering this question was to read dozens of books. I interviewed marketing consultants from agencies, engaged business coaches, hired an experienced salesperson, and I learned everything I could from mentors.

The more people I asked, the more confused I became. Everyone had a different answer.

Answers Referenced Tactics

I found people’s responses reflected the type of business they were in and the tactics they used. The tendency was to describe marketing as tactics like trade shows, social media, websites, networking or whatever.

The problem is, tactics don’t address the “What is marketing question?”. The tactics actually distract you from understanding marketing.

If the marketing insiders can’t agree on what marketing is, how is a small business owner supposed to figure it out?

Therein lies the problem. Most of us don’t figure it out. We either avoid it, or we fixate on tactics we hope will generate business, somehow. We end up searching for the proverbial magic bullet or simply chasing the next shiny thing. Then we engage in what amounts to “Random Acts of Marketing.”

So What Is Marketing?

The Oxford Dictionary defines marketing as “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”

The Business Dictionary defines marketing as “the management process through which goods and services move from concept to the customer.” They go on to describe the classic 4 P’s of marketing being Product, Price, Place and Promotional Strategy.

The American Marketing Association defines marketing as, “the activity, set of instructions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

The Wikipedia definition is not bad. They say “marketing is the study and management of exchange relationships. Marketing is the business process of creating relationships with and satisfying customers. With its focus on the customer, marketing is one of the premier components of business management.”

The range of definitions is vast. Heidi Cohen published an article where she compiled 72 different definitions of marketing; which speaks to the difficulty in defining it.

Operationally Defining Marketing

If the experts can’t agree, the next best thing is to operationally define what marketing means to your business.

Let’s start with some core ideas. The first is, marketing is not about you. It’s about facilitating the needs of your customers as they journey through your business.

Start with the old marketing maxim, “What’s in it for me?”. I would however, encourage you to take this idea and extend it beyond the first sale. Look at the “What’s in it for me?” idea over the lifetime of you and your client’s relationship, with the intent to maximize lifetime value.

The second idea is to look at marketing as a process and an investment strategy, rather than a series of independent “to do” activities. Think, “I’m building a relationship assembly line”. A machine that systematically produces and nurtures profitable customer relationships.

If you’re building a marketing machine, how will it work? What is the sequence of steps? How will each sub-process chain together to create the outcomes you need? Then determine how your system will earn a decent return on investment by defining performance criteria.

This systems-thinking, process-mapping, and focus on key performance indicators will guide how you approach marketing and keep you from falling into the “random acts of marketing” trap.

Making The Shift To Systems Thinking

When I first started to get my head around marketing, I visualized a manufacturing assembly line. Then an oil refinery. I live in Calgary, Alberta so I ran with what I knew. An oil refinery is where crude oil gets refined into useful products like diesel, gasoline, kerosene, naphthalene, etc. I asked myself, how would my marketing refinery work? Then I wondered, how does the oil and gas industry work?

The oil and gas industry gets split into upstream, midstream and downstream segments. Upstream is about the exploration and extraction of raw materials (mining for clients). The mid-stream is about refining the raw materials into usable products (qualifying and segmenting customers). The downstream is about bringing the product to market (maximizing customer lifetime value). It’s not a perfect analogy, but it’s workable.

Your marketing system needs to take all three of these stages into account to realize its full potential. No single act of marketing has a chance of doing much good, outside of the system as a whole.

Defining Your Marketing System

Think of marketing as choreographing your customer’s experience as they move through your business. Your marketing system must reliably and cost-effectively reach, enroll, develop and retain clients at scale. The two key outcomes of your marketing system are client relationships and earnings growth.

This notion of experience choreography (to earn profitable short and long-term relationships) speaks to the full scope of marketing. It also helps explain why it’s so challenging to answer the “what is marketing?” question.

Think about how many different skills are involved in developing an oil refinery. Marketing is no different. Marketing requires systems thinking and leadership to design, develop and operate it effectively.

Breaking Down The Marketing Process

  1. Design: Develop your brand, positioning, purpose and process.
  2. Attention: An external process to make people aware of you.
  3. Engagement: Get people to interact with your content or information.
  4. Enrollment: Attempt to inspire people and incite action.
  5. Purchase: Facilitate a buyer’s purchase and support process.
  6. Reputation: The experience you design translates into customer satisfaction.
  7. Sharing: Delighted customers share their experience and offer referrals.
  8. Retention: Communicate with customers to entice them back.
  9. Recognition: Thank people to show appreciation and build relationships.
  10. Recovery: When mistakes happen, you work to restore trust in the relationship.

There’s more to it than this, but you get the idea. Marketing is a process that can span years.

Choreographing a long-term customer experience is a complex, transdisciplinary undertaking.

Marketing Is Not A Tactic

Hopefully, you’re starting to see that marketing is not any single activity. Marketing is the system you build to select and guide clients through your business, at a profit. When you put marketing in this context, you can relate everything you do in marketing to improving some segment of your customer’s journey.

My Answer To “What Is Marketing?”

Over the years, there’s one definition of marketing that I’ve adopted: “Marketing is everything you do to grow your business.” I like this definition because it’s broad, inclusive and outcome-oriented.

Where To From Here?

I fully acknowledge this systems view of marketing can seem too large to take on. It can seem intimidating like “eating an elephant”.

However, as the old saying goes, you eat an elephant one bite at a time, and so it is with marketing. People also say a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, and so does marketing.

Don’t let the scope of marketing deter you from taking it on. All it takes is a little Pragmatic Planning.

A Marketer’s Lament

One of the most regretable things I see is 20, 30 or 100+-year-old companies that never moved past their random acts of marketing. Sure they developed goodwill and brand equity over time however, they’ve often developed few systems, processes, controls or intention behind their marketing. Their strategy often amounts to hoping for the best while controlling costs.

Despite whatever success they achieved, what if they had started their 1,000-mile journey and made consistent progress over the years? What could have been?

If you’re a start-up or a small business owner who’s willing to take small incremental steps towards a larger goal, you have a huge opportunity and the potential for a giant competitive advantage.

To start, envision your system and make sure that every small step aligns with your vision. You’ll be amazed at how much progress you can make in short order.

This argument might sound like advocating for the tortoise over the hare, but you don’t need to go slowly. The point is to have a system and to work your system.

Taking Constructive Action

If this explanation of marketing makes sense, we’ve prepared a series of 18 free marketing eBooks to help you get started. The eBooks are not how-to manuals on Facebook or some sales pitch in disguise. We are making these marketing eBooks available in the spirit of, “I wish I had this information when I first started”. Hopefully you’ll take advantage of them.

Free Marketing eBook

If you’re a startup or a small business owner about to start marketing, download our Free Marketing eBook. 

The eBook is meant for people with little to no experience with marketing and for those who’d like their existing marketing to be more effective.

The eBook starts you off at the very beginning with the fundamental questions underlying your marketing program. If you can’t answer these questions, you’re not ready to market without taking on unnecessary risk.

If you’re contemplating a marketing investment of any sort, take the next few minutes and review this guide. You’ll come away from the effort thinking differently about your marketing and ready to engage in a meaningful discussion about next steps.

Don’t worry there’s no fluff.  This is the same conversation we have with people every day who are just getting started or revisiting their marketing program. We hope you find our eBook illuminating and instructive. Download This eBook or our Complete eBook Series here.