Your Star is About to Shine

If you can look at a commercial enterprise and suggest a logical, measurable way to raise revenues, lower costs and/or increase customer satisfaction -- or just come up with a logical way to test ways to raise revenues, lower costs or increase customer satisfaction -- your time has come. It is your time to shine.

From 1991 to 2004, Kristin Zhivago wrote a newsletter called Marketing Technology, "an ezine for marketers." It was brilliant. She now helps company owners as a revenue consultant and with her book and blog that can be found at

Kristin was one of the first four people I asked to present with me at the inaugural Marketing on the Internet seminar series in 1994. The two biggest lessons Kristin drilled into my head have been the foundation of my consulting practice, my books and articles and every presentation I've ever given.

1. It's About the Customer

2. It's Political


Here's how Kristin explained item #1 in February, 1994: "If your delivery medium was water, broadcasting would be like using a big hose to spray a crowd of prospects, hoping some of them will enjoy getting wet. Narrowcasting, a term used by producers of specialized cable TV programs, is like using a smaller hose and only aiming it at people who have already expressed an interest in getting wet. Cybercasting (marketing on-line) is the act of creating a pond of water in cyberspace, telling people that you now have a pond, and inviting them to come for a swim. Prospects can visit your pond anytime they want, stay as long as they want, and dive in as deeply as they want. The extent to which they immerse themselves in your pond is determined completely by their own personal interest."


My shorthand for that is: Make your Web site about your customer and not about your company. Easy to say, tough to do.


I am a fanatic when it comes to testing and measuring. I know what I like when it comes to advertising, marketing and customer service, but I am not the target audience. What rings true to me may not ring true to the great masses of potential customers for a given product or service. So test and measurement are feed for the goose that lays the golden eggs.


However, as Bob Page, manager of analytics engineering for Yahoo, likes to point out, all metrics are political. He is so right. Walk into an office with a chart, graph or spreadsheet in your hand and the person on the other side of the desk will immediately assume you are there to judge them.


Kristin Zhivago described budgetary politics as the corporate Power Baton. She devotes a whole chapter to this in her latest book, "Rivers of Revenue."


When times are great, the advertising and branding people hold the Power Baton; they have their hands on the budgetary controls. All the senior executives in the firm smile broadly around their lit cigars and watch Super Bowl ads and blimps bearing their product's name.


Then, times get a bit tighter. The Power Baton moves, sometimes undetected, over to the promotions people. What, the company wonders, can we do to boost sales? When the profitometer needle swings lower still, the Baton shifts out of marketing and into the sales department. The people with their feet on the street who speak directly to customers hold the reigns and call the shots. Finally, when the red ink outweighs the black, the CFO holds sway.


Guess where the profitometer is pointing now?

Guess which corporate expenditure the CFO is least likely to defend when it's time to make cuts?


Now is the time for all good marketers to make friends with the CFO. Go into that den of bean counters and show them your beans. Do not show them your bean plants, your fertilizer, your complex watering system and your trusty crop rotation schedule. Do not try to explain cross-breeding and organic fungal growth control through the use of enzymatic synthesis. You will only get dull stares in return.


When you become outraged at how thick-skulled they are, and with voice raised, ask them whether they are ignorant or apathetic, they will reply, "Don't know and don't care."


Instead, show them the beans, the whole beans and nothing but the beans.


Explain that you can control the size and number of new beans in each harvest. If they are willing to give you the resources for the complex cultivation necessary, you can promise a return on their investment. You now have their attention. You now have their interest.


At the moment they ask you how much you want them to invest, the Power Baton has started its transition over to the marketing department. Once they ask how much, the rest is just negotiation.


Indeed, your star is about to shine.

4 comments about "Your Star is About to Shine ".
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  1. Patricia Echeverri from HBO LATAM, February 6, 2009 at 3:20 p.m.

    I love you Jim. Wish you would write more often. I'm listening...

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, February 6, 2009 at 4:59 p.m.

    Hi Jim - I loved the water analogy and I'm sure I will use it sometime soon.

    Mind you, if I was launching "ESYRT" (OK, it's the letters next to the letters in 'water' - easy to see I am a geek and not a marketer) my new wonder product that quenches the thirst better than anything else on the planet ... I'd still be looking for the biggest hose I could find before I invited anyone over for a swim.

  3. Jim Sterne from Target Marketing, February 7, 2009 at 3:17 p.m.

    John - my guess is you named your product ESYRT after re-watching 2001, A Space Odyssey only HAL was named alphabetically rather than QWERTicallY

    Patricia - <blush>
    Many thanks.

  4. Pier Ludovico Bancale, February 9, 2009 at 3:11 a.m.

    Copied and paste from the article:
    "IF YOU CAN look at a commercial enterprise and suggest a logical, measurable way to raise revenues and lower costs, then your time has come".

    Answer: YES, WE CAN.
    Commercial enterprises can raise revenues and lower costs by cutting inefficiencies in their P&L.

    Which inefficiencies? Which are the costs that every company has on its P&L?

    - Fixed costs (i.e HR)
    - Variable operating costs
    - Research & Development
    - Advertising

    Out of the above listed costs there is one that today can be optimized significantly: Advertising.

    Do I mean cutting Advertising? No no. Promotion is vital, especially when you have good products or services.
    But advertising costs can be devided in 3 parts: 1.Create the ad, 2.Produce it and then 3.Deliver the message to consumers (media).

    What is possible today is to reduce the first 2 parts by at least 50%. HOW? By going online instead of offline.
    BootB is able to disintermediate advertising agencies, thus saving their fees.
    You may be thinking who could substitute the advertising agencies. The answer is BootB: a pitching engine connecting directly enterprises with creatives. No more agencies handling costs and charging fees. From the idea generators directly to media, rewarding the doers and not their fat managers/executives/associates/partners.

    Just have a look at this:

    Copied and paste from the article:


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