Many business and entities automatically assume certain outcomes and modes of operations for their given business model because of what is considered the norm. However, buy stepping back and evaluating Revenue Model options from the beginning and working backwards leads to innovation and opportunity, many times creating Blue Ocean opportunities by themselves. Professor Andy Hargadon at UC-Davis has identified 8: Unit sales, Advertising fees, Franchise fees, Utility fees, Subscription fees, Transaction fees, Professional fees and License fees.

Many times the Revenue model decision will lead to innovations in distribution, audience building, packaging, etc. that create opportunities and  differentiation that contribute to the strategy canvas and ultimately success. Determining  the revenue model creates a clearer out point to begin building the plan and monitoring the progress as you move forward. It also makes it clearer as to what analytics need to be monitored along the way to insure  conversions, economic (sales) and non-economic (non-sales but ultimately lead to sales) are occurring and building. Make sure you have clearly defined your Revenue Model and aligned all of your efforts to maximize it. Want to know more, Read…


I have found in working with creative projects and artists that is always best to start with the story.

Developing your narrative is one of the most important things you can do, but when I share this with most companies they look blankly at me with a puzzling “why?”

If you do not write your story, it will be written for you. And in today’s environment, it will be “broadcast” over the internet.

So start with your story, even before your business plan. Find a way to tell your story in compelling ways. And use your story to communicate with others, giving them the opportunity to relate to your visions and goals, to attract the interest of others, and to inspire those within your company. recently posted an article on “Why storytelling is so invaluable, for executives and everyone else.” Read more… Getting Your Story Straight

Working in creative endeavors has always been interesting. Balancing art and commerce is a fine line, and when it applies to advertising, promotion and marketing, it can get very blurry.

You can always tell the ads and creative marketing ideas that had “too many chefs.” I had an embarrassing moment one time when looking at a magazine ad. I commented on what a piece of garbage it was, only to hear the person standing next to me say “I shot the photo for that ad.” Naturally, I responded, “well, it does have some redeeming qualities!”

Whenever I start a project working with a new art and design group, I often have to temper their attempts to redesign the logo. Seldom have I worked on a project where the logo was so bad that it was bringing the company down. However, most designers are apt to consider their opportunity to have lasting impact on the company.

Good creativity needs to focus on the audience and the story we are telling. You can always go back and worry about the logo later.

Recently I noticed that the Sci-Fi network changed their logo, and I have to agree with graphic designer Ken Carbone. “Dear SyFy, Imagine Greater – Please!” – read more…

If planning is essential and story is imperative, what do you do with an idea and no beginning?

Entrepreneurs are those that are willing to plow ahead. They have an idea and they are able to drive through and make things happen. They still need a plan, but plans change. And a well crafted strategic plan lets you know when and how you can make changes in direction, without driving off the cliff!

Times like these are great opportunities for new ventures and start-ups. As major players strive to redefine, new opportunities develop. If you are sitting on an idea and looking for a way to make it happen then read “Blue Ocean Strategy,” one of my recommended reads.

Entrepreneur Jeff Stibel recently wrote at Harvard Business Publishing, “Great ideas are a dime a dozen. Action is what differentiates an entrepreneur from an inventor. If you want to focus on ideas, become an inventor — not an entrepreneur.” Read more… Are You an Inventor or an Entrepreneur?

Years ago I did a research project about primary care physicians as a gateway to tertiary care. We talked to focus groups, identified problems, and developed possible solutions. The fundamental problems were…well, everything!

But the doctors didn’t really want help. They were trying to maintain the same infrastructure they’d had for years. And now no one knows for sure what kind of changes our healthcare system has in store.

But Walgreens is being proactive. Hundreds of retail clinics have been set up and are serving patients at Walgreens stores as well as numerous corporate client locations, including Disney World and Toyota.

This company is poised for the future; no matter whether healthcare changes or not, they will come out on top. Walgreens is taking market demand and an audience approach to the way they are doing business.

In fact, Walgreens is one of those “great” companies highlighted in a book I highly recommend, “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t” by Jim Collins.

Read what Zachary Wilson of Fast Company has to say about Why Walgreens is Building its Own Universal Health-Care System…

Some companies have a clear idea of what they want to produce and who they are producing it for. In other words, they’ve created their own culture.

Apple is one of these companies. Their designs have been revolutionary (take the iPhone or the iPod, for instance), and their products have created a legacy for the company.

Amid an economic downturn and bankruptcy for some airlines, Southwest Airlines has created its own culture by offering unique service and low fares. And this summer, they’re giving encouragement to travelers with their brand new tagline “Grab Your Bag. It’s On.”

Both of these companies have created an almost cult-like feel to their products and services. Read this article for more about the products that are “visual ambassadors to the culture they’ve created.”

I just received a retail catalog in the mail. You know the kind – the one with trashy jewelry, unbecoming apparel, and nick knacks to help clutter your home in easy installment plan payments. It made me wonder who would buy this ugly stuff! And then I remembered the old adage, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” This retail store has an audience that has kept them in business for decades.

There’s a lesson to be learned here: you need to stick with your audience. Whatever products you market, you need to know who you’re selling to and why they’re buying it. If it isn’t the beauty of theitem, what is it? A connection they make with the product? A usefulness that goes beyond the design? has a great article on “Why Ugly Sells” and the author says, you need to “understand the emotional sources for taste so that you can appeal to them.” Read Article…

The original design and intent of your business are important assets for your company. And it’s crucial that you don’t let the growth of your business squeeze out and overwrite your original design!

Years ago, Starbucks developers created a coffee house experience for its customers. In the words of President and CEO Howard Schultz, there was a “distinctive Starbucks experience” that was vital to the company’s original design. It was the “romance and theater” of a customer’s trip to Starbucks that was envisioned when their first coffee house was opened.

Yet the world’s largest coffee house chain experienced something less than distinctive in 2007 when sales slowed considerably.

Why? Customers understood what Starbucks management did not – the original design of a warm and intimate neighborhood coffee house had been replaced by automatic espresso machines, flavor-locked packaging, and mass-designed store layouts. All very efficient progress, but lacking the envisioned experience originally intended.

Redefining your own original business design may be difficult, but in the face of a slowed economy, it’s important that you maintain the culture and commitment to who you are.

Read more about how Starbucks is making changes in order to win back customers and return to its roots. Read Article…

Now is the time to develop and focus your promotional efforts to create your own stimulus package and grow your business. Don’t cut off your future by hunkering down and forgetting to promote for tomorrow. Whether it is your word-of-mouth promotion via non-paid methods or full blow ad campaigns, now is not the time to cut, focus and hone – yes, but just hacking will be a path to decline. A solid metric plan and review of all your current efforts will insure that waste is trimmed and performance is leading the charge to grow. I have one client that has cut their ad budget significantly by re-tooling and refocusing, while also adding in-house promotional efforts to cultivate their base that is leading to increased profits. Here is a great article about investing in your promotions, Read – Time for a Brand Stimulus Package

Your brand should be the focal point of your marketing effort. Many times the sales and operations efforts will swamp the branding and eventually dilute the best. Starbucks saw this first hand in its efforts to improve efficiency when it converted to automated espresso machines. While producing short term results, it diluted the brand and culture, prompting the founder to return to run the company and stating we have lost “the smell of coffee” because the new efficient machines did not allow the aroma to escape in the process. MarketingProfs has some good tips to encourage the Four Best-Practices for Renovating Your Brand—Before It’s Too Late…