#116 Transparent Marketing: The Future of Map Of Me

I’m considering hiring a marketing firm to help me sharpen my message. To prepare for those meetings I wrote a summary of what Map Of Me is about and where I want to take it. Since I’m always preaching transparency, I figured I’d make this document public. Take a look and send feedback if you have any.

Why does the mapofme.com business exist and what makes it unique?

What’s unique is that I’m not trying to run a business in the traditional sense.

What I’m trying to do is prove something to myself - that if a business owner focuses on growth for each individual in their business they will be rewarded with a higher profit / lower stress operation. And that this goodness will extend to families, employees, partners, customers, etc.  As my tagline says “designing businesses where both people and profits grow”.

So mapofme.com ultimately exists to win the trust of a very small number of business owners. A select group willing to spend a year or so in a “peer-to-peer class” dissecting what makes them tick, what makes their businesses tick, and then getting everyone and everything aligned with those ideals.

That’s it.

And just for fun I wrote a more market-based answer to this question.

Why does the mapofme.com business exist?(Answer #2)

Gallup’s annual “State of the Global Workplace” poll for 2017 says that 85% of employees are "not engaged" or are "actively disengaged" at work. That’s a ridiculous number - and it reeks of opportunity. Business owners that figure out how to help employees willingly engage can leave their competition in the dust. And as a bonus, this would also be a huge win for the owners personally, for their families, and for each of their employees, customers, and partners.

I aim to help them do this.

Is there a market for this service (the yearish long “class”)?

I think so. I speak to lots of owners that are doing quite well financially, but that are full or part-time disenchanted with their businesses. They typically share their frustrations in business owner groups facilitated by companies like Vistage or others.

The people I’m looking for have probably already done this kind of thing and want to go a layer deeper. I believe that "layer deeper" is coming together with a curated group of peers and building an outline, or what I call a Map, that deeply defines themselves and their business. And in the process identifying and overcoming the barriers that hold them and their business back.

I’m a Midwesterner with an engineering degree so I’m not talking about burning incense and telling each other how great we are. I don’t get into that stuff. I spent the bulk of my career in sales and general management in high growth venture-capital-funded tech companies - so I’m driven to touch the bottom line or perish. So we’ll get beneath the surface and make a real difference on the income statement AND in peoples lives.

That’s a tall order. I have no clue if we can pull it off. But I am jacked up to give it a whirl.

How would you position this “class” in the market?

As an all-in premium service.

The class would consist of 3 or 4 face-to-face meetings, regular online meetings, a constant discussion group presence - total immersion. I would guess a dozen or so business owners and an eventual price tag, once I’ve proven it works, close to $50k per person. In the first go round I would guess a price of half that. So the first round “beta” class might be $5k up front and $1.5k per month and you can walk at any time if you don’t see value.

What does success look like for mapofme.com?

Class alumni improving their businesses and their lives. If this doesn’t happen I shut it down.

More personally, here’s the background on how I got here and what I need.

This project didn’t start out as a business. It didn’t even start out as a project.
I retired in my 30’s and slowly got addicted to these topics that had always interested me - business, leadership, management, teamwork, efficiency, money, success, happiness, growth, connection, passion, etc. I spent an easy 20,000+ hours trying to understand how all this crap comes together to improve or inhibit our chances for personal and professional growth - before I published my first blog post. And yes, even I think that sounds a little crazy, but I prefer to think of it as being thorough.

So now I have an outline of a “system” for a better way - Align, Connect, Grow. And the most important thing I need is feedback and stress-testing.

Along those lines, I’ve done a handful of presentations to groups of business owners. The material has been well received and I’ve also absorbed clarifying constructive feedback.

So in terms of what success looks like here are my 2 requirements:

1) I get to keep researching and getting feedback on my ideas.
2) I get to implement Align, Connect, Grow at real businesses. It’s all bullshit until someone is following this path and kicking butt.

What are my next steps?

I’m wide open. Below are my current thoughts in terms of actual projects on my plate. The goal is to build enough of a following to identify a tiny number of people that want to jump into this Map-building experiment.

1) Write a white paper, manifesto or opinion piece that summarizes the Align, Connect, Grow presentation I’ve been doing for business owners. This pitch is designed for high speed delivery (~300 slides in 50 minutes) which means it’s nearly impossible to take notes. So this document would give attendees a less intense way to review the material after I’m gone. It would also give people that aren’t in the room a chance to experience the message. I would like to have a “campaign” to spread this document widely.

The cost to have this professionally designed and edited would probably be a few thousand dollars. I would make it free for download at www.mapofme.com.

2) Figure out what comes after presentation #1. I’m guessing it’s too big of a leap to go from a 1 hour presentation to a year long class, so I need a bridge. A way for people to get more familiar with the material prior to such a large commitment.

Whatever this “bridge”  might be, it has to get into the nuts and bolts of Align, Connect, Grow. The format could range anywhere from a more in depth presentation, to another white paper, to a multi-day workshop.

If I went the workshop route it would probably be a 1 or 2 day experience that involves the basics of how and why to build a Map. My biggest concern here is whether or not it’s possible to create a 1 or 2 day experience where someone can walk away with enough information to dive in and create their own Maps. I have no interest in making money without delivering value, so this one has me in a quandary.

Maybe the answer is to set a lower bar for the workshop. Rather than build an entire Map, maybe just focus on explaining how and why managing via Alignment is the right way to build a healthy business.

At some point I need to pull the trigger on something in this area as people have asked me to go to the next level and I’ve not given them a path forward.

The cost, if this is just another presentation with a supporting document, would be a few thousand dollars and I’d make it free to download. If I’m designing an entire workshop and renting class A facilities and food etc., the ballpark fee would have to be $2,000 to $2,500 per business owner for 1.5 to 2 days.

3) Advice on retainer. I’ve had business owners ask for on-going access “just to talk about whatever comes up”. While I’d rather they went all in and built Maps, these conversations would at least be pointing them towards an aligned style of management. So I think it’s time to stop saying no to this one. I won’t pursue this work, but I'll consider doing it for a very few owners that I believe want to run aligned businesses.

The fee for this service would run anywhere from $3k to $6k per month. I’d have to see how big the time commitment is.

4) Keynote Speaking. This is how I’ll drive general awareness of my message outside of just business owners. I HATE airline travel, so I’ll try to keep this focused within a 5 or 6 hour drive of my home ( Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis, Toledo, Cleveland, Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Huntington and Charleston West Virginia, Lexington, Louisville, Nashville, Knoxville to name a few.)

I’ve done a ton of speaking in the past, but I have no interest in being on “the circuit”. I’ll have to be strategic about pursuing specific audiences that will benefit from my material.

What is the mapofme.com social media strategy?

So far it’s been avoidance, and I’d love to keep it that way.

I’m willing to gamble that my clients aren’t hanging out on facebook or snapchat. They’re owners of B-to-B businesses that spend a lot of time on computers and smartphones, so I’m confident they can consume via my website, maybe LinkedIn. I’d have to be convinced of the return on time invested to start messing around with other avenues.

Are there other audiences you’d like to address?

Once I get the business side up and running and proven, I’d like to repurpose my material and aim it toward high school, college, and early career young adults. My four children are in this range and I see them dealing with the same crap that knocked me off course a few times. So I’d love to help this group do a better job of getting aligned and finding employment that’s a great fit for them.

I assume this would be charitable work and I’ve already seen that the requests can be overwhelming in terms of time commitment. I’d have to be careful here not to get overrun.

The End

#105 Your Masterpiece: The Hairball Wrap-Up

This is my fifth and final post focused on the book Orbiting The Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie. And as I look back across the prior four posts, one theme jumps out - CONTROL.

Post #101 Killing Creativity talks about the desire of the school systems to get children under CONTROL. Sitting quietly in their perfectly aligned seats fully attentive to the instructor.

Post #102 Hairballs talks about corporations layering on rules and policies to keep employees under CONTROL.

Post #103 Too Busy talks about executives smothering themselves in busy work to keep themselves under CONTROL. Sedating themselves by wearing the mask of the busy executive.

Post #104 Are Cows Slackers talks about the drive for efficiency. Allowing the quest for CONTROL to crowd out the space necessary for incubating creativity.

Control. Control. Control.

As businesses grow they tend to get chaotic and scary. And the knee-jerk reaction is to create order and efficiency. And that’s a good idea - up to some unknown threshold. The point where all that control becomes a creativity killing anchor - but by then it’s too late to turn back. You’re the frog in the slowly warming water about to be boiled alive. There’s no easy way to unwind the mess you’ve created.

Here’s a MacKenzie quote that I shared with you in post #104 Are Cows Slackers that gets to this point…

“…Too many enterprises seem self-destructively locked into a debilitating reality of 100 percent perspiration and zero percent inspiration.
A healthier alternative is the Orbit of trust that allows time - without immediate, concrete evidence of productivity - for the miracle of creativity to occur.”

So MacKenzie’s big push is creativity. But he also pushes a lot deeper at times, as in this quote…

“When you wear a mask, nobody (not even you) gets to find out who you really are. When you wear a mask, nobody (not even you) gets to find out what you really need. And when you wear a mask, nobody (not even you) gets to find out what you really have to offer.”

So in his most pessimistic moments, Mackenzie sees work as a masquerade party for efficiency drones.

maskArtboard 1@300x.png

A clusterf**k of rules, policies, perspiration, measurement, efficiency and people walking around wearing masks. Taking on roles that get them through the day, but that hide their true selves.

And as a business owner you should be particularly interested in this part of the quote. - “When you wear a mask, nobody (not even you) gets to find out what you really have to offer.”

So how can you possibly nurture the amazingness that people have to offer, when they don’t even know they have it to offer? How can you convince your team to take off their masks?

The only way I know is to lead by example. Take your mask off first. Because as long as you have your mask on, it's impossible for your team to trust you. How could they? They're dealing with a fake you. A masked you.

Recall above where MacKenzie talks about the "Orbit of TRUST". Well, that Orbit is an orbit around you. You’re at the core of the hairball, setting the standards for what the company believes. And that core needs to be authentic and transparent in order to be trustworthy.

And then, once your mask is off, you'll have some credibility when you ask others to take off theirs. And then, if they follow your example, together you'll have a chance to create something special. Something that reflects who you are as a person, and a place you’ll all love being a part of for the long term.

I’ll give the final words to Gordon MacKenzie…

“If you go to your grave without painting your masterpiece, it will not get painted. No one else can paint it. Only you.”

THE MAP


(This site is all about building a Map that will help me do work and life better. So at the end of each post I check in to see if any changes / insights come to mind.)

During my career I had the chance to see a few great businesses. And what stuck out about them was that they had ridiculously tight cultures. So if you want to lead a great company, you can't leave this soft stuff to chance. You can't build your business on a random foundation. You must get in the trench and nail down this culture stuff.

And that's the thought process that led me to build this site in the first place. I wanted to explore how we get the foundation right. My answer was to draw a MAP of what makes me and my business tick.

I don’t care if you draw a MAP or get there some other way. But please, if you want your business to be a masterpiece, do something.