We have not even to risk the adventure alone

For the heroes of all time have gone before us

The labyrinth is thoroughly known

We have only to follow the thread of the hero path

And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god

And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves

And where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence

And where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world

Joesph Campbell, The Hero Path

Welcome back to Week 9 of the miniMBA. We've entered the final section of the program - Experience. This last section is all about marketing and sales and what matters most: how the customer experiences your company. This section will start with relationships, discuss messaging, and finally, systems and analytics.

I have realized about marketing over the last ten years that most entrepreneurs do not know how to do it. We mistakenly think we need a "position" and to "compete," and we depersonalize the customer.  (Do not even get me started on your "unique selling proposition," lol!) We kick off this section with a quote from Joseph Cambell's hero's journey to inspire us to see the journey out into the market, not as a path to dominate but as an opportunity to connect, first to ourselves and then to our customers. We'll replace the idea of positioning with peers, competition with collaboration, and depersonalization with curiosity. We'll use our values and culture to inform our customer experience, and guide our relationship-building, messaging, and amplification into the world. 

 If you are justjoining us, you can catch up on the previous lessons here. Have you been finding these lessons valuable? The Early Bird Registration for the Business Growth Program is now open. You can find out more here

Looking forward to continued learning in 2023! 


After creating a solid infrastructure for our business, we can look out to the market to grow our business. And the first place we should start for any marketing and sales planning is with our relationships. Relationships are the most important aspect of market growth. We consider three types of relationships before we set any strategy: who our customers are, our strategic partners, and our peers. We want to actively cultivate those relationships and constantly expand our connections within those categories.

Our culture will guide our growth as we look for customers and strategic partners who relate to our values. For our customers, this is easily understood when we prioritize understanding psychographics over demographics. And for strategic partners, this practice is most expansive when we don’t just think about those who already share our values but those whose values might blend well with ours even if we don’t think we’re initially culturally aligned. Those surprising connections expand the definition of our culture and our customer reach. In an age when we think an algorithm will do this work for us, it’s more important than ever to put a personal touch on all of the relationships in your business ecosystem. Algorithms change, and personal connection is forever.  


The best place to start with relationships is to rehumanize the customer. We're moving away from demographics and into psychographics—a fancy word that basically means "get to know your customer." A data-driven economy has made us believe that demographics are the be-all-end-all of marketing research. The algorithm misleads us to believe it can identify people's true mindsets and habits when in fact, the mindsets and habits it's tracking are the ones it's forcing upon the viewer.

Curiosity drives connection, and we have forgone that journey, instead buying into the myth of convenience and certainty. To reconnect to your own humanity and that of your customer, it's valuable to really spend time understanding who they are and why they connect to the product or service you create. Imagine the old days of commerce, which happened within a physical community; the relationships forged between buyer and seller ran deeper, often built on personal interactions and a fuller understanding of who each other truly is. As we watch 2022 become a crushing year for many techs and DTC brands, we are tempted to point the finger at the economy when really it's about the lack of genuine connection between seller and consumer.

Psychographics help us understand who people are on a deeper level and the role our product or service plays in their daily life. Or, like genius BTF marketing teacher Marc Rabinowitz says, where does your product fit into their daily life? You can't know that if you don't know much about their life, to begin with. Spending time being curious about psychographics gives you clues. 


Once we've spent time laying a more genuine connection through curiosity, we will find our growth path through well-executed partnerships and our peers. Our peers are what we traditionally thought of as our "competition," and our strategic partners are those brands/organizations/individuals with whom we can create opportunities for market exposure that mutually benefit both parties.

Let's start with our peers and circle back to why the market is not a competition. Competitions are typically time-bound or score-bound; the market is neither. It is manufactured scarcity generating generations of entrepreneurs who wrongly believe that dominance is the path to success. What happens when we stop seeing our peers as competition and instead as collaborators in building a more robust market? How does our mind open to opportunities and possibilities when we remove the fear of scarcity from our capacity to make money? And what can we learn about our own business when we take time to study others? If we find ourselves fixed on a path of scarcity, our marketing capacity will be limited. Here again, staying curious about who we are walking the path alongside of allows us to understand the market more broadly. 

Once we are open, we want to identify our strategic partners for growth. Partnerships will be the most important initiative for growth in the coming years, but most companies under prepare and get them wrong. The first reason is because of what we started with in this newsletter—we do not truly know who our customer actually is. The second reason is that most partnerships are poorly executed from the start. They lack clear goals and accountabilities for both parties. And finally, they often run once and fail to build momentum through repetition. A well-executed partnership starts with a deep understanding of both audiences; they clearly identify what both parties in the partnership have to offer each other (usually not the same thing), they define explicit accountabilities for each partner, and they are repeatable. With this framework, we can identify a wider variety of brands/organizations/individuals with who we can connect to create growth opportunities. 

Next week, we'll talk about messaging, and the following week we'll get into more detail about how we actually amplify our messaging and execute these initiatives once we have laid this very clear and detailed foundation. 


Identify your customer/client's psychographics: 

1. What are their interests both in their professional life and their recreational life?

2. What are their attitudes about the world around them?

3. What are their opinions about your industry? 

4. How do they determine how they spend their disposable income?

5. What are they reading online and in print? 

6. Where did they have lunch yesterday? What did they order? 

7. What brand of shoes are they wearing? 

8. What candle brands do they burn in their home?

9. How did they find you? And why does that matter?

10. Why do they trust your company?

11. If they’ve already purchased from you, what change did you make in their life? 

12. Why did they feel connected to your company? What was it about the story you shared? 

13. What are they giving up to purchase your product? 

14. How do they describe your product or company to their best friend (B2C) or colleague (B2B)

15. Do they perceive your product/service as high-touch or low-touch, and why?

16. How does the product/service fit into their life? How do they use it? How frequently? 

17. What might be their unconscious motivations for purchasing?


Listen to Matt Little and me talk all things psychographics and partnerships on the cultures [w/n] capitalism podcast and complete the worksheet!


Being Heard in a Broadcast World

Winning the Story Wars

The Marketing and Sales Section of the AHH page

Good luck! We'll see you here next Wednesday (or Thursday :)) Week 10: Marketing Messaging. If you have a colleague who should join us, they can sign up here


This week we opened Early Bird Registration for the Business Growth Program. You can find out more details here and read the full Program Manual here. Early Bird is open until November 18th, and we are hosting a free Info Night on Tuesday, November 15th at 6pmEST. You can respond to this email to register for the program or the info night. 


How is it the end of the year already?! This November, we'll read Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds by Adrienne Marie Brown. This free event will be hosted on Tuesday, November 29th at 7PMEST via Zoom. Please email me to register. 

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