When More than a Little Knowledge Can Be Dangerous

Jeff Katz is CEO of Definition 6, a 20-year-old content marketing and digital agency working with a high-profile, household-brand-name client list. D6 creates content and the technology that allows brands to deliver and measure the effectiveness of those messages and has won both treasured client recognitions and a plethora of EMMYs, ADDYs, TELLYs, and WEBBYs.

Jeff joined D6 in 2000 as president and chief operating officer and oversaw the cultural and functional integration of acquisitions. Jeff feels that one of his company’s advantages is that it can, not only provide creative content (as can many of the larger agencies), but also designs and builds the technology to deliver that content.

What does a company do when it wants to expand its offerings? Many companies, wanting to “do more things,” develop the requisite skills inhouse.

A more dramatic way to increase skills is to buy companies that do what you want your company wants to be able to do: a move that brings both advantages (the company may bring its talent and its customers} and risks (Will the new company be a cultural and business “fit”?) D6 took private equity in 2009 in order to acquire companies with skilled services that would broaden its offerings.

In an effort to smooth operations, Jeff brought new and old employees together so they could learn everything about how the business operated. He discovered that more than a little knowledge was dangerous. Once a specialist in one area of the business learned about the operations of a different functional area, that “newly enlightened” individual would often try to take on the work that was totally unrelated to his or her position. Jeff realized this kind of “cross-training” diluted the strengths acquisitions brought to his company and that functional separation was necessary, so that, when certain skills were needed, people would “call in the experts.”

D6 currently employs 120 artists, musicians, strategists, software developers/architects/analysts, composers, and writers . . . and, unlike many companies, welcomes back the :boomerangs” —past employees who want to come back to D6.

As CEO since 2014, Jeff has refined the company’s focus and is currently working on projects that he feels will change its customer’s industries.

Jeff can be reached at the company’s website at: by email at:, or on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram.

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Collaboration Rule #1: Bet on the Jockey, and Not on the Horse

Tom Nassr is CEO and Cofounder of Checkmate Digital (New Haven, Connecticut),  a design and development agency that works with startups and company subject matter experts to build marketable digital products these startups can use to solve specific problems and generate income. These projects range in size from a single piece of software to complex, integrated systems.


Before working with a company, Tom conducts candid, in-depth validation discussions to determine the likelihood of project success and whether he wants to work with a client:

  1. Is the problem real and not client-specific? (Do other people “feel the pain”?)
  2. What is the client’s background/expertise? Does the client possess the resilience to deal with setbacks and the collaborative and executive decision-making skills to drive the project forward?


Tom knows that projects may morph over time as problems and their desired solutions become better defined . . . and that success more often depends on a CEO’s ability to adapt to these changes, so, Tom says,  “Bet on the jockey, not on the horse.”


Once Tom knows a project is feasible, his team meets with company representatives to explore issues in-depth, refine the objective, flowchart business processes, identify primary and peripheral stakeholders and impacts, and brainstorm strategy. The $5k charge for this “discovery process” recognizes the value of the project design “product,” engages only those clients serious enough to make that expenditure (no tire-kickers), and ensures that, even if the client goes elsewhere to have the work done, Tom’s team gets paid for delivering what can be the most important part of any project . . . a blueprint which, if followed, will ensure the right things get done for the right reasons.  


Tom is excited about the future of Blockchain technology and  notes that Blockchain is not just about cryptocurrency—it has the potential to give users full control, access. and ownership over all of the their content and data . . . instead of “centralizing power in the corporation.” With blockchain technology “Smart Contracts,” the entire contract and its logistical system could be integrated with the application, so that work completed would automatically trigger payment, vastly improving privacy and security.


Tom can be reached by email at, or yon his website at: No .com or .co on the end of that one . . .

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Lead Flow Strategy: What to Outsource and What to Keep In-house

Chaz Edward, Cofounder of Make My Business Boom (Hanover, Pennsylvania), a client digital marketing agency focused on driving customers to its clients’ physical locations or websites, explains the marketing strategies and funnels his company sets up and uses for finding and qualifying people who might need his company’s services, turning these cold prospects into warm leads, transforming them into hot buyers, and closing sales. Make My Business Boom works with larger-sized local and regional businesses, multi-location companies, and e-commerce sites.

Chaz explains the multi-pronged strategies outsourced Virtual Assistants can use to feed contact info into outreach funnels

1) Look for potential “foot in the door” opportunities, e.g.:

  • Companies spending for AdWords whose websites are not on Page 1
  • Websites that don’t have SSL installed
  1. Create a value ladder, place service offerings in ascending order of value and price. Offer free content (lead magnets) a website visitor can download in exchange for his or her email address.
    1. Use a lead scraper to collect semi-targeted cold leads
    2. Provide incentives for existing clients to give you referrals
    3. Management can develop manual prospect search procedures, write SOPs, create training videos, and then outsource manual prospect search activities to Virtual Assistants.

Outsourced Virtual Assistants can help qualify and strengthen relationships with potential clients by:

  1. Remarketing prospects through emails that provide value
  2. Retargeting prospects by tracking Facebook blog consumption to determine areas of interest
  3. Segmenting prospects based on responses and refining free content as relationship develops

In-House staff should be used to convert cold prospects to warm leads by:

  1. Monitoring Facebook Ad interactions and website pages accessed to determine prospects’ levels and areas of interest and readiness to buy
  2. Placing an exploratory call to define needs and establish a preliminary budget.
  3. Preparing a “customized” proposal using standardized modular components
  4. Placing a call, screen sharing, or visiting the client to present proposal. Try to close.

Some parts of Fulfillment can be outsourced, some can’t.

Client Management should always be in-house and is critical for reducing client churn. After the sale, follow up with biweekly or monthly phone calls to discuss KPIs, past activities, and plans.

Contact Chaz Edward through his Facebook page, on his company’s website at:, or by phone at: 855.356.4161.

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How to Build a Powerful Sales Engine (on a DIY Budget with Plug-and-Play Parts!)

Julie Stoian, digital marketing consultant and tech coach at Create Your Laptop Life® and head coach and funnelbuilder at ClickFunnels talks about tools and training that can enable smaller company entrepreneurs in the online world to develop powerful, customized sales and marketing tools . . . without hiring expensive technical experts or big-budget marketing firms.  


In this candid interview, former nationally-recognized social media blogger Julie Stoin discusses how divorce, a surprise pregnancy, a desire to impact the lives of more people, and business savvy inspired her to envision and invent what grew to be, in only a few years, a million-dollar-plus business. This initiative, Create Your Laptop Life, is a coaching program and course that has provided thousands of entrepreneurs with the needed skills and strategies to create, build, and grow profitable online businesses.


Julie also builds marketing funnels, writes, and coaches clients at Russell Brunson’s ClickFunnels (, a company that provides entrepreneur/owners at smaller companies with a comprehensive online marketing, sales, and product delivery tool. Components of this fast and effective do-it-yourself, plug-and-play tool include a central dashboard, a drag and drop webpage editor, sales funnel templates with conversion functionality, smart and up-sale capable shopping carts, affiliate program software, and email and FaceBook marketing automation.

Julie can be contacted at: through her agency course, Proposal Secrets at:,

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Cold-calling (Done Right) Drives Bottom-line Profitability

Carrie Simpson, founder at Managed Sales Pros, Everywhere Managed, and THC Results (Las Vegas, Nevada and Winnipeg, Manitoba) put herself into the cold-calling business two decades ago as a stay-at-home mom—by cold-calling companies to sell her services as a cold-caller, winning contracts with major companies, hiring and training other stay-at-home moms to cold call part time, and developing a scalable strategic process for outbound B2B IT sales calls and appointment setting.

Churn is a given in cold-calling. Critical to Carrie’s success is not that she figured out how to eliminate cold-caller turnover, but because she figured out how to minimize the effect of churn. In this interview, she emphasizes several strategic decisions her company made to build traction, optimize cold call effectiveness, and generate demand:

  • Avoiding diversification and maintaining an exclusive marketing strategy: cold-calling for a single product type: managed services
  • Laser-targeting and qualifying her clients’ potential customers
  • Knowing her customers’ products, their clients triggers
  • Utilizing “pay for performance” in order to maintain control of database data that can be leveraged for vertical market development
  • Tracking trends and marketplace changes that create risks and opportunities

Carrie can be reached on her company’s website at or by email at: Mention Carrie’s name, and your message will be routed to her.


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Building a Deep Moat: The Power of Positioning in a Commodity World

David C. Baker, speaker, advisor, five-time author, and principal at ReCourses (Nashville, Tennessee), has consulted with over 900 creative firms and trained 20,000, providing the tools for them to make better business decisions. In this interview, David discusses issues around agency growth and differentiation.

For firms with fewer than 45 employees, David believes that positioning is often critical . . . and that smaller generalist firms suffer because generalist services become a commodity, forcing the agencies to compete on price and execution. He proposes positioning as a solution because it allows an agency to find better clients, operate in its area of core expertise, see patterns, and develop competence relevant to its clients. Strategic work is based on insight, which comes from positioning.
Vertical positioning is focusing on an industry segment—or even further differentiating your offerings by narrowing to a particular service for that segment—and drilling down so deep that your company is the only one with the expertise for that segment at that deep of a level.
Horizontal positioning spans different verticals, but focuses either on a demographic or a particular practice area.

David extends the concept of positioning to internal positioning—company culture—and recommends developing a lead generation plan for recruiting new talent. He also questions why more companies don’t package their data- and science-based insights and black box license this proprietary intellectual property as a salable product.

David’s most recent book is The Business of Expertise: How Entrepreneurial Experts Convert Insight to Impact and Wealth, was recently featured in The New York Times. To learn more about the book, go to:

David can be contacted on his website at



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Why Leading Brands and Startups Market on Social Platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Pinterest

Bobby Palmieri is CEO at Lilo Social (Brooklyn, New York), a social-media-based marketing agency focused on creating better social content. In this interview, Bobby explains his company’s objectives for its clients: to get a customer to buy the client’s product, grow the client’s social following, grow the brand, and/or increase a viewer’s engagement time—and how utilizing Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Pinterest (and some LinkedIn) can provide “the best bang for the marketing buck.”


Increasingly, people are realizing effective marketing is not about “impressions,” it is about “engagement.” Lilo works with two classes of customers: leading brands and startups. Bobby is very aware of social media platform trends, open to working in challenging spaces, and dedicated to applying technological expertise to enhance customer experience.


For such leading brands as Microsoft, Live Nation, Foot Locker, and Under Armour, Lilo creates innovative, interactive content (e.g., chatbots, micro games, Snapchat lenses, Instagram Stories) to entice viewers to engage for minutes instead of seconds—boosting engagement and building brand equity.


Startups and scale-ups need to get the next user at the most cost-efficient rate. Lilo facilitates user acquisition and e-commerce sales. In today’s environment, Lilo has found that the most scalable way to deliver maximum lifetime value to customers at the lowest acquisition cost is through Facebook and Instagram ads.


Tomorrow’s greatest social media platform? Who knows? Tomorrow’s technological innovation? Again, who knows? Technology comes in ever-evolving waves, and Bobby notes that each new iteration brings opportunities for savvy marketers able to adapt to everything new, build sophisticated assets, and stay ahead of the technology curve


Bobby can be reached on the company website at: or by email at:

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Using Risk as the Opportunity for Transformative Change

Moira Vetter, Founder and CEO of Modo Modo Agency (Atlanta, Georgia), built her company with a focus on “marketing for business people.” Modo Modo serves a B to B client base and some larger organizations with B-to-B and B-to-C challenges—leveraging value, developing story, and strengthening brands in the face of company carve-outs, acquisitions, divestitures, and reorgs—times of great potential risk—and great opportunities for transformative change.


Moira notes that companies often come to Modo Modo with what they perceive as isolated problems, e.g., “We need to improve our website.” Rather than addressing a discrete issue, Modo Modo uses a broad approach, digging for strategic objectives (not “What do you want to do?” but, “What do you want to achieve?” “What are your strategic objectives?”), analyzes options, and implements connected marketing initiatives—to produce ever-better long-term value for clients.


In this interview, Moira addresses crossroads perception (how we see our options), the relativity of risk and how it affects decision-making, and the importance of milestones as motivators. She talks about the difference between using “the community’s filter to assess risk,” falling back on your “parents’ filter,” or, at some point, developing and adopting your own filter; and then explains how assessing progress in one parameter relative to another (e.g., I am this age, and I am here in my career) can provide the needed impetus to inspire change. She illustrates this with examples from her life—when external situations collapsed her rising career trajectory, and she made subsequent decisions that led to even greater success—and with examples of marketing at-risk companies and brands, and positioning them “in a new space.”


Moira can be reached by phone at 770.436.3100, ext. 702, on the company website at:, by email at:, and on Twitter: @moiravetter and @modomodoagency.

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Relevancy: Winning the Battle for Consumer’s Time

Ron Tite, founder and CEO of Church+State (Toronto, Canada), discusses the evolution of content and advertising and how, today, a marketing problem is no longer a content problem or an advertising problem?it’s one unified problem?winning the battle for the consumer’s time. Church+State operates under the premise that every ad can be a piece of content if it is good enough, and every piece of content can be an ad if it is authentic enough.

Agencies clamoring for relevancy may define their businesses by affiliation with a (HOT!) narrow niche markets or a specific (and inherently volatile and evolving) platform (such as Facebook). Ron feels it is important to think larger and drop the “buzzwords,” since environmental/technological/legal/platform evolution issues can render a tightly-defined business model irrelevant.

Church+State has developed a consistent flexible approach and process that “elevates the conversation out of chaos,” consistently distilling and bringing focus to those client issues impacting marketing effectiveness. Ron believes the foundation of great brands?and the great people who inspire and lead those brands?is based on what they think, what they do, and what they say.

  • What they think: Mission and vision are meaningless. Finish the statement. “We believe that _____.” What is your purpose? More than product, more than transactions . . . what values do you believe are significant and important?
  • What they do: What products, services, actions, and processes justify those values and bring those values to life?
  • What they say: If you have a product that reinforces your brand belief, what is it? How do you promote it? How do you talk about it? Where do you place that promotion? Where do people go after they consume that promotion? How do we repurpose content for distribution across multiple channels?
  • And, finally, how do you ensure that whatever material you provide for customers is compelling enough that people will find it worthwhile?


Ron can be reached: @RonTite on. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, whatever. His company’s website is:

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How to Beat Your Fiercest Competitor

In this interview, David Mullen, president and partner of The Variable (Winston-Salem, NC), explains how any company can defeat its biggest competitor and drive sustainable, long-term growth. David articulates the holistic mindshift and strategies needed to develop products people want to buy, build “people-friendly” companies, and win long-lasting, loyal customers. He emphasizes the need to focus on changing:

  • Customer experience to people experience (inclusive of product developers the frontline [those interacting with customers], suppliers, influencers, stakeholders and shareholders, and customers]
  • Buying something to buying into something (shaping people’s experience at every touchpoint)
  • Positioning your company in the minds of customers to positioning your company in the lives of customers


Key strategies for building people-friendly companies include:

  • Consulting with the business:
    • analyzing business, brand, and communication strategies
    • identifying the right problems to solve
  • Creating solutions for the right problem. Solutions might include:
    • great advertising campaigns
    • rebranding an organization
    • content
    • innovation roadmaps, product concepts, and product development
  • Engaging to take solutions to market. Areas of concentration:
    • Employee engagement throughout the internal culture
    • integrated media planning and buying
    • social/PR
  • Underpinned with a foundation of Analytics to
    • understand what’s happening
    • assess the magnitude of impacts
    • identify weakest link, opportunities, and challenges, and
    • guide timely change implementation to ensure continued progress and drive growth


David can be reached on his company’s website at:, by email at:, or on LinkedIn.

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