[I hope you enjoy reading this entertaining way of telling the true story of the founder of Mendicant Marketing]
From the beginning, the journey featured unusual experiences and meeting unusual people. The experiences seemed quite random while they were being lived—but, at this time, at the midpoint, the experiences now were very clearly a series of stepping stones from one place to another.
So, it may help to soar 100 feet above the stepping stones to see the path to date—and look at where it has always been pointing. AHA! From 100 feet, the point of beginning was as far west as you could see (Oregon—then all the way across the continent to as far east as you could travel (New York). Then, there was some doubling back to refine why the journey began—and to explore what was learned and what the purpose of this journey might be.
I now know that the journey featured the three stages of learning: information, knowledge and then hopefully wisdom. The learning came from curiosity leading to opportunity combined with boldness—since in the beginning, I did not know very much. But I knew that there was much more for me to do—once I figured out what I was to do. The learning entailed four arcs of time in four wonderful worlds with wonderful people. The worlds were:
1. The world of business as where I saw why people worked and how they worked. I saw that Businesses (and even large ones) were neither good nor bad. They had one purpose for being—and that purpose was in the heart of the leader of that company. The leader could do share that vision or not. The extent to which that leader shared that vision was directly linked to the future of that business and to those people who worked there. There seemed to be a direct link between that sharing and the extent to which workers could achieve results—but, no one could explain why that worked or how that worked. This was the beginning of the journey.
2. The World of information: Since I was curious as to how results came to be, I decided to join companies that had information—one was a huge information utility and one was a huge consulting practice. I learned that there was so much information available even then that it was nearly useless! I also learned that the amount of information available was growing faster than most companies could absorb or use. Then, in the huge consulting firm, I learned how information was stored, accessed and presented to huge clients—and how clients seemed to need external perspectives to make sense of the blithering tons of data or they would be in danger of slowing, becoming less competitive and even failing. What a curious process?
3. The World of research and marketing: This stepping stone helped me realize that there was a process to the storage of data and tools that existed for wizards or high priests that could access that data. But, not everyone was allowed to access that data—so, the power of the information was controlled in ancient strongholds. And, maybe this limited access was planned and intended! So, I determined that I would not only learn the process of the storage of data and how to work with the high priests of data by working within specialized companies that had both secrets and access and process and I now know that is what we call marketing.
4. The World of technology: If marketing was a process and was limited to access, then how could I learn new keys and tools that could open the vaults of knowledge to continue my path (to wherever I seemed to be going)? So, I joined a team of wizards, high priests, craftsmen, dreamers and even former kings of companies. These persons each had learned the secrets of their worlds—and for one reason or another had left their world (or been kicked out or were too smart to be in a restricted world in the first place). They called this tiny place a think tank.
The think tank was part consulting firm (so they had large problems assigned from large clients) and part marketing firm (so that had large opportunities at the same time when the digital world began to spike and most marketers had no idea what to do—and even their regular consulting firms had no clue—so they came, one-by-one to the tiny think tank in a corner of NYC hoping to find inspiration and answers from this motley crue.
After many years of solving huge problems, the team began to realize that their world had now changed—and, their skills could allow them to create rather than serve. They could own—if they could figure out what idea was ripe and what tools could hone the idea—and what new media could spur its use and awareness to its full potential! What a grand quest we had!
But, information and knowledge are not enough. Ideas and even access to money did not equal wisdom. How to manage people was the new secret—and. I knew I had to find it!
So, what next?
The media seemed to say that the world needed new jobs. The world seemed to be saying that in history, the vast majority of new jobs were created by entrepreneurs. So, what was a true entrepreneur? And, how are jobs really created? I knew that any objective needed a plan and a process, so I knew that I had to learn the world of the entrepreneur.
But, how does an entrepreneur launch himself? Where does vision come from? How does the entrepreneur learn about his own USP? It must also come from process and perspective? So, I began to do both.
I had now travelled from west to east and back. From business to entrepreneurship. From research to marketing and from old marketing to new marketing-- from old tools like direct mail to new tools like SEO. But, who am I in this journey?
I forgot to add that along the path of information to knowledge and from knowledge to wisdom, there was another level that involved a spiritual path and the role of prayer and meditation to help refine nature tools into laser tools.
As I see the next journey to begin today from my past to my future, I can also see my USP. In high-minded language, it would be called “interdisciplinary strategic planning and market entry” with brand elasticity and open sourcing as core terms. However, in my journey and quest, it is my evolved talent for seeing a client's needs in terms of vast choices and complex decisions that need precise external perspectives to hone immediate choices, ranked and prioritized strategies with phased budgets for the tactics associated with each step for them.
My USP is my ability to see the path for the client as I have seen my path for myself. I see clear steps or connections for the client that can be planned by me as an outside consultant and even executed by me for a time and a separate budget as a craftsman.
I see and deliver connections. I choose to use my USP for my own short, middle and long term needs and goals so some clients are for cash flow and others for cash flow and participation. I prefer to see my entire new body of work in my quest as one plan and one vision so I will rank new projects and clients as new steps forward.
* == * == *
Special thanks to the many clients who have provided opportunities along the way:
- Masterfoods USA (M&M's, Pedigree, Whiskas, et al.)
- Philips Electronics, NV
- New York University
- Booz Allen Hamilton
- Christian Broadcasting Network
- The Library of Congress
- And many more...
I also want to express my sincerest appreciation and gratitude for the many "wizards" who were the best of the best in their particular disciplines who took the time to mentor me during my journey. What follows is a short description of who these great "wizards" are:
- Patrick is a nationally known new product strategic marketer who pioneered a four-step new product development process that has an unparalleled track record of new business success with 36 of 41 (80+%) new products launches being successful in 25 different product categories, generating well over $3 billion in new sales.
- Joel is a business development and marketing innovator who, for over 25 years, has created, managed and advised well over 100 major brands, direct-to-user businesses, e ventures, and customer loyalty programs. Based on Deming’s insight that “All Value Is Ultimately Derived from Customer Value,” Joel developed the relational marketing® approach to business growth, which utilizes proprietary models, processes, techniques and metrics for managing the customer as an asset. He has applied these “tools” in both B2C and B2B for product and service businesses as well as in the not-for-profit sector — for such brands as: American Express, American Medical Association, American Red Cross, AT&T, Avon, Cartesis (France), Disney, Dreyfus, Johnson & Johnson, Kodak, Kraft (Gevalia Kaffe), Metromedia, Ogilvy & Mather, Philips Electronics (Holland/USA), Procter & Gamble, Tetley, Time-Warner, Warner Bros., and Young & Rubicam.
- Naresh who is a widely published author in Marketing Research journals and has been acclaimed as one the best researchers in marketing by John Fraedrich in an article in Marketing Educator. His textbook Marketing Research: An Applied Orientation Third Edition (Prentice-Hall) has been adopted by over 100 U.S. schools at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.
- Marshall who introduced the field of semiotics while teaching at the New School for Social Research in New York City. He is an expert in communications, semiotic and ethnographic research, positioning strategy and curatorial activity.
- Bill who is the founder of a marketing, media and research consulting company to top advertisers, agencies, networks, media, entertainment and research companies. He is one of the best known and most influential media researchers of the past three decades, and has been associated with many of the innovations in media and research, including the invention of STORYFINDER, the most widely used magazine computer system. He also invented the ADI, described as the world’s most widely used marketing tool and utilized by an estimated 10,000 corporations. Bill is one of the few consultants who has worked with all three broadcast television networks, as well as with most of the cable networks.
- Jan created the Conversion Model® (CM), his breakthrough research methodology for understanding the brand commitment dynamics driving consumer loyalty. Since 1989, the Conversion Model has been applied in over 300 product categories in over 4500 projects in over 80 countries. The CM is the most widely used customer equity measure in the world, and has been or is currently used by twenty of the twenty-five most valuable brands in the world.
- Antonia is an international marketing communications specialist who is an acknowledged expert in strategic imaging. She has had a domestic and international clientele that has included such prestigious companies as the American Management Association, Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse NY, the World Gold Council, and Jones, Lang, Wootton USA. Her positioning/repositioning programs have been designed with an eye to leveraging the business performance of her clients and enhancing brand equity.
- Russell who is an internationally known computer security expert and software architect whose work has spanned computer security, software re-engineering, artificial intelligence, software optimization, and system tuning. He has worked on numerous U.S. Government classified projects and many major corporations. Russell is also the author of numerous papers and a speaker on such topics as artificial intelligence, computer security systems, virus detection and cryptography.
- Art is an acknowledged business innovator, having shaped and built the Gevalia Kaffe Import Service for Kraft/General Foods over nearly a dozen years, growing the business from a several million-dollar venture to the leading player in the field with over $200 million in sales. Art’s work in growing the Gevalia business broke new ground in the application of “Mass Customization” to direct marketing, thereby giving the consumer perceived and actual control over the ongoing relationship. Over the years, Art has developed a strong reputation for empowering organizations around a compelling vision and for putting in place the processes, people, and programs to deliver volume, share and profit goals. Among his many skills is his adeptness at turning around stalled businesses by engaging employees and strategic partners in a give-and-take, multifunctional team approach. As a resourceful, experienced team leader, Art has been especially effective in gaining co-operation in pursuit of the bold, entrepreneurial solution.
- Steve is an innovation-driven marketing leader with a track record of aggressive growth at Consumer Services firms. He has developed a unique combination of multi-category brand and customer relationship marketing skills at Fortune 50 firms. Previously as Chief Marketing Officer at AARP Services, the $10+ billion for-profit co-branded products and services subsidiary of AARP, Steve exceeded growth targets while also transforming the 50+ Product Marketing, CRM, Web, Ecommerce and Research organizations. As VP of Marketing of Medco Health Solutions, a $14 billion direct-to-consumer pharmacy, Steve drove unprecedented 40% growth. Steve’s leadership also helped double sales at Kraft Foods where he was VP, Category Business Director of the $200 million Gevalia coffee brand. Earlier Steve grew credit card accounts 1 million plus at CITIBANK and at McCann Erickson working for American Express.
- Bob is a proven senior marketing executive with major expertise in brand direct marketing and digital communications technology, founded on broad experiences in operational management and strategic planning for both Fortune 500 businesses and entrepreneurial ventures. Bob currently works with both agency and marketing clients to create new marketing models, using innovative methods to develop consumer insight, deliver highly targeted effective and efficient messages, which create measurable levels of engagement and ROI.
- David focuses on market research, competition analysis, strategic planning, media relations, and educational services. Several of his recent projects include the creation of American WebStation (SM), a system of syndicated web content and functionality designed for use by TV, radio, and cable outlets within their local markets; an in-depth qualitative study of the structure of the broadcast and cable sectors and their adoption of digital server technology, conducted for IBM; a “due diligence” examination of newsroom automation trends in television conducted for Tektronix, Inc.; and multiple consulting assignments for New York University aimed at developing a systematic distance-learning infrastructure.
- Charlie has over 30 years experience managing data processing installations in various industries. He has worked for Goldman Sachs as Vice President of Systems Operations, Barnes & Noble where he headed the Data Center and Communications facility. He is currently the President of the Largest Retail Technology Consortium in the United States with a current membership of 2,400 of the most prominent retailers in the country.