Learn why marketing is the most important department in any enterprise with our guest Jeffrey J. Fox.
Our episode guest is Jeffrey J. Fox, founder of Fox & Company Marketing Consultants and author of 11 bestselling books. For more than 25 years, Jeffrey has been helping clients grow revenues and increase gross margins.
The one with Jeffrey J. Fox on how to become a better marketer
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Five things you’ll learn from this episode:
Some of the mistakes top marketers make
How to improve your marketing, storytelling, and communication skills
The four factors to sustain business success
Why customers are just “ok”
How you should price your products
“Marketing is the job that helps the company identify, attract, get, and keep customers. It’s the heart and center of an enterprise.” — Jeffrey J. Fox
“Marketing’s job is to point salespeople to where they should go and to arm them with the tools to make the sale.” — Jeffrey J. Fox
“A lot of companies think that they’re in charge of quality. They’re not. The quality is defined by the customer.” — Jeffrey J. Fox
“Customers buy for only two reasons. They buy to solve a problem or to feel good and some mix of both of them.” — Jeffrey J. Fox
If you enjoyed the episode, would you please leave us a review?
About Jeffrey J. Fox:
For over 25 years, Jeffrey J. Fox has been helping clients grow revenues and increase gross margins. Jeffrey is the founder of Fox & Company, a management consulting firm that shows clients how to dollarize their value proposition to overcome the price objection and to shorten the sales cycle. Jeffery has written 11 bestselling business books that have been translated into more than 30 languages.
Jeffrey is the author of “How to Become CEO,” which was on the New York Times, Business Week, Wall Street Journal, Knight-Ridder, and Amazon.com bestseller lists. His books have been bestsellers in France, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Russia. His book “How to Become a Rainmaker” was selected as one of the 100 best business books ever written. His book “Dollarization Discipline” was selected as one of the top 30 business books of 2005.
He is a popular speaker, appearing regularly before senior management groups and sales forces. Jeffrey is a graduate of Harvard Business School. Fox & Company is located in Chester, CT.
Presented by: ReviewMaxer, the platform for monitoring, improving and promoting online customer reviews.
- Hello, and welcome to On Top of PR, presented by ReviewMaxer. I'm your host Jason Mudd, I'm glad you're here. And you are gonna be glad you're here, because today we are interviewing Jeffrey J. Fox. One of my favorite authors of business books. And he's sharing with you today, some of the top mistakes marketers make and how to use his years of experience to improve your marketing, storytelling and communications. Know that you're gonna enjoy this episode, and when you're done listening I want to encourage you to share this episode with your team, and with your peers, and those that you spend time talking about marketing challenges and topics with. Because they're gonna be glad you shared this episode also. So here we go.
- [Narrator] Welcome to On Top of PR with Jason Mudd, presented by ReviewMaxer.
- Hello and welcome to On Top of PR, I'm your host Jason Mudd. And today I am joined by a very special guest a very special guest to me, Mr. Jeffrey, J Fox, who is an author. And I assume in non COVID times, a speaker and probably also does consulting. But my relationship with Jeff and by the way, Jeffrey, we're glad you're here, say hello.
- Hey, hello everybody.
- So, I first got connected with Jeffrey through reading several of his books. I've read every single one of them, at least once. And after I was reading a couple, I remember just thinking, you know, this guy is smart. He's shared a lot of information with me, I wanna ask him a few questions. And much to my surprise, and I was very pleased, he got right back to me via email when I asked him some questions. Gave me some candid feedback on, you know, kind of some of the things I was asking about. And then when we started this podcast, I put him on the board as somebody I would really like to have on the show. Here he is today, without any further ado, Jeffrey why don't you introduce yourself in the way you wanna be introduced, instead of the way that I have introduced you here based on my experience?
- Well, I think you did a good job. So, you know, my basic company is Fox Business Advisors and we're a marketing and management consulting company. I tend to be consigliere these days to leadership teams of our clients. And we work primarily in areas of getting them to innovate in every way, to add value to their products and to price to value. We help our clients raise prices and we help our clients educate their customers to the true value of their products. So our clients tend to price with us, they do, they price to value, they don't price to cover a cost, they don't price to market. Our clients are typically the highest priced products in their categories.
- That's a great introduction, I think you've got the attention of our audience. Our audience is mostly, you know corporate marketing leaders, corporate communicators, PR professionals working at a corporation. And as you and I talked in advance of this recording, you know, I sense that they have a lot to learn from you and from your knowledge and an expertise. So, you know, you've written some great books how to be a marketing superstar and those are, and how to be a great boss, which is probably one of my favorites, and I lend that book out often. Especially when I see somebody struggling to be, you know, a good leader or a good manager of their people. So, why don't we start there a little bit and kind of let's think about that corporate marketing department leader who has multiple employees who are performing multiple, hopefully multiple specialization functions. One of them might be in PR, one might be in social media, one might be in e-commerce or search and optimization. You know, if you, if you could be kind of the Gepetto on their shoulder, or the whisper in their ear, what kind of advice would you possibly give them today given everything going on in the world, and how they're being spread really thin?
- Well, the thing to start is that I used to be one of these guys. I used to be, I actually had a real job at one time. I was head of marketing for different companies and at the Loctite Corporation that make superglue, I was a corporate, on the board and corporate marketing and all that. So I empathize with these people. and there are, and to put it in context, there are four and only four factors to sustain business success. And they are, marketing, innovation, wise leadership and a winning culture. Now, Peter Drucker, he's not with us anymore but he said that there were two, and that was marketing and innovation. But he's wrong, it's marketing, innovation, wise leadership and a winning culture. And so the people watching this are involved in all of those, all four things, which is why marketing is the most central job in a company. It is the job that helps the company identify, attract, get and keep okay customers. And you can define okay the way you want. So marketing is the heart and center of an enterprise. And no matter what the engineers tell you, and the manufacturing people tell you and all that jazz without the getting and keeping of okay customers, there will be no manufacturing and there will be no finance and everything. So marketing is the central function of a company. And then-
- You make a good-
- And then good sales, sales is, the things that marketing covers are sales, distribution, pricing, new products, new markets, new channels, et cetera. And innovation is often driven through the marketing function or the marketing department or the marketing people as well. And innovation, I define innovation as anything new and novel to the company, and anything new and novel to industry. So, an innovation for like a client of ours, one of their innovations recently was a new phone system. Okay, for them, it was revolutionary, for the rest of the world it was probably yesterday. But that aside that's innovation. And great companies with great marketing leadership never stop innovating, ever. And so, the audience here is the most important part of business today.
- You've just reminded me of, you said it, a line that I use almost every day, which is getting and keeping customers or clients, right? And so anytime we're talking-
- Okay customers and clients. You have to define okay. Cause with the old cliche that says the customer is King but that's not true.
- They're not always King. The customer has to be okay. And you define that your way. They have the money to pay our bills, they listen to us, they wanna do business with us, they're in our trading area or whatever. So the companies define their own definition of okay, and that's very important because it leads to how really great marketers segment their audiences. There's a hundred thousand different ways of segment, but the best way is to segment customers into four categories. And that is, aware you, sophisticated okay customers, unsophisticated okay customers, sophisticated okay, and sophisticated not okay. So the classification, whether it's unsophisticated or not, is not a function of the client companies intelligence or intelligent, anything like that. It's a definition of their sophistication with whatever you're trying to sell. So if you're in the advertising business and you're trying to sell a creative and whatnot to Proctor and Gamble, trust me, they're sophisticated. And so, and they're probably okay. But you're trying to do the same thing with other companies that may be sophisticated but they may be not okay. They may not pay your, they may not pay their bills for 90 days or 120 days. So, the okayness is a very important thing. And the reason it's important is because it gets you into thinking about what business am I in, what is the purpose of this product and that kind of thing. And the marketing people are responsible for that. So it's, and you will find in the consulting business for example, if anybody here is in that or any kind of services really, that your biggest customers in terms of revenues tend to be sophisticated okay. They can, but they're sharper negotiators 'cause they're sophisticated. So you, you make higher revenues, but you don't not necessarily the best margins. Unsophisticated okay is a very good customer, they tend to be smaller in terms of revenues but because of they are unsophisticated and okay, they listen to what you say, they take your advice, they'll try your products, they will crush it. Sophisticated not okay is a customer you take with your eyes wide open. For example, people selling to, selling products to the motorcar companies, realize that they are sophisticated, but not necessarily okay. They really beat you down on price and they're terrible in terms and they're not as loyal. And then you've got the unsophisticated not okay. And these are the people, these are the companies to really shy away from because they're unsophisticated, they don't appreciate what you're offering, what you're selling, what you're doing. And because they're not okay, you're gonna end up in a lawsuit with them. And so a lot of starting companies tend to gravitate toward the unsophisticated not okay customer because they're available. But you really should focus on sophisticated and unsophisticated okay customers.
- Well Jeffrey, that's really helpful for our audience to hear. I've gotta ask you cause I'm a big fan, what book are you working on right now?
- Okay, so I'm working on a couple books and let me put it into context for our marketing audience who are responsible for new products. And, you know, there's a million different ways they rate and rank new products with stages and gates and all kinds of stuff. But the simplest way is to always have three in the refrigerator, two in the stove and one on the table. And that's what I have with my books. I have three in the three in the fridge and one is coming to the stove and hopefully be on the table next year. And that book is called Fees, F E E S. And it's how to sell professional services, very difficult to do. And it's aimed at agents and advertising people, accountants, brokers, consultants, engineers, lawyers, medical people, anybody that sells a professional service needs to know how to do that. And so that's that book Fees. I have a children's book, that is kind of a fun thing, it's called Riddle, R I D D L E. Liddle Riddle, L I D D L E, Liddle Riddle, it's a cool little book. And then I wrote a book that my agent hated, my literary agent, that was called The Table. It's great, if I don't mind saying so myself, but it's not my brand, according to her. And it's helter-skelter and she's right about that. And it's a book about the motif of the table through history, and how many different tables there are. Number single, number one piece of furniture to table. So I have it on the writing table and the, all the different tables were, and that was kind of a fun book. I'm gonna repurpose that book next year, coming up.
- Nice, well so I stand corrected, if you've written more than one children's book I guess I haven't read all of your books yet. And I certainly haven't read The Table which sounds fascinating, I'd love it.
- I'll be happy to send you those.
- Yeah, I would love that, thank you.
- book that I came out with is called Flash, The Adventures of Flash, Abandoned Potbelly Pig. And it's based on a true story, where a Potbelly pig was left on an Island and the people who were visiting as guests, probably from Minnesota or someplace, the fad F A D pet of the year was a Potbelly pig. They left Flash on the Island, they abandoned him. Abandonment and homelessness are the two biggest fears of kids since the fairytale. It's a matter And in real life, Flash got bigger and on the Island there's a little runway strip made out of grass for single propeller planes. He dug it up and he damaged some of the planes and the guy shot him twice in the head and buried him. And three days later, Flash dug himself up out of the grave, that's a true story. And upon that story, I wrote the fairy tale The Adventures of Flash. I will send you a copy.
- Yeah, that sounds interesting, that sounds very interesting. Well, again, credit to you in my career and at my companies, you know, I've really borrowed a lot from you about how to be a great boss. You know, how to, you know talk about value and focus on value, how to sell, you know selling is everything we do. You mentioned a lot of the professional services companies earlier like architects and engineers, medical doctors, et cetera. And, you know, I believe you and I would subscribe to the same concept that everybody is in sales in some capacity or another. The surgeon that's about to perform surgery on you is convincing you they know what they're doing and they have a higher success rate or, you know, that to follow the advice they're giving you. The engineer has a job of selling the government entity that this bridge is gonna be safe and people are gonna be able to travel over it. And so I think a lot of times we in marketing, we think, oh, no, I'm in marketing, I'm not in sales. But a really good definition I heard recently is that marketing's job is to make sales easier.
- Right, marketing's job is to point salespeople to where they should go, and to arm them with the tools to make the sale. that might be a highly qualified lead, it might be the price to value argument, it could be things to show. It's marketing's job to lead sales, and it's a sales manager's job to whip them with a horse whip. So they run and they're the ying and the yang, they're together. But sales is a sub section of marketing, and I wrote it. So I've written two books on that, one How To Become A Rainmaker, which is about selling and then How To Become A Marketing Superstar. Now, the interesting thing, and my book How To Become A Rainmaker was picked as one of the a hundred top or whatever. I immediately called the organization up and said how come you didn't pick my other 12 as well? But that aside, How To Become A Marketing Superstar is probably my best book in terms of content. But, which is an interesting kind of weirdness, a lot of marketing people already think they're superstars. And so they tend not to use the ideas that are in that book to their peril. And if we want, we can talk, cause this your audience, we can talk about a number of things. Common mistakes that marketers make every single day and should not, they're fixable mistakes.
- Lets do that right after we go to this quick break, 'cause I think that would be a topic that everybody will wanna hear. Before we go to break, I wanna say thank you to our presenting sponsor ReviewMaxer and all of their support in helping us get this vodcast out there for everybody to hear. If you haven't checked out ReviewMaxer go to reviewmaxor.com. It will help you monitor, manage and improve your online customer reviews. And with that, we'll be right back.
- [Announcer] You listening to On Top of PR with your host, Jason Mudd. Jason is a trusted advisor to some of America's most admired and fastest growing brands. He is the Managing partner at Axia Public Relations, a PR agency that guides news, social and web strategies for national companies. And now, back to the show.
- Welcome back, everybody, we are glad you're here. I hope you're glad to be here. We are joined by Jeffrey J. Fox, again, as I said earlier, one of my favorite authors someone who I've read many times, and he's sharing a lot of grapes here, of advice and knowledge. Hopefully you're not trying to take them all in at once and apply them all at once at your organization. But I'll tell you the more you invest in what he's sharing, the happier you will be and your leadership team will be. As well as your employees, I mentioned earlier because he's written a great book on how to be a great boss. And it's taught me a lot about doing that. We've been fortunate to win several awards as a great place to work. We were fortunate to go 63 months with zero turnover at our PR agency. And again, I think a lot of that has to do with just learning from you and your writing. So we're so glad you're here. We, when we went into the break, you were teeing up how marketing people tend to think they're superstars and they make a series of mistakes. You are speaking to marketers now, they can't throw tomatoes at you. So let's jump in and let's learn how to be better and how to get, you know, better every day.
- Well, I'll start again saying that marketing is the central and most important function in any enterprise because they, marketing people regardless of their title, get and keep customers, and okay customers, and so that's critical. But there are so many mistakes that marketing people make and, you know I guess anybody can be a marketing person depending on how they wanna title themselves, but little things. But millions of times a day, a mistake, and that is putting the telephone number of your company on your trucks. Why? nobody's gonna, the only time people take down your telephone numbers is if the truck ran them off the road. And so with today, they should put a town, or something that someone can remember and can Google and look you up. So putting your telephone numbers on the side of a truck is a mistake, it's a waste. Another big mistake that's common, is marketers, advertising and communicating on their website and their advertising everything else in the first person, I, we, us. When it's about I and us and we, you lose, when it's about the customer i.e you or in the third person objector, then you win. No one cares what you think. So when you look at someone's website said, we are great, well, no you're not. You are great Mr. Customer. And here's why you should buy this product or invest in this and so forth. So that's a common mistake. The one that drives me crazy and drives my wife crazy 'cause I make a comment every night, how we do commercials and Superbowl commercials and all that stuff. How many commercials, you watch this now, you'll see this. Where because the brand name is an inconvenience for the advertising people, for the creative people, gets in the way. So they'll do this wonderful creative piece and at the end you could put Fox and company on there, Fox Business Advisors. You could put anybody's company at the end of the commercial because they never told you the brand name, or told you why, to buy to invest. So that advertising is very creative, but it's a waste because it doesn't build the brand, very common mistake. The companies that manage the brand names well are like Smuckers, you know, with a name like Smuckers, you have to be great. That's excellent advertising, excellent. 'Cause they didn't hide from their inconvenient branding, that's a mistake. I'll tell you another common mistake, is people to put their brand names as an acronym, you know, okay, IBM it's been around a hundred years. So people might know it's International Business Machines. And GE has been around since 1860s and GE General Electric. Okay. But not every other company. If you have the name of your company, say it state it, don't hide it under an acronym. It's hard enough to understand a brand when it's not an acronym. Another common mistake is quality. A lot of companies think that they're in charge of quality, they're not. The quality is defined by the customer. The customer defines quality, take queen Elizabeth, let's say she's having a picnic in the backyard for great-grandchildren, for her case probably great, great, great, great grandchildren. And they have a picnic, and they have plastic knives and forks it's perfectly okay. That particular quality plastic fork, that night she has a dinner for a visiting dignitaries and she has gold or Sterling silver cutlery, that's quality. So it depends, everybody's quality definition changes, and you have to know what your customer's definition of quality is. And then you have to make the next mistake. I believe that many companies make, is they don't price to value. They don't understand the quality. What is the benefit of that quality to a customer? And therefore, what is the, what is the how do you price that? So customers buy for only two reasons. They buy to solve a problem or to feel good, and in some calculus of both of them. Now business, the business buyers, they buy 85% on the problem solving the value of the solved problem and maybe 15% on the feel good. And they feel good because they know your company they know your brand name they've done business with you in the past. But the problem only manifests itself a million different ways, but there's only three problems the product solve, and that's the cut or eliminate current costs. They increase the customer's gross margin revenues not necessarily the top revenues, and three they help them avoid preventable catastrophic events in the future. All three of those have a dollar value, which is why they should be dollarizing that, which is less than five. They don't dollarize the value of their products. Instead they price to a competitor, or they... I was just reading before this podcast today, somebody in Inc magazine was talking about pricing and he's talking about how he cut his prices. And he gave a dumb reason, diversity, inclusion. So whatever. He doesn't understand his value, you don't price to that, you price to the value that customer's gonna get. The customer invests money and they expect an ROI on that money. And even feel products like a woman buying a beautiful scarf or a blouse, she does it to feel good. So the calculus there is higher on the emotional side of that purchase. Again, the marketers look people in this audience, they know that, but a lot don't.
- That's very good. It's interesting you know, I always love the subject subjectivity of marketing. And so for example, I'm with you a hundred percent on you know, companies spend a lot of money over spend arguably on paid media, television commercials or whatever or billboards where you can't even tell who the sponsor is, who the advertiser is or you don't recall who they are later. And therefore people don't know who you are, They're not aware of your brand, they can't do business with you. I was reading an article recently that just talked about the calling of the public relations and marketing business is results, not creativity. And so often we get focused on the creativity. I also agree with you on the idea of always put your customer in the spotlight, make them the star or the subject of your messaging, as opposed to you. And sometimes that's just as easy as turning it around and making the other way, you know, instead of we help companies do X, Y and Z. Say your company will benefit from X, Y and Z or whatever, that takes a little bit more work and thought. But people are selfish, they don't care and they don't have time, and so they're not gonna read through your whole report. Where I might disagree with you about is the phone number on a vehicle just because people have mobile phones now. What is my pet peeve is when I see people put social media icons on their vehicles.
- It's the same thing here. Look, I don't talk about this stuff as if I'm just pulling out of the air, I've probably interviewed a million customers.
- And I mean, I'll give an example myself. I went to my mother, I wanted to have her chimney cleaned, all right? And this truck went by and it was a cool looking truck. It looked chimney sweep truck and had the old type of Abraham Lincoln hat on and everything. In 5:03, it pulled off and it was gone.
- If you see, and if it's in this audience you have a piece of sales literature, or a website or an ad that has we in it, it's a mistake.
- I love that. I'm gonna borrow that actually because I'm training my clients and my team about that all the time. We talk about it openly all the time, I think we've done a solo cast about this in the past where we will be releasing one soon. But those are great, that's great advice.
- The only time brand we works, I think it's a yogurt. O U I, oui for yes in French. We is not a brand name.
- Yeah, that's good. Very good. Yeah, well, we are quickly running out of time. Did you, if somebody I know our audience is gonna love this episode. They're gonna love getting to know you if they're not already familiar with you, and if they're already familiar with you, I think they're gonna enjoy this kind of intimate conversation we're having together. But if somebody wanted to get in touch with you and connect with you, what's the preferred way for them to do that?
- Well, I have, we have, the probably the easiest way is our website, I guess. I haven't looked at it in a long time, it's ridiculous. But my email address is jfox@foxandcompany all written out F O X A N D C O M P A N Y.com, that's the easiest way. And you know, people do the LinkedIn thing and stuff like that, but I really think it's more, it's better to do it directly to me. You know what's interesting is that, you know, my books are probably, there's probably 225, 250 foreign editions, international editions. And they're all published in the language of the country, and they're countries I've never heard of. They're many of them. because some of the countries are part of the old United Kingdom and you know, random house my publisher there, they publish in these islands down there, you know Fiji and places that are sovereign nations. You wouldn't know it. But the coolest thing is I get letters every week that are in Russian or Chinese, Sumeric and Arabic. And they think I'm supposed to be able to read them.
- I can't. So I write back in English, please write in English. I hear from the guys from Turkey, but no one else.
- Well the good thing is there's like Google translate, so hopefully they figured that out and use it to do that with the internet. The Internet is so powerful-
- well you know when I write my books, I use a lot of Americanisms, I do it on purpose, I don't care. Like baseball, I remember when we were talking about it. We referred to baseball and knew they'll really have a hard time, like in France. Trying to translate an American, but I just put it in any way, so its-
- Thank you again for sharing, we're really glad you were part of this today. And I'm looking forward to just continuing our relationship and wish you and your family well, and much success in your next books. And I hope that we can continue staying in touch.
- I'm game anytime.
- Thank you Jeffrey, it was a real pleasure.
- You're welcome.
- [Announcer] This has been On Top of PR with Jason Mudd, presented by ReviewMaxer.