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The Dirty Little Secret of Wildly Successful Entrepreneurs
by Doug Hudiburg

In my experience, it is not hard to convince business owners and managers to focus on marketing, what *is* hard is convincing them to do first things first. Most people want to jump right into the promotional elements of marketing, such as advertising and sales, before they have done the hard work of building a solid marketing foundation.


When people look at a building, what they see from the outside is mostly just aesthetic covering. They see walls, windows, ceilings and floors. These external attributes comprise the sum total of the experience most people have with that building. The outer skin, if you will, IS the building to the vast majority of people who interact with it.

But stop to think about what makes a building truly functional.

A building has a foundation, plumbing, electricity, etc. Without these "invisible" elements the building would be of little use to anyone. The same holds true for marketing systems that are built on an unstable foundation.

Wildly successful entrepreneurs understand this principle and can apply it to their businesses and to their marketing systems.

I call it their "dirty little secret" not because the concept is inappropriate for young audiences :-) but because it means getting your hands dirty. You can't build a good foundation without getting a little dirt under your fingernails.


The work that makes marketing programs effective and profitable is the grunt work of marketing. It is the marketing equivalent of digging foundations, pounding in re-bar, and welding girders. When it comes right down to it, many marketers just don't have the stomach for it. They want to avoid the dirty work and move quickly to the glamour and glory of promotion.

I have created a conceptual model of the optimum marketing infrastructure. I'd like to share it with you here, because it helps to illustrate the idea that I am putting forth.

There are four layers to the optimum marketing infrastructure:

1) Business Foundation 
2) Marketing Foundation
3) Promotional System 
4) Promotional Activity

The efficiency of each layer is dependent upon the preceding layer. In other words, without a strong layer #1 (business foundation), it is impossible to have an effective layer #2, #3, or #4 because you will be so plagued with business problems and breakdowns, that your marketing efforts will go largely unheeded.

If any one of these elements is not functioning correctly it can completely wipe out any promotional marketing efforts that you undertake. For instance, you can write an ad that pulls like crazy and has the phone ringing off the hook, but if you staff your order desk with a rude, surly, ex drill sergeant... well, there is a breakdown in your system.

I'm not going to delve into each of the 4 layers in this article, but I would like to touch on the elements required for strength in layer #2, the marketing foundation.

If you have established a solid business foundation, then you are ready for the dirty work of forming a strong marketing foundation.

You don't have to be a genius, you just have to be willing to do the work. For those of you who are ready and willing to get your fingernails dirty, here is a list of components that make up a strong marketing foundation. What the foundation really comes down to is four things:

1) Knowing WHO your prospects are (market)

2) Differentiating your company (brand)

3) Having a product(s) that meet the needs of the market (product)

4) Having a marketing infrastructure that helps move your product to the market in exchange for appropriate payment (infrastructure).

-> Elements Of The Marketing Foundation

==> Market:

..... target market 
..... primary audience 
..... key market needs 
..... geographic definition 
..... market size 
..... growth rates
..... competition 
..... other potential markets

==> Brand

..... big idea 
..... vision 
..... values 
..... personality

==> Product

..... features 
..... name 
..... unique selling proposition
..... price 
..... packaging
..... options

==> Infrastructure

..... distribution channel 
..... part numbers 
..... support/service 
..... ordering process/system
..... policies

In future articles, I'll pick apart each of the four major components of the marketing foundation. For now, I hope that simply reviewing the list above helps you to see that these elements all contribute to the success of a any marketing program, and to see the value in doing them well.

Promotional efforts that are deployed on top of a solid marketing platform become almost effortless.

So, are you ready to get dirty?

Good luck building your marketing foundation, and until next time... I wish you effortless marketing.

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(c) 2003 Doug Hudiburg

Doug Hudiburg is the founder and editor of the Daily Marketing Ace, a free email publication and the #1 source of profitable daily marketing tips from multiple contributors.

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