The idea of “eating your own dog food” is a literal reminder to be kind to your most valued family member (outside of your kids) whether you serve low-grade kibble or the most nutritious high-quality natural, organic food to your puppy.
I guess with your kids that would be macaroni and cheese vs. fresh broccoli.
But the concept applies to many other areas of our lives…and since this is a marketing blog, I will apply it to marketing.
“Eating your own dog food” always begins by answering this question:
How would I feel if that was fed to me?
There are many different meals involved when it comes to marketing…I will discuss four of them…resources, vendors, customer care and new ideas.
The dog food of resources
The rule of thumb for this brand of dog food is to not only take recommendations on new resources (defined as such things as new funnels, software, marketing programs) from folks you know, like and trust…but to not start giving those resources to others until you have tested them yourself with some level of success.
That is, eat, chew and digest before serving to others.
How to adapt this post to your own marketing, using all four recipes of dog food I’m talking about…that you are making, eating, chewing, digesting…and then stockpiling:
You need a perpetual warehouse of resources, vendors, customer care tips and new idea generation from the outside, not just within your own brain…more on that shortly…but you knew “relationship capital” would be part of the equation if you’ve been reading my weekly missives for any length of time. 🙂
The dog food of vendors
I’ve often said that you don’t choose your mentors, your mentors choose you.
And I’ve realized after being in business over 40 years, employing hundreds of vendors in all aspects of marketing, that you don’t choose your vendors either…they also choose you.
Stay with me on this…
My recent health scares over the past 10+ years (prostate cancer, stroke, kidney tumor) taught me something about choosing vendors i.e. choosing the right doctor or surgeon being a “critical vendor” …actually one that your life literally depends on.
How do we get to any decision about any vendor—whether it’s a printer or a surgeon—that begins with the idea of eating our own dog food?
It’s based on the research we do—never cutting corners with that research—and arriving at a decision that becomes such a no-brainer because of the hunger, passion and curiosity in the search for that perfect vendor.
And it’s also based on looking for vendors who are consistent with your values and who are congruent with how you think and work.
If you, do it right, the vendor actually chooses you…and for the long term.
Once you’ve found that surgeon who saved your life…or the printer that got your promotional mailing printed efficiently and on time…anyone who saves your life (literally or figuratively) becomes a referral for a lifetime.
Loyalty becomes a characteristic of the relationship, not a side conversation.
Throughout my career I didn’t just talk the talk of “vendors being my partners” …I walked the walk by always working towards building my vendor relationships deeper and longer rather than always looking for a better price or a better deal.
I even had a presentation I developed (after doing vendor management this way for over 20 years) that was a blueprint to how to create relationships in business for a lifetime.
In this case, vendors are training you to remain loyal while at the same time you are training them to stay with you.
That’s beyond symbiotic…it’s magic.
It’s like the most succulent baby back ribs (if you like that sort of thing)—when cooked to perfection (i.e., the “research”) …when the meat simply falls off the bone with no additional work or effort.
And the meat, in this metaphor, is not only plentiful, it regenerates on its own because the effort was done initially at the deepest level choosing each other.
Then all you need to do is eat, chew, digest, stockpile, repeat…and eventually serve that vendor up to others (but not in a cannibalistic way).
You know what I mean. 🙂
The dog food of customer care
This one has some subtleties.
Simply put, you can’t lecture on delivering world class customer service until you deliver it yourself…over a significant period of time.
The most “nutritious” (and most important) dog food you can eat to get to that elevated point is to recognize the troublemakers in your business…nurture them…until they are more satisfied than every satisfied customer.
This is not easy to do if you have a big ego or if you are stubborn or if you always need to be right.
It’s not about winning every argument…it’s more about losing most arguments to truly win.
I also call this area, “tying up loose ends on steroids.”
Or more simply, “kill them with kindness until they go from troublemaker to customer for life.”
I’ve written about this previously many times before and it’s why I devoted chapter 7 of my book Overdeliver to “customer service and fulfillment as marketing functions.”
You can read my blog post, “Marketing by walking around” for the skinny on Chapter 7.
The first step is to recognize troublemakers in your business…and to always err on the side that they are guilty of mischief even when it might not be so obvious.
Not so obvious example: Someone complains that they didn’t receive your merchandise without anything in the correspondence (email, letter, phone call) that indicates irritation.
Although it’s always good to look for signs of irritation anyway.
Obvious example: A threat to contact their state Attorney General to “solve the problem.”
Know the extremes and respond similarly to both…and everything in-between.
That way you will always be consistent with your customer care…always making sure the customer (troublemaker or not) gets satisfaction.
And don’t be pennywise and pound foolish when assessing the “cost” of each interaction with a customer.
The fact is that you really can’t tell completely how a complaint could escalate so assume they all can escalate.
Once you master this, I order you to go out to other marketers and teach it…it is your obligation…and frankly, it will give you peace–and also create peace for anyone you spread this simple brand of (gourmet) dog food.
The dog food of new ideas
This one is simpler…recommend things that have worked for you over time…and take in only those things from people who can prove that it worked for them over time.
This is the opposite of getting your advice from “consultants.”
Heed this definition of consulting as a warning:
“If you’re not part of the solution, there’s good money to be made in prolonging the problem”
This is the kibble of dog food in the area of finding and executing on your next big idea.
Anyone who tells you to do as they say but not as they do (or did), is probably worth running away from…and quickly.
Especially if they have the title “consultant.”
Now that you have the eating your own dog food concept applied to some specific areas of marketing, let me summarize how this works in the real world of accountability groups, masterminds and coaching.
I run two masterminds—one for 30 companies and one for 250 companies—and if I didn’t believe in the idea of eating my own dog food, I would be unqualified to lead these groups.
Whether it’s the most valuable resources, expert vendors, must do’s for customer care or giving the most potent and actionable advice on a new business idea, I use these masterminds to vet everything…to trust and verify…eat up as much as I can for myself…all before recommending anything to others.
This is partially about the “wisdom of the crowd,” a crowd of like-minded marketers and entrepreneurs, which gets you to consensus…but it’s more than that…because it also gives you the direction for your research…and increases the speed of the overall success trajectory of your business.
Example #1: I was looking for a Facebook media buyer. And through my experience, I knew the best-of-the-best but instead of hiring one of those companies, I went “shopping” inside my groups.
That is, instead of knocking on one of those already known and reliable doors, I looked inside my mastermind groups for worthwhile candidates (i.e., a “vendor in search of me”) …since I knew I had some of the best media buyers as members already.
The plan was to try one of them…work intimately with them…vet them…and create a new member of my “best-of-the-best” after delivering a successful case history.
After all, the company was good enough to meet the criteria to be in my mastermind group…probably because they were cooking up a type of dog food that many might be interested in learning about…so why not make myself the guinea pig for their services and start eating?
Example #2: I can write email promotional campaigns…but I know that there are world class copywriters who can obviously do it better.
When I had an opportunity to hire someone to help me with an email launch, the obvious choice (to me) was not an A-List writer from my past but rather an up-and-coming A-List writer from my mastermind.
I chose her over all others…she made me better and I made her better…creating a one-plus-one-equals- three-equation…rather than simply employing a hired gun for a lot of money.
Both work…I just like the added benefit of creating a new hired gun for others after she works as my hired gun (and superb dog food manufacturer). 🙂
I’ve got many more examples like this inside my masterminds–and all over my marketing life.
And it’s not the exception in how I find resources and vendors, give advice, or get expert feedback on any and all new ideas.
It’s the rule.
Even if you don’t have a mastermind of your own, I highly suggest you at least do this in miniature by creating small, 4-to-6-person, accountability groups, where you can go “inside” for new and delicious brands of dog food rather than assuming the most useful resources and advice are beyond your reach (and budget).
The beauty part of eating my own dog food in this way is that I eventually get equal or better results… with tremendous satisfaction by creating new opportunities for folks within my inner circle…which then pays it forward for new stars to join the already existing stars in all areas of marketing and copywriting, creating a bigger inner circle.
Now doesn’t that sound yummy?
P.S. I have not done a launch for my Titans Xcelerator Mastermind in quite a while by design…not out of laziness or complacency…but because of the increased focus I wanted to have for this extraordinary group of direct response marketers, copywriters and entrepreneurs.
Specifically, to give them everything I had over the past year…and with 250 members and a 70%+ renewal rate, that extra focus has paid off for them…and for me…and that has little to do with the registration fees.
For such an inexpensive mastermind (relative to what I deliver every month), there are dozens of stories of success, business breakthroughs and yes, serving up the best dog food I can encourage my Xcelerator family to cook up.
Which have created tons of new business opportunities for themselves and for everyone else in the group, through partnerships, affiliates, new business…equivalent to a mastermind at ten times the price.
It also has nothing to do with the price…but it has everything to do with how the group has been curated, assembled and serviced….and how they all service each other in the most profitable ways.
That’s what I am most proud of.
Why am I telling you all of this today…especially knowing that if you go to the Titans Xcelerator page it says it’s currently closed?
Because I am gearing up for a launch later this year…and the best way for you to hear about when seats open up (with an additional pre-launch discount), you should sign up on this page.
Reading about Titans Xcelerator I think you’ll agree it is the most dynamic and actionable mastermind at any price in the direct response marketing world today.
Whether you are looking for training, education, camaraderie, direction with your business or writing, coaching, advice, this is a group just for you.
Plus…at no additional charge…there will be cooking lessons on how to create different versions of your own special dog food.
With “eating lessons” too—i.e., how to digest what you cook properly. And how everyone else can properly digest everything you produce too.
And I promise that once you get through the cooking and eating gauntlet with flying colors, I’ll personally help you sell your delicacies for fun and profit.
With me as your first patron.
First step: Get on the list here.
We’ll talk about eating each other’s dog food later. 🙂