Create an Active Marketing Account

How to create an “Active” marketing plan

Much like it is with exercise, business owners often have high minded and grandiose plans when it comes to marketing.  The trouble comes with putting those plans into action and staying active about seeing the plan through to the finish.  

Running every day for a week or two doesn't do much in the long run to improve your health.  To see any noticeable results you must stick with it and make it a part of your daily life.  Marketing your business works the same way...  The longer you work at it, the easier it gets and the results begin to payoff.


Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint!

Brand recognition, building customer's trust and conveying the correct brand message requires dedication and a well laid plan (one that doesn't go awry!). 

 Fortunately for you, marketing is one race you don't have to run alone.  Add the "active" element to your businesses marketing plan with an Active Marketing Account. 

All your Marketing,  One source, One price.™ 

An Active Marketing Account with Jacob Cane & Co. allows for a great deal of flexibility in your marketing plans!

You can focus on running your business while we do the heavy lifting on the marketing campaign.  Our system streamlines the marketing process and focuses on quality lead generation with sales tracking reports at your fingertips.  

We begin by determining your current marketing health, then perform a full evaluation of how it can be improved.  We then develop a plan, put it into action and never stop running until we both reach our goals.

Active Marketing Account


Jacob Cane & Co - Competitive Advantage

How to create a competitive advantage.

In an earlier article 9 proven principles to build the business you’ve always wanted, principle number three was ‘Advantage’ which outlined the importance of Competitive Advantage.

3. Advantage.  You must have a moat.  Do you have a competitive advantage?  What is it that makes your idea for a company better then anyone else’s?  To be successful in a competitive market place you must have a moat.  An aspect of your company, product or service that a competitor can’t duplicate.  This can exist in many forms.   It could take the form of a patent, which prevents competitors from coping your design.  It may be the brand you have built (think Coke, Harley-Davidson), which people believe is the best of breed – you can only get this here.  There has to be some type of advantage that protects you in the same way a moat protects a castle.

In business, I look for economic castles protected by unbreachable ‘moats‘.” -Warren Buffett.

Once this is established, always be mindful of the possible invention of flight – the moat has worked great, until the air-raid bombing campaign begins.  Meaning, don’t lose sight of the many ways a competitor can storm your castle.

 This article is the first in a series that will provide more detail on each of the nine principles and how they can actually be applied to improve your business.

Let’s start with the definition of competitive advantage from our friends at

“An advantage that a firm has over its competitors, allowing it to generate greater sales or margins and/or retain more customers than its competition. There can be many types of competitive advantages including the firm’s cost structure, product offerings, distribution network and customer support.”
Source –

Examining this definition in sections and  then later in the article discussing the two different types of competitive advantage we will provide some insight on how to create competitive advantage.

Allowing it [Business] to generate greater sales – Looking at the first part of the definition,  how can we use that to create an advantage?

Factors of your business that allows it to generate more sales:

  1. Create a recognizable brand so potential customers are already familiar with your brand before you approach them to purchase.
  2. Create a marketing campaign that builds the brand and promotes the product/service.
  3. Build trust within your brand based on the consistency and quality of your product/service.
  4. Retain more customers through an active inbound and content marketing strategy that keeps your customer engages with your company (a following).
  5. Streamline and improve your production/delivery process to ensure a smooth transaction for each sale.
  6. Trained and knowledgeable sales personal that produce high sales.
  7. Create a following that is loyal to your brand which become brand evangelist!

Sales Margins – In my option one of the most over looked areas of sales for a small business is sales margins.  You could do everything listed above and still not have a completive advantage if you ignore sales margins.  It would actually be very difficult to do many of the items without first addressing margins.    In many cases the sales margin is not know by a business owner.  We are all guilty of this from time to time, we may have figured a rough idea of our “profit” but have still not determined the sales margins for our business.  More goes into the equation to determine an actual sales margin or gross profit margins as it is often called then what most people consider.

To determine the actual sales margin we need to measure how much of every dollar in sales stays with the company as gross profit after accounting for the cost of the items sold.  Their are many factors that can go into this calculation; overhead cost (lease payments, utilities, equipment life span), employee wage cost, material cost, shipping/delivery, just to name a few.  All of this can be determined by performing a Cost of Goods Sold Study (CGSS).  Having a CGSS performed will provide a detailed report of every aspect of your business right down to the time it takes  for an employee to complete a job.   This study can also determine which products/services have the highest profit margin within the company, having this information allows you to focus on sales for this product/service.

Analysis, Strategy, Planning & Growth

Why is the sales margin so important?

By comparing two companies, both of which are in the same city, selling the same product for roughly the same price, we can illustrate the importance of margins.  Both companies sell their product for $100, they both have an office, warehouse and have employed a sales force that facilities the sale of the products.

Company A has calculated their sales margin at 20%, they’re making a profit and are happy.  Company A figures that since both companies are selling products at the same price, they are competing with Company B and will soon win the market share of the business.

A year goes by and Company B lowers their price by 20% as a spring special and it never goes back up, which means they are now selling the product at the same price as the Cost of Goods Sold for Company A.  Over the next year Company A struggles to compete, after lowering their price by 15% to stay within range, they are barely getting by on a 5% sales margin.  They have lowered cost, cut employees, slashed spending, but nothing is helping.  In the end Company A goes out of business.  What went wrong?

Turns out Company B was operating off of a 50% sales margin and putting all the extra profits back into the company to streamline operations, pay off debt, systemize their process and reduce their cost by purchasing materials in bulk.

Company B owned the warehouse they where using and also rented out part of it to other companies making it profitable.  Company A rented warehouse space.  Company B used part of the warehouse they owned as their office.  Company A was renting a nice space downtown that they couldn’t afford.  Company A was paying their sales force a lower wage with a commission structure setup which increased with every sale and provided bonus incentive for top performers.  Company A was paying a high fixed wage with low commissions and no bonus, their cost stayed the same regardless of sales.  Company B used their profits from increased sales margins to pay for professional branding and marketing services that made their product a household name in the area.  Company A setup their own website and hired people to pass out flyers.

On the surface it seemed like Company A was competing, but under closer examination, they weren’t even playing the same game.

Earlier I mentioned that there are two main types of competitive advantages.  The above illustration is an example of comparative advantage.  Comparative advantage, or cost advantage, is a company’s ability to produce products or provide services at a lower cost than its competitors, which gives the business the ability to sell at a lower price while still generate a larger margin on sales [think Walmart].

The second type is called a differential advantage which is created when products or services of a business differ from its competitors and are seen as better than a competitor’s products by customers.

Focus on this part of the second type, ‘are seen as betterby customers.  Their are two ways this can be done, one, create a better product or service.  I believe that most business owners are always trying to improve their products and services.  They may not know the best way to go about doing this, but they are trying to produce better products/services or they wouldn’t be in business for long.  How to creating better products/services is company and industry specific, so we won’t address that in this article.  Instead lets see what we can do from a marketing stand point that can be applied to all companies and industries.

In business, I look for economic castles protected by unbreachable ‘moats‘.” -Warren Buffett.

Let’s look at this in a different way, the phase “are seen as better is a perception, not a fact.  It is the perception of the customer that the service/product is better, a perception can be created!  This perception can be created with a brand moat, your marketing campaign creates a perception of your company for good or bad.  To create a brand moat you must do more then just advertise your product/service, you have to create a following, a brand that stands for something greater then the product it’s self.  Once this is accomplished you will achieve something that is worth it’s weight in gold.. brand evangelist.  Creating brand evangelist or using evangelist marketing is an advanced form of word-of-mouth marketing in which companies develop customers who believe so strongly in a particular product/service that they freely try to convince others to buy and use the product. The customers become voluntary advocates, actively spreading the word on behalf of the company.

“Achieve something that is worth it’s weight in gold.. brand evangelist” – Jacob Cane

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 1.28.08 PMTheir are many examples of a brand moat.  One of the best example of this type of marketing is Harley Davidson.  Their brand stands for something, it has a following and the customers that purchase their product would almost consider it a sin to ride anything else.  It stands for being free, independent, rough, tough and against the fray.. but you already know this because of successful marketing.  They have a loyal following that are so dedicated to the brand that they will not only purchase the product, they will wear advertising that they purchase while using the product [riding].  If we could all be so lucky!

This loyalty or perception of the brand was created and now their product are seen as better by their customers.  You can create this same type of loyalty and perception for your brand on a local or national level.  This is done through a detailed, planned and carefully executed marketing strategy.

lafayette marketing jacob cane Amplified and Validated Marketing



Freelance vs Consultant – Learn the difference and provide better service

Within the field of marketing and business consulting, the different specialties primarily break down into four areas.  As a freelancer you normally have to focus on one area and come an expert in this area.

What is your focus?

  1. Marketing & Design  *
  2. Content, Copy & Editing  #
  3. Programming & Development  </>
  4. Management, Accounting & Finance  $



As a freelance talent you are limited to your own knowledge and skill.  If a client wants something out of your skill set, you refer them out and potentially lose future business.  Income is limited by the number of hours you can work and invoice.  It can be harder to bid large projects because customers view you as a person and not a company.  In addition there may be areas of the project that are outside your area of expertise, which can result in becoming overwhelmed or stress to field people to complete those parts of the project.


Talent and knowledge is limitless.  If a client wants something out of your skill set, you make a commission.  Income is limitless and becomes residual based on future engagements with the client.  You can bid large projects with ease and support knowing the responsibility will be shared by the team.


Consulting as a team


As a consultant you have the opportunity to operate as one firm, giving each other support and coaching.

  • Consultants hold each other accountable and adhere to the Standards, Values and Practices of the Firm.
  • Continually work towards building meaningful and lasting relationships with the client.
  • Put the clients’ interest above their own interest and deliver more value than the client expects.
  • Keep client services within the firm and earn commissions for jobs sold and receive work from the other focuses.

When you are Branded as one firm, you can give more to your clients offering all the services and expertise of the firm.

This model allows the client to build trust within the firm and with the consultant resulting in more services being purchased.  When a client needs a service from one of the other focus areas, the business stays within the firm and you as the consultant remain his primary contact for all services provided.


Learn how to become a consultant

Jacob Cane & Co. | Careers

9 proven principles to build the business you’ve always wanted.

9 proven principles to build the business you’ve always wanted.

Share with friends:

Plan your business around how you want it to be, not for how it is now.  A business is built, like our life, for better or worse by our own thoughts put into action.  

I have owned a poorly conceived business, a business that trapped me as though it was a dead-end job. I have also developed a great business after following these steps, which are based on what I have learned on this entrepreneur journey to build the business I’ve always wanted.

1. Core.

You - At the core of any great business you will find one person who had the idea to create something unique and remarkable that they believe is better than what is currently available in the market place.  Are you ready to be that person?  Are you mentally prepared to take on the challenges that will soon weigh on you as the center of your business?

What maintains one vice would bring up two children – or build a business

We all have our vices, shortcomings and stumbling blocks, its different for each person.  Have you learned to control or overcome these areas of your life?  What maintains one vice would bring up two children – or build a business. Maybe you shop too much, spend too much, or you tried to quit smoking and couldn’t, this money could be going to help you build your business.  Or you like to go out when you should be working.  A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two different things – laziness is leisure prior to your work being completed.  This isn’t to say you can’t have fun or relax, as long as work is your priority and the time when you should be working is reserved for this purpose.

 "The first and most seductive, and the destroyer of most young men, is the drinking of liquor. I am no temperance lecturer in disguise, but a man who knows and tells you what observation has proved to him, and I say to you that you are more likely to fail in your career from acquiring the habit of drinking liquor than from any, or all, the other temptations likely to assail you." - Andrew Carnegie, The Road To Business Success

If you haven’t put yourself in check and overcome these areas of your life that tempt your resolve, you will not have a stable foundation on which to build a successful business.  You have to become the core, both as an example to your employees and clients of what is possible, but also using this centered strength to make it through the challenges of owning a business.

Examine yourself and determine those things in your life that are holding you back, a true assessment, without the excuses.  Fix these things first, only then are you ready to put your thoughts into action to develop your business.

..a true assessment, without the excuses.

2. Vision.

Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.  Much of what we do or become in life is based on what we believe we are capable of doing.  You first have to have a vision of what you want your business to become, start with the end in mind.  It is important to have this vision fixed in your mind while you’re dealing with the daily functions of making it happen. 

Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.

Have you ever started a project or business and at some point said “this is not how it was supposed to be”?  This vision is what keeps you on target and guides your way to making it a reality.  A business without a guiding vision is lost before it even begins.  I am not referring to a “mission statement”, I am talking about the vision that keeps you up at night, the “idea” that popped into your head that started you down this path.  Preserve it, write it down, staple it to your forehead, whatever it takes to make you never forget.

Start with the end in mind.

3. Advantage.

You must have a moat.  Do you have a competitive advantage?  What is it that makes your idea for a company better then anyone else’s?  To be successful in a competitive market place you must have a moat.  An aspect of your company, product or service that a competitor can’t duplicate.  This can exist in many forms.   It could take the form of a patent, which prevents competitors from coping your design.  It may be the brand you have built (think Coke, Harley-Davidson), which people believe is the best of breed – you can only get this here.  There has to be some type of advantage that protects you in the same way a moat protects a castle.

In business, I look for economic castles protected by unbreachable 'moats'.” -Warren Buffett.

Once this is established, always be mindful of the possible invention of flight – the moat has worked great, until the air-raid bombing campaign begins.  Meaning, don’t lose sight of the many ways a competitor can storm your castle.

4. Planning.

Plan your business around how you want it to be, not for how it is now.  Planning for growth and the size or nature of the type of company you want to build should always be your focus.  Planning can take many different forms, it can be based around who you hire or where you locate an office.  Example, is the person you hired to load a few trucks qualified to supervise your future warehouse?  If not will you offer a training program that makes this possible?  Because if that person stays onboard, two years from now, they will know more about your distribution center then the guy you just hired as his new boss.

Strategic planning consists of evaluating a business to determine its current position based on the vision of what it is meant to become.  A vision to open a bakery and offer the best bread in town is very different then a vision to offer the best bread to the county as a whole.  They may start with the same recipe, but will require very different plans to put the vision into action.

Two Bakeries - They may start with the same recipe, but will require very different plans to put the vision into action.

5. Work.

If you are to be your own Master be ashamed to find yourself idol.

Working for yourself or starting your own company requires a discipline like no other.  No one is forcing you to get up on time or be anywhere at a set time other than meetings and schedules you set for yourself.  Guarding your time from friends and family can prove more difficult because you get to decide when and where you work.  This freedom comes with a cost; a reasonability to manage your time efficiently.  If you are to be your own Master be ashamed to find yourself idol.

You have to be willing to do the things you don’t want to do.  “Why are successful men able to do things they don't like to do while failures are not?  Because successful men have a purpose strong enough to make them form the habit of doing things they don't like to do in order to accomplish the purpose they want to accomplish.” - The Common Denominator of Success

Be willing to do the things you don’t want to do.

Ideas on how to move forward often come from the process itself; don’t wait on the sidelines for inspiration.  Jump and grow wings on the way down.  This means you may not have the right answer, but it will be developed as you move forward with the process of developing the company.  An important balance is to be maintained between focusing on the plan to achieve your vision, while still keeping an open mind on ways to get there.  This involves a lot of research, trial and error, hard work and determination to move forward after a setback or work without instruction other than your own. 

Remember, those who will not be counseled, cannot be helped.  Know when you have reached your limit of knowledge and take advise from those experienced in the field.  In doing so, don’t take advise from a brick maker about fine jewels or vise versa. 

6. Selling.

Active Marketing Account by Jacob Cane & Co.Build it and they will come doesn’t work for most business models.  The question you have to answer is how exactly are you going to get people to walk though your door and purchase what you are selling?  What’s the hook that is going to make them come to you over your competition?  This question gets overlooked and easily dismissed with phrases like “better customer service” and “lower prices”.  Both are meaningful in their own right, but they are not a formulated plan on how you are going to market your products and services with any meaningful impact on the consumer.  Are you going to cold call potential clients, buy TV commercials, send girls around town on roller-skates – what’s the plan?  Will you do any focus group research (even if its just with friends and family at the very least) before spending thousands of dollars advertising? 

Build a brand, test your product, get feedback, adapt and make changes prior to the outlay of expenses.  

The reason so many business owners fail to effectively use their marketing dollars is because the message and the method is fragmented and scattered. – Jacob Cane

7. Systemization.

Every aspect of the process and procedure to complete needed tasks should be documented.  Once documented, these processes should be setup in easy to follow guides for each position in the company.  This may seem boring and tedious, or a bit too much like the faceless businessman wearing a bowler hat.  If you want your company to have any real value, it is necessary.  Think of it this way, if the company were to be sold in the future, what would they be buying?  They can’t buy your brain or the knowledge in it unless it is documented and in a usable format for others to follow.  

If the company were to be sold in the future, what would they be buying?  

These procedures MUST be open for review and revision at all times, so that they can be improved upon.  This doesn’t mean they can be ignored, but there should be a process that allows them to change and improve as new techniques develop.  The last dying words of a company are often we have always done it that wayyyyy!

The other aspect of systemization has to do with automation of any and all processes within the company to which it can be applied.  FedEx or Wal-Mart is the best example of this type of innovation.  

FedEx isn’t successful because they have the most planes or the fastest trucks; they have to go the speed limit just like everyone else.  FedEx is successful because they automated the process of delivering a package on time that can be tracked at any point in the process.  The systemization of the delivery business is their competitive moat.

The last dying words of a company are often we have always done it that wayyyyy

Wal-Mart isn’t successful because people love to shop there or because they have great customer service, normally you can’t even find an employee.  Wal-Mart is successful because they systemized the process of inventory management to ensure that millions of products get to the right store when they are needed for customers to purchase.

8. Scale.

The process and methods you are using now; would it work if you had one hundred times more clients, employees, or space?  The vision you have and the systems you create need to be scalable.  Automating a process is one thing, but creating a process that can sustain growth is quite another and important to take into consideration. 

The vision you have and the systems you create need to be scalable.

Example, you are certainly having customers register for an event on a paper registration form and then paying an employee to enter the data into a database that tracks the number attending.  This information is then used to determine a number of factors for the event.  Currently you are only managing one event at one venue.  What would be the bottleneck in the system if you expanded to ten cities with a total of fifty venues averaging ten thousand attendees per event?  You have a system setup that is dependent on a few people entering the information for half a million people!  Your system is now broken.  What if the registration was being done online and being entered directly into the database or entered by the attendee on a tablet at an informational booth.  Either of these solutions would have eliminated the bottleneck.  Consider “what if” scenarios when setting up your systems. 

Consider “what if” scenarios when setting up your systems.

9. Sustainable.

A test of any good company is what happens if you, the owner is gone.  Have you built a company or a job?  This doesn’t apply to professional service companies where the talent and their billable hours is the product.  In this case, have you built a business or a practice that would allow another professional to take your place?  Or have you cocooned yourself into every aspect of the company?

Have you built a company or a job?

All of these steps build on the idea that you are creating a business from a vision, based on a plan that is systemized with scalable automation built by hard work, all of which is sustainable.  For this to be true, the company has to be able to exist without you at some point.  Include this in your plans, along with the rest of the steps and you will have built the company you have always wanted.

Core Vision Advantage Planning Work Selling Systemization Scale & Sustainable

Quotes from many sources: The Way to Wealth -by Benjamin Franklin, The Road to Business Success -by Andrew Carnegie, Henny Ford, Warren Buffett, Ray Bradbury. Inspiration from Robert Kiyosaki, Napoleon Hill

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1 other subscriber


8 areas where promoting a consistent brand message is a must

What is a brand? It is your identity, it is how the customer identifies your company and makes a destination between you and other providers.

Brand confusion equals less identity, less identity equals less customers.

Being consistent with a message about your brand builds trust.

  1. What are we promoting?
  2. What is the service or product that our brand represents?
  3. Is this clear in your brand message?

These are the questions that will need to be addressed to promote a consistent brand message.

Some companies have already created a successful message behind their brand, that is why we can look at an icon with no words around it and know the company.

knownlogos_04 knownlogos_03 knownlogos_02 knownlogos_01

builtfordtoughAnother example, in Ford’s truck campaign over the years, they have continually pushed the message “Built Ford Tough”.  They build trucks and your truck needs to be tough to get the job done, just like a man (which is the primary market for their trucks). A very well designed and executed brand message.

Marketers are acting in ways that are diluting brands instead of building them. They’re relying too heavily on promotional programs. Manufacturers have shifted money away from brand building and into price-oriented promotions, like coupons and giveaways, that make distributors happy. The more you focus buyers on deals, the more you distract them from your brand. – Brand Confusion, Harvard Business Review,

Now lets look at the places where promoting a consistent message is a must.

  1. Twitter / Twitter background – Everyone knows that Twitter is everywhere and the most popular trend in advertising and communication. While watching the Superbowl I noticed an amazing transformation happening.  At the end of the commercial you didn’t see a company website or even the old “like us on Facebook” under the brand name.  It had all been replaced with a hashtag.  A company that paid up to $4 million dollars for an ad is telling you the customer to go to Twitter.  Amazingly this makes Twitter the true winner of the game.
    • Create a company account to promote your brand and have a separate personal account for talking to friends and family.  Don’t confuse the two.  It dilutes your brand message.
    • Create original content and effectively use content marketing to promote your brand, linking your Twitter back to your website.
    • Have a professional custom Twitter background created for your twitter account that promotes your brand message. The more places your message is seen the better, so long as the message is consistent.
  2. LinkedIn – I consider LinkedIn the Facebook for professionals. It has almost replaced the need for a resume and acts as an interactive and updatable business card, along with the ability to communicate directly with the leaders and owners of companies without dealing with the gate keepers.
    • Keep your company information up-to-date, and change it when needed to reflex your current brand message.
    • Supply visitors with enough information to learn about your company and services. Once a customer gets to this point they have already clicked on a few links to get to your LinkedIn page. They want to know more about you or your services, make it clear and easy to follow, not just a long boring resume.
    • Provide them with information they don’t already know about you or your company, so they will discover your brand as a customer and learn to trust.
  3. Google+ page – This is more then just contact information and it is often the very first place a customer comes in contact with your company after completing a search. Within 6 months time Google has been able to move into the top four spots for share buttons (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn & and now Google+) and users.
    • 1M+Business and brand pages created in the first 6 months.
    • 300M+ Active Google+ users in the stream.
    • It ties in with Google Adwords and increases your placement within Google search results.
    • If you have one, you can also connect your YouTube channel to your Google+ page.
    • Google+ will continue to grow and become more interactive and useful to brands.
  4. Company website – obviously right? As much time and energy goes into your website you would automatically assume that it is promoting your brand. But how many websites have you been on where you get confused, frustrated or bored and just clicked off to another page (This would never happen to my site so keep reading!  The most important way to promote your brand is still to come!)
    • Leave Quick or Stay Long is a decision every visitor makes based on content contained in your website. Not only is it important for the message to be consistent but more importantly concise and clear. To read more about how long people stay on a website and why read How Long Do Users Stay on Web Pages? – by Nielsen Norman Group
    • Keep the choices/links on your home page consistent with your message, if need then have sub categories within those links. If a customer lands on your main page they should have a clear message of what you can do for them.
  5. Traditional media (Brochures, business cards, television, radio). – Even though everything is digital now, print media, television and radio ads still have their place and are an important part of any marketing campaign. Make sure that your traditional media matches and is consistent with your digital media.
    • Launching a marketing campaign that promotes your brand and your companies message online and at the same time promoting your brand in print and on the air makes the overall campaign larger and more effective.
  6. Employees – With all of the ways we can promote our business and brands online we often forget that this all comes back to people. The people that work for us, with us and purchase products or services from us.
    • Teach your employees how to talk about what they do and what the company does in a way that promotes a consistent brand message.
    • An employee can say, “I am a researcher at xyz company” or “I help create solutions for our clients when they need X done at xyz company”.
  7. Your personal message – How you personally talk about your company’s products and services.
    • When talking with co-workers, the public, or potential customers are you complaining about your work load, how busy you are or the problems you have to deal with on a daily basis?
  8. Your work, products and services – As you can see, the focus moves from visual and online branding to yourself and how you talk about the company. How you think and talk about your work matters, because it is coming through to your customers. In the end all of the branding and marketing in the world will not replace treating people right and providing good service to loyal customers that will in-turn provide you with good word of mouth advertising. This feeds back into more positive tweets, likes, followers, links and users of your products and services.