1. Innovation

Write What You Don’t Know

Last week, I wrote about why service providers should consider the Service as a Product (SaaP) model, and it sparked some of the most interesting conversations I’ve had that stemmed from this newsletter.

The best part about a column like this is that hits on one of my favorite themes: writing what I don’t know.

At the risk of making myself sound overly heroic, writing what you don’t know takes chutzpah. Or it at least takes a modicum of gumption to overcome crippling self-doubt (that’s far less heroic-sounding).

The premise is to publicly share a few things that you’ve started to figure out as a way to inspire conversations with people who are going through the same thing or have gotten much further along.

It’s football season, so a sports metaphor will suffice. If you’re at your own 30-yard-line, it might feel ridiculous to write a story that says, “Here’s how to score a touchdown.” You’re nowhere close. But you’re writing for the people who haven’t even gotten the ball yet; some don’t even know there’s a game on.

Most of the people who are further along will go, “Great start. Here’s how to advance the ball.” And some who are in the same spot will be glad to know they’re not the only ones trying to figure out how to at least get to mid-field.

We can deconstruct this even further. Reading last week’s column in full might help more if you missed it, but I’ll bring back a few highlights. The heart of the column featured seven questions that come up when adopting an SaaP model.

For each of the seven questions below, I’ll comment on how far along I am.

1) What is your product? Hone your elevator pitch.

I mostly figured this out, and I identified the core of one pitch deck that I can adapt. I used this very product for two pitches on Monday alone. That means I may not have figured out the perfect product, but it’s one I can at least work with. That feels pretty good, though I need to get step #3 down before I’d call it a success.

2) Who is the ideal customer? Do you have an ideal customer profile (ICP)?

I do have the ICP (thanks, Apoorva Pande). I’m still not sure I’m right until I sell a few of the products into the target customer. But I have two backup ICPs I can test assuming the product itself is solid. One changes the segment the buyer is in while the other changes the geography. So, again, it’s a lot of steps in the right direction without having figured out the answers yet.

3) Have you tested the product-market-fit where you match your product to your ICP? How have you tested it? If there’s a disconnect, how might you change either the product or ICP?

I don’t have enough data yet, but this question will be my overarching focus this quarter.

4) How repeatable is your offering? How much of it can you replicate for others?

I know with my core product, I can scale it at least to run a few programs a month with my current resources. And then I know some people who can help me expand my capacity from there.

5) Who can help you deliver it? The team helps scale, and scale is the grail.

I spent much of June interviewing freelancers, and just this month, I started testing a virtual assistant service while expanding my team some other ways that I’ll describe soon. I may well package a lot of my info in sourcing freelance talent into a course or some other thought leadership, as this is an area where I know I am so much further along than most thanks to a series of hits and misses.

6) How are you selling this? Word of mouth isn’t usually enough.

I’ve tested a few things that haven’t worked, and this month, I’m trying a mix of tech, freelancers, and media to all get me further along here. In a month or two, I should know quite a bit. I also have a lot of research I can share about this.

7) What repeatable, scalable methods have you found to scale your product?

Let’s talk in November. I will share what I’ve learned. Please, if you have anything of value to contribute here, I will owe you one, and then some.

All that adds up to a lot of knowledge I can share, and a lot of meta-knowledge that might be even more valuable.

If you look at it superficially, you’ll see I’m so far from my goal. If I kick the ball from here, it’s to punt it to the other team, not to score. It is tempting some days to punt, let someone else run with it, and find something I’m better suited to do — like writing a Cobra Kai Season 3 fanzine.

Piece by piece though, the writing will not only help others, but it helps me. I’ve crystallized my thoughts on this. And I’m better prepared to learn from people who are anywhere near the same field.

In short, writing allows you to stand on the shoulders of giants.

As they say in New York, “Go Giants!”*


PS: Tonight is the monthly First Wednesday happy hour. Join us!

*We’re 0-4 so far. I’m not sure anyone’s actually saying that this season.


Playing: Animal Crossing released its Halloween update. We can be Switch friends if you play; I’ll save you some pumpkins.

ListeningThe Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. Eerie parallels to today continue.

Watching: The final season of Homeland was one of the best. What a terrific ending. And Saul’s last words to Carrie? So perfect for one of TV’s best odd couples.

TechCalendly is a life safer, or at least a time saver. Some 15-minute meetings ran long, so I added a 15-minute buffer after my 15, 30- and 45-minute meetings, adding some much-needed breathing room. (Check out more tech in my regularly updated guide to 100+ resources.)

Moment of Gratitude: Thanks to Lan Phan for connecting me with some wonderful and accomplished people through her Community of Seven, and thanks to Eric Tash for the intro to Lan.


I like the Josh Sternberg take on the Wired story that says hypertargeted advertising doesn’t work. Either advertising is so terrible that it doesn’t matter, or advertising works so well that it’s pernicious. Maybe both? Opposites are often true simultaneously. The moral of the Wired piece is even more ridiculous — namely, that a massive advertiser boycott will take place. The assumption that marketers don’t know where a lot of their ads are running is sound. The assumption that marketers are stupid is insulting.

Beth Granger, the longtime LinkedIn Live host who also hosts LinkedIn Local Long Island, was kind enough to invite me as a guest on her show. Not surprisingly, community building was the hot topic. She added a lot of takeaways on Facebook. Thanks, Beth!
Thanks to Chris GorgesDon SteeleRachel PasquaMatt WurstJaimee KniffenWilliam AlvarezWendy Weatherford MarksDavid Kohlberg, and William Alvarez for spreading the word recently.


Please send over any events you’re hosting or attending, and I’ll add them to the list. All events below are virtual, and all times are EDT.

Tuesdays, 3pm
-10/20: Mauro Gatti, Chief Creative Officer, JibJab
-10/27: Jana Morrin, CEO, Speakfully
-11/3: Election Day (USA). Please vote and get every eligible American you know to do so (better still, do so sooner). In honor of democracy, there’s no Salon.
-11/10: Anna Bager, President & CEO of Out of Home Association of America (OAAA)
Request access to RSVP (or I’ll add you to the calendar invite): 

October 15, 12pm
Join the virtual 1:1 rapid-fire speed-meeting event to connect with fellow Serial Marketers, hosted by the Upstream app.

October 19-23
This is an annual event series by Kite Hill PR that is going virtual, and they always get a terrific speaker lineup. Register now!

October 21-22
“Teal’s Career Growth Summit is a virtual event aimed at helping professionals navigate their career growth. Over the course of 2 days, we’re bringing together established professionals and experts in the career space to run round tables, workshops, and virtual networking sessions to help you put yourself in the best position to find, land and grow in a job you love.”

October 27-28
I’ll be speaking at this one and am excited about the roster they’ve put together: “Soft Land Expo: USA Edition (SLEUSA) is a bi-directional event that will connect both international companies seeking to enter the U.S. market and U.S. companies seeking to internationalize to global markets with key agencies, resources, and service providers to support their success.”

November 5-6
Marketing must change to align with this shift, now. Reuters Events: Strategic Marketing USA (Nov 5-6) is uniting the world’s most influential CMOs to set benchmarks, showcase innovation, and map the future of marketing – one where brands are purpose-driven, campaigns are intelligently data-backed, and innovation drives growth. Register now to join 5000+ marketing leaders and ensure your brand remains hyper-relevant.

November 5 / November 12
This group is amazing. Check them out. “We have a trust problem in the marketing and advertising industry. Over the past 15 years, as new distribution mechanisms like social, disciplines like content marketing, or initiatives like diversity and inclusion emerged, we silo’d. We continue to silo, not integrate–while we watch the world innovate. This compromises brand experience, and, in turn, threatens brand trust. Big Yellow Think Tank seeks to advance collaboration across brand experience. By leveraging this abrupt shift in the world, we will reimagine the way we work and serve brands. Big Yellow Think Tank is ready to set a new standard and we need your voice. Our first initiative? A virtual hackfest.”

November 19
“Each year, CMI produces our signature LGBTQ Marketing & Advertising Symposium (now in our 13th year) for marketing/advertising/communications professionals. The event is held in collaboration with, and hosted by Google NYC.”

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