Flash Header
Volume #78 - August 2012

BAM!  There goes July.  What an incredibly fast month it has been at Creative Ventures.  Even with an intentionally reduced travel schedule to allow me to work on some much needed internal projects, two unexpected trips came up, and the month was gone before I knew it.

  • New Web Site: We are so close to launching the new web site I can taste it.  A completely new look that follows the Creative Ventures tag line – Simple, Powerful and Elegant.  Here is the new look for the logo, and the blog will return with a new, fresh feel.
  • THE IDEA FACTORY:  Work continues on my latest strategic platform.   The Idea Factory is a journey into the development, application, and successful management of new ideas.  I have two clients ready to go in November.
  • I had the honor of moving forward with a client on the further penetration of both the Repeatable Successful Acts and the Dazzling Blue strategies. We moved from the corporate leadership to the entire company, with three presentations that were also beamed to other non-Dallas-based offices.  The next step will be the application phase.
  • I did a trip to one of my favorite clients to work with a top team of sales professionals on the impact applying the Repeatable Successful Acts platform can have on the balance of their sales goals for 2012.
  • Then it was off to Chicago to share a customized program with 450 top 16 year-old leaders from around the world.  What a challenge!
  • I have a complete curriculum I am designing for a client that will require a ton of my time and attention that will result in a powerful tool to help my client separate their company in a crowded market.
  • I finished the month with a training session for a food and beverage client, working with the idea of driving the “need vs. want” model.  You must create extraordinary client experience if you KNOW that your clients are there because of want, not need.

August will be another month full of combined internal and external projects.  I will be visiting California, New York, and Minneapolis, with a healthy dose of office time also.


Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Why doesn't the fellow who says, "I'm no speechmaker," let it go at that instead of giving a demonstration?

-Kin Hubbard

I have been involved in literally hundreds of marketing campaigns.  I have seen brilliant graphic artists craft dazzling sales pieces from brochures to electronic deliverables.  I have attended marketing product launch meetings where an entire sales force sat with mixed emotions waiting to see the “next great thing” for them to sell.  Through all of this I have usually wondered, “Is anyone going to pay any attention to the primary factor for success of this wondrous product, the skill sets of the sales force, and, in particular, their core ability to present this product to the buying public?”
I’m not talking about the standard piece of sales training that presentation skills fill.  I’m talking about the heart of marketing, the art form of delivering a message, of leading sales through persuasion and reason.  At the center of marketing is the ability to deliver the message... and in a relationship sales strategy where your sales team wants to become “trusted,” the ability to present with power and passion is FUNDAMENTAL!

Recently I sat in a meeting where a wonderful process of idea development was in play.  At the conclusion, an agreed-upon idea was chosen and developed.  It was almost magical.  Then came the time for moving the idea through the “idea cycle,” the process of taking an idea from its genesis to the critical phase of I GET IT!  This is the first step in delivering this precious commodity of an idea (read marketing) to an audience.  The I GET IT!  phase is fighting to become the final phase of an idea, I CAN DO IT!  Guess what?  This group of idea developers struggled to make the idea stick, to get someone really to understand it, and without that piece, there was no hope of making anyone believe they can do it.  The essential piece of this idea was dead.  No one had the skill set to present it to someone else.  Why?  Their training lacked a commitment to the heart of any marketing campaign, the ability to present and sell a product.

Presentation skills are often confused with speech making.  I’m not talking about public speaking.  I’m talking about the critical skill to be able to move your idea or product from the concept to the sale.  I’m talking about “microbursts of connecting.”  I’m talking about delivering the STORY of your product, and to do that you need skills!

Here is a hint.  You know all that money you spent on research and development, on design and advertising?  Well, start spending on training the humans who deliver the product to your buying public.  Learning and skill development are ongoing ventures.  They require resources. Make your sales people presentation superstars.

I believe there are THREE (yes, only 3) core competencies in delivering a message, and sales and marketing are all about DELIVERING A MESSAGE!
  • COMFORT:  This is the psychological aspect of becoming relaxed in the delivery of your message.   And yes, this is way easier said than done.  The main stumbling block?  Comfort is INDIVIDUAL and varies from person to person.  It is critical to success, which is why presentation skill training needs to happen in small groups, so personal comfort can be achieved.  How many horrible sales presentations have you seen?  The main reason: the seller is terrified, and it translates into an emotional chasm to everyone in the room.  Comfort comes from repetition and a personal sense of owning the message.  It’s about building a bridge across that chasm.  Don’t think “practice,” think rehearsal.  This is about the connection of art to delivery.
  • CONNECTION:  This is about the content and architecture of the delivery design.  The idea is to connect all the pieces of the puzzle so that a complete picture appears to your audience.  How are the nuts and bolts put together?  Is there room for your own style?  Does your presentation follow a journey?  Can you actually define the steps so that they form a “yellow brick road” to your desired destination?  You have to be about connecting.
  • INFLUENCE:   Why even present anything if the desired result is not to have an influenced outcome?  To put it in simple terms, why do this if you don’t want to sell something?  Influence is where comfort and connecting create impact.  I want my audience to think differently, to see value, to desire my product, to understand the benefits of a new way of doing something.  This is influence.
So, take a long look at your marketing strategies.  If you leave out the most fundamental piece of success, the ability to not only deliver the message, but IMPACT the message, well…good luck with that.

How good do you need to be?  How good do your presentation skills need to be?  Comedian Steve Martin said it best:  “Be so good that they cannot ignore you.”

MELON-HEADS:  Caribou Coffee (I get my caffeine fix from them when I’m in MN) celebrates thinking, accomplishments, and creative ideas by awarding watermelons to team members at regular celebration events.  Caribou is the second largest company-owned coffeehouse operator in the U.S., and creating “melon heads” is an idea in keeping with their funky and simple culture where the mantra of “listen, develop, and recognize” moves their company in a constant forward pathway of transformation.  The employees who use their “melons” to create substantive ideas continue to develop connections at the store to customer level.  With 585 locations in 21 states and 9 international locations, they never stop looking for something new.  How about you?

SOCIAL TO PROFIT:  “The Street” was not very happy with the recent quarter’s profit reports from social media giant Facebook.  Though revenue grew by $1.8 billion, which was slightly better than analysts had projected AND was 32% higher than a year ago, disappointment was the key reaction.  HUH?  It is a continuing challenge to discover revenue opportunity in the instant world of connected humanity.  The original intent was not to “make money” but to connect.  A retrofit profit scheme takes a little time to figure out.  When something is new and requires new models and thinking we need to have some appreciation of the space between cause and effect.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE MALL:  Austrian architect Victor Gruen would be lighting candles on the cake to celebrate the 60th birthday of the suburban mall.  Yes, that old edifice of ancient commerce, home of the food court and teenage social activity, has been around since Gruen thought it would be a good idea to bring downtown business activity to the burbs.  In fact, the original Southdale Center in Edina, MN is still alive and going.  Though the market has reclaimed the idea and thinned the playing field, the mall still remains a viable idea.  The Northpark Mall in Dallas, TX has over 235 stores and generates an excess of $1 billion annually.

Interested in these ideas?


You can contact Steve at steve@creativeventures.com or give him a call at 972-490-7717.
See more at creativeventures.com and stephenharvill.com

Steve Harvill • Office: (972) 490-7717 • Cell: (972) 345-9480 • Fax: (972) 386-9569
15615 Regal Hill Circle • Dallas, TX 75248