The Marketing Sage - Marketing Consulting

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My goal is to help grow your sales.

The Marketing Sage Consultancy offers imaginative marketing advice, counsel, and services. I support small to mid-sized businesses, whose products and services need fresh insights, creative inspiration, and a proven process to reach the right audience. Strategy always comes first, before tactical execution. 

Hire me as a fractional CMO/VP marketing a few days per month when you don’t need a full-time marketing executive.  Other services include marketing audits, brand naming projects, marketing strategy, digital lead generation, facilitate brainstorming sessions and creating targeted brand awareness campaigns.  

Work with a successful entrepreneur and senior global marketing executive who built and sold what INC MAGAZINE recognized as one of America’s fastest growing company. Put more than thirty years of marketing expertise to work for your business.

I sell seasoned advice.

Contact me at 919 720 0995 or 

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The Marketing Sage

The Marketing Sage Blog

~Marketing Insights to Help You Grow Your Business~

Do You Take One More Step?

I wanted to buy Hillary Clinton’s book to read on vacation. As I wandered into a local, independent bookstore, the owner said that the book was sold out but would be back in stock in a few days.

He never said to me, let me text you when it comes in. That would have been an excellent way to remind me to buy the book from him and not online or at several competitors.

One More Step

Does your marketing effort take that next step to remove friction from a purchase? Do you make it that much easier for your customer to do business with you? You don’t expect a big chain to do something like text you – yet it is through automation that larger players are scaling those next steps.

What’s Your Next Step?

  • Do you call you call your customer after they receive their order to check in and make sure everything arrived perfectly?
  • Do you make it easy for satisfied customers to write a quick yelp review of your restaurant by texting or emailing a link?
  • Do you take the next step and tell customers about a new product that is a compliment to something they bought last month for their camping trip without feeling pushy?
  • Do you give your larger customers a special gift of thanks when they least expect it? Like sending an ice cream truck to their office in the summer versus just sending a box of chocolate during the holidays?

I ended up buying Hillary’s book somewhere else because it was convenient. I’m still waiting for a text from the first bookseller.

Are you unsure if your team takes one more step? Let’s talk. Text me at 919 720 0995 or email me at

Photo credit: Photo by Jake Hills on Unsplash


A Cheetos Fine Dining Restaurant – No Really

Some of the best PR is often based on a wild and crazy idea. The folks who market Cheetos wondered what it would be like to open a restaurant based on their snack product. So they hired a well-known Food Network Chef (not my daughter) and created a temporary pop-up store to generate awareness and stories.

Traditional PR and stunt events can be powerfully effective ways to get a brand into your consciousness. You share the story (as I am doing here), and it quickly blows up the Internet. The social shares and increased awareness easily pay for the venture.

More than 1,000 people requested a reservation for The Spotted Cheetah. It was only opened for 3 days in August.

Watch this crazy video. Maybe there is a way for you to think laterally about your brand to help it break through the deluge of content. Cheetos played into its snacking fun brand character and leveraged existing assets like Chester Cheetah.

Ask yourself the question, what if my brand was a restaurant, ran an airline, was a sports team, made clothing,  created a non-profit or sold ice cream. Think sideways and have fun.

One other piece of advice – do something your competitors would never think about doing because they are fixated on your category. Cheetos doesn’t compete in restaurants yet that was where they decided to set up shop – if only for a few days.

Publicity is a way to emphasize an important aspect of your brand. It can solidify a position and help get you into the conversation. As long as your stunt is aligned with core brand values and attributes, PR stunts can help your brand grow.

If you can’t see the video below, click this link.

Need help thinking laterally about your marketing and promotion? Text me at 919 720 0995 or email me at

Video courtesy of Business Insider


Sound Marketing

So many companies come and go. They spend millions on marketing to no avail. They get lost trying to grow faster and faster, forgetting why they even started. There is no substitute for sound marketing.

They make promises they can’t keep, and they wonder why their marketing no longer works. The biggest marketing mistake many brands make is that can’t answer the simple question – what are we all about? The best marketing comes when people come to work each day and do their best and to make a superior product or service that they take pride in creating.

Grado Laboratories – All About The Sound 

For more than fifty years, a small, niche player in the world of headphones decided that nothing mattered except the quality of the sound. They didn’t care about packaging, distribution and the other issues associated with marketing a product. They haven’t advertised since 1964.

Grado believes in one core marketing principle. If you promise consumers something spectacular and deliver on it – they’ll tell other consumers. John Grado would be happy putting the headphones in plain, brown paper bags. He wants the brand to speak for itself.

Sound Comes First

In a non-descript Brooklyn location that the family has owned since 1918, a handful of people make the best headphones possible. Second generation John Grado, bought the business from his great uncle who founded the business decades ago making needles for record players at his kitchen table. He wants growth to be natural. He could get investors who would help him do what others do to accelerate– but he has no interest in spending his days pleasing financial-types. He is content and satisfied with his work and loves what he does. “I’m happy, why do I want others telling me what to do?”

John tells the story that his grandfather had a fruit stand in NY. He would go to the wholesale market an hour before everyone else at 330 AM so he could pick the best that was available. His philosophy was that if he had the best produce, customers would be happy and he would be successful. To this day, that is the guiding principle for Grado headphones.

Their filter for each decision is, how will it affect the sound?

John Mayer, Neil Young, and Steven Tyler are but a few of the artist who won’t use anything but their headphones for their work.

  • They refuse to advertise. They want happy customers to do their marketing for them.
  • They use the same, old equipment and fix it themselves to make components. Faster isn’t better. It is just faster.
  • They assemble their headphones by hand to allow a human being to craft the perfect listening device to maximize satisfaction.

Jonathan Grado is the third generation of Grado’s making headphones and manages their marketing. Their marketing consists of a focus on social media to engage and connect with users. To him, marketing is about the relationship he builds with customers who he knows will share their experience. He invests his time and energy in relationships to build word of mouth. It is slow, deliberative and effective one-on-one marketing effort.

Two sisters assemble the higher-end handmade headphones since 1994. The company keeps production to a level consistent with their vision that sound comes first. A little demand is a good thing, so they keep a slow and steady pace. They make about 20-30 headphones each day using cocobolo wood and lovingly send each pair out into the world.

Three Marketing Insights from Grado

  1. Growth can be a trap. Know what’s important to your daily business life. Business isn’t a race but has a rhythm.
  2. Use your real voice. They avoid a marketing team creating buzz words or language to entice consumers. Be authentic and human.
  3. Connect directly. Speaking through social media allows the brand to build relationships with each customer. The depth of that relationship can’t be bought with advertising, it takes patience and time.

What sound decision will you make for your brand?

This post was inspired by Jay Acunzo’s podcast UNTHINKABLE. Check it out on iTune for some great stories and inspirations.

Need help with tuning up your marketing efforts? Text me at 919 720 0995 or email me at jeffslater@themarketing

Photo Credit: Grado Laboratories







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