Click here if this doesn't display properly on your screen.



How to Tell is Someone is Secretly Broke - or Just Incompetent


by Glenn Shepard

March 17, 2015

Category:  Marketing





Statesville, NC March 19
Cedar Park, TX March 24
Temple, TX March 25
Columbia, TN March 31

Click here or call 1-800-538-4595 to  reserve seats.

Click here to print this quote.

Dear Glenn,


     What are your thoughts on how to handle an employee who was promoted to supervisor and is not succeeding? She offers excuse after excuse or tries to place the blame on others. Disciplinary action has been taken, but where do I go from here? Do I demote her or do I terminate?


Tom in Dallas



Dear Tom,


      What you just described is called "The Peter Principle". It happens when an employee who was successful in a previous position is promoted to a position that's above their skill set, and they fail at it.

     The Devil's Dilemma is exactly as you descried - Demote or Terminate?

      Give her all the training and guidance humanly possible. When you're sure you've done everything you can to help her but she'll never succeed in the new position, try to move her back to a position where she can succeed (carefully framing it this way, and not as a "demotion".)

     Managers are sometimes pleasantly surprised to find the employee relieved and back to the  happy, successful person they were before being moved. If that happens, all's well that ends well.

     But sometimes the employee will be miserable and so resentful that they won't be an asset in any position. It's tragic when this happens, because you'll end up terminating someone who failed primarily because management promoted them too far.

   Some say this is unfair, and they have point. But life's unfair, and this is one of those unpleasant tasks managers get paid to do, even when we don't want to do.

    Thanks for your question. I'll be back in Dallas this summer. Come by and tell me how the situation ended while I'm there.


Glenn in Nashville, TN


Click the red Ask Glenn button to submit a question. You may remain anonymous if your prefer.

If you’re self-employed or want to be, the two minutes you spend reading this article may very well be the most profitable two minutes of your life.


Anytime you hear someone say three specific words, don’t take marketing advice from them because they've never been self-employed. Or if they have, they're broke.


Those three words that equate to financial suicide are “That’s too gimmicky”.


No one wants to be the cheesy car salesman that dresses like Uncle Sam on the Fourth of July, Santa at Christmas, and so on. But if you find those "silly" TV commercials obnoxious and wonder why these businesses spend a fortune running them over and over, you should know there’s a good reason…


Because they work.


The cardinal sin in marketing isn’t being silly; it’s being boring. If you’re boring, people will forget you. Or even worse, never notice you.


The term “advertising gimmick” is only frowned upon by those who’ve never worked in direct response marketing, or those who have but are lousy at it.


If you're a professor living in an elite ivory tower, protected by job tenure and insulated from having to compete for customer dollars every day in the open market called capitalism, you can afford to be boring.


But if you’re in the trenches, competing head to head with competitors ready to run you out of business, you’d better learn how to stand out from the competition.


As Dan Kennedy, who's the greatest direct marketing copy writer alive today and makes $50,000 to write one brochure said, “Lots of people have gone broke overestimating the sophistication of their customers”.


Throughout history, some of the greatest successes in business have been the result of what less successful competitors would describe as “too gimmicky”.


For Example:


Fast Food: McDonald’s has more market share than Wendy’s, Burger King, Jack in the Box, and Taco Bell combined. Each of these competitors offers good food at fair prices, but none has a mascot nearly as famous as the clown with the yellow outfit and red hair.


Insurance: It’s hard to make insurance interesting and memorable, which explains why GEICO chose a gecko with a British accent, Aflac chose a duck with an attitude, and Progressive has “Flo”. (I was reminded of how popular she had become when one of our neighbors came to a Halloween party a few years ago dressed as her).


Batteries: I have no doubt that whoever first proposed a pink rabbit wearing sunglasses and beating a drum was laughed at by some, but no one’s laughing now that the Energizer Bunny is synonymous with the battery “that keeps going and going”.


Rock and Roll: Few bands have been criticized and disrespected more than KISS, who was ridiculed for their platform boots and wild makeup. But while their music was never on the same level as icons like Led Zeppelin or The Beatles, there are few bands still packing arenas over 40 years after their founding. And even fewer who are as recognizable – even though only two of their original four members remain.


Medicine: I know an ophthalmic surgeon who’s in to ballroom dancing and holds an annual dance called “The Eye Ball”, which is featured in his TV commercials. I’ve heard other doctors say that kind of thing is “beneath them”. But he’s one of the most brilliant surgeons in America. He holds an MD from Harvard, a PhD in Laser Physics from MIT, and is obviously a brilliant businessman as well.


Publishing: The most popular of my Rules of Work is “If you’d wear it to the state fair, don’t wear it to work”. A colleague suggested that it would be more professional if it read “Dress appropriately at all times”, and he’s right. But my goal is not to be the most professional; it’s to be the most profitable. No surprise, he secretly came to me a year ago to discuss why he wasn’t making it financially. In the information marketing business, terms like “It’s not the book, it’s the hook” and “You can’t tell a book by the cover, but you can sell a book by the cover” are woven into the very fabric of our being.


While I've never met anyone that wants to be "gimmicky", I've also never met anyone that wants to be broke. If you don't want to be in the latter category, you better not be boring in your marketing.




To Your Success ,



Glenn Shepard



P.S. This is also why we use a caricature instead of a headshot in many of our marketing materials. Part of my bio reads “Glenn is the #1 Best-Selling author of six books, 14 audio/video programs, over 500 articles, and is published in six languages”. While that’s pretty uncommon and fairly impressive, it’s still very boring and very forgettable. No one remembers a person’s picture or credentials, but everyone remembers a cartoon character.







Click on the blue button to comment