Picture a bidding presentation where the only thing standing between a crowded room of skeptical engineers and their lunch is YOU – and your sales pitch!  That’s not exactly an ideal position, but it was where Mustang Co-Founder Bill Higgs found himself in the early days of Mustang.  Higgs took a creative approach on what could have been a room full of “hangry” people and spun it into a message about Mustang Engineering being other-oriented.

In Mustang The Story, Bill describes, “Starting with the first board member, I put a large Snickers® bar in front of each of them. I told them that I wanted them to focus on this presentation… not lunch!! I had worked my way down to putting a large Snickers® in front of the last board member, when I said ‘Oh and here is a small one for your baby’. That comment got everyone on both sides of the room laughing, because she was pregnant but not yet showing. It was very obvious through sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and feeling of empathy, that Mustang was really going to be focused on Metro [the client] and their needs…That is why we served Snickers® bars at all functions. We want to continually remind people to be other-oriented in our ongoing effort to build trust. Being other-oriented in all of our actions is a very positive differentiator that many find hard to believe at first.”

What can you do to create a winning deal and a lasting impression?  For Mustang, it was all about building trust with the client.  Satisfy their hunger for a strong collaboration, a useful contract, or perhaps just a tasty snack, and make a deal worth skipping lunch!



In addition to its use an external marketing tool, a newsletter can present immense benefit when used internally, in the context of building awareness as well as culture. Before embarking on this informative tool, consider your overarching goals and what you hope to accomplish by its production.

company  newsletter“Newsletters cater to people who want to stay informed without feeling like a slave to the Twitter stream–all the news you can use is waiting in a hand-crafted email sitting in your inbox…those modest-sounding subscriber lists can still generate lots of traffic to the content newsletters promote. What newsletters lack in followers, they make up for in loyalty,” states @FastCompany contributor Rebecca Greenfield.

So what does a newsletter aim to accomplish?

  1. Awareness – Centralize the latest and greatest news, whether it’s recent sales, new clients, or current projects. Let the word spread that you’re building rapport as well as market share.
  2. Expertise – Share relevant studies, advice and/or lessons learned by the SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) in your company. Become a reliable resource for others to use as an example or reference to become leaders in their own right – be it internal or external.
  3. Promotion — Push products and/or services through specific promotional offers or targeted advertising campaigns.
  4. Culture – At Mustang, culture was the holy grail of business success, and it became one of the key motivators in creating an internal newsletter. “We loved the feedback [we were hearing about our company] and wanted to reinforce it by starting the Mustang Newsy Newsletter in the fall of 1988. I collected stories and pictures and tried to make it fun to read. We mailed it home to insure it got to the family. Spouses read it closely,” recounts Mustang Owner Bill Higgs.

Whatever schedule you decide (monthly, quarterly), be consistent with the implementation.  The newsletter needs to become a habit to be successful. The upside of a well-published and predictably distributed newsletter is ten-fold, brand loyalty and profitability come to mind first.

To learn more ways to create company loyalty and culture, schedule Bill Higgs to speak at your next event. Contact Haven Creative – 704.256.4008 or email us – jeni @ thehavencreative.com.


“Failing to plan is planning to fail”

And, arguably, no plan is more appropriate to address than the marketing plan. Just as we stressed in The One-Page Business Plan, you don’t want to overdo it. There will be all kinds of value tracking that the entrepreneur can do to assess marketing success, but ultimately, if you spend more than the revenue you generate, you’re wasting money.

When Bill Higgs, along with his co-founders, started Mustang, they were more about just going for it than being cautious. Of course they tried to mitigate their risk as much as possible, but they weren’t so focused on analyzing every last detail that they became paralyzed to make a decision and move forward.

At a high level, there are 3 elements in a successful marketing plan. You must:


  • Identify your competition. Profile others in your sell space. What are their strengths and weaknesses? Is your market already flush with whatever you’re trying to sell? What are the differentiators for yourself in your market? In other words, what sets you apart from those already selling something similar?
  • Know your customers. Who is your target market and what are their needs? This would include their demographics (size, age, gender, income, ethnic group) and subsequent behaviors (psychological and buying trends). Inc Contributing Editor Jeff Haden asserts, “Your goal is to thoroughly understand the characteristics and purchasing ability of potential customers in your market…it’s much easier to serve a market you can define and quantify.”
  • Know the value of your marketing. Dovetailing from the point above about identifying your differentiators, what makes your product/service meaningful? Do you offer the same products as someone else but at a cheaper cost? How do you equate expectations of value with the product/service you’re offering?

Part of having a living business plan includes an adaptable marketing plan. Recognize at the onset that whatever you start with is not going to be how you finish. Your customers will change, how your reach them will change, and the tools available to reach them will change. Don’t be afraid to start something, knowing that it will go through various machinations before you get it right. And what’s right today very well will not be right in a year. It’s not making a mistake that’s the problem, it’s making the mistake and taking too long to recognize it.

Looking for a playa by play of how to start and build a successful business? Get a copy of Mustang The Story by Bill Higgs, now available on Amazon!