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Lessons From The Road

Meet Bill Decker

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Bill Decker is an international business consultant, with hundreds of new business launches on five continents (this after a failed career as a stand-up comic).

Bill's adventures started in 1983. He was armed with a handful of phone numbers, $100 cash, a suitcase, mandolin, and a one-way ticket to Taipei. During his adventures he was able to work his way around the planet, learn several languages, receive an MBA from Europe’s most prestigious university, and personally start more than 20 companies around the globe. During his tenure abroad, Bill began opening his own offices in Central and Eastern Europe for his firm, Connect International (which had 60 offices worldwide). He has solved problems around the globe, acquired new markets for his clients, evaluated and negotiated with acquisition candidates and been involved in dozens of start-ups.

the beliefs

"Your first decision is: profit share or market share."

"My mother should be able to understand your mission statement and vision."

"All entrepreneurs are making it up as they go along"

"Sales are not equal to cash in the bank."

"An unfair contract will always fail."

"The money you often make is in the deals you don’t do."

"When vendors charge for their time, establish what constitutes 'free time' vs. 'fee time.'"

"Companies don’t have financial problems; they have financial symptoms"

“No problem, no sale.”

"If the prospect feels no pain, they need no solution."

His Favorite Quote

"Everything you see from the moment you wake, until the moment you sleep, has been negotiated” –me

Meet Denise Kohnke

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Denise is president of Kohnke Hanneken, a marketing communications firm, and Pole Vault, a strategic intelligence and brand management consultancy. Her agencies have helped dozens of clients, very large and small, launch new brands, revitalize old brands, change business course and make $millions in incremental revenue the blink of a marketing eye.

In over 20 years of client-side marketing and agency ownership, Denise bridges the gap between “what’s  academic” and “what really works.” She started in graphics at 19 years old, never looked back and never duplicated her career position. The breadth of exposure to many facets of marketing communications, from agency creative director, to client-side marketing director for a multi-national entertainment property, to strategic planning facilitator, to agency owner gives her a broad but intimate view of what it takes to appropriately communicate, and how those communications have a direct impact on revenue. Her respect for the challenges faced by client-side marketing departments make her process-based solutions actionable and relevant. Her practical side is balanced by academic insights on brand architecture and competitive marketing intelligence that have helped clients with brand portfolio management to merger and acquisition. 

The Beliefs

“Plans are good, but you have to know how to run.”

“ROI and emphasis on short-term profitability will, in three years, kill today’s high performing brands.”

“Sales people can’t market well, and marketing people don’t sell well. Know that, and keep them away from each other.”

“Visual identity is your suit of clothes. If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t wear it. But if you have no taste, admit it and let someone dress you. What you look like changes what people think you say.”

“Advertising still works. When it doesn’t work it’s not executed properly.”

“Stand for something. If you don’t know what you stand for as a business, get some help to understand it, and plant your flag.”

“Branding is an irrational preference, like love.”

“Channel communications are changing fast. To be successful, you need to find balance between traditional and experimental tactics, and be willing to fail to learn.”

“ROI is important, but it is an observational discipline and not a predictive discipline. It doesn’t trump knowing where and when to place bets.”

Her Favorite Quote

“I don’t give anyone hell. I just tell them the truth and they think it’s hell.” –Harry Truman