Bechtel Consulting Group

Vol. 8, Issue 4
                                                                                                                                    July, 2018 

The Competitive Edge

Strategies for Success in Today's Markets 


I'm pleased to bring you the July, 2018 issue of "The Competitive Edge," 
a monthly newsletter geared to helping you boost your strategic, organizational and marketing performance. 

My aim is to stimulate your own thinking, perhaps causing you to see things in a different light. If you do find the content helpful, please feel free to  you think will also benefit. 

I always welcome a two-way dialog because I stand to learn as much as I share. So please feel free to share your reactions, ideas or suggestions. You can email me at or call 206-351-8604.
The Air "In" There
Where is Kevin Bacon in Your Organizational Network?

     Perhaps you've seen the old 1994 movie starring Kevin Bacon entitled "The Air Up There." It's an amusing story of an assistant basketball coach looking to advance his career, who discovers a teenage basketball sensation on a videotape sent back from one of the college's religious missions in Africa, and sets out to recruit him.  
      Nice movie, worth checking out, but what's the point?
      By sheer chance, when the movie aired on television, several students at Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania happened to be watching, and they had a revelation. It seemed to them that Kevin Bacon had appeared in so many movies that you could probably connect him to just about any actor in Hollywood.
     Enticed by the notion, they sent a letter to the Jon Stewart Show, which was popular with college audiences. "We are three men on a mission," it read. "Our mission is to prove to your audience - nay, the world - that Kevin Bacon is God."
     Goofy as it sounded, it got them their 15 minutes of fame. They were invited to appear on the show with Kevin Bacon, himself, where they proceeded to charm the audience with their ability to connect him to any actor whose name was thrown at them.
     And so began "The Kevin Bacon Game."
     The game demonstrated vividly the power of social networks. The students' premise was that Bacon could be connected to every other actor by typically two to three links. And they were right. 
     The Kevin Bacon Game might have receded into the annals of amusing trivia had it not been for two computer science students who happened to watch the Stewart show that night. The task of determining the social distance between any two actors struck them as a viable computer project. So, drawing on a huge database of all the actors and films that ever were, they set about creating what became known as "The Oracle of Bacon Website." One could type in any two actors and, in milliseconds, the site would reveal the shortest path between them, listing the actors, films, etc. through which they're connected. 
     By the late 1990's, the website was getting over 20,000 visits per day, eventually landing on Time Magazine's list of top ten sites of 1997.
     The game worked simply because Hollywood actors form a densely interconnected social network based on their overlap in various movies. In fact, it turns out that any actor can be connected to any other actor through three intermediate links, on average - even considering that over 40% of all actors have fewer than ten direct links of their own. (These are the lesser-known actors whose names we seldom recognize.)  
     What makes this possible is the tiny minority of actors who have far more than 10 direct personal links - some with as many as 4,000 links. These actors are the hubs of Hollywood. Remove a few of them, and suddenly the paths between many other actors lengthen drastically.  
The Air In There
     There are a couple of pertinent tie-ins to a corporate culture. First, the size of one's personal network (people to whom he or she is directly connected) is not the most active ingredient. As it turns out, many of those actors with the largest numbers of personal direct links are - ready? - porn stars who, needless to say, are nowhere near the center of Hollywood. The explanation is that most of their personal links are to other porn stars - in other words, others within their own clusters. 
     To be truly central to the overall network - a hub - requires not only a high volume of personal links, but one other ingredient as well - links that span across many different clusters. In this way, such individuals serve to connect various clusters to one another. That is what makes them hubs. 
     Your own organization is no exception. A network analysis would reveal that it, too, is comprised of a number of distinct clusters consisting of employees who collaborate primarily within their own group. Fortunately, your organization would also contain those vital employees - those hubs - who, because of their broad involvement, are conduits connecting various clusters to one another. These employees play a critical role in the flow of information, and may also be key influencers. However, they can tend to become overloaded, which lessens their own performance and creates bottlenecks that affect the overall functioning of the network. 
     For this reason, it is beneficial to identify these central connectors, incorporate their critical network role into their job descriptions, look for ways to lessen the burden by creating other connective links within the network, and find ways to backstop these connectors in order to safeguard against the impact should they depart the organization.  
     An organization is, in point of fact, a network. It's just a network confined by artificial boundaries (to a degree, since some employees have vital connections outside the organization). It operates by the same rules that govern all social networks, and it is largely responsible for how the organization's work gets accomplished. Therefore, its health and optimal functioning are essential to organizational performance. Identifying the clusters, the connectors and the key influencers within your organization can give you tremendous power to influence its functioning in a positive direction.
De-Mystifying the Channel Conundrum
 One Expert's Take

    Jon Jantsch, founder of the highly popular "Duct Tape Marketing" and author of numerous books and articles on modern marketing, has concluded that there are no fewer than sixteen different marketing channels available today (and counting, no doubt...). This has a lot to do with how dizzying the practice of marketing has become, even for seasoned professionals.     
     To cope with all of this, Jantsch takes the position that the real job for any business - depending on where they are in terms of their growth goals - is to get really good at obtaining clients through just a few of these channels.  He adds that trying to master or even dabble in them all is the quickest way to get stuck.     
     Jantsch argues that businesses just starting out likely need to test various channels to figure out which can product sustainable growth, while more established businesses are often best served finding ways to cut back and optimize the channels that are already working.     
     So what are these 16 channels?  Here you go:

1.  Referral Marketing - word of mouth activities, viral tactics, direct referral generation. 
2.  Public Relations - which Jantsch regards as efforts to gain exposure in traditional media outlets. 
3.  Online Advertising - including pay-per-click, social networks, display ads, re-targeting, etc. 
4.  Offline Advertising- advertising in print and broadcast outlets such as magazine, TV and radio.
5.  Sales Playbooks - specific actions aimed at mining, generating, nurturing & converting leads. 
6.  Email Marketing - the use of targeted & automated email campaigns based on conversion actions. 
7.  Utility Marketing - the creation of useful tools to stimulate traffic, sharing and brand awareness. 
8.  Influencer Marketing - building relationships with individuals and outlets that can influence pre-established communities. 
9.  Search Engine Optimization - on-page and off-page optimization activities aimed at generating organic search engine traffic. 
10.  Partner Marketing - marketing activities undertaken in collaboration with strategic marketing partners. 
11.  Social Media Marketing - building awareness and engagement on established platforms and networks, as well as targeted industry platforms. 
12.  Content Marketing - publishing, optimizing & sharing educational content to draw search traffic, links & subscribers.
Online Events - such as webinars, demonstrations or workshops conducted using online tools.
Offline Events -such as workshops, demonstrations, seminars, trade shows, showcases and customer appreciation events.
Speaking engagements - aimed at business or industry gatherings.
 16. Community Building - intentional efforts to build & facilitate a community around a shared interest or topic related to the industry.

     Seems to me that these overlap to some degree, and some incorporate various other channels within them. It also would take some effort to determine how these various channels interact with other factors in the marketing mix. For example, where and how does "big data" fit into the mix?
     In any case, at least a list like this may be a starting point to evaluate where you are and where you need to focus, opportunities for growth & expansion, etc.

The Competitive Edge is a monthly newsletter published by the Bechtel Consulting Group for the interest and enlightenment of our clients, colleagues and friends.  You can reach us at 6505 NE 182nd St, Suite 101, Kenmore, WA 98028; by calling (206) 351-8604, or by emailing  For more information about the Bechtel Consulting Group, visit our website,


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In This Issue
A quirky game holds clues to how organizational networks operate.   

Plus, one expert's attempt to unravel the forest of marketing channels. 



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Did You Know....
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Bechtel Consulting Group

6505 NE 182nd St

Suite 101

Kenmore, WA 98028

Phone:(206) 351-8604


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