Category Archives: Marketing

Beware the handsy Santa

Yikes, is it December already?!
Our family makes the annual visit to see Santa at the mall.  I learned why this is my wife, Dee Dee’s favorite holiday tradition.  Well, it turns out Santa remembers us and is rather “handsy” as he expresses his appreciation of Dee Dee.  “Wow, you’ve got a real looker for a wife, Dad” shares Jolly Ol’ Saint Nicholas.  Of course, Dee Dee beams and the boys are really puzzled.
“What does ‘looker’ mean, Dad?”

“Just eat your candy canes, boys,” I reply.

Yes, this is my life and this actually happened.  I won’t be happy if Dee Dee wants to wait up all night for Santa on Christmas Eve.

Thank you all for your support and referrals as I build my real estate business.

I hope your Holiday Season is merry and bright.
– Eric

Lend Me Some Sugar! I Am Your Neighbor!

Dunstan_HNYI became a realtor to help preserve what makes the San Francisco Bay Area such a great place: our communities! I want every client I help to say, “Lend me some sugar! I am your neighbor!” *

I was born and raised in Saratoga and my roots go back 5 generations in California. I have seen our communities evolve as people from across our nation and the world come to the Bay Area to live and work. Remember, the technology developed here changes the world. How great is that!?

I depend on all of you for referrals to colleagues and friends who need support in relocating their families to a community that best meets their needs.

Please email me at if you, or someone you know, need a tour of the Bay Area, a referral to a trusted lender, insights into local schools or traffic patterns. I’d be happy to share my unique local perspective and market knowledge.

Thank you for your continued support and friendship. May 2016 bring you and your family much happiness!

– E

* Be cooler than cool. Reply on Twitter to @ericdunstan with the song/artist reference and be entered to win a Starbucks gift card.

Check out “The Hawaiian House”

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My son, Cole, was inspired by a recent trip to Maui to design his own beach house. The result is his “Hawaiian House” complete with palm tree. Enjoy!

Leadership lessons this dumb a** learned at a retirement party

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 11.31.37 AMThis past weekend I attended a retirement party with my lovely wife in Monterey. The retiree was a Senior Vice President who put in 34 years at an agricultural focused lender. I can’t thing of anything I’ve done for 34 years aside from breathing. My wife worked with him for many years and was part of the invite only guest list to share war stories and sing praises for the credit industry leadership veteran. Simply put, this was a retirement party attended by a bunch of bankers, creditors and appraisers.

I have gone to enough of events with this group to see familiar faces, remember a few names and share experiences from previous parties. There are a few regular attendees who I know I can count on for humorous banter or to exchange stories about similar interests. Fortunately, we have two young sons at home and when conversations come to a lull it’s always easy to find common ground by talking about the kids.  And of course, I got the “don’t be a smart ass” conversation from my wife. OK, I’ll be a dumb ass.* I don’t know why after 7 years of marriage she still thinks I will embarrass her.  All of you who are married know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.

After the dinner plates were cleared and desserts served, the “roast” part of the evening started. Honestly, I was dreading this part of the evening for I KNEW it would be filled with several “inside baseball” references, “remember the time” recollections and a few tears as people said good-bye to an era managed by the leader.   Stories and recollections would be shared that I was in no way connected to or even understood for I don’t come from the banking or credit world.

However, life has a strange way of providing unique opportunities and lessons to learn even in the most unsuspecting events. As I listened to the stories and comments, two major themes emerged that defined why this leader was so successful.

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The first theme was this person’s ability to ask the right questions. A story was shared by a previous CEO to the company that involved a multi million-dollar loan. The loan was brought to the retiree’s desk for review and sign off. Without reading the entire document, the leader asked a few questions that immediately called to light a few red flags that had not been considered. “He had an uncanny ability to quickly ask the right questions that nobody had thought of,” one person shared.

The second theme was the great relationships this person had with many of the borrowers he was doing business with. Most, if not all, of these borrowers have been long time clients who regularly returned to do more business. As a result, this retiree was responsible for generating substantial amounts of revenue for the company. I later learned that this leader built friendships with these borrowers outside of the business environment through playing golf, attending games and even being part of family events. Simply put, he took the time to build friendships and it paid off on a personal and professional level.

Wow. I learned a lot about leadership that evening. It’s not about knowing everything…it’s about asking the right questions to help improve things. Secondly, genuinely get to know people. Relationships count. People matter. It’s a lot easier to do business with someone you know and trust.

* I’ve sprinkled many “Easter Eggs” through out my posts to make reading more fun. These eggs include cultural references from the ‘80s, ‘90s and present day. If you get the reference, send me a tweet (@ericdunstan) with the answer.

Marketing Advice for Start-ups: Know your customer first

An e-commerce start-up asked for my thoughts on how the company should be thinking about marketing and what could be done with almost no marketing budget to drive acquisition and purchasing activity. I had to chuckle when I was asked for this input for yet again it demonstrates where in the priority list most business people perceive marketing to be….at the bottom. Most start-ups build a product, get it up and running and have a rough idea of how it will generate money. Unfortunately, most business leaders look to marketing as the tool to help grow the business…after the product is launched.

4PsGraphicI am using the term “marketing” very loosely here. Marketing is mostly understood as all the tangibles – online, website SEO, paid search, social media, etc. Little regard is given to the core marketing principals of the 4 Ps, for example. When most people hear the words “the 4Ps” they think about the OPP song from the mid 80s and NOT the critical marketing concepts of Product, Price, Place, Promotion. Clearly most people get stuck on the Promotion part….which is putting the cart before the horse.

I encourage all start-ups who approach me for marketing help to stop, take a deep breath and evaluate their business and product through the lens of the 4 Ps within the context of a few additional guiding principals; defining the target customer segment (s), understanding why the customer segment wants to buy the product and defining how the customer evaluates/buys the product.   Now to the start up leadership who feels time pressed, this sounds like a lot of work to do for marketing.

Working through this process and understanding the customer is CRITICAL to the success of the business. Leaders may find their product does not meet the right customer need or that a different customer segment should be targeted. This can be a tough nut to swallow for it means reworking the product that was just launched. Start up leadership must get these marketing concepts right before any marketing plans or programs can be developed and launched with a successful outcome.

One of my mentors and managers at eBay developed a structured document called a Unified Marketing Brief that helps guide business units and companies through this form of critical thinking. The document requires debate and thinkin around target audience (segmentation), marketing objectives, key success metrics, competitive industry analysis and market research. Once these elements are addressed, discussion is encouraged around brand and how to position and message the product and key benefits. I’ve guided business units in the e-commerce, identity protection and financial technology verticals through this process with very successful outcomes. Yes, it’s a lot of work and it takes time. However, once completed, business leaders now have a road map to guide marketing planning and tactical program development.

Buying Cycle GraphicI found another great example of a structured approach to startup marketing by April Dunford on Rocket Watcher . She provides a great approach to mapping marketing tactics to the buying process of each target segment.

April also takes the concept one step further by discussing the importance of testing, improving and understanding the root cause of the tactical failure. Too often companies don’t get the immediate tactical response rates desired and make the wrong assumptions as to why it happened. Unfortunately these wrong assumptions follow to the next tactical program…that has the same poor results. April makes a great point in encouraging marketers to understand the WHY to improve tactics. Check out April’s recent presentation to learn more at:

Now let’s assume that most of this strategic marketing work is in process and marketing tactics are launched. Is the marketer’s job done? Obviously no. The work has moved into a different phase of continuous improvement based on customer feedback. Start-ups must have a mechanism in place to capture and listen carefully to customer feedback. The mechanisms can be customer support teams accessible by email or online chat, twitter feeds or by call centers.

Listening to customer feedback is critical…but converting the feedback into actionable product improvements is another. This is a topic for another post! Does your start up have these mechanisms in place? I bet your competition does.



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