The Dilly Dilly Manifesto: The Secret to Marketing, Sales, and Life

The Dilly Dilly Manifesto: The Secret to Marketing, Sales, and Life, was originally published on Mark Harari’s LinkedIn account, and we liked it so much, we wanted you to give you a chance to read it here, too.


Are you like me? When you get an email from someone with a misspelled word, do you look at the keyboard to see if the wrong letter is adjacent to the correct one?

Or what about this: whenever you have to write “Wednesday” do you say “wed-nez-day” in your head?

I do that, too.

And yet I have never once said “kuh-nee” while writing knee.

Isn’t that odd?

Well, if we share these two quirks, then there’s a good chance we share something else: the secret to marketing success. (And sales success for that matter).

The Secret of Life

But let me back up for a moment and share the secret of life. Because if you know the secret of life, then you can discover the secret to marketing, the secret to weight loss, the secret to global-warming, the secret to darn near anything.

I learned it in 1991 from Curly, the leathery cowboy in the movie City Slickers. (Yes, City Slickers. I also like Tommy Boy. Don’t judge me.)

As I was saying, Curly is the leathery cowboy played by the late, great Jack Palance. Truth be told, leathery doesn’t do him justice. As Billy Crystal’s character, Mitch, describes him, he’s like a saddlebag with eyes.

Here’s the exchange in which Curly tells Mitch the secret of life:

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?

Curly: This. [holds up one finger]

Mitch: Your finger?

Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that, and the rest don’t mean shit.

Mitch: But what is the “one thing?”

Curly: [smiles] That’s what you have to find out.

So there you go. The secret of life is simple: do one thing. However, don’t mistake simple for easy: finding that one thing is far from it. But, what I’ve come to realize is that Curly’s Law is not only the secret to life; it’s the secret to everything. If you can find that one thing, in whatever it is you’re trying to do, then the rest won’t mean shit.

The Secret to Marketing and Sales

Why am I telling you this? Because in the winter of 2018, I discovered the secret to marketing and sales. That’s right; I found Curly’s “one thing.” And I found it while watching a Bud Light commercial.

The advert in question was one of the ubiquitous commercials that featured a court of medieval people cheers-ing “dilly dilly.”

If you don’t know what dilly dilly means, that’s okay. It didn’t mean anything until the ad agency made it up. In fact, according to the art director, the phrase was originally just a placeholder. But it certainly means something now.

In the ads, the phrase is used the same way you might shout “hear, hear,” or “that’s right.”

It’s an emphatic agreement with the speaker.

And that is the one thing you need to do to succeed in marketing and sales. You must get your prospective client to think “dilly dilly!”

She should be nodding her head in agreement with everything she is hearing or reading. She needs to think, “That’s absolutely right. I couldn’t agree more. You know me so well. Dilly dilly!”

So how do you do that? Well, first off you need to stop talking about your product, your company, and yourself. Focus all your attention on the one person you’re trying to sell. Speak to her about her wants, needs, and desires.

It’s Really Not About You

Here’s the rule; you should say you, your, or you’re two to three times more often than you say I, me, we, us, our, or ours. That tweak alone will get you moving in the right direction.

But it’s not enough.

You can’t just aim for yeses. You can’t ask something like, “do you own a car?” and think, “she’s nodding her head! I got her!

Your goal is not to merely get agreement. It’s to get a glass-raising dilly dilly.

And to get a dilly dilly out of your target customer, you need to connect with her. She has to feel it. You must get her to draw on her own experiences as you tell your story.

Consider this: when I asked you if you say “wed-nez-day” in your head, did you think, “Ha! Yes, I do!”?

What about the keyboard check for misspellings? Did you connect with that? Did you possibly even crack a smile? If so then you have a small taste of what I’m talking about.

Now magnify that feeling by ten and you’ll get to dilly dilly.

And what if you didn’t share in my quirks? That’s okay. In fact, it’s to be expected. You need to accept that it’s not possible to connect with everyone. (I hate to break it to you, but everyone is not your target client.) So don’t stress. Just focus on your target customer.

Dilly dilly.

It’s amazing how hard it is to not talk about yourself in marketing copy and sales pitches. I say that because it’s everywhere I look. The practice runs rampant across all industries. And yet it’s very preventable. A remodeling contractor’s website I recently reviewed illustrates my point.

The homepage hero shot featured a headline that read:

We Believe Everyone Deserves to Live in Style.

That’s nice. I’m glad you believe that. But why should I care what you think?

I don’t know you. And your declaration doesn’t speak to me. I’m certainly not raising a glass to it.

First of all, I don’t agree. I don’t think everyone deserves to live in style. Do you? I’m sure you can think of at least one person that doesn’t.

(I can think of seven, and I’m not even trying.)

But what’s worse is you’re telling me I’m not special or unique. According to you, the only reason I deserve to live in style is because everyone deserves it. I’m just like everyone else.

So how do we fix that headline? Remember the two rules: stop talking about yourself and focus your attention on the person (not a group of people) you’re trying to sell.

So dump that “we” stuff (because it’s not about you) and switch “everyone” to “you,” and you’ll get something like this:

You Deserve to Live in Style.


Do you know why? For one thing, it’s about me — not everyone. But more importantly, because whoever reads it will think about the reason she deserves it.

Perhaps she worked two horrible jobs while putting herself through night school and she just landed her dream job. Or maybe she let her father-in-law live with them for the past eight years, and now the house is finally hers again. (No he didn’t die — he went to live with his other son. I can’t believe you thought that).

Whatever the reason, she is now thinking, “Yes Mr. Remodeler, I do deserve to live in style. Dilly dilly!”

See what I mean? It’s got to be about me, the prospect. It must always be about me. Say something that I connect withemotionallyand I will raise my glass to you.

Dilly dilly!

What’s next? It’s simple. Get yourself a beer stein and put it on your desk.

I’m deadly serious.

Head over to Amazon or Etsy right now and get one.

Then put it front-and-center on your desk or by your phone.

If you’re a marketer, I want it to be the first thing you see before you start writing and the last thing you see before you hit submit.

If you’re a salesperson, it should be the first and last thing you see on your sales calls.

And every time you look at it ask yourself with unrelenting determination, “does she want to raise a glass and proclaim dilly dilly?”

Don’t strive for anything less.

It’s dilly dilly or the pit of misery.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share in the comments below. And if you think this manifesto is worthy, a thumbs up is much appreciated.

Thanks for reading. You are a true friend of the crown.

Dilly dilly.

Ep.53: Make Your Project Manager a Marketing Machine with Doug Panozzo

Of all the things you have in your marketing toolbox — your website, email and direct mail, or social media — there’s one you may have overlooked.

Positioning your Production team to be aware of sales and marketing can be an overlooked marketing strategy, and also help align the office and field teams.

In this episode, Tim and Steve talk to Doug Panozzo, who is a human marketing machine. We discuss how to make that switch in mindset for your Production team, and how it can boost your sales and profits.

Doug Panozzo is a Project Manager for Hogan Design & Construction in Geneva, IL. He’s been with Hogan since October 2017. He came from outside of the industry, from a tech company, and moved into a Project Manager role with Hogan almost a year and a half ago. Since then, he has grown familiar with the industry, became efficient with Hogan’s systems, hasn’t gone over budget on a single one of his projects, and has brought in over $100,000 in sales in the last year.

Sharing the big picture with your team is the start. Doug says working on marketing or sales is job security for him — the more work he can help bring in, the longer he has a job. He talks about how he does it, and how you can get your team involved, including:

  • Selling the company throughout the project
  • Sparking new leads
  • Following up with customers to touch base
  • Finding the incentive — referrals and bonuses
  • Asking for social media posts with tags and reviews
  • Wearing and being the brand everywhere
  • How to start those conversations
  • Picking the right customers to keep in touch with
  • Making the questions subtle and helpful
  • Keeping good notes and setting reminders
  • Building relationships and working the neighborhood
  • Finding the way for different personalities to market and sell
  • How to set the expectations in hiring
  • Giving Production the tools, training, and materials to do it
  • Getting the timing right
  • And much more …

Including why your Project Manager or Lead Carpenter should talk to the neighbors’ cleaning people, and how many leads can come from it.

Let’s Keep It Up

This episode was another spurred by a suggestion from our listeners. If you’ve got an idea for a guest or topic, send Tim an email at

Listen to Episode 53 >>

[Podcast ]Episode 50: LIVE from the Extreme Business Makeover in Baltimore

For our 50th episode, we gathered a panel of industry experts and took questions from the audience at the Extreme Business Makeover in Baltimore at the the end of January 2019. It capped off an intense two days of learning, sharing, and networking among the remodelers attending and our Remodelers Advantage team.

In this episode, Victoria and Mark direct the lively discussions with our panel. We were joined by:

We talk profits and payroll, cash flow, the owner’s role in a growing business, margins, staying top-of-mind in your marketing, smart lead qualifying, planning and making decisions on your job sites, and the power of asking “why?”  

It’s an insightful and all-encompassing discussion of how to run your business to get bigger margins, more profits, and creating a real life/work balance. If you missed it, you need to listen to this episode.

Click Here to Listen to Episode 50 >>


PowerTips Book Recommendations: December 2018

We’re making a list and checking it twice, to bring you our last edition of book recommendations for this year from our staff, facilitators, and Roundtables members. Add these selections to your own reading list or to your holiday gift list — to give or get. The recommendations run the gamut from business to fiction, as well as a podcast.


Doug Howard, Director of Consulting Services, Remodelers Advantage

The One Thing by Gary Keller
This book highlights the importance of not only identifying “the one thing” that will make an impact on your business going forward, but also the importance of scheduling time — and the right time of day — for that area of focus. I’ve had a number of consulting clients read this after I read it, and the impact has been noticeable.

Good to Great by Jim Collins
This business classic is well known and often referred to as required business reading. I find it really deserves a re-read from time to time as the concepts become more profound the more your business grows and its complexity increases. Getting to a level of success is very difficult. Sustaining it and adapting it over a long period of time and multiple generations is a much greater challenge.


Rose Grabowski, CRA, Chief Technologist, Remodelers Advantage

The Knowledge Illusion by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach
A thought-provoking book that helps us see just how much we don’t know, and how much of what we think we understand really comes from others. How much does “group think” affect our decisions? How difficult is it for anyone to change what they believe in? We can use knowing what we don’t know as a starting point for deciding on what to spend our time learning.

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Part of the Last Lecture Series at Carnegie Mellon University, Randy Pausch was indeed, giving his last lecture. Diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer, he used this lecture to impart his philosophy of life. One of the more thoughtful ideas was about being stopped by brick walls.  The brick walls we meet can be there to inspire us to overcome them. And, with planning and perseverance, we can do it.

Another concept proposed is that it’s important for those of us who are parents/mentors/leaders to understand is that our jobs are to allow and assist our children/friends/students to realize and achieve their dreams. We often forget that our jobs are to assist others to be the best person they can be, instead we try to mold them to the best person we think they should be.


Craig Durusko, Founder & Chairman, Sun Design, Burke, VA, and McClean, VA

Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh
Tony, the CEO of Zappos, tells his story in a humorous and somewhat unfiltered way.  It is an amazing story of how he built a company to 1 billion in sales two years before his goal. He talks about his journey after selling his first company and all the successes and failures along the way.

Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith
This book focuses on how different selling services is compared to selling products. Service marketing is not the same as product marketing. Most product failures are obvious and provable, most products can be warranted. Most services cannot be. So, you buy a service with no guarantees, and even more uncertainty. I especially like how, on page 169, he calls out remodeling specifically — “we worry our remodelers will exceed their budget and finish weeks after they promise.”

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Almost all the patterns that exist in most people’s lives— how we eat and sleep and talk to our kids, how we unthinkingly spend our time, attention, and money — are habits we know exist.  And once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom and the responsibility to remake them.


Paul Winans, CR, Roundtables Facilitator, Remodelers Advantage

Red Notice by Bill Browder
A gripping true tale of what prompted the passage of the Magnitsky Act.

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
A wonderful novel, it’s the stories of several different people in New York City in the 1970s and how they are linked by Philippe Petit’s walk between the Twin Towers of the then-under-construction World Trade Center.


Arlene Alfano, CMP, Director of Meetings, Remodelers Advantage

Podcast: Happier with Gretchen Rubin
I am an avid podcast listener and I highly recommend Happier with Gretchen Rubin. The Four Tendencies she developed is similar to DiSC and I have found it to be insightful.


Thank You and Happy Holidays

Thanks to everyone who gave us their recommendations! If you’ve read or listened to anything you’d like to pass along, let us know in the comments.

Disclosure: The links provided above are Amazon Affiliate links and that means, at no additional cost to you, Remodelers Advantage may receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

[Podcast] Episode 33: The Sales-to-Production Handoff with Bruce Case

To many remodelers, a project works like a relay race, depending on good handoffs of the baton. The sales-to production-handoff is critical, and if you drop the baton, the race is over.

But there are ways to make it less of a hard handoff and more of a continuum, says Bruce Case. Bruce joins Victoria and Mark to explain how to break down the barriers and bring Sales and Production together as a team.

Bruce Case is the president and CEO of Case Design/Remodeling Inc., one the largest full-service remodeling firms in the nation with more than $60 million is annual revenue. Focused on the Washington, DC, metro market, the company provides a unique mix of design/build and home improvement services. Over the past 15 years, the company has extended its reach across the US through a network of licensees and franshises working under the Case Handyman & Remodeling Services banner. All these initiatives is focus on inspiring team members and clients.

Involving Production from the beginning of a job makes the projects more seamless and collaborative, creating a process that empowers employees and keeps them all focused on the bottom line. Bruce tells you how Case handles this team approach, including:

  • The need for accurate estimating
  • Why Project Managers get to sign off on a contract before the client does
  • Structuring compensation for Sales and Production based on gross profit
  • Who goes to what meetings and why
  • What to do when you need a tie-breaker
  • And a whole lot more…

Bruce talks about how to lead this process, and your team, with empowerment and accountability. For more about Case Design/Remodeling, check out their website

Click Here to Listen to Episode 33 >>

It’s Your Call: Weeding Out Unqualified Leads

It’s been a busy year so far, and economists predict the remodeling business will continue its strength. That means your time, and your team’s time, is at a premium. To use it efficiently, you’ve got to concentrate on the leads that will turn into jobs.

Without a crystal ball, though, it can be hard to predict. There are the dreamers, the tire-kickers, and the bargain-hunters. If you’ve been spending time going to appointments that get you nowhere, it’s time to weed out those leads with a pre-qualifying system.

Determine who is qualified

There’s always a spirited discussion about what remodelers and builders consider a qualified lead. The only way to know is to pre-qualify these leads before sending the Salesperson out to the home.

First, choose who in your office is going to do the qualification. You want to choose someone who’s good on the phone, can guide a conversation with open-ended questions, and who can understand whether the answers make the lead a good fit for you and your company.

Arm your lead-taker with information:

  • Project-cost guidelines. Figure these out from past jobs.
  • A script or take-in sheet to get the answers you need.
  • Access to Sales’ calendars, so they can make an appointment while on the phone.

As a general rule, people like to be contacted in the manner they used — so if a lead calls in, take the call or call them right back if they’ve left a message. If the lead comes in through an online form, email them and set up an appointment to get some more details and chat about the project. If they don’t answer, follow up with a phone call if they’ve left a number in the lead form.

What to ask

In your script or take-in sheet, you obviously want the basics — name, address, preferred form of contact, and how the lead heard of your company. That sourcing is vitally important to see how and where your marketing efforts are landing, and what channels are better at getting solid leads.

Even if you’ve got that information from an online lead form, taking the time to confirm it takes control of the conversation — it reins in the people who start detailing everything they want and gives those who are anxious about the process time to settle in.

Ask about the home — it’s age, how long they’ve been in it, and use that time to look the home up on Zillow or to determine its current value — if the project they’re looking at is too expensive for their home or neighborhood, better to know now. If the lead has recently moved into the home, there may still be photos of the interior from its time for sale. Copy and paste the URL to the take-in form if it’s digital or into a blank document for use by Sales.

Find out who lives in the home — adults, kids and their ages, pets, and get the names. Getting this information at intake helps paint a fuller picture for the Salesperson.

Now you can start to really talk about the project they have in mind.

Talk money upfront

This crucial step is uncomfortable for a lot of people. It seems abrupt — you’ve just established some rapport. But you have to know if your potential client has a realistic idea of what their project will cost and how they’ll pay for it. And they may not know project costs, which is why they contacted you. That’s totally fair.

Rather than ask “how much do you want to pay,” position it differently — “have you thought about how much of an investment you’d like to make in your home?” Again, they still may not want to open up that much to you. That’s where the project-cost guidelines come in handy. If you can ballpark a range for them, you’re just talking about the facts with no judgments.

You may hear an audible gasp at that point, or an apology for wasting your time, or any number of negative responses — and it’s saved unproductive hours for the Salesperson in travel and appointment time.

More likely, it’s what they expected or a little higher — but they’re still willing to move forward. It’s time to set an appointment. Ask who the decision-makers will be — it could be the person you’re talking to alone, that person and spouse, or may also include in-laws or adult children. Whoever is making the decisions should be at the initial meeting in the home — you need that buy-in to know the prospect is serious.

Ask if they’re willing to go to the next step — setting the appointment. Prep them for what to expect, set the time, and you’ve qualified a solid lead.

The handoff

Take notes throughout — on everything. Whether the qualifier is also the Salesperson or not, treat it as a handoff. Have the answers to the questions in the take-in sheet filled in, add notes, add the URL of the home on Zillow or Tell as a full a story as you can.

These qualifying conversations can take as little as 10 minutes or as long as 45. But getting a system in place is a crucial first step in an efficient and profitable sales process.


[Podcast] Episode 27: How I Quadrupled My Revenue with Todd Jackson

Growing your company requires thinking big, developing innovative strategies, and taking risks. If you do it right, the results can be huge. Todd Jackson did it right, and quadrupled his revenue.

In this episode, Victoria and Mark talk to Todd about how he achieved that success, and the details and work behind the big numbers.

Todd is the CEO and president of Jackson Design & Remodeling in San Diego, CA, and a long-time Roundtables member. During the recession of 2007-2009, he developed and adopted strategies that got the company these amazing results in the next decade.

Learn how Todd not only weathered the downturn, but put systems in place and doubled-down on his marketing to power his company when the economy bounced back. He talks about the importance of creating a culture that celebrates success, as well as:

  • The key advice he got from another Roundtables member
  • Why his salespeople love their lower commissions
  • How his showroom drives profits
  • His strategy to cut the design process from months to weeks
  • Financing vs. cash
  • The awesome power of wearing slacks
  • And more…

There’s no one magic bullet, but a cohesive mix of strategies, calculated risks, and goals that will speed a remodeling company toward exponential growth. Click through to see more about Jackson Design & Remodel.

Click Here to Listen to Episode 27 >>


How are we doing so far?

If you have a topic that you would like us to cover or know of an industry contact, author or thought-leader that you think others would like to hear from, let us know.

If you’re enjoying our PowerTips Unscripted podcast, please spread the word and post reviews on iTunes and Stitcher.


[Podcast] Episode 26: How the Media Business Can Transform Your Remodeling Company with James Carey

With so many new media and communication outlets, it’s hard to know what channels to use for your own marketing. But that also means there are opportunities — and getting your message out to an audience is easier than ever. Taking the plunge into media can change your business.

In Episode 26, Victoria and Mark tackle the new media and marketing landscape with James Carey, who transformed the remodeling business he owns with his brother Morris when they pitched a radio show about home improvement in the 1980s. That led to a national syndication deal, a TV show, and book publishing.

James is the president of Carey Bros. Remodeling in Brentwood, CA, and is the co-host of the nationally syndicated radio program On the House with the Carey Brothers and of their pro podcast CareyBrosPros.

While James made his splash in old media, he continues to take advantage of the new opportunities provided by just a wifi connection. From podcasting (which we love) to social media, James leads you through ways to get your message out, including:

  • Finding your unique outreach
  • Harnessing the power of the media
  • What you can learn from Mommy-bloggers
  • Helping homeowners make informed decisions
  • Access vs. competition per channel
  • And a whole lot more…

It’s a fascinating episode, and will inspire you to think about your marketing — and your business — differently. For more about James (and Morris), check out to learn about the remodeling company. Their radio program site for homeowner advice is OnTheHouse.Com, and their site for professional remodelers is


Click Here to Listen to Episode 26 >>


We love the feedback we have received so far!

As always, if you have a topic that you would like us to cover or know of an industry contact, author or thought-leader that you think others would like to hear from, let us know.

If you’re enjoying our PowerTips Unscripted podcast, please spread the word and post reviews on iTunes and Stitcher.


[Podcast] Episode 24: How to Build Strong Partnerships with Architects with Kyle Lissack

One of the toughest things for remodelers and builders to do is work with architects or designers and still stay profitable. It can be done, says Kyle Lissack — but it’s a specific business model, and it doesn’t depend on bids, but on the strong partnerships.

In this episode, Victoria and Mark find out how Kyle builds and nurtures relationships, the importance of partnering with architects for the long haul, and how it can benefit your business.

Kyle owns Pinemar Builders, a second-generation full-service remodeling and home-building company just outside of Philadelphia, and is a Roundtables member. Kyle describes Pinemar as a design-driven company where every project involves at least an architect or designer, and often both. “We want to build beautiful homes for nice people,” he says.

Victoria, Mark and Kyle talk about how he adapted his business model from building spec homes to partnering with design professionals in remodeling and building projects, including:

  • Identifying architects, interior designers and landscape architects to approach
  • How to build value for you and your partners
  • Juggling different personalities and approaches throughout a project
  • Treating your partners as customers
  • And more…

This episode gives you insight into how to successfully work with architects, and you’ll find out what Kyle would do with a frozen penguin. Click through to find out more about Pinemar Builders.

Click Here to Listen to Episode 24 >>

We’re excited to have Kyle as a “Power Talks” speaker at the 2018 Remodelers Summit in New Orleans in September. He will be presenting “Cultivating & Nurturing Mutually Beneficial Relationships With Design Professionals” at 2:35pm on the Main Stage.

Summit is on track to sell-out early this year so make sure you REGISTER TODAY!

Do You Like What You Hear?

If you enjoy our PowerTips Unscripted podcast, we’d love it if you’d post a review on  iTunes and Stitcher, and spread the word!

[Podcast] Episode 23: Managing Your Customers with Chip Doyle

As a business owner, it seems like you manage everyone — your staff, your crews, your kids, your pets. But if you — and especially your designers — aren’t managing your customers, says Chip Doyle, you’re wasting time and losing out on potential profits.

In this episode, Victoria, Mark and Chip discuss how to break up bottlenecks and speed up the process of handing off from Design to Production. By effectively managing client expectations, setting clear goals and deadlines, and guiding clients intentionally, you can avoid having projects park for too long in design and selections. “Time kills deals,” says Chip.

Chip has been in the sales industry for 28 years, and training with Sandler for nearly 16 years. He’s a sought-after speaker, and will be on the main stage at our Remodeler’s Summit in September, and co-authored Selling to Homeowners The Sandler Way. Chip has a licensed training center and trains companies of all sizes in Pleasant Hill, CA, helping them reach their full potential, exceed expectations and continue to grow.

Empowering designers to guide, and ultimately lead, clients through the design process can increase your profits by 25%, Chip tells our hosts. Some of the ways to get there include:

  • Cutting design time in half, without cutting corners
  • Giving designers the right role models
  • Managing “genius attacks”
  • Setting clear meeting goals and timely next steps
  • The importance of deadlines — for clients
  • Getting projects through that would otherwise stall
  • The traits to look for in a designer — toss the DISC assessment
  • And, as always, much more…

Click Here to Listen to Episode 23 >>

To learn more about Chip and what he can do to help you grow your company, check out his website at

Spread the Word about PowerTips Unscripted!

As always, if you have a topic that you would like us to cover or know of an industry contact, author or thought-leader  you think others would like to hear from, let us know.

If you’re enjoying our PowerTips Unscripted podcast, please spread the word and post reviews on iTunes andStitcher.