Category: General

13 Feb 2009
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Gratuitous Self Promotion

This post doesn’t have any topic that may help in the business world or even you personal life. It is completely self serving to myself and my business partner.

The new website www.thecrushproject.com is where we are attempting to collect real accounts of people’s crushes they have had over the years. We hear about them in social situations at the pub or dinner parties and they are a huge topic of conversation.
We think people want to hear these stories, so thecrushproject.com was created. We encourage anyone and everyone to share with us the romantic experiences that have shaped their lives. Please keep it classy and do not get into sexual specifics. That is not what we want to hear(well maybe some of us).

We hope this can help people share their experiences and/or release a burden. We also think we all want to hear real stories from real people.

Enjoy!

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05 Feb 2009
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Phelps has fallen? No surprise here…

So America’s golden boy, Michael Phelps, has fallen from the good graces of the public. I am not surprised. The man is 23 years old and for all his life has been living under the scrutiny of public life. Not to mention the scrutiny of an American athlete. No wonder he wants to blow off some steam. The problem: he got caught.

Although he has made a mistake and it cost him dearly, he is handling this with professionalism and surprising maturity. Either he is very smart or his publicist is on top of things. I am guessing the latter.  His personal brand has been tarnished. This is an enormous issue since the majority of his income is based on his brand. Sponsorship deals are making him a multi-millionaire. How should you handle a mistake? Exactly how Phelps handled it. He immediately admitted his mistake and apologized for it.
We should all follow this example, not only in our personal lives, but in our professional lives as well. When your product or service has failed someone’s expectations, admit that you did wrong. No one person/company/product/service is perfect and the ball will be dropped sooner or later. What matters is how you handle the situation when it does. Be honest. Ask for forgiveness. And make moves to ensure the issue doesn’t happen again. People are surprisingly forgiving when you address problems like that. They are less forgiving when they know you are lying or pointing fingers somewhere else.

So, it comes down to this: Phelps’ lucrative sponsorship deals are in jeopardy. Rosetta Stone has not renewed his contract, but it had expired prior to the release of the picture. Omega and Speedo have stuck by him. A few other sponsors have dropped him, but that is going to happen.

Phelps will be ok. America will forgive him and he will be pulling in more gold metals in 2012. Let’s just hope he doesn’t test positive for steroids. Then it would get serious. See: A-Rod

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28 Jan 2009
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Shocker!! USPS is cutting out a day of mail.

If you are a US Postal worker, I would start refreshing my resume. You will soon be out of a job.

Today, the Postmaster General told Congress that they may need to cut one day out of postal delivery.(full article here) Only ONE?? Although I am a proponent of an integrated marketing campaign which can include direct mail, I have know for quite a while now that the physical delivery of paper mail pieces is going away. And soon….

Many large companies have already given people the option of going green by not receiving paper bills. I for one, welcome the alternative: a quick email with a pdf of my bill. It is much easier to track and less of a hassle. With online bill pay systems in place as well, I never even have to respond to the bill. The money comes straight out of my bank account. Talk about convenience!

Direct mail is not far behind. For years, people have complained about all the “junk” mail they receive on a daily basis. Because they are so inundated with it, the vast majority of it goes directly to the trash can. In fact, at my mailbox, there is a trash can directly next to the rows of boxes and is full everyday!
If these pieces didn’t interest me from a design perspective, I, too, would place them directly in the round file cabinet.
In addition to that, the green trend isn’t going away anytime soon and some people see direct mail as wasting earth’s resources, which I can partially agree with. So Direct Mail will also be facing an increased campaign against it. That is a very uphill battle and backers of direct mail better start to prepare for it, if they even want to fight. Long term, direct mail is going to lose.
Social Media is also rising in relevance and people are using that medium as a very successful marketing tool. This tool will start to cannibalize direct mail even more than it is now. Direct mail utilizes a lot of resources: material and financial. Social media takes place in the virtual world and is free, it’s reach is broader and more relevant. Which one would you choose?

So, unfortunately for postal workers, your days of job security are limited. Please read the writing on the wall and start pursuing new skills. This will be an opportunity for you to start a career that you have always wanted. This is the push you need. Otherwise you will be part of the millions on unemployment.

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21 Jan 2009
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Reality

Since everyone is talking about the inauguration and political topics, I am not. There are some very applicable marketing topics that pertain to President Obama such as Personal Branding and how people perceive you, but I will save those for a later time.

Two days ago, I was at work and the phone rang. Our receptionist had already gone home for the day, so I picked up the handset. What did I hear? nothing…….for almost 5 seconds.

I was just about to hang up when I heard a click and a voice says, ” Uh, yeah, Hi. Is Mr. So-in-so there?”

Telemarketer…..

I am very surprised people still use this kind of tactic. Not only is it labor intensive, it is VERY expensive. Below are the TOP three reasons not to employ a telemarketing strategy. ( there are many more than three, but I will keep it simple)

1. You are killing you brand. The telemarketing initiative meets with an enormous barrier. I do not know any one person that enjoys getting an unsolicited sales call from a stranger trying to sell them on God knows what! If you do happen to keep that person from hanging up on you, they are immediately defensive and angry. This creates a negative impression about your company and your brand.

2. In no way are you creating a lasting, real and authentic relationship with you customer. You may make a sale, yes, but you are going to have to do that every time for every sale. There isn’t going to be any revenue over the life of the customer. ( I guess it depends on what you are selling, but normally, you will have to repeat this process over and over and over)

3. You are wasting you money that can be used in other more effective mediums like, oh I don’t know, the internet!!!! Why in God’s name would you lease a building, pay for furniture, run phone lines, hire loads of people, train them, etc when you can create a website with great content that people can interact and learn about you and your products. Then create a blog (free), social media (free) and other internet outlets (most are free) and start interacting with your clients in a real way.

Now, this tactic may work for some and they may support it wholeheartedly, but i would never suggest to my company or my clients to do this when there are so many other great ways to reach your market.

Photos provided by www.freefoto.com

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09 Jan 2009
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You aren’t very smart

Bill Gates is a smart man.

Stephen Hawking is a genius.

Are you as smart as these two men?

Yes, you are.

Can you practice Theoretical Physics?

Can you program an operating system?

Probably not.

But, you can educate yourself to do whatever it is you want to do.

However, there are a variety of reasons not to chase your idea. Fear is a big one. Laziness is another. I have actually heard people say, “I’m not smart enough to have my own business.” What’s not smart enough is that statement. Of course you are smart enough to own your own business. Overcoming those barriers that stop you from implementing that business or idea will make you smart enough. Now, this isn’t some kind of pep talk or motivational speech that I am trying inspire you to “reach for the stars” and to make you feel good. (although I hope it does)

My point is that most innovative people have one important characteristic in common………Execution.

They have an idea that motivates them to do what: Act On It. That is the difference between success and mediocrity. The guts to move forward with your idea and pursue it with unwavering passion is what can make you a leader. And that is what will make you a success.

If that isn’t what you want, by all means, stick to the status quo. Work your 40 hours a week and collect your paycheck every two weeks. That is ok. Some people are satisfied with that. I am talking to those people who want to be remarkable. Who want to work on something fun and interesting. Who want to lead people and organizations.
This thing we call the internet has opened so many opportunities to people that boldly chase their ideas. The ideas are out there and you have had some.

Act on them.

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24 Dec 2008
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The Big 3

All the media is reporting what is happening with the recession, Obama’s pending inauguration and the bailout of just about every big business in the world. Those are very important issues, don’t get me wrong, but from a marketing perspective I want to speak on what the strategy of the Big 3 automakers is missing.

Decades ago, GM was the biggest and baddest company on the planet. They had enormous assets, loads of employees (and lines of people lining up to hope to be an employee) and clout like no other at that time. Now they are on the brink of bankruptcy even with the government loans. They, along with Ford and Chrysler, have a huge hurtle in front of them and loads of issues.

The last one they are probably thinking about is their marketing and how they are reaching potential customers. Faith in these companies is nil. Worry that they still will collapse is prevalent. So, why would they keep the same marketing strategy of using mass media and standard discounting and promotion to entice customers to come purchase their cars?

 

Every car company uses a similar tactic: 0% interest, $2000 cash back, free upgrades and services. The Big 3 should be thinking about what is the fundamental barrier of consumers purchasing their cars? (the recession notwithstanding)

 

Faith. Lack of faith in those brands.

I don’t want to purchase a car or truck from a company that I am not sure will be around in the next 3 years to still provide a warranty. An automobile is an immense purchase and liability. Why not reassure consumers that they are going to do everything in their power to come out of this financial crisis as strong as ever? Restore faith in your brand and company.

 

Engage your potential customers in dialogue. Provide them what they want, not what you think they want. Use some of that $14 billion in loans to research your potential target market. Through that dialogue, make sure they know you truly want their business and will make the sacrifices necessary to do that. Be real. Be genuine.

 

The consumer doesn’t take kindly to smoke and mirrors and half-truths.

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08 Dec 2008
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$1 Salary for Ford and GM CEO’s???

In what I think is a brilliant move, the CEO’s of Ford and GM announced they would take a $1/ year salary if the government approves the automakers’ bailout.
When I say brilliant, I am not talking about the fact they are attempting to persuade the lawmakers to approve the loan. Although that is part of the strategy. Seems to be a feeble one, however. The Senators overseeing this process aren’t stupid and may see this gesture as hollow.

I say this is brilliant in the fact that the public will see the announcement as a sincere attempt by them to get their companies and the American auto industry back on track. By making this gesture, they are showing that they aren’t immune to the recession and they, too, will be taking a hit. Being empathetic to the public creates a favorable impression that they truly want to rectify the situation, and not just make themselves a profit. Whether it is true or not, remains to be seen.

The other positive impression they are making relates to their employees. CEO’s of large corporations are not seen as the “common man” and do not relate well to their factory line workers and employees. This token could increase morale and confidence in the company and it’s leadership. Perception is reality and could really help them in the long run.

Little do people know that there are several CEO’s and upper management that take minimal salaries such as Yahoo, Google and Apple. That doesn’t mean that they people aren’t making a fortune. Most of their compensation comes in forms of bonuses, stock options and perks.
Still, it is a nice gesture even if it is meaningless.

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06 Dec 2008
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What kind of relationship do you have with your clients?

Do your clients trust you? Would they refer  you to others? Do they take your calls every time?

Think about the best relationships you have had in your life. Those friends you grew up with. The group you shared the experience of college with. Those are the most solid relationships I have in my life. Any one of those people, I would do anything for. The camaraderie between us is solid, shared and significant.

Create that kind of relationship with everyone in your professional life. Three points to keep in mind to do that.

1. Be authentic- people aren’t stupid. Well, some are, but most people can tell if you are trying to pull a fast one on them.

2. Find shared interests- most everyone can find some common ground with anyone. Find those interests. Kids, hobbies, sports, movies, books, etc

3. Communicate often- every call doesn’t have to be a sales call. A quick email sharing a news article about your shared interests keeps your name in front of the prospect. Make sure you are keeping points 1 and 2 in mind when you are doing this. If you are off point, you could harm the relationship.

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29 Nov 2008
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Vendors Vs Clients

I write this blog about topics that I am knowledgeable about.  Why would I write about something I couldn’t speak intelligently about? So, I write about my experiences and from time to time, my pet peeves.
The reason I write anything is to encourage discussion and educate people who aren’t involved in marketing circles.
The topic I want to write about today is entitled, “Vendors Vs Clients”. I hope everyone treats these two different business relationships with the exact same respect, value and consideration. Unfortunately, I am positive that doesn’t happen every time.

Clients are the most important relationship a company has. They provide the sales, revenue and profit to keep your firm in the black. If treated and utilized correctly, they provide invaluable insight into your product and how to improve it to increase market share, sales and growth.
My question to you is: why would you not extend that thought process to your vendors as well?
Your vendors are an integral part of your company and provide an essential element to any business. They provide parts, service and the numerous components that keep your product on shelves or your service viable.
So, communicate with your vendors and be open and honest. They understand how business works and that circumstances change frequently. Most of us do not like confronting unpleasant subjects especially when the other party will  potentially react negatively.
However, the situation is only made worse with no contact. In cases such as these, no news is NOT good news.

Talk. Build trusting relationships. Your company will be better for it.

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23 Nov 2008
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Linked In Groups

Let me first start by saying Linked In is a great networking resource and can really assist people expand their associations, facilitate great discussions and help small businesses in a variety of ways.

The issue that I have with some of the groups I have joined is some people are using it as a advertising channel. That is not why I joined the website or any of the groups. In fact, it really makes me think poorly of people that are placing their own advertisements in the group discussion forums. LinkedIn was created to help people “link” to other like minded business professionals. People are making the experience cheap by following this strategy.

I see this over and over in all aspects of life. People do not want to work for anything. They want to take the easy way out and hope to get results from it. All they are doing is hurting their reputation and, in some small business cases, their brand.

I do not trust a LinkedIn advertiser who is using a medium not mean for that purpose. This also goes along with other social networking etiquette such as a blog. In both instances, you must be upfront and truthful about what you are attempting to do. A blog (like LinkedIn) should not be a veiled sales pitch. Be open and start providing real and useful content to your network. This will place you and your brand as the authority on your subject and instill confidence and reliability, which will earn you a reputation as someone to count on. All that will help you get and retain clients, increase sales and boost profit. That is a good thing!

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