Friday, December 26, 2008

Not Another Best Of List

At this time of year, I am getting a lot of "Best of 2008" lists in my email.

But instead of creating my own Best of list, I picked a few articles that I've written that tell the story of the Not-So-Secret Writings of ScLoHo.

First, the first

The Experience

It's all about the experience.

No matter what you are selling, or buying; it is the experience that the buyer goes through that will determine your level of success or failure. This experience is based on emotion. It doesn't matter if you are a multi-million dollar parts supplier or the corner coffee shop, you simply cannot remove the emotion from the buying/selling experience.

And so I begin this blog as a place to store lessons on The Experience. One day I will craft a new word for this concept but, this is a work in progress. Eventually people will be spending money to get this information, but for now if you have stumbled across this blog, it is yours for the reading.

There's this piece which everyone should read:

It's not what you think it is

Recently, there has been several signs that the printed newspaper could disappear. Declining circulation numbers over the past 10 years have led many papers to shut down. Cities that offered both a morning paper and afternoon paper, have become scarce. In Fort Wayne, our two papers operate under a Joint Operating Agreement, otherwise we would have been a one paper town years ago.

Television viewership has been declining recently too. Why? Perhaps it is because we have more channels available, so each channel has a smaller number of viewers. Maybe it is also because of the alternatives made possible where we can time shift our viewing to suit ourselves with Tivo and DVR's... it is also possible to watch some shows online via the internet.

Radio, the profession I started working in when I was 16 is also continuing to be challenged for listeners with the growth of alternatives such as more radio stations, Ipods, the internet, etc.

These three mediums (Radio, TV, & Newspapers) are not what they appear to be. You might think that the News that you read or watch is about journalism. That the Music that you hear is about artistic expression. I used to think this too when I was on the air as a radio personality. It's not what you think it is.

So what is it?

Newspapers, Radio Stations, Television Channels, Magazines, and their associated websites are all about the money. And this is not bad, no, it actually is good and honest.

Each of these mediums provide a marketing platform that is designed to attract a certain group of people. The advertising that is contained on these mediums with commercials and ads pay for these mediums to exist. And you and I as consumers are influenced by these advertising messages to spend our money with the advertisers.

Here's how you can help keep your favorite TV show on the air, or radio station on the air, or newspaper or magazine around. Pay attention to the advertisers. Buy from them. Tell them where you heard about them. Write a letter to the president of the company or store thanking them for advertising with your favorite radio station or TV program.

This is the way it works in this country of ours, and for that I'm thankful.

And now you know the truth.

Here's another one:

Matching, the key to successful advertising

Over the past 50 years, the options for where to and how to advertise has grown tremendously. Some people wish for the "good old days" when there were less options and more "mass" to mass media. But like the 50 year old former high school jock that continues to reminisce about winning the "Big Game" half a lifetime ago, it's time to wake up and look at reality today.

I have made a decent living in one of the traditional mass media's know as Radio. AM, FM have been dominate for free music, news and information all of my life. That, however is changing. Technology has changed the way consumers live their lives and that includes cell phones that not only take pictures, but are music players and internet portals. We have gone beyond what the Star Trek generation imagined, (Except for the ability to "beam me up"), or in my case, the Get Smart, Maxwell Smart with his shoe-phone generation imagined.

But no matter what technology brings us, there are certain principles that need to be followed in order to make the most of your advertising dollars, and those principles fall in the category of Matching.

With the growth of new media and the choices available, it offers you the ability to screen your advertising messages to those that best match the people you want as clients and customers.

Along with Matching the Media, you also need to match the method of communication and match it with your available dollars to spend. Remember that you are wanting to reach out to other human beings and create an impression with them so that you will be thought of first, (or be in their short list of 3), when they need what you have to offer. This is the branding side of your marketing.

I'm going to use the word party and send out invitations to your party to help you understand what I have observed as a common shortfall of many business owners. If you were to have a party and do all the prep work, decorate, order special food and entertainment, but never send out any invitations, how many people would show up? Yeah, zero. That's what happens when people open a business but never advertise to let people know they are there.

It's not the biggest audience that you want to invite to your party, you want to invite the select few that will really appreciate what you have to offer. Then those people will tell others and the effectiveness multiplies. But it all starts with Matching and inviting the right people.

No dancing bears, just stuff you need to know:

3 Keys to Marketing

I was talking with a friend of mine a few minutes ago that I have a lot of respect for, asking for his advice and decided to write what you are about to read:

3 Keys to Marketing

  1. Think like a customer. Too often we know all the ins and outs of our business and we have our areas of expertise, but that does not translate into what the customer wants. A long time ago someone pointed out that folks that buy a drill, really want the end result, a hole. If your drill can make it easier for me to make a hole, great. But don't try and get me to care about all the technical stuff about the drill.
  2. Everything is a part of your marketing. Perception is reality. Cigarette butts on the ground near the front door; the gum smacking receptionist; the attitude of the head honcho; these are just as important, (or more) than your paid advertising.
  3. Dig Deep and Find Your Niche. I was in a meeting filled with business leaders and owners today and they were trying to describe their niche. Words like Customer Service, and Prices, were heard. Look, everyone is supposed to offer that. If you don't then you are on the fast track to failure. Dig Deeper, and discover what makes your Customer Service different than your competitors. Sometimes this is not easy. Do it anyway.
If you improve these 3 things, you are 10 times better at marketing.

There's this advice on using mass media:

It's this simple

Marketing and Advertising go hand in hand with your business expectations. If you expect to be in business for 10 years, then plan your marketing and advertising for the next 10 years.

The Best Strategy is the strategy that mirrors natural human behavior. And that is to build relationships.

It is going to take consistent, positive exposure and contact between you and your potential customers to build those relationships.

Don't ever expect to build a long term business by using short term, one or two shot advertising and marketing methods.

One more example:

Would you rather reach 10,000 people and convince them 10% of the way to buy from you?


Would you rather reach 1,000 people and convince them 100% of the way to buy from you?

The expense is the same, the results are vastly different.

And last summer I shared my own story:

Relationship Based Personal Marketing

This is a personal story.

In 2003, I returned to the world of advertising after a sabbatical in plastics, publishing, and automotive manufacturing.

I was back in my home town, having returned to Fort Wayne in 1998, but when I joined the group of radio stations I work for on Lower Huntington Road, I had never done radio sales in this town. My previous experience was in Detroit.

So, I needed to meet business owners and decision makers. I did what most people did. Grabbed the Yellow Pages and started calling to make appointments. Not much fun.

So I hit the road and knocked on doors to schedule appointments. I was better at this.

But after about 6 months with moderate success, I came across a local electrician that had a small informal networking group and he asked if I would come and speak to him and his friends.

A few days later, after being introduced to the room of business owners, I did my stuff.
Except it wasn't exactly what they were expecting.

See, they thought I was going to tell them all about my radio stations and try and sell them on radio advertising. Instead I gave them something they could use right away.

I talked about marketing.
I talked about their telephone.
I talked about what their customers wanted when they called.
Together we discovered that this small group of business owners could increase their business by 20 to 50% if they just changed their phone habits, so that they would be easier for their customers to do business with.

Later some of those business owners came to me for more advice on marketing and advertising and some spent money with me on my radio stations. All of them remain friends.

A few months later, I was invited to be a guest at a B.N.I. Networking group. This was a very well organized and committed group of business professionals and I joined this group and was a member for 3 years until other commitments prevented me from attending. I still use some of the members services and recommend them to others.

About 2 years ago I started attending a couple of local networking groups and met even more people. The last two years when I have attended our communities annual business expo, I have people come up to me that I've met at various networking functions over the past 5 years.

I now divide my time to between giving and serving; and selling. Oh, I still do prospecting, and with the current economy that is just as important as ever. But I find that the relationships that began a few years ago by my giving have been stronger than those where I was just selling.

This is my marketing plan and it works. I urge you to develop a marketing plan that involves relationship building through giving and serving and see how it helps you too.

As we get ready to experience a new world with a new calendar that says 2009, I'll continue to add to this collection of writings, and you can contact me at

Monday, December 22, 2008

Why Marketing is More Than Advertising

You may have noticed the phrase on the right side of this page, "Marketing is so much more than advertising..."

But why?

Advertising is a part of your marketing.

Advertising is a paid form of marketing that you can control.

It's the invitation for people to do business with you.

I sometimes use the invitation comparison like this:

What if you decided to have a party. It was going to be one BIG Extravaganza! You hired a band, a caterer, rented a reception hall, spent tons of money on getting everything all set for 500 people but you left out one key element: You never sent any invitations with the details.

No matter how much planning you put into your party, if you don't invite anyone, no one will show up.

Same thing with your business. That's the purpose of advertising. To get peoples attention to what you have to offer.

Marketing is the whole customer experience. It includes the way your phone is answered, the way your staff treat customers and potential customers. The professional appearance of you, your staff, the vehicles you drive, the way you handle complaints, the way you thank people for doing business with you.

There's the way your building looks, the way your website looks, and the image they project. Your business card, your follow up and follow through. The way you and your staff conduct yourselves in your off hours, that "personal time".

Each of these items build on each other. It can be a delicate balance like the stack of stones in the picture.

If any of these marketing issues are lacking, no amount of paid advertising can fix them. Sure, you can try and compensate for a bad location with excellent service, but advertising... that's another animal.

As you prepare for the new year and deal with a new economy, you have an opportunity, and a necessity to work on all of these areas that I've tossed into the marketing arena, including advertising.

Need help?

Contact me at

Monday, December 15, 2008

What is Social Media? Part 1

Up until now, the majority of the folks I know personally in the advertising business are clueless about how social media works, and how to use it. So let's do a quick, basic primer on the beast.

Social Media is also know as Web 2.0.

We have come a long way since AOL was giving away discs to get us to sign up for the America OnLine version of the Internet. Accessing the internet at home meant tying up your phone line for hours and waiting for a connection, and what are now considered incredibly slow upload and download speeds. This was less than 20 years ago!

Social Media has been made possible due to the technology advances in computer hardware, software, and what I'll call netware. Netware is the stuff that is the programs that are not stored on your computer, but are out there somewhere on the internet. Like this website for example.

As the speed of the internet has increased, it has allowed us as individuals to do more, and do more faster.

Let's look at the root of Social Media by looking at the two words:

Social. We are by nature social beings. We interact with each other, in person, over the phone, and now by using technology like text messaging and the variety of internet resources that allow for two way communication.

Media. Despite some beliefs, most old media did and does allow for a two way conversation, just not at the speed of the internet. Newspapers usually featured letters to the editor. Radio and Television have had talk shows that allow viewers and listeners to call in and interact with the person live on the air. But the internet has leveled the field.

In order to have a voice on the internet, you need access to a computer and time. You do not need a printing press, you do not need a licence and broadcasting equipment. There are plenty of resources online that allow and encourage you to use them at absolutely no cost to you.

So how does this work? So far the advantage is in the favor of the individual. We have been willing to trade the free social media for a few advertising messages. Like the radio stations I work for that anyone can listen to at no cost, we make our money selling advertising.

What is the challanging part is to come up with a business model for social media that attracts both advertisiers and consumers and effectively links them together so that the advertisier sees a positive return on their advertising investment.

Many traditional media outlets, (radio, tv, print) have added websites with advertising, but the jury is still out on the success of these websites. It will continue to evolve, just as the technology that makes the internet possible evolves.

One thing is certain. The internet and social media will continue to grow and those that ignore it are doomed to extinsion. Don't know when that will occur, it could be years, decades, or generations.

Now is the best time to hop on board and be a part of it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's as Simple as your A B C's

Do you know the alphabet?
All 26 letters?
I bet you know them in a certain order too.
How quickly can you spot the missing letter:


Did you need a paper and pencil? Did you sing a little tune to find the missing letter?

Let's try it again:

This time I added a letter and I bet you found it within seconds.

Now, I want you to go beyond this exercise and look at the "why's".

Sometime in your life, you learned your ABC's and could sing them to a particular tune. But in order to learn, you had that drilled into your young little head repeatedly. How often as an adult are you asked to sing your ABC's? Not very often unless you are around young kids.

It is the power of repetition, enhanced with an easy to remember tune, and a fun experience that helped you to learn your letters.

This same principle of repetition, enhanced with other positive emotional stimulants should be used in the branding of your business.

By the way, can you name two other songs that use the same tune as the alphabet song?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Do you have what it takes...

to be successful?

Bill Gates is one of the most successful modern day business men alive. His first versions of Microsoft operating systems were prone to the "Blue Screen of Death".

My former father in law taught me how to reboot his computer with the "three-fingered-shut-down". Now days the world revolves around Windows, and despite upstarts such as Apple and Google, I doubt that either will overcome Microsoft in less than 10 years, if ever.

Speaking of 10 years, Google recently celebrated their 10th anniversary. It took around 5 or more for them to become the dominant search engine.

In the field that I work in, radio and advertising, changes are always going on. Radio for example was transformed from the original live mass electronic media to a music based electronic media when television went main stream and radio needed to reinvent itself.

Newspapers, which have been around for centuries are needing to reinvent themselves due to the growth of the internet.

Actually the internet has transformed everything from radio, tv, telephone service, books, phone books, retail, catalogs, you name it, and "it" has changed due to the internet.

So back to the question,

Do you have what it takes to be successful?

Do you have a long range plan that includes a bare bones survival and growth mode that you can live with for a few years?

Are you willing to do what it takes to support yourself and your business idea for the long term success that will not occur overnight?

Or are you looking for a quick buck? Are you impatient and going to be fickle? Or will you do what it takes? Are you going to be stubborn and try and only do things your way, or are you going to read, listen, ask, and seek advice from those that can help?

I hope you have the guts to be humble, passionate, thrifty, wise and patient.

By the way, one of the worlds most successful marketing gurus, Seth Godin wrote recently about this subject recently and the time table for the growth of one of his projects. Click here to read his words.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Lost Opportunity

I understand that sometimes we let opportunities slip thru our fingers. Most of us are doing more, gone are the days of a personal assistant, now we do our own research, typing, etc.

However if you let your marketing slip by the wayside, eventually your whole business can slip away.

This week I had lunch with a friend at a popular Irish restaurant. Actually, this was our second choice because the place we originally were going to is now closed at lunch time. The economy? or a lack of marketing? I guess the later.

So we went across the parking lot and went into this restaurant that I had not visited in about 3 years. We each ordered something off their express lunch menu and the food was fair.

Midway through our lunch I noticed several items that were lost opportunities. After we left I jotted down a few more. Here's a partial list:

-Waitress was forgetful with our very simple drink order, Water & Diet Pepsi. She had to ask twice.

-Music was too loud to have a pleasant conversation with someone seated across the table from me.

-Music selection did not enhance the atmosphere of an Irish restaurant. Instead of Irish music, they played some boring, generic top 40.

-Music was probably chosen for the workers and the volume turned up to keep them awake?

-Body piercings in un-natural places that looked painful, such as eye-brows, nose, lips. This is Middle America, not the coast.

-Mediocre attitude from waitress, like we were interrupting her "smoke break". Never made any food suggestions, not a people person.

-Food was presented on a very plain plate. A spring of parsley could have make it look more appealing. (This was pointed out by my friend who was in the restaurant business.)

-Bright sunlight in the bar area magnified that the place needed a good cleaning. Here's a tip, lower the lights until you scrub the place down.

-No suggestive selling. Even McDonald's will ask if you want fries with that.

Okay, there's more but first because this is the Holiday season, now is the time to push gift cards, etc. So on that theme, I continue:

-No table tents, promoting ANYTHING for the holidays. If you can't afford theme, I know how you can get them at no out of pocket cost.

-No mention of anything holiday related on the menu, by the waitress, zip, zero, nada.

Some of the best marketing you can do is to those that are already your customers. Coffee Shops in our area started this with a free punch card to reward frequent visitors. Others do it now.

So you tell your staff to do suggestive selling and they refuse. Reward them. Cut them in on some of the action.

I noticed this recently at a drug store. The cashier was very bold about it, and asked everyone that he rang up if they would help him reach a sales goal and buy a candy bar that was half price. (He probably sold Boy Scout Popcorn door to door in his younger days).

He was going to be rewarded and he was bold and honest in his approach. He even took a candy bar from the display and held it in front of you as he asked.

Okay, what about your business?

How many lost opportunities to earn money do you have?

Need some help finding them? Contact me at for help.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Why You?

Every time you have an opportunity to interact with a client/customer, or potential client/customer, you have to earn their continued business.

Every time they pick up the phone to request a service call, every time they walk in your doors, every time they go to your website, you need to answer their question, "Why am I willing to spend my money with you?"

Shorten that phrase to, "Why you?"

There is one car dealer I buy from. Every time I have gone to him, he continues to earn my business with his honesty.

The carpet cleaner my wife calls has earned lots of money from us directly and indirectly with the referals we give him.

The plumber I used to rely on however has lost my business. 3 weeks ago, we had a plumbing/sewer problem and they sent out a plumber who spent two hours at our home but was unable to fix the problem and wanted to reschedule a time to come back later in the week.

So we blindly (looked up in the Yellow Pages), another company and they sent two guys over that afternoon and took care of the problem. They got $354.00 for fixing the problem.

Thursday, (Thanksgiving Day), less than 3 weeks later, the problem occurred again. Fortunately we have two bathrooms. The next day, I called back the folks I gave $354 to and asked for help. They explained that they were short staffed but when I told them the problem, they said that the owner himself would be out if they couldn't find the guys they sent previously.

Turns out within two hours, the original guy they sent out came to our house and fixed the problem again. It was his day off. He did not charge us anything. He wouldn't even accept a gift tip for coming out.

He told us what we needed to do if the problem happened again along with a price, couple grand, to fix the problem, or we could be very careful and he gave us some temporary advice to keep things running smoothly.

They answered the question, "Why you?"

How about your business? What are you doing to continually earn your client/customers money?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Before you spend any money on Advertising...

Along with the paid work I do, I also consult a couple of non-profits in the area of marketing and advertising. I've discovered that there is a tendency to look at the advertising options being offered without having a strategy in place.

By a strategy, I mean things like, determine where your future growth is going to come from, picking a target market that needs what you have to offer, and also decide what makes you unique in the eyes of your customers and clients.

(On that last one, it must be stronger than, "we care and we provide good prices and service".)

Then, once you are armed with a direction to go in, you can look at the advertising options that you have been presented and see which ones fit.

Anything else is like hopping on the highway without having a clue as to where you are going. You can drive real fast (spend lots of money), but never reach your destination. If you need help, contact me at

Monday, November 24, 2008

One of the Worst Forms of Advertising

Simply put, the Phone Book.

The church I belong to has 2400 members. Plus a school. And they were completely left out of the phone book a couple of years ago. Two years in a row. Not a single listing in the white pages, yellow pages, any pages.

It's not a new church, it's over 40 years old. We did not move, change phone numbers, nothing. But according to the publisher of our local phone book, we did not exist.

Since it is published once every 12 months, we were stuck.

The phone book people are trying to get us to try their online service. Is it any better? One of the features of the internet is that it is easy to update and keep current.

So today I tried it. I put in Radio Stations. The results are a joke. Except it isn't funny. It's stupid. The information is so outdated and incorrect. It's worthless. It cannot be trusted.

Here's what ended up with when I entered Radio Stations in the search box on for Fort Wayne, Indiana (Click here):

  • 45 listings
  • Page 1: Listing for WHWD. Station has been gone for 10 years.
  • Page 2: Listing for Sunny 106. Station has been gone for over 4 years.
  • Page 3: 2 listings for WFCV, one with the wrong street address.
  • Page 3: Listing for WFJZ. Station has been gone for at least 3 years.
  • Page 3: Listing for WJFX. Wrong Address.
  • Page 4: 2 Listings for WSHI. Station has been gone for over 4 years.
  • Page 4: Listing for Allen County Public Library?
  • Page 4: Listing for Comcast Spotlight?
  • Page 4: Listing for WANE-TV
  • Page 4: 2 listings for WFFT-TV
  • Page 4: Listing for WFWA-PBS 39 (Another Television Station)
  • Page 5: All 5 listings are for WISE-TV, WPTA-TV.
That's 17 incorrect out of 45.

Also important is what is missing: No listing for WGL, WKJG, WBTU, WNUY, WLYV, WNHT, WVBB. These missing stations have nearly 40% of the audience according to the Arbitron Audience Survey for Spring 2008.

I do not trust the phone book and now you know why.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

How Much Advertising is Too Much?

Every once in a while, someone would tell me that the advertising schedule I wanted to run for a client was too much. Not too much money, but too many ads.

To which I would point out that in the radio business, most of our commercials are 60 seconds long and if I want to schedule one or two minutes an hour, that leaves 58 minutes that our listeners are not hearing my clients advertising message.

Face it, we are living in an age of commercialization that has never been seen before. From Football Stadiums, to Concert Tickets to, well you name it, and someone will try and sell it.

This discussion however goes beyond scheduling radio commercials, it is a broader discussion on how much advertising is needed to accomplish the objective. And the answer is as individual as the specific objective of each campaign. There is no one right answer.

But there is a better question. It is the right question you should ask before placing any advertising anywhere.

The question:
What is the best message possible to connect with the people who are going to want or need to buy my product or service?

Too many times, the message doesn't connect with the buyer. You have to step into the shoes of your buyer and design your marketing from their perspective. Because they don't care that you are family owned, or have been in business for 8 years, etc. They need to know that you can help them, and how and why.

So start by asking the right question and go from there.

Oh, one more pet peeve. Please stop putting your street address in your radio commercials. Nobody knows where 4211 Harrison Street is. Instead use landmarks, such as on Harrison across from the Post Office. Thanks.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Your REAL Competition

Most business owners have a limited view of who their competition is.

Take a dentist for example. Is a grocery store competition? Could be.

See your competition when money is tight, is any and everything your clients, customers, and patients are spending their money on that they could be spending with you and your business.

So, do you want some ideas on how to make your competition, your ally?

Partner with a non-competing business and offer a deal for people that do business with both of you. For example, the dentist partners with a grocery store.

  1. Spend $50 on groceries, bring your reciept to the dentist and get $25 off your bill, (or the co-pay).
  2. Get your teeth cleaned at the dentist and get $25 off selected dental care items at the grocery.
It's that simple. (And this kind of alliance sets the dentist apart from other dentists, and the grocer apart from other grocers.)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Advertising Stepping Stones

Recently I met with a client and noticed on his desk a list of 7 individual advertising efforts that he had paid for and been involved with. Most of them were one-shot deals and he was wondering what to do.

The truth is almost anything can work if you do it correctly, but to try and maintain seven advertising outreach programs, you can either go broke, or toss up your hands in frustration and conclude that nothing works.

I have a more sensible solution that I have seen work repeatedly over the past 20 years.

Focus on building relationships with your advertising and marketing.

Instead of seven paid forms of advertising, pick one or two and work with them. Invest in them, develop a relationship with the people that see or hear your advertising message.

Let's start with radio. Where I live there are about 15 local radio stations and all of them have loyal listeners. The ones with the most listeners usually charge the most to air advertising.

But you don't need the "biggest audience", you need to form a relationship with the listeners of a radio station that you can afford to advertise with consistently for the next 52 weeks or more.

Who buys what you have to sell?
Do you know your customers?
What type of radio station do they listen to?
There are often more than one or two, but you only need one (or two if you can afford it.)

The first advertising step is to reach the same group of listeners every day or every week.
Run your commercials in a specific "day-part", say 10 am to 3pm, every day on one radio station.
Air between 10 to 15, up to 25 commercials a week during the same time every day.

This builds a relationship, name awareness, branding, top-of-mind awareness with those listeners and over time, you will get business directly from those listeners and their friends and family, because you have formed an advertising relationship with them.

In most cases, I advice my clients to expand when they can afford to grow more, but do not stop or move the original schedule to another time of day, or worse yet another radio station or advertising venue.

Take the next step when you can, but add to what you are doing, or else you risk losing the relationship with those potential customers that may want to buy from you in the near and distant future.

Take it one step at a time.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


It's been the buzz word of the 2008 Election.

It started a couple years ago with the beginning of the Presidential campaign and made its way down to the state level, here in Indiana where our Governor won by a huge margin (as a Republican).

His re-election campaign focused on pointing out the changes he implemented the past 4 years.

What about your advertising and marketing?

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

What will you change in 2009 and what will remain?

To help you out, here's a brief look at media, advertising and consumer habits:

  • Traditional Media will still gather the masses. (Television, Radio, Billboards, and Print)
  • The Internet is a form of mass media, except it's like having a television with 10 thousand channels, so it needs to partner with traditional mass media to promote an individual website.
  • Some forms of Traditional Media, like some forms of Internet media will not survive due to their business model and the fact that they need to earn money to stay alive. (For more on this concept, click here and read this.)
Now instead of rewriting what I wrote a few months ago, I'll reprint it here since it is just as relevant as it was 9 months ago:

Predictions for Future Advertising Options

  1. Daily Newspapers have seen a steep decline over the past 10 years and staffing cuts will continue in the newsrooms as they adjust financially to a loss of subscribers to their print editions. Communities that had two papers will be lucky to have one. The smart ones are looking for alternative sources of revenue.
  2. Specialty Newspapers, such as the free shoppers guides, or weekly news alternatives won't be hit as hard as their big brothers, since they already have smaller staffs and their readers are looking for information that the advertisements provide.
  3. Magazines. Depends on their overhead and structure of their publication. The strong specialty magazines can survive, but look for the news magazines such as Time, Newsweek, and the like to be propped up by their parent companies, and then reduced or eliminated within 20 years. Specialty Mags have a chance to survive, if they are loyal to their readers.
  4. Radio stations that offer unique programming that includes local content will survive even though the competition for listeners will continue to heat up when internet accessibility is available in the vehicles we drive. This is why it is so important that stations have what is known as "on-line streaming" via their websites NOW, to train listeners to listen over the internet. Those that don't offer local content and internet listenability, will fail.
  5. Television. The broadcast outlets are in the midst of a government imposed transformation as the deadline to switch to digital broadcasting is less than a year away. The writers strike lead to innovative programming from the networks and viewers also looked to other forms of entertainment from other sources.
  6. Yellow Pages. I'd be surprised if they are around in 5 years in this country. Most of the businesses I've talked to over the years complain that they "have to" be in the book. Now, the Yellow Pages are being replaced by Google and other local search engines. I would never recommend a new business advertise in the Yellow Pages, and those that still do, start reducing and phasing out your YP advertising and move the money to where the people are looking for you.
And that is the key to all of this. You need to re-think:
  1. Where are my customers?
  2. What advertising mediums reach my customers and potential customers now?
  3. What can I do to be there when they are looking for me?
What about the future? There is one Advertising Option that I did not mention in the list above:
  1. Outdoor Billboards. Yep. This is one form of advertising that is not being replaced by the internet. But you have to understand what the pro's and con's of a Billboard campaign are.
And then there is the one form of advertising that it seems everyone is talking about, The Internet. We are still learning how to use the Internet to effectively reach customers, and it will be a trial and error process as technology improves.

Spam email is not the way to use the internet for advertising. But just because you have a website, that's not enough. You also need to direct people to your place on the web. And that's where all the traditional media can help.

I mentioned smart newspaper publishers are looking for alternatives to generate revenue. So are smart broadcast outlets, smart magazines, etc. They have websites that you can advertise on to drive your potential customers to you and your website.

Despite these predictions many of the traditional advertising options can still work for you today and some may work for the rest of your life, but the next 10 years will be nothing like the previous 50 years. Keep your eyes and ears open!

Time to put away my crystal ball. Your comments are always welcome.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Making Connections

With the rise of Internet Social Media sites such as and, the world has changed some relationship definitions. Toss in Twitter and Linkedin and there are plenty of ways to stay connected via the Internet.

But what about the quality of those connections?

Do people recognize you on the street? (I was in a parade a few years ago and an old friend of mind from 30 years ago recognized me and called out my name. I zoomed into the crowd in the direction that I heard the voice and saw an old scouting buddy, we have since reconnected.)

Do people refer others to you? A few times a month, I will get a call from someone refering a business lead to me, based on the relationship that we have.

Do people from your past want to stay connected with you? Some people I see every week, others every year. But for those that matter the most, time isn't an issue.

Do you help others make connections? In this world of knowing the right person, I enjoy referring leads and connections to others. The only way to do this is to know others and have others know you.

Here's some pointers and examples of what I have done:

  • Join a bonafide networking group. These range from very organized such as B.N.I. that charges annual and monthly dues in return for exclusivity; to less formal, open networking groups that meet at least once or twice a month.
  • Join a special interest group that is not linked to your occupation. I serve on a couple of non-profit organizations boards and committees along with a marketing advisory board for a financial firm.
  • Join a trade organization. I am on the board of directors for the Advertising Federation of Fort Wayne. This year I am involved on the programs committee and serve as the V-P of Communications.
  • Attend mixers. Our local Chamber of Commerce has a monthly morning mix, and a monthly meet me at 5. I'll attend some of these on occasion.
  • Get out and knock on some doors. It's called cold calling. One of my financial advisers I met by simply walking into his office and scheduling an appointment. Many of my clients are acquired by beating the bushes.
Now here's how I use some of the above to make connections:
  • When I'm in a networking meeting or mixer, I almost never try and sell anything. I am there to make contacts. I am there to meet others and find out what they do. I am there to make a positive impression.
  • When I'm in a networking meeting or mixer, I look to meet at least one or two people that I did not know before. This is better than working the room and trying to meet everyone. Because I commit to attending and connecting, I will eventually meet with everyone I should meet with over time, or they will seek me out.
  • When I'm in a networking meeting or mixer, I check in with those folks that I know, and introduce them to others at the event that I know.
  • When I am cold calling in person, I simply carry an appointment book and some of my cards. I am on a mission to schedule appointments. Even if they want to talk right then and there, I limit myself to 10 minutes at the most, and schedule a regular appointment, even if it is for 2 hours later that same day.
See, it may look impressive to have 120 connections on Linked In, or 30 followers on Twitter, but the real value is in the value of the people you are connected to.

It comes down to, "To make a friend, be a friend".

Your comments are always welcome.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Repeat Exposure

Here are some of the advertising and marketing options I have been exposed to in the last 24 hours:

  1. Radio Stations (both AM & FM).
  2. Television Stations (both broadcast & cable)
  3. Billboards
  4. Newspaper
  5. Direct Mail
  6. Website advertising
  7. Email advertising
  8. Business Cards
  9. Building Signage
  10. Grocery store coupon on back of receipt
  11. Restaurant Placemat
  12. Van and Truck Signage
  13. Bathroom signage
  14. Phone Book
  15. Local Magazine
What makes some of these better than others? Repeat Exposure is one big difference.

How many people are going to see your Yellow Page Ad vs. see your TV commercial vs. see your business card?

Here's a real life example:

$5000 a month will buy a 3/4 page Yellow Page ad that is seen only when someone is looking for it. $5000 a month will buy you a weekly 1/4 page newspaper ad. $5000 a month can buy you 200 radio ads reaching over 100,000 people a week in my town.

You see it's not just the cost of advertising, its also what you get for your money. Sure it costs more to run an ad campaign on mass media, but add up all the little things that don't get repeated exposure and you can spend just as much money with much smaller return on your investment.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Getting Discovered

50 years ago, before I was born, there were fewer advertising options and I suppose that made it easier for new businesses to find customers, or for customers to find them.

30 years ago when I started full time in the radio business, the advertising options were growing as consumers had many more media choices.

Fast forward another 20 years. The birth of Google. The internet was still in its infancy and home computers used AOL to connect to the internet over a dial up connection that tied up your home phone line.

Now let's look at 2008 with an eye on 2009 and beyond. The challenge for businesses remain the same. Getting Discovered by your customers. But the options continue to expand. Or have they?

Earlier this month I met with two separate entrepreneurs that are involved in online start ups.

I asked each of them, how are people going to find you, how are you going to get discovered?

They said, I have a website. So what? According to the research I did recently, there are estimates ranging between 87 million and 4 billion web pages on line as you read this. So how are you going to help people discover you web page?

Currently the best answers are:

  • Use Mass Media to promote your website.
  • Use Mass Media's websites to draw people to your site.
  • Define your Niche and focus on Niche Media and Niche websites to draw people to your site.
One at a time.
Use Mass Media to promote your website. Television, Radio, Newspapers, Billboards, Direct Mail and even Phone Book advertising are still getting lots of eyes, ears, and bodies paying attention to them. These are also Local, so if you have a Local business, you can target the local community. Mass Media is also the most expensive, if you do it right. The rewards and R.O.I. are also the best if you do it right.

Use Mass Media's websites to draw people to your website. Newspapers and Broadcast Media in your town should have websites. There are ways to discover how much traffic local websites are getting by going to or Google Website Trends.

Use Niche Media and Niche Websites. This is good if you are able to do business worldwide. It can also help you to narrow your focus within your local community.

The Bottom Line is you need to Get Discovered. You need to get the word out. Too many times, I have seen businesses set themselves up for business, but they do not have an effective advertising plan to bring in customers. It's like planning a party and not sending out invitations.
No amount of planning will bring people to the party unless you invite them.

The other lesson about getting discovered is that all media is not created equal. You need to match your business with the right media to get the word out. Click here for more on matching.

And click here for a few more tips on how to promote your local website.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Choice is Yours

Please don't be fooled into thinking that you can abandon the marketing strategies that have made you successful when the economy was booming and you built a loyal customer base.

Unless you really don't have a loyal customer base.

Here's the choice you need to make:

1) Do I start discounting and cutting my profits to try and win customers and clients by offering the lowest prices?


2) Do I make sure that the customer experience is the best it can be, and improve that service, and build more profit into my sales model?

If you chose option 1, you will lose. There is always someone that can undercut your prices. (Think Walmart).

If you chose option 2, then start looking for ways to improve what you have to offer. You may even be able to charge a premium for it. How would you like to add a service that costs you $10 but you can charge $15 or $20?

I see that smile on your face.

But here's the tricky part.

You don't get to decide which extras to add. That's backwards. Instead, find out what your clients and customers would find valuable, and then find a way to do what they want, not what you want.

See it's not that tricky after all.

The choice is now yours.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's Not a Crisis

On my way to the Firefly Coffee shop this morning, I heard a news story, that said during the month of September 2008, Senator Barrack Obama raised a record amount of money in contributions for his Presidential campaign. This money came from individuals, out of their own pockets, because they wanted to give to something they believed in.

Over the past 2 months, (mid-August to mid-October), we have had nothing but bad news about our economy. Chicken Little (and Chicken Big), have been squawking that the sky is falling, and that we are all victims of Wall Street greed, Capitalism, and a lack of government control and oversight.

To which I encourage you to remember the so called serenity prayer, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference."

No matter what faith you have, there is a universal wisdom in this saying.

Most of the major companies are making adjustments in their operations, (without government handouts, bailouts, or any extra emergency assistance). Some will adapt and survive and emerge as leaders in their field when times improve. A larger percentage may grind to a halt and collapse, leading to more gloom and doom news.

But the people within those companies will continue to live and find new ways to earn a living. Some will take the common path of flipping burgers, or become a greeter at Walmart. But then there are the others that will take the path of independence, start their own companies, based on their experiences and talents and the needs and desires of those around us.

I have seen this repeatedly, Man gets laid off from big employer, starts his own family company, it grows and he hires additional help, it grows more and more and one day he tells me that he is happier and healthier, (mentally, physically, and spiritually), and he has created a source of income for himself, his family, his employees and the cycle continues.

I say this is not a crisis simply because the opportunities are there. I understand that there are many, many individuals that are facing crisis situations brought on by the current economic conditions. It is not my intent to dismiss those individuals, but to help you to understand that there is a rainbow in the midst of this thunderstorm, and believe in yourself, your people and refer again to the wisdom of the serenity prayer.

More on how to market and advertise in the days and weeks ahead.

P.S. After I wrote this, I found this from Seth Godin (click here).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cut The Hype

Want to know if your marketing and advertising are going to work?

Try this simple test.

It's a variation of the Golden Rule.

Treat others the way you would want to be treated.

I don't care if you are running a 99 cent store, or a store where the smallest trinket starts at $1,000.

We are so tired of broken promises, screaming, "BUY IT NOW" commercials, and all the hype that we are being fed by so many, especially right now in this political season.

Ask yourself, would I sell this to my best friend at this price? If not, then change.

Are there any business practices they you are involved in that are "questionable"? Stop it now.

Are you always truthful? Do you fix things that go wrong? Do you take responsibility?

These are the the questions you need to ask and if necessary, make some changes.

Cut the Hype and Be Real. That's the best marketing policy of all.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Value of a Plan

Wing it.

Go with the Flow.

Fail to plan and plan to fail.

Three view points and attitudes. You probably can guess which one I prefer.

1) Wing it. This means, let's see what happens, improvise, maybe I'll make it, maybe not. This is a plan built on luck. Actually it is a non-plan. Not a good idea for any area of your life, personal, financial, business. There are no standards, nothing to measure, anything goes. If this is the way you are handling your advertising, or any of your marketing, please get serious and stop it. This is the way a rebellious teenager operates.

2) Go with the Flow. This is middle ground. Most mediocre organizations are doing this. You have some traditions, you have some plans, but all are subject to change, without any real direction. Businesses that do this, spend money on advertising when things are good, then stop when things are not so good. Unfortunately, that is the opposite of what should be done. When you stop advertising, you stop inviting people to do business with you and guess what happens next? Yeah, business slows even more and you are in a downward spiral. Go flush a toilet and watch the water flow around the bowl and see where it goes? That's what your business is doing when you simply Go with the Flow.

3) Fail to Plan and Plan to Fail. Let's examine what it means to plan:

  • Plan for Good Times.
  • Plan for Bad Times.
  • Plan for what cuts you can make without hurting your business.
  • Plan for what to do when you have a surplus, so you can have reserves for those leaner days.
  • Plan for Growth.
  • Plan for selling your business, or passing it on to the next generation.
  • Plan for the next 20 years.
  • Plan for the next 10 years.
  • Plan for the next 5 years.
  • Plan out each of the next 5 years.
  • Plan for the next quarter.
  • Plan for the next month.
  • Plan for the next week.
  • Plan for tomorrow.
  • Plan for the next hour.
And have a back up plan for each of these. Review and adjust. Can you see how this is different from Winging it, and Going with the Flow?

A plan gives you a foundation, a reference point, a standard by which you can measure everything you do.

Sound overwhelming? I understand. Just take it a step at a time and keep at it. You can do it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

E-mail Marketing No-No's

This morning I turned on my computer, opened up email, looking for urgent or important messages that needed my attention then after started looking at the rest of the email that arrived in the past 9 hours.

One email got my attention because of the name of the sender, Steve Martin. Now I do not know Steve Martin, except for as a fan on his acting, writing, and comedy. This however was from a different Steve Martin.

Here's the email:

Hello S, I'm Steve W. Martin and I've participated in more than one hundred sales kickoffs as a keynote speaker, salesperson interview panel moderator, and win-loss analysis study presenter. Here’s a few of the companies I have worked with:

Applied Materials
Automotive Resources Intl
BEA Systems
Best Manufacturing
Eaton Vance Investments
Edgar Online
Global Healthcare Exchange
Heartland Payment Systems
LSI Logic
Nuance Communications
Riverbed Technology
Sungard Financial Systems
Tech Data
Triquint Semiconductors
USI Insurance
UTI Worldwide Logistics

My sales kickoff keynotes provide real-world sales strategies, proven tactics, and helpful advice with a healthy dose of humor. On my web site you will find keynote topics, video clips, and pricing information at Here are some customer comments:

"For a keynote speaker to impress a sales force composed of experienced professionals he must have credibility, in-depth knowledge of selling in the real-world, and an entertaining presentation style. Steve Martin hits the mark on all three of these requirements."
Steven Beekhuizen, Senior Vice President Commercial Sales, Dawn Food Products

“Steve’s participation at our sales conference was invaluable. He closed our meeting with an uplifting, motivational presentation. He interviewed our top salespeople in his Tales from the Field panel. And, he conducted several hands-on break-out sessions on advanced sales strategy, sales psychology, and customer communication.”Jim Brown, Vice President Strategic Sales, Wonderware Software

“Steve’s kickoff session provided the perfect mix of enterprise sales strategy, advanced sales psychology, and light-hearted humor. The Tales from the Field salesperson interview panel he conducted was a conference highlight.” Lisa Pope, Vice President Global Sales Strategy, QAD Software

"Steve Martin’s approach replaces the tired traditional sales methodologies that we have seen in one version or another in our career. He will motivate you with his provocative knowledge of the sales process. His style is personal, entertaining, and will dazzle your sales organization." Peter Riccio, Vice President Sales, SuccessFactors

Every sales kickoff attendee receives a copy of my critically acclaimed book Heavy Hitter Sales Wisdom: Proven Sales Warfare Strategies, Secrets of Persuasion, and Common-Sense Tips for Success. Thanks for reviewing this e-mail and I respect your online time. If you have received this e-mail in error, please accept my apologies and respond with "leave" in the subject line.

Steve W. Martin

Mr. Martin sent this to an old email address that I have not used in about 3 years. As a matter of fact, it was an email address that I was using to screen some of the junk that I wanted to filter.

But, he accomplished the first step, he got me to open his email. The rest is worthless. Actually the rest is worse than worthless, it creats a negative impression.

First of all, all he talks about is himself. A brag list of who he has worked with. As I scan the list, I am mentally saying, "who cares?" I almost delete, but then I decide to use this as an example of how not to handle your email marketing, or any of your advertising.

Mr. Martin has no idea who I am, what my role is in my company, or any of the organizations that I have a position of influence with.

This is one step above spam, because his email program personalized the email, "Hello S," although I never refer to myself by my first initial.

Is it better to send 1000 emails blindly like Mr. Martin did, or 100 personalized, relevant emails that might result in developing business relationships?

Go for Quality over Quantity.

For the past few months, I have been involved with email marketing for our local advertising federation and have been applying basic relationship marketing principles and it is working.

Your thoughts, comments, and questions are always welcome.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Creating a Long Term Business Marketing Plan

How long are you planning on being in business? Now before you answer that question, look at these questions:

If you are a seasonal business, Are you going to be in business next year?
If you are nearing retirement, Do you have a succession plan?
If you are just starting, Are you feeling overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done, yesterday?

Unless you are out for a quick buck and not planning on sticking around town, and your primary skill qualify you as a con-man, you need to think Long Term with your marketing.

Long term does not mean weekly, monthly, quarterly, even annually. Long term should be thought of in terms of decades, and lifetimes.


Most successful businesses are built on relationships. And relationships take time, energy, and effort to cultivate.

I'm working with a few businesses that used to do short term marketing strategies and blew a lot of money on gimmicks that created bursts of activity, but then the marketing money ran out and, they were left with a half dozen gimmicky ideas and not a coherent, relationship based marketing plan.

Here's a quick way to evaluate if you are doing relationship based marketing, or not. Ask yourself if the advertising and other marketing efforts are based on your needs and desires, or are they based on your customers needs and desires.

Stop doing the gimmicks, create value, the value that your customers are looking for, and design each and every marketing and advertising campaign to enhance those relationships.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

12 Marketing Tips...Look inside First

When I returned to my profession of advertising and marketing about 6 years ago, I had a mission in mind.

That mission was to help business owners and managers make smart decisions with their advertising and marketing.

One of my goals when I have my initial meeting with a prospective client is to give them something they can do immediately to improve their marketing, and often it involves improving what they already have in place.

Here's a quick check list of 12 things that you can use as you examine how to improve the marketing of your business:


  1. Is your phone answered by a real person within the first 3 rings? People prefer talking to other people instead of an automated attendant.
  2. Does the person answering your phone speak in such a manner that he/she is clear and understandable? Rushing through the name of your business is a common mistake.
  3. Is the person that answers your phone pleasant and friendly? We had an office person that was assigned phone answering duties for a couple hours each afternoon and you could tell in her voice, that she hated that task. We took care of that promptly.
  4. Voicemail...When you leave a message, do you speak clearly and slow enough that someone can write down your number so they can call you back? Better yet, leave the number at the beginning and end of your message at a pace you would give, if you were face to face with someone.
  1. Does your establishment need a good top to bottom cleaning? Once a month, schedule a thorough cleaning, including dusting, vacuuming, taking inventory off the shelves, wiping everything down, washing windows, making it sparkle. You may even need to repaint each year, especially if smoking is allowed in your establishment.
  2. Speaking of smoking, Do any of your employees smell like smoke? This can be a real turn off and most smokers are unaware of the smell that permeates their clothing.
  3. Are there any unpleasant odors anywhere? When I walk into a restaurant, I expect to smell the aroma of delicious food. Ask someone that has a stronger scene of smell than you to do a walk-thru of your establishment.
  4. Parking lot and entrances: Is there trash or litter that needs picking up? Make it a part of the daily routine to clean this up. Also be sure to provide trash cans so people will have a place to put their trash instead of the ground. And empty them before they are overflowing!
  5. Are your restrooms clean? All the time? I know several places have a check list for hourly restroom inspections, but even those are not being followed all the time.
  1. Do your employees reflect the level of professionalism that your business should demand? I'm talking about clothing, manners, habits, language, etc. Take it up a notch.
Public Relations:
  1. Are you involved in giving back to your community? Not just money but time and service is needed and creates an excellent reputation for you and your company.
  2. Are you and your employees branding your company outside of business hours? Do you have shirts with logos that they are encouraged to wear, for example? (You need to hire employees that are a good reflection of your company even in their off hours).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Email Marketing Update

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you my experience with email marketing.

Click here to read those lessons learned for Email and Websites.

This time I have another inside look at an email campaign that I designed for the Advertising Federation of Fort Wayne, of which I serve as the Vice-President of Communications.

September 18th is our next monthly meeting and the purpose of this email campaign is to get RSVP's by next Monday, so we can have an accurate count for lunch, etc....

Today I sent an email to a list of 300 and the picture you see is the response after 3 hours. (Click on the picture to make it bigger.)

Actually the response is not much different than it was after 90 minutes.

Here's the numbers:

300 sent, 3 bounced. (I worked hard at having a clean list.)

120 were opened in the first 90 minutes, out of that number, 20 clicked through to the website and registered.

The email was sent at 10am local time, one of the best times to send an email to local business people.

We now have nearly 50% of the list viewing the email.

Now what else did I do to enhance this campaign?

On August 21st, about 50 people that attended that month's meeting recieved a small Save The Date card at the meeting.

Also on August 21st, the website was updated to people could register online from the home page.

A few days later, the Save The Date postcard was sent as a direct mail piece.

All of this I call "seeding".

Yesterday we sent out the official direct mail invite, a big post card, it should arrive today and tomorrow.

Also yesterday, I updated the front page of the website with the same artwork and design as the direct mail piece and the email blast.

I will be sending one more email blast Monday morning.

Here's the lessons to learn:

Multiple messages to the same person will increase the response rate. If someone attended our August meeting, they would have received a Save The Date card, followed by a Save The Date direct mail piece, and two emails, plus a visit to the website adds up to 5 opportunities to invite them to this months meeting.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Old ways vs New Ways

Any family run business that is in it's third generation is in trouble.


They are exceptional.

And by exceptional, I mean they have tossed out the old thinking and reinvented themselves for the future, yet retained the key elements that that made them unique that are still relevant.

This happened in my own family, and I've seen it occur in others, repeatedly.

My Dad's parents were entrepreneurs. I have a couple of my grandfathers business cards from the 1940's. He was a coffee distributor according to the card. His wife ran a bakery, together they started Howard's Restaurant in Colebrook, New Hampshire.

They put their blood, sweat and tears in the business, the family (kids) worked in the business and they knew everyday was a fight to win, to provide for the family, and be a success.

The business was taken over by my Uncle Dean, the eldest of 4. He knew first hand from growing up in the business the lessons that were learned by hard work and together he and my Aunt Jean had the right balance of hard work and rewards to continue the family business.

Dean and Jean had 3 kids who also grew up in the business and yet these three kids did not see the work that their grandparents put in to establish the business. One of my cousins took over from my Aunt and Uncle. He married and later divorced and the business was sold. Thankfully Howard's Restaurant is still in business, a waitress who worked there bought it and retained the name.

That third generation never knew the first generation and the perspective was different, not just in business but life overall.

With life spans increasing it is now possible for all three generations of a business to work side by side. Use the wisdom from the past along with the knowledge of the current and future times to be exceptional.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Why Relationships Matter

As I have advised numerous business owners, Relationships Matter.

But Why?

No matter what product or service you sell, you have at least one competitor. Even if you are the only car repair shop in town, your customers can choose to trade vehicles instead of dealing with you, if they don't want to.

So what makes you the one they spend their money with?

Depends on a multitude of factors but they have one thing in common, a relationship.

Sometimes a relationship is based on convenience such as location.

A couple of years ago I moved 2 1/2 miles and my coffee shop habits, and grocery store habits changed.

Location was one of the influencing factors that I changed.

Think about it this way, would you rather do business with someone that treated you fair, or someone that you were distrustful of?

So do your customers.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

E-mail Marketing & Website Tips

At my Collective Wisdom Blog I have featured tips on websites and email from other experts.

Recently I learned a few lessons first hand.

This summer I became the Vice-President of Communications for the Advertising Federation of Fort Wayne.

Among the duties that I have assumed were the website and email blasts that we send to members and guests for upcoming events.


We use a professional service that allows me to create, customize and track the response rate. When I took over as V-P, there were 125 names and email addresses. About 30 were old, I discovered. I asked for some additional contacts from my fellow board members and added a few of my own and ended up with a list of 300 email addresses that we will be adding to in the months ahead.

That's 300 good email addresses that didn't bounce or unsubscribe. It took a number of hours to scrub the old database, and compare one list with another, but it payed off.

First email blast was sent at 6:15pm on a Monday night. I discovered this was not the best time as I was able to track if the recipients even opened the email and so I changed my strategy for the next one a week later.

The second email was similar to the first but had an update of an extra guest speaker, so there was a relevant reason for people to open the second email, even if they opened the first.

The second email was sent at 10am on a Monday. Response was triple compared to the one sent after business hours. One last email was sent the following day at 3pm. Again, the open rate was very good.

Here's the email sending tips that I learned.

  1. Middle of the morning or Middle of the afternoon during a business day works best for business related emails because the recipient has cleared out all the emails that received overnight or during lunch.
  2. Also, you have to give them a compelling reason to open the email, the curiosity factor.
  3. And if you are sending the same basic email more than once, you better have a good reason to do so. Better yet, make some adjustments to the content.

These are some of the same strategies I use in building a radio campaign that's focused on an upcoming event. And it works.

Now for the Website tips.
Make sure your site loads correctly in all the popular web browsers. Internet Explorer still is number one. However many people like myself prefer to use an alternative such as Firefox, or Opera. Apple users are most likely to view your website on Safari.

I spent a few hours trying to figure out why a page on our membership list did not load correctly in Internet Explorer and finally after trying to decipher the HTML code, found the answer and now it loads properly.

The last website tip is make sure everything is current and working. You wouldn't run an ad campaign that featured an old disconnected phone number or address, so clean up your website too.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

10 Lessons to learn from Political Marketing

I look at the longest Presidential in U.S. history with two perspectives, personal and professional.

As a student of marketing, teacher of marketing and professional marketer, I have a few observations to pass along that can help you market yourself and your business:

  1. Victories are won one battle at a time. Hillary Clinton was the presumptive nominee when this battle began. The first contest in Iowa was won by the new kid on the block. Obama had 38%, Edwards 30%, and Clinton 29%. On the Republican side Huckabee had 35% followed by Romney, Thompson and McCain. 5 days later the New Hampshire Primary had Clinton and McCain on top.
  2. Focus on your Strengths. Both Obama and McCain were non-traditional. Obama stressed his youth and lack of "Washington-insider status". McCain highlighted his war record as a POW and as a maverick in Washington.
  3. Be Prepared for Attacks from your Competition. Consumers always have a choice to do business with you, or with someone else. Some of your competitors will stress why they are a better choice than you. If you know your competition, you will be better prepared to position yourself to your customers.
  4. Your customers are Smarter than you give them credit for. Many of the people that voted in the primaries did their homework before they voted. With the Internet, people are checking you out too!
  5. Your customers are not as Smart as you give them credit for. Well, how else do you explain the rumors, ignorance and that many of the electorate still believe about the candidates? And your customers, no matter how much branding you do, will not really pay attention until they need your product or service.
  6. You need to develop a brand and do a branding campaign. Even though your new customers may not spend money with you until months (or years). Top of Mind Awareness will help you stand out in a crowded field of choices.
  7. Embrace technology. Obama used it repeatedly. Your customers are using it. You MUST use it.
  8. Your customers matter more than you do. It's the classic question, "What's In It For Me?" that voters and customers want to know.
  9. Feelings matter. People want to buy from businesses that they feel good about. Candidates have been working their butts off to touch the voters hearts and arouse passion. You should too.
  10. Admit your mistake, apologize and move forward. Stubbornness creates ill will. Making things right creates good will.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Advertising on the Internet

The internet is a wonderful thing. And it is still in its infancy.

Think about the advent of radio or television broadcasting.

A nice invention, but how do you make money with it was a question someone must have asked a long, long time ago.

Eventually advertising was used to support this "free medium". I say free, because after buying a radio or television, you were not obligated to spend anymore money except for the electricity to power the radio or t.v.

Later people started paying a subscription fee to get extra channels via a cable t.v. service. Those in the Television Broadcasting business locally tell me that penetration for cable, FIOS, or satellite services is 80% in our Metro.

Wow, 4 out of 5 people pay extra money each month to watch television.
Next thing, people will pay extra for bottles of water that is no different than the water they can get out of their tap.

See how we become conditioned to accept things through marketing?

Another piece of technology that changed our viewing habits was the wireless remote control. With dozens, no, make that hundreds of channels piped into our homes, can you imagine having to stand in front of your television to change the channel until you find what you want?!

The remote also made it easy for us to flip the channel when a commercial came on. But studies show, that the number of people that flip during a commercial break is directly related to the quality of the commercial as judged by the viewer.

So what about this internet thing? Can anyone make money with it? Yes, but it will take more than setting up a website and waiting for the money to come rolling in. Quite frankly, methods of advertising online that worked 5 years ago, such as banner ads, are not as effective, generally speaking as they used to be.

Consumers have learned to tune out advertising, so it will take a marriage of advertising methods and creativity, coupled with the understanding of basic human emotions and behavior, to make an internet ad campaign successful. And odds are that within a few years, you will need to use different methods to reach your online audience, which is okay.