Monday, March 31, 2008

Predictions for Future Advertising Options

As I write this on the eve of April Fools Day 2008, this is no joke. And you'd be foolish to ignore what is going on now and in the near future.

  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.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


It is amazing what a smile and a sense of humor can do to overcome any shortcomings. I have been told that I am very good in areas that I believe I need improvement. So why do they say those things? An honest belief in one's self, armed with the knowledge of what needs to be done, and then the commitment to shoot for the moon, even if your goal is only as high as the clouds. As far as the smile and humor, you need those to keep yourself on track, break down tensions, and build relationships, which ultimately this is all about.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Honesty and Humility

I had lunch this week with a new potential advertising partner. Near the end of the conversation, he mentioned as incident about a former business partner which inspired this posting today.

Above all, be honest. And if you do screw up, own up to it, take responsibility, and make amends. Do not run and hide. Bad news always travels faster than good news, and the best way to stop the bad news is to convert it into good. Here's an example of how:

Your company screwed up. Didn't deliver as promised. Caused a whole chain reaction of bad things to happen. Go to your customer and apologize. Offer to make amends. Eat your profits. Earn back your customers trust, and earn back your customer. You can create a loyal customer if you are honest with them. And loyalty can be priceless.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Doing what it takes.

The following story I originally wrote in the summer of 2005:

This week I had lunch with a friend of mine that had hosted a few seminars on U.S. Savings Bonds. The purpose was to generate leads for his financial services company that he owns and operates. I was there to show him an idea that would cost him $795.

I learned that he had spent $10,000 in newspaper ads to promote 3 seminar events and was discouraged that he has not a cent back yet, and there was nothing in the works. As we spoke, I discovered that he had between 55 and 75 people total that came to his seminars. The first one had 40 attendees, the last one had 4. So, I asked why spend the 10 Grand in the paper? He was advised to do so by someone that was connected with the seminar topic to do it. Meanwhile, he is out the money, his wife is a bit upset, and he is too.

Instead of selling him the $795 idea, which we agreed did not fit what he was doing right now, I showed him something else:

For $10,000 he could advertise 20 to 40 times per week, every week for the next 12 months on one of my radio stations that is targeted to reach the people he wants to reach, AND have $1000 still in his pocket. (The current cost for the above program is only $9000.)

But then we dealt with his current situation. For $10,000 he made contact with at least 50 people. In order to recoup his $10,000, only one or two people need to become one of his clients. So far he was doing follow up with monthly postcards. Nice, but no results yet.

Get on the phone and make 10 calls per day for the next two weeks. It doesn't matter if you get a live person or voice mail, just make 10 calls from the list of 50 who attended the seminars.

Do this for two weeks. Do not cross anyone off the list until they flatly say no.
But what are they saying "no" to? This is equally important. Do not sell them on the phone. Instead, the calls are simply to set up a personal meeting to see if I can help them in any way with questions about finances, Savings Bonds, or whatever.

He told me he hates to make phone calls. I told him to remember why he was calling.
He was calling to set an appointment. Period. Not to sell over the phone. No way. Do that face to face. After they have invited you into their home. I told him if he wanted to earn his $10,000 back this was the way to do it and he agreed. Didn't like it, but he agreed. Would you do it for $10,000? $50,000?

Whenever I meet with someone, my desire is to help them with some advice at the minimum, or a plan of action so they see value in meeting with me.

Later that day I realized that at lunch not only was I giving my friend advice and a plan, but me too. I call it "teaching the teacher". Most of us know in our head how to be successful, we simply need to be reminded and move it from our heads into our hearts too.

Sweating the Small Stuff

Contrary to Richard Carlson's best selling serries, "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff", in the business world, someone needs to pay attention to the "Small Stuff".

Take a look at this list of Small Stuff:

  1. Dirty Windows
  2. Litter in the Parking Lot
  3. Employee tardiness
  4. Messy Desk
  5. Unanswered email/voicemail
  6. etc.
See how these small things will effect your bottom line when you look at it from a Marketing Perspective?

Here's another quick list of Small Stuff directly related to cash flow:
  1. Not sending out monthly statements/invoices
  2. Not giving correct change
  3. Not paying bills within 30 days and thus racking up interest and penalties
But you say, (Like I do sometimes), "But I'm not a detail person!"

Then you have three choices:
  1. Bring aboard someone who is a detail person and will look after those items I have listed.
  2. Incorporate the biggest of the small stuff into your "Must Do" list.
  3. Shut down, close the doors, or watch your customers go to the place that keeps an attentive eye on the "Small Stuff".
What you might call sweating the small stuff, someone else will simply call, "Taking Care of Business".

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I've been helping a friend that had a website developed to add credibility and an internet storefront to a business venture they are launching.

The Website developer that my friend used was in India, subcontracted from a company in England. This was an example of WORLD WIDE Outsourcing. All things considered, after a few trials and errors, the project is nearly complete and done at a fraction of the cost of what someone locally would charge. (I've been told that the price is about 50% to 70% less.)

There were a few frustrations along the way but if you are going to outsource for a cheaper price, you need to determine what you are willing to sacrifice. In this case it was time and the inconvenience of only being able to communicate via email. And my friend was willing to pay that price in order to save actual cash.

As you decide whether to buy locally or outsource from somewhere else, consider not only your bottom line in dollars, but also in time and convenience. Also you need to consider the effect it will have on your reputation in your marketplace.

If you are a local business person but buy all your goods overseas, or out of state, it could come back to bite you that you are not supporting your local economy.

These are not answers, just questions I urge you to ask, as you consider how to take advantage of the WORLD wide web and the opportunities of a global economy.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Grump

Take a moment and look at the people in your office or store that you work with. I bet one of them is a bit of a grump. Or maybe there are two of them, since it's hard to be grumpy all by yourself.

Don't see any grumps? Maybe it's you? I hope not.

Attitude is an integral part of your marketing because marketing is about relationships.

Everyone has a bad day every once in awhile, but if there is someone that is having a string of bad days, bad weeks, bad months, Stop.

Stop and find out what's wrong. Perhaps there is a legitimate complaint that you can help solve. Or perhaps it is something totally unrelated to work. But ignoring the grump is like ignoring a broken leg.

You can pretend it doesn't exist, but it's gonna keep you from performing at full speed.

See, marketing is so much more than just advertising...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

It's all about the money... Or is it?

If you look at life strictly in terms of dollars and cents, you are only looking at a fraction of what life has to offer.

While it is true that it takes money to make lots of things happen, it also takes relationships. And sometimes those relationships will lead to the money that you need to advance your other goals.

This sounds like which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Strive for balance in everything you do.

Give of yourself.
Get involved.

I got involved with one of our local Lions clubs which is focused on sight related activities.
I also sit on the Board of Directors for our Local Advertising Federation, because I want to see that things are done to promote ethical practices in advertising and marketing.
I am part of a marketing board for our local Boy Scout Council, because I want them to be able to reach out to the youth the way they did me when I was in my teens. (I am an Eagle Scout).
And there are a couple other organizations that I serve too.

This is part of my personal marketing too. What are you doing to achieve balance and build your brand?

It has to come from the heart.
And the money will follow.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Battle of the Giants

In our city there has been a major battle over what used to be simply known as Cable. Comcast is the giant that serves Fort Wayne Indiana. When Verizon started wiring the town for their Fiber Optics network (FIOS), the battle began.

As the phone company (Verizon) offered subscription television service, they stepped into the territory that Comcast owned.

Dish and Direct TV has had a small impact, but not as significant as what's going on now.

Both Verizon FIOS and Comcast offer three bundled services: Television, Internet & Telephone (VOIP).

A lot of money is being spent in this battle. I get 2 to 4 pieces of direct mail each week from Verizon with different offers and so far I have resisted switching from Comcast.

Here's why. I like what I have. And I haven't seen a reason to switch. What Verizon needs to do is hosting viewing parties this summer and get the word of mouth talkers to start talking.

I do have a couple of co-workers that have made the switch, but I haven't been to their homes. Instead Verizon needs to come to me, set up a display showing me the difference in a place where I'm going to be. Don't make me look for you. Use the direct mail and the radio spots to annouce where you are going to have this viewing party. And make me an unbelieveable offer. Because I really don't want to switch unless you can convience me and make it worth my while.

Are you in a similar battle with a competitor? Than do EVERYTHING it takes to win.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How to use your website to reach local customers

W.W.W. stands for World Wide Web. Your website is accessible to nearly anyone on this planet that has access to the internet, with the exception of countries such as North Korea, China and a few others that have government controls on internet access.

I have SiteMeter on most on my websites and that tells me that I get visitors from not only Indiana, but nationwide and worldwide every week.

Your site most likely gets visits from across the globe too. But unless you are prepared to ship your products around the world, or send yourself around the world to provide a service, then you most likely care most about reaching people in your town.

There are a couple of ways to get the word out locally about your presence on the internet. As I write this at the end of March 2008, there is a slow way and a quicker way to promote your website.

The slow way is to buy ads on the internet that have click-able links such as Ad Sense from Google.

A quicker way is to include your website address on and in all your local advertising marketing. And I mean all of it. It should be on your business cards, the cash register receipts, your sign, your delivery vehicle, your invoices, your voice mail, your paper or plastic bags, your name tags, your EVERYTHING!

Your website address needs to be in your radio commercials, your T.V. ads, your billboards, your newspaper ad, your phonebook ad, your direct mail piece, and your Little League sponsorship ad.

Now I'm going to tell you how to crank it up to the Next Level. That is through internet connectivity with local websites.

If you are going to advertise with a radio station, TV station, or Newspaper, make sure you also advertise with clickable links that go from their website to your website. Why?

It is easier for a consumer to click on a link than manually type in your web address. Misspellings can send potential customers somewhere else on the WWW. You may have a dot com address and your competitor has the same name except theirs is a dot net address. I've seen it happen. Clickable Links eliminates these errors.

Also clickable links use the basic principles that made traditional media advertising successful in the past. That is, you are getting exposed to a larger audience.

One last item about presenting your website in print. Use Capital Letters To Separate Words.
Today I saw on the side of a vehicle. A better way to present it would be because it emphasizes the name, not a collection of letters.

The choice is up to you and your budget.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Focus on your customers, not you.

It is easy to do things the traditional way. Old habits are hard to break. Problem is that some old habits become ruts. And I don't want you to get stuck in a rut.

In Fort Wayne, we have two semi-independent traditional newspapers. There's the morning paper, the Journal-Gazette, which is published 7 days a week. We also have an afternoon newspaper, the News-Sentential, which is published Monday through Saturday.

When I was growing up, we got the afternoon paper and the Sunday morning paper. I had a paper route for awhile too, delivering the afternoon paper after school.

I mentioned that they are semi-independent, because they are owned by two competing companies, but they also have a joint operating agreement that manages much of the business side (advertising).

It's a fragile relationship due to the declines in paid subscriptions for both papers, but especially the afternoon paper. It used to be the morning paper leaned to the left and the afternoon paper leaned to the right politically; now they are leaning on each other for survival.

They are also leaning on alternatives to traditional daily newspapers. They have one of the best possible website domain names ( from which you can go to either papers website, and they have also reached out with more specialty publications and magazines in recent years.

Newspaper readers tend to skew older (Age 50 plus) and as the population ages and dies off, the newspaper printing business will need to reinvent themselves. As long as our local papers can find away to generate revenue, using whichever medium works best, and they maintain costs, we can always have at least one newspaper serving our city.

But the subject I want to talk about is not newspaper survival, but what they are doing and what you need to do to.

Focus on your customers, not you. The News-Sentential is having their 175th anniversary this year. It is fun to take a look back, but a traditional newspaper is designed to bring you the latest happenings in your world over the last 24 hours, not the last 175 years. Which fortunately they are doing a bit of both.

As they move forward, they are going to where their customers (readers and news consumers) are, and that is the internet.

This morning I met with a successful insuarnce agent and liked what I heard. His son, who is also a part of his business is creating a Facebook page for their business. Social Media is where a lot of people are going for connecting. Facebook and MySpace are the leaders in this field right now.

The jury is still out on how to use social media for advertising purposes. But this is a step in the right direction. And as the technology evolves, the options will increase. No matter what you use for your advertising and marketing however, remember to focus on your customers, not you.

Go to where your customers are. You're not going to convince my 23 year old son to read the newspaper and see your ad, but his grandparents still subscribe and read the paper daily. Both of them spend money on car insurance, you just need to decide how to reach them.

Another way of focusing on the customer is to focus on what they care about. Caring is an emotion. Don't confuse it with stating the facts.

For example: "In business for 56 years..." is a fact, but says nothing directly about how you will take care of your customers.

A way to convert this to be customer focused could be, "We'll take care of you the way we have your family for more than 50 years." Or, " Individual, personalized attention to fit your needs."
My second example doesn't even mention how long the business has been around, because, it really doesn't matter to most people. To some of the younger generations, it could be a sign of being old fashioned and out of touch.

The key, has to be to focus on your customers, not you and go to where your customers are and invite them to do business with you.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Case for Limited Growth

Today is St. Patricks Day 2008. It is also my 7th wedding aniversary. And the last day of a 7 day vacation with my bride. On trips like this, she gets to drive, I get to look out the window, read, maybe write. This is the arraignment that works for us.

What works for others, may not work for you. And so, I'm going to propose the opposite of what many traditionalists say you should do to be successful.

Say no more often.

The traditional business model says we measure success in getting bigger, expanding, more locations, more employees, more this, more that, more more.

Say no more often.

Because my bride introduced me to the "coffee shop experience" shortly after we met about 8 years ago, I'll use coffee shops as an example in this illustration. Also because I have done a lot of writing on the subject of Starbucks and other coffee shops recently.

For the first time since Starbucks started expanding, last year they had to cut back, shut down some locations, and 3 weeks ago, they shut down over 7,000 Starbucks across the country to retrain their staff.

Meanwhile across my town, and maybe yours too, there are other local coffee shops that are single location businesses. I visit places like the Firefly, Dragons Keep, the Mocha Lounge, Coffee Cafe, all of which are single location shops. We also have a couple of home town chains, Aspen and Higher Grounds that I have visited too. Convenience and location are the predominate reasons I pick one coffee shop over another.

I notice differences in each shops beverages, but my wife, now she really notices and she is picky too. Picky can be good, because when they love you, they tell everyone how great you are, and this leads to more and more positive word of mouth and more new customers. On the other hand, if a picky person does not like your product or service, they are not likely to stick around.

Here's the problem with too much growth: When there is too much growth, quality suffers at the expense of quantity.

So, what do you want to be known for, the mediocre blah shop with lots of locations, or the highly specialized shop with one location?

One Location that is able to make sure that everyone does things according to the standards you have set? Or Multiple locations that sort of follow the same standards, but not really, it all depends on the mood or the moon, or some other random fact of life that has absolutely nothing to do with the customer?

Please if you are going to have more than one location, and you buy into the "bigger is better" way of doing business, then create fool proof criteria for each location to follow and those that bend the rules, get rid of them. (Unless they find a way to make things better for your customer, then implement that at all your locations.)

This is all about marketing. And what about advertising? If you are limiting your growth (by design), do you still need to advertise?


Because there will always be customer turn over and unless you are consistently inviting new people to be your customers along with reminding your current customers to come back more often, you will become out of sight, out of mind.

And the out of sight out of mind process can occur very slowly, sort of creep up on you, until one year you notice, that things are not as busy, the cash isn't flowing as much as it was a few years ago, etc.

One last comment about limiting your growth. Even if you have just one location, you can get caught up in expanding beyond your expertise and lose your unique identity. The answer?

Say no more often.

And contact me. I'll help you figure out when to say yes.

Go to and on the left side is a button to click on to send me an email.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Common Thread to Successful Marketing

This week, I have:

  • been to a reception with Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream fame
  • talked with a second generation business owner that is planning a consolidation/expansion this spring
  • met with a young budding entrepreneurial photographer who signed up to be in our radio station bridal show
  • met with a husband and wife that took over a furniture and flooring store and are expanding in the face of a "down economy"
  • took part in a board meeting of our local Advertising Federation, where we picked each others brains about how to improve our organization, to serve others and honor those that have done a good job.
  • met with a long term client that 18 months ago wanted to cancel their advertising because it wasn't working, and today they doubled their advertising because it is working.

I also added internet advertising to two clients advertising plans for 2008. And tomorrow I am guest hosting a radio show on real estate.

No, I am not in the real estate business, but I am in the marketing business and I have been involved in a few real estate transactions over the past 7 years.

So, what has been the common thread running though all of this?


Jerry Greenfield was honest in both the casual conversation we had, and in the presentation he made to a few hundred folks later that evening.

Honesty was spoken when I talked about expectations with the business owners and advertising agencies this week.

And I'll talk honestly about real estate on the radio Saturday morning.

There is no other way to really succeed.

There are no tricks or schemes to marketing, because marketing is about building relationships.

Dishonesty rots your soul, robs you of the joy of a clean conscious, and prevents you from living to your full potential.

So, I urge you too, to be honest, to speak up for yourself and others too. Stand for what you believe in, or sit down.

Follow the Golden Rule and you will have a basis for all your marketing efforts.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Increase your Business 10% to 75%

I know how you can increase your:

  • Appointment Setting
  • Closing Rate
  • Repeat Business
  • Referral Business
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Customer Loyalty
And it does not have to cost you one more dime than you are currently spending to do business.

By implementing this one technique, it could increase your gross sales, net profit, and personal income by 10% up to 75% or more.

How much would you pay me to do that for you?

Problem is, I can't sell you this technique. All I can do is urge you to implement it immediately.

Here's the technique....

Are you ready?

Are you sure?

This is it:


Not a fake smile, not a smiley button, not a phony smile, but a genuine smile can increase your business.

If you are the top dog in your business, then smile when you are with your staff and your customers.

If you are the intern, or newsest employee, smile and you will attract positive results.

Marketing is about relationships.

And people don't like to hang out with grumps. They don't like to work with grumps. They don't like to spend money with grumps.

Imagine what could happen if everyone in your organization simply started smiling.

You would attract business. You would lessen the severity of problems. You would be more successful.

If you doubt what I'm saying you can keep on doing things the way you have been and try and come up with some other trick or shortcut to increase your business.

Or you can Google the words. "reasons to smile" and you'll find dozens of websites that will show you all the benefits of smiling.

Go ahead and :)