Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Specialize or Generalize

I am doing more by doing less, which results in doing more. Let me explain and see how this can work for you too.

When I formalized my business, ScLoHo Marketing Solutions, I had a general idea of what I wanted to do with the company.

But it took some refining by knowing my strengths and what areas I wanted to avoid.

However, every once in a while, I get a request to do something outside of my arena which I have been challenged to accept, but I reel myself back in and decide to do what is best for me and the client.

Sometimes that is hiring a freelancer or subcontractor, to do the nitty-gritty. Other times it is referring the work to someone I believe is more qualified.

I have had the pleasure of learning from hundreds of business owners that were trying their very best to be successful and unfortunately unless you specialize you run the risk of losing it all.

Even Walmart specializes. They specialize in low prices. And they have the buying power to do so.

Me, like you, we need to determine what we are good at, and build on our areas of expertise. Build solid relationships with those that are your clients and customers and also build good relationships with those that you decide are not a good fit for you.

One way to ruin your reputation and your business is to over commit and leave a bad taste in someones mouth. And with the spread of social media, that bad taste will spread to others via word of mouth.

Better to be known for what you are good at, than to be known for what you are not good at.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Live and In Person

On Friday morning October 9th, I will being doing a presentation on Social Media & Social Marketing that I've titled, "Join the Conversation". If you are within driving distance of Fort Wayne, Indiana and want to attend, I will have a limited number of guest passes to give away, then the cost is $100.

Earlier this year I was asked to do a Social Media/Marketing presentation for the TQM Network, and it took a few weeks for me to decide what direction and theme to use.

The majority of the people I know do not have blogs, do not use twitter, and a small percentage have Facebook pages. (When I say small, I mean less then 50%). Similar stats for Linked In.

So, instead of defending Twitter, or teaching people how to use Linked In, we will talk about what is going on and provide an introduction to Social Media/Marketing in terms that the non-user will understand.

This summer I attended a local presentation on Public Relations which touched on the subject of Social Media and I realized that there was nothing presented that I did not already know, but there are lots of people who know very little and are curious about the subject.

In August, the Fort Wayne chapter of the American Advertising Federation presented Social Media as the topic for a Lunch & Learn event to advertising professionals and we had one of our best attended events in recent months. Even those in the advertising world are not familiar and want to know more.

In a couple of days, I'll be attended one more presentation locally on the subject and then I'll finalize my presentation.

Click here for more details.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Dozen Plus 1 Tips

Recently I was asked by the Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce to write an article for their newsletter, Emphasis, which is sent to 5000 local business people as a special supplement in the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly.

See if you can find all 12 tips (plus 1):

The answer to all your advertising and marketing questions:


Whether you are selling burgers, automobiles, health care or clothing; what really matters is the relationship between your business and your customers. This relationship lives in the hearts and minds of your current, previous and potential customers. And the first reality that you need to accept is that your customer doesn’t care about you and your business unless you truly show in a demonstrable way that you care about them, their needs and wants.

Instead of bragging about how good you are, focus on how you can meet their needs. That is the heart of a successful marketing campaign.

So, what goes into a marketing campaign?

For starters, here's a quick check list of 12 things that you can use as you examine how to improve the marketing of your business and improve relationships:


  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. 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 sense 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.
  2. Do you empower your employees to resolve problems or do they have to ask permission to contradict a policy? Examine your policies and eliminate those that are not customer friendly.

Public Relations:

  1. Are you involved in giving back to your community? Not just money but time and service are needed and create 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).

Even if you tackle each of these dozen items successfully, there is another extremely important and necessary part of your marketing that you must do to be successful:

Invite people to do business with you.

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. Even if you have fine tuned those previous 12 marketing tips, you need to send out the invitations. That's the purpose of advertising. To get peoples attention to what you have to offer.

Before you decide which advertising venue to use, keep in mind the following timeless principles:

  • The very best marketing method mimics human relationship principles.
  • In order to build relationships, you need to have positive contact repeatedly.
  • Anything that does not follow these two principles should be examined very carefully before you decide to invest your time or money in it.

For centuries, men and women have gone through a courtship stage in their relationships. Many times, this leads to marriage. And that is one of the ultimate examples of how advertising and marketing works. Very few people get married after just one date!

Commit to steady, consistent relationship oriented advertising to invite people to do business with you and back it up with improvements to relationship building marketing and repeat forever.

For more information contact:

Scott Howard at Scott@ScLoHo.net

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How NOT to use Email for Follow Up

I am on the board of directors for our local Advertising Federation. Last year I was the V-P of Communications which included the website and email campaigns.

As I prepared each of the emails, I learned early on to send a copy to myself to check the links and layout, before I sent it to the masses.

Email is an accepted form of communication for lots of business transactions and yet sometimes we get sloppy.

What follows is a poorly edited form letter I received recently when I told a website/email provider that we would not need his services since we were doing it ourselves.

If he had read what he wrote before hitting the send button, he would be spared the embarrassment of my placing his email on this site. Instead, his email became an example of how NOT to use email for follow up.

All of us should learn to proofread before pressing Send:

Hi Scott,

Thanks for your email and the update. Good luck with your new association management tools and website. If for whatever reason they don't meet your expectations in the future and you'd like to explore other options, please email/call at your convenience. Since AssociationMagnet is an off-the-shelf product, it's likely that we (1) have a better feature set (i.e., it's not just "the website," and people generally underestimate the cost/time required to really build all that they need for running an association chapter); (2) can launch for you within a few weeks; _and_ (3) can save you quite a bit of money on an ongoing basis. I'd welcome the opportunity to have a more detailed conversation with you about what you need and what we could do for you.

By the way, since AssociationMagnet is an off-the-shelf product, it's likely that we (1) have a better feature set; (2) can launch for you within a few weeks; _and_ (3) save chapters in normal situations quite a bit of money both on the launch and on an ongoing basis. If/when the time is appropriate, I'd welcome the opportunity to have a more detailed conversation with you about this and what we could do for you.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How to Drive Traffic to Your Website

I know the title of this has been used by thousands of people, over and over. But what I'm about to say may run counter to what some of my friends in the marketing/media/internet world have been telling you.

Most of the folks that I know that answer the question will tell you, you need S.E.O.

S.E.O. stands for Search Engine Optimization.

And while this may be important, I discovered a couple years ago what I believe is more important.

First, let's explore SEO and why it can be important.

Most people will find your business by clicking on a link on the internet.

And before they find a link, they will perform a Search, using a Search Engine such as Yahoo!, Google, or perhaps MSN. This chart shows the popularity of various Search Engines just three years ago in 2006:

Yet, times have changed. In a report for July 2009, Google now has grown to 64.7%, Yahoo has shrunk to 19.3%, Microsoft has rebranded its search engine and is now know as Bing and has an 8.9% share, Ask is at 3.9% and AOL is down to 3.1%. Click here for the details.

So Google is the king of Search, which means that websites need to be Optimized so Google will find them and send traffic (visitors) to your website. This is why there has been such a boom and push in S.E.O.

Problem is, S.E.O. is not cutting edge, it's just one of those things you probably should do because everyone else does it. However there is a new way to be found....

And it's not really new. I discovered this a few years ago, and it follows the growing trend of how and why people are using the internet.

The trend is current information. We want to know what is going on now, and this search for information will leave many (or most) current websites in the dust.

When I began blogging a few years ago, I was undisciplined, unorganized and not really focused. It took me awhile to develop a purpose and a strategy, but once I put those pieces into place, the rest grew.

The answer to driving traffic to your website that has been working for me the last few years and will continue for the foreseeable future is provide current content that people want.

I believe one of the easiest ways is to write a blog about a subject that you are passionate about and keep it fresh with a new, worthwhile posting at least once a week.

That's what I do on this blog you are reading now, however this is really my 4th blog.

My number one blog is updated 3 to 5 times a day/ 7 days a week and is also about Marketing, Advertising and Sales. It is currently one of the top 240 marketing blogs in the world according to a couple of different ranking services. This number one blog is titled ScLoHo's Collective Wisdom and you can find it be clicking here.

My number 2 blog is a fun, personal blog that I started as a way to post items that were not related to my business.
Last year I featured links to other blogs in my town of Fort Wayne, Indiana, then this year committed to featuring a Fort Wayne Site of the day, every single day which has garnered lots of attention, including requests to be featured. You can visit it by clicking here.

Blog number 3 is simply a collection of random pictures, a few personal, most were found on the web. It gets updated as I see fit.

The last one is a political blog which I use randomly to share some ideas of a political nature.

Here's why I know this works:

  1. I have tracking counters that show me how many visitors I am getting. Over 500 per week currently.
  2. I have received offers for work and projects for me and my company from these blog postings. This includes unsolicited speaking and seminar engagements.
  3. I have been recognized locally, nationally and internationally by various individuals and organizations that found me online via the blogs.
  4. It is paying off for me financially, yes real money.
Finally, Google is changing the rules.

Yes, the worlds leading Search Engine is preparing to revamp itself and make it harder for static websites to get noticed, even with S.E.O. in place. Click here for details and a preview.

And this also falls into my ongoing push to build your business through relationship based marketing. By engaging in current conversational practices online, you are providing what people are looking (searching) for.

It works. Now, and even more in the months ahead.