How potent can brand be?

March 31, 2010

Watch this hysterical but quite pointed video created by Penn and Teller for their Showtime special.  (E-mail subscribers — click here to watch the video) Ask yourself these questions:

  • If my business were stacked in a row next to all our competitors — would we look different?
  • If we looked different — what would that difference be perceived to be?
  • If you were to peel away our "label" would that difference still exist or is it just marketing spin?

A hat tip to the very smart and savvy Susan Armstrong of Armstrong|Shank for reminding me of this eye-opener!

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Want to lock arms with Chris Brogan or Ann Handley?

March 30, 2010

Shutterstock_49177942 Now, now…I didn't mean it like that.  I mean in the "hang out and talk marketing, social media and connections" sort of way. 

Chris and Ann (along with a host of others) are both playing a role in this Spring's hottest conferences…and I want to make sure you know all about them.

Why would you make the effort to catch one?  Connecting on-line is fantastic.  But, there's no substitute for face-to-face connections.  Here's are two chances for you to literally and figuratively lock arms with some of social media and marketing's smartest folks.

How do you suppose Chris and Ann grew to be marketing/social media rock stars?  I suspect they would both tell you — it happened as they were so busy learning and reaching out to others that being "famous" pretty much took them by surprise.

Two character traits that I believe you'll find in most of the professionals who have leveraged social media, content creation and viral marketing to their own and their company's advantage are:

  • They love to connect with people
  • They are generous with what they know

So you need to take advantage of these opportunities to listen, learn and connect.  And I highly recommend you get to one of the two, depending on the timing and your geography.

SOBCon 2010: (click here for more info or to register)

Here's what they have to say:  "This 2.5 day "conference" is the think tank of the social web, where the best minds in the Internet space gather to present models, discuss insights, and determine best practices.

We review the changing landscape, identify valid strategies, discuss and develop tactics, report case studies, and share actionable business ideas.

If you want a dynamic, protected web presence, a vibrant customer community, and innovative advisors who invest in you for the long term, this single event will meet your needs faster, easier, and more deeply than any other.

The relationships made at SOBCon extend across social networks online and off and well beyond the exchange of business cards."

A very partial list of speakers includes:  Jason Falls, Steve Farber, Chris Brogan, Wendy Piersall, Amber Naslund, Steve Woodruff and a host of other amazing people you'd love to hang with for a couple days.  And yes…I will also be there as part of a panel.  (Naturally, founders Terry Starbucker and Liz Strauss will be very present as well!)

The discount:  If you use the code: SOBInsider you can save $250 off the registration.  But hurry — this offer ends this week.

B2B Forum 2010: (click here for more info or to register)

Put on by the stellar people at Marketing Profs, this is your one-stop shop for the skills you need to drive sales now!   Here's what they have to say:

"You asked for it and we're delivering you a broad-based B2B marketing educational program with a special focus on integrating social media.

You'll learn from B2B marketing experts in a variety of amazingly productive formats from panel discussions to roundtables to one-on-one therapy.

Therapy Sessions are worth the price of admission alone! Where else can you get 20 minutes of one-to-one advice from a top-level expert for FREE? Sign-up for an appointment with the expert of your choice and get 20 minutes of his or her undivided attention! Bring specific questions, or ask for an overall critique of your marketing program.

Loyal attendees flock to these FREE consulting sessions year after year! "

A very partial list of speakers includes:  Beth Harte, David Weinberger, Mitch Joel, Dierdre Breakenridge, Laura Ramos, Donna Tocci and my all time favorite, CK Kerley.  I'd love to be there too (was invited but had to say no) but I already have a speaking commitment I couldn't break.

The discount:  Use the code:  blog to save $200. 

There you have it my friends.  You have absolutely no excuse for not being smarter and better connected, come May 10th.  Invest in yourself… you'll be amazed at what you can learn and do!

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Dale Carnegie’s advice about influence is very Life 2.0

March 29, 2010

Screen shot 2010-03-29 at 1.34.41 AM There are some books that I believe everyone should read.  No matter what your calling in life, no matter your age, maturity or how smart you are.

Dale Carnegie's classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People was written in 1936 and is still one of those books everyone should have on their shelf for quick and regular reference.  Now that's longevity!

Thanks to web 2.0, you can also now carry Dale in your pocket.

The brand new iPhone/Touch app called Dale Carnegie's Secrets of Success was just released.  I dropped the 99 cents and downloaded it.  (Blackberry and I suspect Droid are coming soon as well.)

There's lots of quick tips and reminders layered throughout the app.  

Everything from golden oldies like…the sweetest word in the English language is the sound of a person's own name to the suggestion that true leaders give their people a fine reputation to live up to.

The content is very bite-sized so it's perfect for quick consumption.  There are also 30 or so videos built into the app.  I wish they would have spent a bit more time and money on the aesthetics of these.  But, don't let that deter you from downloading the app.  It's still well worth it.

To celebrate the launch of the app, I've been given 10 copies of the book to give away. 

Here's how we're going to determine the 10 lucky winners!

In the comments section — leave a comment telling us about someone you know that has incredible and impressive influence.  Then, tell us how/why you think they possess that influence.

For example, I might tell you about my friend Steve who has earned his influence by simply being rock solid.  People know they can depend on him and he always honors his word.  He isn't flashy or showy.  He just is 110% consistent and through that — he has earned the trust of many people.

We'll randomly select 10 of the respondents to win the book.  So tell us about someone who's ability to win friends and influence people has caught your eye.  And give the new app a try!

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Sometimes, your baby is just ugly

March 24, 2010

Screen shot 2010-03-23 at 10.54.44 PM Thick skin. 

We had a lively discussion on that very topic at work this week. 

As marketing professionals, it's our job to come up with compelling ideas (writing, design, etc. etc.) that will trigger actions and reactions from the intended audiences.

To discover those ideas requires a great deal of collaborative thinking and working together to sift through, push, pull and generally heat test each of them to see if they can stand up.  That can be brutal if you've made the fatal flaw of falling in love with your own idea.

Brainstorming has this "warm and fuzzy" image.  Who wouldn't like to just sit around and think up ideas?  It sounds so wistful and charming.

But in the pragmatic world of marketing, you don't really have time to putter around in the ideation stage for too long.  You need to shift back and forth — generating ideas, evaluating ideas, building off each other's ideas and twisting and turning someone's ugly baby into something interesting and curious.

Sometimes to get to the truly genius idea — you have to pop the head off of someone's ugly baby.  There it is… the cruel truth about brainstorming. 

You might be the poor shlub who has to watch his idea get trampled in the quest for the really, really remarkable solution. 

I don't know about you, but when I'm trying to be creative — I have to go through a lot of horrific, trite, pun-like ideas before I get to the good ones.  And usually in the early stages, I sometimes come up with an idea or two that I think is just about as smart as anything could possibly be.

Until someone starts knocking holes into it.  When I was young (both in age and professional maturity) I'd get upset and defensive.  It hurt. After all… that was MY idea and it was THE answer.  I clung to it, fighting off the enemy who wanted to attack my baby.  I was sure it was THE answer.

Of course… it wasn't THE answer.  And by putting it through its paces and criticizing it out loud, my co-workers were able to riff off my mediocre idea to get to something fresh and new. 

My ideas — the good ones, bad ones, off the wall ones — even the ugliest babies in the bunch are a part of the process.  And my job isn't to create "art" and defend it to the death.  Our clients can't afford for me to fall in love with the ugly babies just because they're mine.

How about you — do you make it okay for other people to tell you that your baby is ugly?

Photo thanks to MetsBallers

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Meet the Authors of Age of Conversation 3!

March 21, 2010

The manuscript is finally in the hands of the publisher (more on that exciting news later this week!) and we’re proud to introduce you to the smart, funny and insightful authors that contributed to the Age of Conversation 3: It’s Time to Get Busy.

The book will be out sometime in April (more details on that as well) and we’ll have both printed copies and some e-reader options as well!

Check out the new website as well — courtesy of our friends at Sticky.

A round of applause, if you will, for these awesome and dedicated professionals!

Adam Joseph Priyanka Sachar Mark Earls
Cory Coley-Christakos Stefan Erschwendner Paul Hebert
Jeff De Cagna Thomas Clifford Phil Gerbyshak
Jon Burg Toby Bloomberg Shambhu Neil Vineberg
Joseph Jaffe Uwe Hook Steve Roesler
Michael E. Rubin anibal casso Steve Woodruff
Steve Sponder Becky Carroll Tim Tyler
Chris Wilson Beth Harte Tinu Abayomi-Paul
Dan Schawbel Carol Bodensteiner Trey Pennington
David Weinfeld Dan Sitter Vanessa DiMauro
Ed Brenegar David Zinger Brett T. T. Macfarlane
Efrain Mendicuti Deb Brown Brian Reich
Gaurav Mishra Dennis Deery C.B. Whittemore
Gordon Whitehead Heather Rast Cam Beck
Hajj E. Flemings Joan Endicott Cathryn Hrudicka
Jeroen Verkroost Karen D. Swim Christopher Morris
Joe Pulizzi Leah Otto Corentin Monot
Karalee Evans Leigh Durst David Berkowitz
Kevin Jessop Lesley Lambert Duane Brown
Peter Korchnak Mark Price Dustin Jacobsen
Piet Wulleman Mike Maddaloni Ernie Mosteller
Scott Townsend Nick Burcher Frank Stiefler
Steve Olenski Rich Nadworny John Rosen
Tim Jackson Suzanne Hull Len Kendall
Amber Naslund Wayne Buckhanan Mark McGuinness
Caroline Melberg Andy Drish Oleksandr Skorokhod
Claire Grinton Angela Maiers Paul Williams
Gary Cohen Armando Alves Sam Ismail
Gautam Ramdurai B.J. Smith Tamera Kremer
Eaon Pritchard Brendan Tripp Adelino de Almeida
Jacob Morgan Casey Hibbard Andy Hunter
Julian Cole Debra Helwig Anjali Ramachandran
Jye Smith Drew McLellan Craig Wilson
Karin Hermans Emily Reed David Petherick
Katie Harris Gavin Heaton Dennis Price
Mark Levy George Jenkins Doug Mitchell
Mark W. Schaefer Helge Tenno Douglas Hanna
Marshall Sponder James Stevens Ian Lurie
Ryan Hanser Jenny Meade Jeff Larche
Sacha Tueni and Katherine Maher David Svet Jessica Hagy
Simon Payn Joanne Austin-Olsen Mark Avnet
Stanley Johnson Marilyn Pratt Mark Hancock
Steve Kellogg Michelle Beckham-Corbin Michelle Chmielewski
Amy Mengel Veronique Rabuteau Peter Komendowski
Andrea Vascellari Timothy L Johnson Phil Osborne
Beth Wampler Amy Jussel Rick Liebling
Eric Brody Arun Rajagopal Dr Letitia Wright
Hugh de Winton David Koopmans Aki Spicer
Jeff Wallace Don Frederiksen Charles Sipe
Katie McIntyre James G Lindberg & Sandra Renshaw David Reich
Lynae Johnson Jasmin Tragas Deborah Chaddock Brown
Mike O’Toole Jeanne Dininni Iqbal Mohammed
Morriss M. Partee Katie Chatfield Jeff Cutler
Pete Jones Riku Vassinen Jeff Garrison
Kevin Dugan Tiphereth Gloria Mike Sansone
Lori Magno Valerie Simon Nettie Hartsock
Mark Goren Peter Salvitti
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The Age of Conversation 3 cover

March 21, 2010

Age3cover Gavin and I are feeling like proud parents about now….exhausted, a bit worn thin but very, very excited.  We shipped the final, edited manuscript for Age of Conversation 3: It's Time to Get Busy off to the publishers (more details soon!) this week and we're almost home.

We wanted to share the cover design with everyone.  Many, many thanks to Chris Wilson (Fresh Peel blog), who got this done right in the midst of his move and transition to his new job with Fleishman-Hillard in Dallas.

He picked up some of the earlier cover design elements (done by David Armano) and added some of his own twists as well.

Chris has always been an incredible supporter of the Age of Conversation series.  He even launched the first Amazon bum rush for Age 1 — and he wasn't even an author of the first book.  That's all about class and community. 

Fortunately, Chris' thinking is well represented in 2 and 3…and now, so are his design skills.

Again — many thanks to Chris.

Want more Age of Conversation scoop?  Watch for the official author list later today as well!

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What’s your March Madness?

March 20, 2010

Basketball.drew_mclellan For two weeks every year, people ask questions like: 

Most of the people asking those questions could care less about college basketball.  Throughout the regular season, it's safe to say they've never watched a game. 

But March Madness comes along and everyone is filling out their brackets (even if it's with complete wild a** guesses), joining pools and talking college basketball!

The NCAA has taken their product — college basketball and for those two weeks, transformed it into something so spectacular and special that even their non-customers become rabid fans.  Even if it's just for the tournament.

What aspect of your business could you "march mad" up?  What could you do that would be so engaging and so big (probably so big you could only afford to do it once a year for a limited time) that it would draw in your non-customers?

What annual moment in time could you own?

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Trends shaping 2010: Dang it, we’re getting old!

March 15, 2010

Seniors Back in December, I wrote about some of the trends that would be influencing all of our businesses in 2010.  I thought it might be helpful to look at some of these trends a bit more closely.

Let's dig into the trend that we've actually been anticipating for the past several years.  After all, we've known that the baby boomers are such a huge group — there's no way their crossing into the 65+ category wouldn't throw our society a curve.Look at these facts:

  • By 2020, people over 65 worldwide will outnumber children under the age of 5 for the first time.
  • By 2020, 22% of western civilization will be 65+.
  • The ratio of workers to retirees will continue to fall.  Today it’s 3:1.  By 2030, it will be just over 2:1.

So what does that mean for all of us?

Shifting away from our youth focus :

For so long, mass marketing has been all about the young.  As this trend takes hold, marketers are going to shift their attention to those boomers.  Remember, this group of seniors is tech savvy, active and has quite a bit of disposable income.  Even products that are typically designed for the youth market will be aimed at seniors, like motorbikes and technology.

Simplified, smarter products :

We've already seen companies like Jitterbug simplifying technology for a senior's physical limitations and that's just the beginning. Now, there's going to be a huge new market for smarter products that accommodate senior's needs. 

For example, there are canes and walkers being created with GPS technology built right in.  Wonder what will be next?

Subtle safety products:

This era of seniors isn't ready to slow down or think of themselves as elderly.  Most of them are still quite active and aren't going to see themselves as someone who  needs to be taken care of.   But let's face it, as we get older — we need a little assistance.

Ford and other car manufacturers are working on technology that can detect if the driver is getting drowsy (a major cause of car accidents with seniors behind the wheel).  As soon as the car senses the driver is not alert, it automatically lowers the temperature in the vehicle to wake up the driver.

Here's another one — Thermador is developing a stove top that automatically shuts off as soon as the pot is lifted off the burner.

New problems/opportunities brought on by the volume:

In the good old days, when someone got a little older, their family rallied around and took care of them.  But with families scattered across the land and with fewer offspring per family — many boomers are going to be on their own.

3 of the 10 industries with the fastest employment growth are tied to this trend.

  • Home healthcare
  • Elderly and disabled services
  • Community care facilities

There are also all kinds of senior concierge companies cropping up.  They'll do everything from take someone to the doctor and take notes, to putting up your Christmas decorations or running errands.

How can you take advantage of this?

That's the real question. As with all trends the question is not whether or not they're true but what we're going to do when they come to pass.  How can your business capitalize on what's coming?  How can you be come indispensable to this huge market?

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Father knows best by Clickfuel’s Denise Cautela

March 12, 2010

Fatherknowsbest Drew's Note:  As I try to do on many a Friday, I'm pleased to bring you a guest post.  Meet a thought leader who shares her insights every day. So without further ado…Denise Cautela.

Again, enjoy!

Father Knows Best: Online Marketing Best Practices from a Small Business Owner

An entrepreneur, my father owned and managed two local retail chains in the 1980s and 1990s.  I grew up in the family business and credit my father with teaching me important customer service, business ethic and product quality values that extend into my current role helping companies manage their online marketing programs.

Even then, my father’s business practices were considered “old school.” He demanded we count change back directly to customers instead of relying on the cash register; he would not close the store until the very last customer was ready to leave (even if it was well past closing time); and he insisted that we manually count inventory monthly because computers were not foolproof and the numbers in the dot matrix printed reports could be wrong.

While these business practices may seem a little “dated,” the underlying philosophy was an important life lesson and provided the foundation for my own best practices for online marketing today:

Be loyal to your customers and they will be loyal to you

  • My father always made a point of building a strong connection with the local customer base.  In today’s market, we have a variety of inexpensive and easy-to-use Web 2.0 tools at our fingertips to spark and maintain a dialogue—and strengthen bonds with customers.  Tap Social media vehicles like Facebook Fan Pages to build connections and stay ahead of new trends by listening to what your customers have to say and what they want.
  • Be honest on your website, landing pages and email campaigns.  Clearly explain your business, what you offer and the value your product or service provides customers. Same goes for information you provide for any blogs or RSS feeds. Full transparency and honesty builds a level of trust with existing and prospective customers that can result in up sell opportunities and referrals, and of course, keep your customers coming back.

Make it easy for your customers to find you

  • Smart Pay-per-Click (PPC) campaigns put your product or service directly in front of those looking for you. It is the most direct, cost effective way to advertise on the Internet today.
  • List your business in as many online directories as possible. These directories are like signs pointing to your website in front of people driving by.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) done right can indirectly pull people into your website and help improve where your business appears on search engine result pages.

You have one chance to make a good first impression

  • Each one of my Dad’s stores had a distinct look and feel, and products strategically placed for easy access. How your website or landing page look, and the ease of use/navigation is critical. You may only have one chance to make that good first impression—make sure it counts.

Denise Cautela, VP of Marketing at ClickFuel, has nearly 15 years of experience in a wide range of strategic marketing and communication roles. A multiple award winning marketer, Denise is responsible for building out the ClickFuel brand, generating new business and strategically supporting the channel and direct sales efforts. Before joining ClickFuel, Denise was with Monster Worldwide for more than five years in a variety of leadership roles, most recently Sr. Director of Marketing, Emerging Markets.

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Are you hitting all the stepping stones?

March 10, 2010

Steppingstones I don't know who started the concept, but many authors attempt to sell their books by giving away their books.  Charles Sheehan Miles did it.  Wicked author Gregory Maguire did it.  Cory Doctorow did it. 

And of course, Seth Godin did it.  (Click on their names to find out how you can get your copy!)

Crazy?  I don't know.  But smashLAB's Eric Karjaluoto is giving it a shot. 

His new book, Speak Human, can be bought on Amazon for about $20 or you can download it for free (a chapter at a time) by visiting this site.

So how does giving it away encourage purchase?  I don't think it's necessarily about getting someone to download the free one and then turn around (out of guilt or adoration) and buy the same book.  It's more about:

  • Creating a fan base
  • Getting your ideas out to a wider audience
  • Creating buzz (through posts like this)
  • Encouraging word of mouth (free readers read it, love it, talk about it)
  • Securing clients, speaking gigs, etc.

The truth is, most business book authors aren't going to get rich off book sales.  But they can get rich off of the consulting and speaking opportunities that their ideas/books can create for them. 

The path to riches (a relative term) for most authors is not a linear one.  You have to do many different things that are like stepping stones in a pond.  You know where you want to go, but you have to hop from step to step to get there.

That's not just true for authors.  I'm guessing it is true for your business as well.  Are you sure you're hitting every stepping stone? 

Maybe you can see where you want to go but can't figure out how to get there…do you need to add a few more stepping stones and just worry about the next step?  Sometimes that's more effective than focusing on the vast chasm between where you are today and where you want to be.

Have you purposefully built your stepping stone path?  Eric Karjaluoto seems to have his in place.

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