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How high is your water level?

December 23, 2006

Boat People rise to expectations.  Or sink to them.  How high do you set the bar for your employees, peers and customers?

So often marketers create copy thinking that they have to live by the 3rd grade reading level rule.  I say that’s ridiculous.  Unless your product is for 3rd graders.

It’s okay to expect them to get clever.  It’s okay to treat them with respect.  It’s okay to expect them to make good choices.

I just learned of a company that has “employees cannot sleep while working” in their employee manual.  Come on.  If you have to say that in writing, you need to revise your hiring policies.

Go ahead, expect a little more and watch your boat rise with the tide.

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Give to get

December 20, 2006

Hopefully you have a passion for the work you do.  It matters to you.  And you honestly believe it matters to the clients you serve.  It’s something you are proud to offer.

Give it away.

I could hear your collective gasp.  Give away what you sell?  But sampling is a golden oldie in terms of marketing tactics.  The biggest buying obstacle any business has is the uncertainty of that first time.  Why not leapfrog over that worry by just giving them a taste?

Many service-based businesses can’t conceive, because they don’t have a physical “thing” to offer, how they can use the sampling tactic.  But, it’s easy.

Mud Some of my learned peers in the marketing/communications field and I have decided to really explode the idea of sampling.  We’re adopting a charity for the entire year.  They’ll get everything from marketing counsel to video production services, web and new media coaching/services, printing, etc.  We’re taking applications now.  Read  the Des Moines Register’s story about our  marketing makeover.

If you’re a Central Iowa based non-profit, download the application and get it in!  Some lucky charity is going to score over $75,000 worth of services.

Along with MMG, our partners in this experiment are:

Trinity Press
Radio Garage
Brackett Media & Event Services
Aijalon web services
Andy Lyons Photography

Hats off to these smart marketers who recognize the power of sampling.  And of doing some good along the way.

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Tell me again why you don’t blog?

December 18, 2006

Dear corporate America…little one man business…and everyone in between,

You’ve heard it before.  New media, blogging, YouTube, text messaging  etc. etc. etc.  We’ve talked about how the power is shifting from you to the consumer and how you’d better get your voice back in the conversation.  Well guess what, now it’s official.1101061225_120

Time has named their Person of the YearAnd it’s you.  And me.  And all the other voices out there.  No doubt this will be discussed and re-discussed among the blogging community as a sort of triumphant validation for being an innovator.  Interesting but not relevant for 99% of the businesses out there.

The only part of the whole discussion that you need to pay attention to is this:

How long can you afford to be silent?

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Ease into the week — brand of your youth?

December 17, 2006

I don’t know about you but Sunday nights are time for me to catch up.  On my reading, on my work, on my relationships — all with an eye on Monday morning and knowing that the 180 mph pace is about to resume.

Sundays also seem to be my day for deep thoughts.  I thought it might be fun to ease into the week together with a question that is sort of about branding and marketing but also has a personal element to it as well.  A chance to get to know each other AND talk shop.  Perfect for a Sunday night.

In the comments section of my recent post…This is your brain.  This is your brain on brands there’s an interesting discussion about the emotional connection we make to brands.  There’s no time when our emotions are more at the surface than when we’re kids.  So here’s this week’s question:

Glove_1 What is the brand that best epitomizes your youth?

Mine…without a doubt, Rawlings.  They made the best ball gloves.  I can remember getting my first one…and oiling it with such attentive rapture.  As I got older and my hand got bigger, I had to make the bittersweet move to a new glove.  But soon, I loved the new one as much as the old one.

The great thing about a baseball glove is that, much like jeans, the more you use it, the more perfect it becomes.    I slept with my mitt under my bed for months, molding the pocket to just how I wanted it.   But it didn’t really achieve perfection for a few seasons. Then…it was (and still is) just right! 

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The perfect combo gift

December 16, 2006

Menards_2 I was shopping tonight and came across this aisle sign. 

Do you think the employees were making a commentary on holiday shopping or perhaps they didn’t bother to look at their work from the customer’s point of view?

It made me laugh.  But it also made me appreciate the team at MMG who take pride in every thing they do for our clients.

Drew’s helpful holiday shopping hint:  Just because they’re in the same aisle, does not mean they make a great combo gift!

Drew’s helpful employee training hint:  If your employees don’t understand that they deliver your brand…you’ve got serious trouble.

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No friend of mine

December 16, 2006

Mailbox We know the drill.  A company wants to do a little one-to-one marketing.  They determine their right audience, design their direct mail piece and buy a list.

My full name is Andrew.  But really, unless you’re my mom and I’m in trouble, no one calls me that.  So when I get a letter  addressed to Andrew, I know its no friend of mine.

Here are the options available to the mailer (not counting the option of not sending the piece.)

  • They can address each letter individually, knowing that some Kathryns, Andrews, and Elizabeths are going to be on to them.
  • They can "guess" on nicknames.  In my case, they’d guess Andy.  And they’d be wrong.  Kathryn could be Kate not Kathy and Elizabeth could be Betsy, not Liz.  So perhaps risky business but odds are they’d be right as often as they’d be wrong.  So have they reduced their risk by 50%?
  • They can address the envelope but not personalize the letter (just use a letter block format) and reduce the impact of potentially using the wrong name.

What do you think?  Do consumers excuse the misuse of their name?   Or does it make them feel less kindly towards the sender?   Do you think they even notice?  In a recent post, Seth Godin suggests that people thrive on seeing their name.  Does that mean it really ticks them off to see it incorrect?

Salutation or irritation?  That’s my question.

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Five Tips to Increase Online Book Sales

December 15, 2006

Book It seems like just about everyone who has written a book is pitching it on the web.  Even me!   Marketing sense tells us that the web needs to be part of any author’s strategy today.

Here are some easy and smart ways to juice your online sales.

  1. Create a blog on the same topic as your book.  I know I am probably preaching to the choir here, but it is worth saying.  Blogging is a place where birds of a feather gather together.   Gather your birds in your own nest!
  2. On your book’s/author website (or blog) include a calendar that outlines your public appearances, book signings and presentations/readings. And provide a place for people to request an appearance too!
  3. Post a sample chapter that can either be read or downloaded so they can get a taste of your style and how you approach the topic.
  4. Give the buyers lots of choices.  Don’t only have your book available on your site.  List it on Amazon, BN.com, 800CEORead, etc. as well.
  5. Identify some other authors who write in your same subject area.  rather than seeing them as competition, make them a co-conspirator!  Promote each other’s books, do some mutual giveaways and take advantage of each other’s fan base.

Rocket science?  Not really.  But you’d be amazed at how many authors think those books will sell themselves!  If you’re an author, give a couple of these a try and let me know how they work.  If you’re a reader…reward some of those authors and pick up a book or two for the holidays.

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Find a new read or two

December 15, 2006

Mack over at The Viral Garden has ignited a new idea in his post Revenge of the Z-Lister to spread the word on some blogs that really deserve more attention and traffic than they’re getting.  Some are pretty new while others are just still a well kept secret.

Here’s what Mack suggests we do to create some viral buzz for this worthy blogs:

"What YOU can do is simply create a new post on your blog, but CUT AND PASTE the list I have below, and then ADD any blogs you feel aren’t getting their due either. It can be 1 blog, or a hundred(or none if you simply want to repost the same list), but the idea is, find those great blogs that, for whatever reason, you feel aren’t getting their due, link-wise.

Then after you leave your post, the next blogger will do the same thing, cut and paste YOUR list, and add THEIR blogs to the list, then repost it. Add the same instructions in your post that the next blogger should cut and paste YOUR list, and add any blogs they feel should be on it to THEIR list. The list will get increasingly long, and all the blogs will get a sort of reverse ‘pyramid-affect’ of link-love. "

So….Mack posted his list.   Chris Brown added a couple.  Which inspired Mike Sansone to add a bunch.  Now, I’m going to keep the torch lit and add three more and then hope you’ll grab the torch and keep this going.

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Blogging 101 from the expert

December 13, 2006

It’s rare that you get to listen and interact with a true expert.  But if you happen to be in the Central Iowa area…you’re a lucky son of a gun.

Why?  Mike Sansone is a business blogging expert.  Many a business blogger (myself included) can point to their success and standing right behind that success is Mr. Sansone himself.

Mike’s generosity is well-known throughout the blogosphere.  He demonstrates it again by offering a free blogging workshop series.  The first one is tomorrow (Thursday, December 14th).

Take advantage of the opportunity. Go interact with the expert.

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Let them set your prices

December 12, 2006

Price_tag What if you did just that?  You let your customers determine your value.  Do you think it would work?  Would they pay you more than what you’d set as a fee or would you constantly be undercut?

What do you suppose this pricing strategy would say to your clients?  Is it a message you want to send?

One of my resolutions for ’07 is to try this with at least one client.  I’ll let you know how it works.

Want to read some more interesting thinking about pricing.  Check out Mike McLaughlin‘s Guerrilla Consulting’s pricing section.

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