Saturday, June 21, 2008

Energizer battery ads: Disturbing but effective?

Though I can appreciate the creativity, I'm not sure this is good for their brand. Do moms want to buy batteries from a company who threatens them (indirectly)? The copy in the corner reads: "Never let their toys die. The World's Longest Lasting Battery"

Agency: DDB, South Africa
Creative Director: Gareth Lessing
Art Director: Julie Maunder
Copywriter: Kenneth van Reenen
Photographer: Clive Stewart

blog it

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Top 10 US Social-Network and Blog-Site Rankings

Here it is... a listing of the top 10 Social Networks all in one place. These numbers are for the US in April 2008.

Top US social-networking site’s audience was up 3% in April compared with April ‘07, but second-place Facebook’s was up 56% from a year earlier, according to custom lists compiled by Nielsen Online.

LinkedIn, continuing its stellar growth, increased its unique audience a whopping 361% from a year earlier, reaching nearly 8.7 million in April, compared with less than 1.9 million a year earlier - and retaining its No. 4 position after having unseated Windows Live Spaces in March to take its spot.


MySpace’s unique audience totaled 58.8 million in April, compared with No. 2 Facebook’s 22.5 million.

Google’s Blogger remained atop the blog site rankings with 38.4 million unique visitors, up 40% from 27.4 million in April ‘07:


WordPress was again up - an impressive 160% from April ‘07 - increasing its unique audience to 16.6 million.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The 4 People Every Business Owner Needs

I like this article because, as an entrepreneur, I'm on the roller coaster of small business ownership all the time. Having people to level out your highs and lows emotionally and tactically is invaluable and almost critical to success.

With so many facets to running a business--including sales, marketing, technology and protecting your physical and intellectual properties--having the right people in your corner can be a tremendous asset, providing both emotional support and business know-how. Unfortunately, many new entrepreneurs go it alone, without that emotional backing from friends or family.

Typically, there are four common types of supporters who serve as emotional backers and/or advisors. If you are fortunate enough to find all four, you may have your own little village to help you raise a business.
"The Cheerleader"
rally behind your ideas and believe in you as an entrepreneur
"The Role Model"
actively teaching or training
"The Expert"
more than willing to go the extra mile by providing their expertise in a specific area.
"The Techie"
someone with the ability to provide such technical help in today's business world can be a godsend.
Some people are fortunate to have such supporters
others may simply need to look
 blog it

Monday, June 16, 2008

Social Media - Do people really use it?

So we know what social media is but do people really use it? In order to understand the who, we have to start with the HOW. This article from Forrester Research breaks adult internet users into six groups based on their involvement in social media. What category are you in? Your customers?
clipped from

At the heart of Social Technographics is consumer data that looks at how consumers approach social technologies – not just the adoption of individual technologies. We group consumers into six different categories of participation – and participation at one level may or may not overlap with participation at other levels. We use the metaphor of a ladder to show this, with the rungs at the higher end of the ladder indicating a higher level of participation.

 blog it

Friday, May 30, 2008

iPhone Obsolete: Google Unveils Mobile Phone Operating System Today

Google held a developers conference today and actually unveiled their mobile phone operating system: Android. It has some similarities to the iPhone but... believe it or not... BETTER!

Check out this video demonstration of the functionality! They start showing the phone system at 24 minutes. If you are pressed for time though... skip to the demonstration of streetview with "compass" at 31 minutes!! Unbelievable.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

part 3: facebook. simplified.

I've received several emails over the past few weeks inquiring about my lack of blog postings. Some of the theories as to why I haven't been blogging:

A) I developed a severe case of carpal tunnel and can no longer type.
B) I'm pursuing my dream of hitchhiking across the country.
C) I joined a cult in Texas where social media is forbidden.
D) All of the above.

If you guessed C, then you are correct... However, it turns out that I can't live without the internet so I'm back and the blogging shall commence.


As I began to think about how best to summarize what facebook is all about, I decided to do a search to see what videos are out there that may be able to explain it better using visuals and screen shots (read: less work on my part). Much to my surprise, I found a video that a couple girls did for a class project that highlights exactly why facebook is so popular... especially among the teen and college demographics... in just 55 seconds! (The side-bar commentary is somewhat annoying but further illustrates exactly what people are thinking when on facebook).

In other words, facebook is a way to:

  • Connect with old friends
  • Meet new friends
  • Keep up-to-date on what your friends are doing
  • Join in on fun events
  • View and share pictures/videos
  • and gossip about people!
It's kind of like stalking... but with a little less "creep factor" than the more traditional off-line version.

I know that this post is the epitome of simplification regarding facebook but hearing two teenage/college girls explain the highlights in less than a minute is the best way to understand why it has become a pop culture phenomenon. If you want to know more about facebook, create a profile and find some people you know! Unless you are 75 years old, I guarantee you'll find an old friend.

And a note for all of you avid facebook users:

What if the interaction on facebook wasn't a website but actually how people interacted in daily life? I came across this video in my search and, though it is vulgar in some places, it points out some of the annoying things about facebook that people should be aware of before diving into any social networking platform.

NOTE: If you do not use facebook, do not watch this video. It will make absolutely NO sense to you.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

part 2: social networks. simplified.

Social Networks are technology platforms that facilitate meaningful interaction among people. In other words, they make it easy to share with each other, to build upon that which is shared and to discover people, places and things. Social Networks, though a dominant force in the evolution of the internet, are just one part of a much larger movement referred to as Web 2.0. We’ll start there.

Web 2.0 is the “new” web that has changed from a “read-only web” where most users go online to read and review content to a “read and write web” where users go online to generate their own content.

This change in online behavior (Web 2.0) has been facilitated by the development of technology that allows non-tech-savvy internet users to publish content relatively easily (i.e. blogs, wikis, video/picture sharing sites). One of the most influential of these technologies is the social networking platform also referred to as the "architecture of participation."

These platforms (MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Orkut) allow users to create profiles and then connect their profiles to their friends’ profiles so they can keep tabs on each other and share content (videos, music, pictures, messages, events, notes, etc…). They also have powerful search features allowing users to locate lost friends and classmates and reconnect. Users can also see who their friends have listed as friends allowing them to grow their network through mutual connections.

MySpace was really the first very successful social network and most likely your first introduction to this phenomenon. MySpace allows users to easily create and control their own personalized “space” on the web. They can post pictures, pick their own background, stream their favorite music, rebel against convention, preach against rebellion, communicate with friends, find new friends and discover lost friends. In many ways, a MySpace page is as much a vehicle of self-expression as a teen’s bedroom.

Facebook is a more structured, formalized network that is less customizable and as a results, easier to use. Facebook seems to be emerging as the “mature” MySpace.

LinkedIn is really just a glorified address book that can be shared with people you know. The primary benefit is being able to search not only your professional network but anyone connected to people within your network. As an example, I have 124 contacts in my LinkedIn network giving me access to over 2.9 million people (friends of friends of friends).

It’s About People. Not Content.

In the early 90’s, there were websites that made it easy for users to create their own web pages (Tripod, Geocities). The difference between those sites and the social networks of today is that those early sites had no easy way for users to get their friends to the web page or to let them know that it had been updated. It was pretty boring to have a web page that nobody saw! Those sites didn’t survive but their demise demonstrated one very important point: Web 2.0 is not about user-generated content. It’s about user-generated content that is a result of social interaction. In other words, it starts with the people, and then comes the content. Therein lies the lesson for us marketers.

Brands are constantly trying to harness the power of social networking to build community around their products. Though sometimes an emphasis on really strong content (i.e. by P&G) is enough to draw like-minded people to a network, for small businesses without multi-million dollar budgets, it’s not likely to be successful.

The key to marketing via Social Networking is not to create your own branded network but to tap-in to the networks that already exist. People want to spend time where their friends spend time. If every company has their own social network, and consumers accept this and participate, they will never cross paths with friends again since everyone will be dividing their time across 20 different networks.


There are many ways to take advantage of social networks as a business. In fact, there are hundreds of businesses that exist solely for this reason. One big business today is the development of “widgets.” Widgets are applications that can interact with social networks and operate within the network platform. You can create games, contests, etc…, all with a widget that users can add to their profile or use to interact on their friend’s profile. The main benefit of “widgets” is that they allow you to associate your brand with something fun that users enjoy and deliver a brand message at the same time. Widgets are also somewhat viral in that as one person adds the application to their profile, all of their friends are notified and are likely to add it as well. This pattern continues thereby increasing your exposure at little to no additional cost = viral. is keeping a running tally of the "total number of apps (Widgets) installed" on Facebook: 12.8 million as of July, 2007. That refers not to the number of applications, but to the number of users who installed the widgets to run on their Facebook pages or blogs. I’m sure this number has more than doubled since.

Simple Marketing through Social Networks

According to eMarketer's, 38% of all Internet users, or 72 million people, used social networks at least once a month in 2007. Among 18-34 year olds, 25% visit social networks daily and among 9-17 year olds, 55% spent between 5 and 30 hours per week on social networking sites.*

If you are not ready for widgets, there are also more “traditional” ways to market via social networks.

Using Google Adwords as a campaign management tool, you can place ads (text, image or video ads) on many of the popular social networking sites including Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. Facebook recently launched its own campaign management tool making it easy to geographically target specific demographics with your ads.

Through the Google Adwords and Facebook campaign management tools, advertisers can place ads on a CPM (cost per thousands impressions) pricing model or a CPC (cost per click) pricing model. Which one you choose depends on your objective: brand awareness = CPM; lead/sales generation = CPC.

Basic ads on these networks driving traffic to your website is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to leveraging the power of social networks. Facebook allows you to create your own “group” that people can join to rally around your industry/product/service. It also allows businesses to create their own “page” that people can “fan” or “opt-in” to receive updates when new content is posted. I’ll explain these tactics in more detail next week.

There are many strategic, creative ways to harness the power of social networks. If you think your business could benefit from an updated internet marketing strategy leveraging social media, contact me and I’d be happy to help.

*Dynamic Logic "Ad Reaction 2007," Grunwald Associates
Web 2.0 Chart by Social Computing Magazine

Monday, April 14, 2008

Week 1: blogging. simplified.

"I’m sorry, did you say blog?"

I don’t remember the first time I heard the word “blog” but I do remember finding it a very odd choice of terminology. So, let’s start with the name and other common terms associated with blogging.

Blog: Short for Web Log, a blog is a website that is updated often with articles or written thoughts and organized to display the most recent item first. So, a blog is a place to publish and log written works that are organized in reverse chronological order. Most importantly though, a blog is managed by software that allows the average person (with no technical expertise) to manage the layout, design and content very easily.

Post: The individual article/thought that is published. Each new item published is considered a “post.”

Blogging: the act of writing, managing or promoting a blog

Blogger: author or owner of a blog

Blog Archive: All blogs are organized to display the most recent posts first. All older posts are organized through an “archive” somewhere on the blog. The “archive” allows blog readers to view any previous postings by month, week or day.

Blogosphere: used to refer to the thousands upon thousands of blogs in existence and the people who are influenced by them

Why read blogs?

People read blogs because they are conversational and in most cases, opinionated. People follow a blog because the blogger provides an interesting perspective on relevant topics and can speak freely. The most successful blogs are completely independent from any large company that would require them to play politics and be careful about what they publish. Though this “freedom of speech” makes blogs more interesting to read, it also means that you have to be more skeptical about the accuracy of the content.

Overall, blogs are great because they allow people to share their expertise with the world. Before blogs, there were only websites which were difficult to update and had no functionality to make publishing and “archiving” simple.

Why start a blog?

The most obvious reason to create a blog is to share your expertise with the world… and in so doing… promote your business. For decades, a strong public relations strategy was to establish a level of expertise on a specific subject with the local media. This allowed you to get quoted in the media and establish yourself as an expert in the market. In much the same way, a blog bypasses the media and allows you to publish your “quotes” as often as you’d like!

A blog is a great way to keep in touch with current clients! Share new insights or provide educational information to help your clients on a regular basis and stay top-of-mind.

Also, if your content is targeted to your area of business, search engines will start to drive relevant traffic to you and your website thereby increasing your exposure in the marketplace.

“Microblogging:” as if normal blogging wasn’t good enough!

Microblogging is basically a mini-blog that only contains short and sweet posts. Made popular by “Twitter” and the “What are you doing now?” phenomenon that allows people to keep their friends and family updated on where they are, what they are doing and what they are thinking.

The appeal of microblogging is both its immediacy and portability. Because posts are so brief (typically 140 – 200 characters), a microblogger can update her microblog often enough to keep readers informed as events, whether large or small, unfold. Anyone with a cell phone can send and receive updates any time, anywhere. Users can send messages as text, video or audio. I’ve seen this used most often when a blogger who has a lot of readers in a specific industry attends an event and posts thoughts or learnings as they happen via cell phone.

How to start a blog.

There are many websites offering user-friendly blogs for free. is a great place to start. Over time, as you desire more sophisticated features, you may want to upgrade to a paid account with a site like but for entry-level bloggers, you can’t beat

Some tips for getting started:

Pick a specific subject that you want your blog to address: i.e. fashion, finance, marketing, sales… whatever interests you or supports your business objective for blogging.

Commit yourself to posting something new at least once a week. Your readers will come back for updates as long as you are consistent. If taking a 4 week hiatus (which I've been guilty of at times), publish a post letting your readers know when to expect fresh content.

Keep it personal. People will read your blog because of your personality. Don’t be afraid to be informal or inject your opinions.

Use interesting images whenever possible to enhance the subject of a post. You can find free stock photos at

Let search engines know you exist. You can “ping” many of them by entering your blog address at “Ping” means to send the search engine a message letting it know you have posted something new. It will put your site in queue to review and include in search results.

Track your success from the beginning. Google offers a robust and surprisingly free stats package that allows you to see how many visitors you’ve had and from what sources (along with many other details). Set-up a free account at and they will give you some code with instructions for pasting it into your webpage/blog.

Allow visitors to receive your content in their email. Use to add a “subscription” box to your blog. Feedburner will automatically send your posts to all subscribers keeping them engaged with you and your content.

If you have any questions about blogging, please post to comments and I’d be happy to respond!

Next article in this series: Social Networks – Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace

Subscribe via email (box at top right of this page) to receive the next post in your inbox!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday Encouragement: "The dreams will come to you."

Randy Pausch, professor at Carnegie Mellon University delivers his "final lecture" with just months to live. If you have 10 minutes, it will be time well spent.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Finally, everything you need to know about the hottest marketing trends and technology... made simple!

“I’m sorry. Did you say “blog?

Face what?”

“What am I linking into?”

“Doesn’t mobile marketing mean ads on trucks?”

“Is RSS a non-profit organization?”

“What is ‘delicious’ about the internet?”
"Shouldn't I avoid anything viral?"

If you find yourself asking any of these questions, you are not alone. The marketing environment has changed dramatically over the past few years and just keeping up has become a full time job! However, it is essential that marketers and business owners have a basic understanding of these trends and what role they play in marketing and branding.

Over the next two months, I am going to publish a series of articles explaining all the latest technologies and websites you’ve been hearing about and how they apply to marketing a small to mid-size business. So, in just a few minutes a week for the next eight weeks, you are going to catch up on three years of innovation!

Here are the topics and when they will be addressed.

Part 1: Social Media Made Simple
Week 1: Blogs / Micro-blogging - Twitter
Week 2: Social Networks – Facebook / LinkedIn / MySpace
Week 3: Facebook made simple
Week 4: Social bookmarking –

Part 2: New Technology Made Simple
Week 5: Mobile marketing
Week 6: RSS
Week 7: Blue tooth

Part 3: Viral Marketing Made Simple
Week 8: Viral marketing overview

To make sure you don’t miss any of these postings, simply enter your email address in the “Subscribe via email” box at the top right of this page. You'll receive an email when a new article is posted.

The first posting in the series will be Monday, March 24th! Don’t miss it! You’ll be enlightened… or your money back!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday Encouragement: Never disqualify YOURSELF!

If there is one thing I have learned as a small business owner, it is that you NEVER, under any circumstances, disqualify yourself.

No matter what you do in life, there will always be someone ready and willing to disqualify you. On the rare occasion that those people actually have the power to do so, let them. Until then, press on with unstoppable perseverance.

Like Paul in this inspiring video...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Hottest Marketing Trends for 2008

Even as a small business, changes in technology and social behavior require us to adapt our marketing to maintain relevance.

Based on this article by Kim T. Gordon for, expect these trends in 2008:

  • A shift from traditional to alternative media
  • A growth spurt for interactive marketing
  • More off-line support for online campaigns
The latter part of the article provides some suggestions for how to adjust your marketing to take advantage of these trends. View the article.

Monday, March 10, 2008

My video explanation of Search Engine Marketing for small businesses

At PRstore Columbus, Ohio, we develop a lot of websites! We also consult with a lot of small businesses on how to effectively market themselves. As a result, I always find myself explaining Search Engine Marketing and why it is extremely important for any size business. So, in an effort to be able to explain it via email and to every small business owner who stumbles upon my PRstore Small Business Marketing blog, I made this short video overview! Check it out and let me know what you think!

StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble It!

BAD ADS: Creativity is Critical but don’t forsake the Message

I passed this billboard on my way home from work the other day and had to stop to take a picture with my phone. Fortunately for the advertiser, the name and contact info is a little blurry but you can see the enormous picture of the realtor and the main headline: “Got Realtor?”

Sure, the obvious problem is the realtor’s reference to an 18 year old milk campaign that has been “spoofed” thousands of times over the years. Frankly, it isn’t cute anymore.

More importantly though is that in her efforts to be “creative,” she has forsaken the message.

In other words, what does “Got Realtor?” have to do with the value proposition she is providing?

  • Why should I buy/sell my house with her?
  • What should I expect from her?
  • How is she different than the other 6,000+ realtors in Columbus, Ohio?
  • Why should I call her or remember her phone number?

The answer according to this billboard: because she is a realtor.

In other words, she is paying ~$1,500 per month for what is equivalent to a yellow pages directory listing. She is simply stating, “I am a realtor. Call me.”

What most likely happened was that she came up with the “Got Realtor?” idea early on in the ideation process. She thought it was creative and just stuck with it never stopping to think about what message it really sent... or didn’t send.

The original “Got Milk?” campaign was effective because it didn’t have to differentiate “milk” from the other 6,000+ “milks” in Columbus, Ohio. The campaign was promoting a product category as a whole and the ultimate goal was to encourage people to buy milk regardless of what brand or what store they purchase it from.

If her goal was to encourage people to get a realtor regardless of who they choose, then her ad is effective. Otherwise, she should have done something different. If I were advising her, I would ask her to think about the following:
  • What is the most unique thing about you as a realtor?
    • If there isn’t anything unique, find something!
  • Once you have the “unique” thing, make sure it is perceived as valuable by your target market.
  • If it is, build a creative headline/message around that one thing and communicate it through everything you do.

In other words, never start with the creative. Start with the "value proposition" you want to get across and wrap the creative around it. Any other approach and you’ll end up with a “Got Realtor?” billboard.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

“Thoughts Become Things”

This has nothing to do with marketing but I felt like it was an important point to share with any small business owner… or anyone at all for that matter.

I’m fortunate enough in life to be surrounded by great people like Daniel Wolt, Founder and President of Zen Windows. Dan has been a great mentor to me over the past year. A while back, Dan told me to read “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill because he wanted me to understand that “thoughts become things.”

Most people make the mistake of thinking thoughts are harmless and intangible when quite the contrary is true. Once you understand that thoughts become things… they can become a very powerful driving force in your life. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is up to you.

Think of it this way… every thought you have goes into a bucket. There are “positive” buckets and there are “negative” buckets for every issue, goal, relationship or challenge in your life. If you doubt yourself and start to wonder if you can accomplish something, your “negative” bucket just got heavier. If you remind yourself that you are more than capable and will certainly reach your goal, your “positive” bucket just got heavier. Overtime, you have control over which bucket wins and ultimately, how you perceive each issue, goal, relationship or challenge.

In other words, the culmination of all of your thoughts has complete control over what tangible actions/decisions you make in your life that ultimately lead to outcomes and results. Thus, “thoughts become things.”

The moral of the story: be positive and believe in yourself! Take control of your thoughts and don’t allow yourself to dwell on the negative! Thinking negatively virtually guarantees negative results. Thinking positively doesn’t guarantee positive results, but it is an essential first step.

Friday, February 29, 2008

And now… the GREAT things about being an entrepreneur: TOP 10

My last TOP 10 List about "lessons learned as an entrepreneur" was meant to honor all those who have learned those lessons, overcome those challenges and achieved success. This new list highlights just a few of the GREAT things about being an entrepreneur... as requested by so many of you.


10) Having complete control over your income!
- There are no 3% cost of living increases or performance reviews. The profit and loss statement is the only performance review for an entrepreneur.

9) “Working for the man” means working for yourself.
- It is a great feeling to know that all of your hard work is not making someone else rich!

8) You call the shots.
- You get to make the tough decisions and take the business in whatever direction you choose. There is a lot of reward in never having to do something you disagree with.

7) Work as much or as little as you want.
- Sure, it is a lot of work in the beginning but once you are able to delegate, you’ll have much more time for family and friends. Some of the hardest working, most successful entrepreneurs I know get to work at 9:00 AM and are home by 4:30 PM.

6) Surround yourself with the people you choose.
- We’ve all had to work with people we don’t like or don’t respect. As an entrepreneur, you get to pick your partners, employees and clients!

5) Each day is 24 hours closer to accomplishing you dreams.
- Entrepreneurs are in constant pursuit of fulfilling their dreams. Every day is one day closer to success and an exciting new adventure.

4) The sense of pride that comes from building a business that truly meets a need.
– For a business to be successful, it has to solve a problem for a group of people. If you have a successful business, then you are truly helping people.

3) Creating jobs and providing a livelihood for people.
- Creating jobs and opportunity for people is also a “warm and fuzzy” accomplishment. It not only helps the employee but it helps their family and the overall economy.

2) Inspiring challenges: Constantly inventing better ways of doing things.
- As an entrepreneur, every spare second of brain power you have is dedicated to coming up with that next big idea that is going to make things better or more effective. It’s a constantly rewarding and fun challenge!

1) Something new everyday.
- You wear many hats as an entrepreneur… business development, sales, marketing, accounting, finance, etc… There is no official job description except to use your time doing what you think is best and what you enjoy most. That alone makes it all worth while.

Did I miss anything? Feel free to add to my list. (comment)

Another tool to help you manage your internet reputation.

First, I'd like to applaud PRweb for managing their internet reputation very well! Joe from PRweb commented on my post thanking me for recommending them...

Hi Guy,

Thanks for the kind recommendation and detailed guidance for people looking to increase their online presence or, as you mentioned, do some reputation management.


Joe Beaulaurier
When I realized that Joe found my little blog, it reminded me that I should mention a great, free tool for monitoring what is said about you on the internet (PRweb probably uses something robust to monitor blog buzz, etc... ) However, a great, free tool perfect for a small business is Google Alerts.

Google Alerts allows you to pick any keyword or phrase that you want to monitor and anytime Google finds something new on the internet that matches your selection, it will email you the link. I use this tool to monitor what is said about my company, PRstore, and my clients' companies. Check it out!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

In Celebration of National Entrepreneurship Week: My TOP 10 List

February 25th was the start of the second annual Entrepreneur Week. To recognize the importance of small business, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution in 2006 (Resolution 699), advocating an annual week in support of American entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship education.

Coincidentally, I am "celebrating" my first year as an entrepreneur so I thought I would share some of MY entrepreneur education over the past year in the all-so-original Top 10 list format...


10.) Having a boss sucks. Having 50 bosses sucks more.
- Nobody ever told me the word "client" was a synonym for "boss."

9.) Two weeks as an entrepreneur is equivalent to 2 days as an employee.
- Time flies when you have to find the money to write your own check.

8.) There is not such thing as "paid vacation" or "sick time."
- No workie = no money (at least as a start-up company).

7.) The expression "it's a small world" isn't just B.S.
- I'm convinced that everyone in Columbus knows someone who I will have to interact with at some point. I've disliked people in the past, but because I'm relatively P.C., I kept that to myself and now some of those people have made me money! Ahh.. finally a reward for being fake! YES!

6.) Government is the anti-start-up!
- Self-employment tax, payroll tax, income tax, workers comp insurance, social security contributions, state tax, sales tax, city tax, making it freaking impossible to be legally compliant tax!

5.) Everybody gets paid... but the owner.
- I'm envious of my vendor partners. I cut them checks like it's going out of style.

4.) 9-5 isn't so bad after all!
- 8 hour days are a blessing in disguise.

3.) The best way to get approval is not to need it.
- My biggest pet peeve is people who respond to a huge amount of work and go right for the negatives/changes and make no mention of the 95% that was perfect!

2.) There is no such thing as stress or worry.
- Or at least I tell myself that twice a day.

And my biggest lesson about entrepreneurship in my first year...

1.) Everything takes longer than expected. Especially the money part!
- When you project future earnings, if your spread sheet shows that by Year 5, you can buy Canada and sell it to France... you're probably a little optimistic.

Do you know your internet reputation?

Have you google’d yourself lately? You may be surprised how much is out there about you and your company. Thanks to the blogosphere, anyone with a computer (or library card) and an opinion can publish information about you on the internet. Search engines will index this content whether it is true or not and if it matches a relevant search for your company, your customers will find it.

Here are a few strategies that will help a small business take a proactive approach to controlling its internet reputation.

    • Yes, press releases are old news but what you do with them isn’t. Rather than writing a release and hoping the press will publish it, you can publish it yourself. For less than $300 you can send a “search engine optimized” press release out to thousands of websites through a site called Overtime, these releases will start to get search engine exposure and if written correctly, they will get better search engine exposure than that one nagging, unhappy customer who vented in his blog.
    • You can be general with the subject of the press release but it may be better to identify a specific topic that you want to target for search engine exposure and center the entire release around that one subject.
    • Take every opportunity you get to brag about yourself and put it on the web! New client? New hire? New product? Put it online!
    • This is your true opportunity to focus on a singular subject and dominate the issue! Having focused content ensures that your article will be full of the correct relevant keywords ultimately enhancing your search engine exposure on the issue. Particularly if someone is searching for you by name along with the subject.
    • Bloggers have a lot of power once they develop a base of loyal readers. Sometimes, this power can go to their heads. However, most of the time, they are more than willing to give anyone a fair shake or a platform to share their side of the story. If you find someone posting negative untruths about your company, there are some cases where it is appropriate to respond. Be careful here though... some things don’t deserve to be dignified with a response. Pick your battles wisely and respond with facts and objective reasoning. Never come across emotional or defensive, otherwise you’ll do more harm than good.

Go google yourself. Then plan on putting out 10 positive things for every 1 negative you find.

A great video on PRweb and how it works:

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I hate to say I told you so: Wendy's Drops Ad Campaign

My post in September was about Wendy's new "red wig" ad campaign with a focus on men and their desire for "hot, juicy burgers."

After less than acceptable sales results, Wendy's finally pulled the ad campaign. They are going back to the classy, comfortable approach that made them successful for so many years. I'm actually a big fan of the new campaign featuring an animated Wendy and the message that "it's waaay better than fast food. It's Wendys"

The new campaign better represents Wendy's traditions while still focusing on the key target audience of 18-to-34-year-olds, Kerrii Anderson, Wendy's president and chief executive, said in an interview.

"It feels like Wendy's again," she said.

Holtcamp said Wendy's emphasis on its quality food was getting distracted by the red wig campaign. [more]

I agree and so does everybody else. 68,000 people gave the old campaign a "Thumbs Down" on an informal poll on "AOL Money and Finance." Only 6,000 people approved of the ads.

For your viewing pleasure... one more time... (btw: This ad almost humiliates men... I can't image how this was justified in the board room)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Challenge what is normal! Rethink everything!

Yesterday I posted about digital coupons... now... SHOES.

This article on talks about 4 new types of shoes that entrepreneurs are bringing to market with mass appeal. First Crocs... and now shoes that actually have a purpose (besides looking foolishly comfortable). The shoes in this article are all designed around providing some type of hyper functionality. Who would have thought that anyone could be successful with "functional" shoes going up against Nike, Reebok and all the other major brands! These entrepreneurs were able to look at a product category that has been dominated, saturated and full of innovation for decades and still break the mold!

As much as it may seem that this posting is about shoes, it isn't! It's about remembering to never be complacent about your product or service offering, your marketing or your business in general. Constantly look for new, innovative ways to market, grow and manage your business. Start with the most obvious parts of your business and challenge the norm. Then, start to look at places you'd least expect to be able to make an impact... like coupons and shoes (metaphorically speaking).

Seriously George?? Not you too! ...

Monday, January 14, 2008

The next generation of COUPONS: digital!

Proctor & Gamble and Kroger are testing a new coupon distribution strategy that eliminates paper and scissors! Here is how it works:

Step 1: Visit and browse coupon offers.

Step 2: Pick the coupons you want to use and load them onto your card (I’m not sure if it is your Kroger card or if you have to get a special card… I’m hoping it works with the Kroger card).

Step 3: Go to Kroger, buy your groceries and present your “coupons” digitally via plastic!

I have to admit that I have never clipped a coupon my entire life but there is something about this idea that entices me to start saving! Maybe because it changes the entire “feel” of the coupon process. It eliminates the hassle of looking through hundreds of pages of newspaper garbage and clipping a few things that are actually worth buying. It also eliminates the hassle of organizing all the coupons and having them available when it’s time to check out.

In fact, it is almost like “pre-shopping” and loading store credit onto a GIFT CARD! That will be the appeal to non-coupon shoppers! It’s not about “saving money” it’s about taking advantage of free money!

When I heard about this I was so happy to see that even the COUPON business can be modernized and improved thanks to the World Wide Web.

If Kroger wants to hit a HUGE home run, maybe they should tie in functionality that allows users to make and print their shopping list online, then automatically show relevant coupons and add the discounts to the users card. This creates yet another convenience factor for visiting the website allowing Kroger to generate additional ad revenue from manufacturers hoping to influence what is on YOUR list.

Click here to visit the Kroger/ P&G co-branded site.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Search Marketing is for Everyone! Especially Small Businesses!

I talked to a woman yesterday who is starting a "pet sitting” business. She has very little money to invest and is only interested in targeting people within 10 miles of her house (with gas prices she would have to charge too much to go any further). She has done some very basic grassroots marketing efforts but has only generated four customers. Knowing that she really doesn’t have a budget we can work with, I wanted to give her an idea that would be relatively inexpensive and have a high probability of generating an immediate return on investment.

Let's see...

Direct Mail – No… very high cost per thousand people reached... out of her budget
TV/Radio - would take months to get results, target is too broad (entire city) and WAY out of her budget
Yellow Pages - I hate the yellow pages and only find it useful for companies targeting senior citizens. (Side note: If you are younger than 40 and are thinking, "But I use the yellow pages," you should really spend some time online.)

So, we need a solution that is geographically targeted, low cost and highly effective.

Behold the power of search marketing.... for small businesses.

One part of search marketing is the process of bidding on key terms that people use to find something online (i.e. pet sitter, dog walker, pet care). You can bid on those terms and your advertisement will be displayed when someone searches them. The best part is that you pay nothing when you ad is displayed. You only pay when someone clicks the ad and goes to your website.

For the pet sitter business, she needs to create a very strong landing page where she will direct traffic from her search engine advertising. The landing page should have very strong messaging, overcome objections quickly and have MANY call to action points... i.e. her phone number at least 5 times throughout the page and many "click here to contact us" buttons that are bright and shiny.

Then, she should create her Google adwords campaign. Here is the secret weapon though… Google allows you to only show your ads to people within a custom geographic area. In other words, she can tell Google to only show her ads to people who are sitting at their computer within a 10 mile radius of her home!! This way, she won’t waste money on people who are 15 miles away and not a profitable customer.

Once all of this is in place, she can start very slow with the campaign. She can set a daily budget of $10.00 for the first week and see how many people click her ad and then how many of them convert to a customer. If all signs are positive, she can continue to increase her daily budget and drive more traffic which will lead to more customers. If she is getting traffic but no customers, she will need to reevaluate the search terms she is bidding on and take another look at the landing page to make sure it is doing a good job generating an immediate response.

Geographic targeting is an extremely powerful tool for small businesses. Some other examples of how it can be used across multiple industries:

Home builders: new communities overtime start to display migration patterns. If you plot all of the resident’s previous addresses on a map, you can usually identify the specific areas people are moving from to that community. Geographically targeting those areas via Google Adwords is a great strategy for optimizing your online campaign performance.

Restaurants: most restaurant owners know how far people are willing to travel to eat at their establishment. They can set a radius around each restaurant or pick specific cities if they have multiple locations.

I often see geographically confined businesses advertising nationally through Google Adwords and wish someone would tell them how much money they are wasting! If you are a small business and have never tried search engine marketing because you didn’t think you could afford it, with this tool, you can’t afford not to.

Go to: and set-up your account…. Email me with questions!