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.