Competition Marketing Media

Can they find your business in the card catalog?

When you watch this video by Michael Wesch, try to set the “coolness” aside. Yeah, it’s nicely done, and it does a great job of driving it’s point home. But that’s not why I’m asking you to watch it.

I’m asking because it’s directly applicable to your marketing and positioning.

I will warn you that the video is 5 min 29 seconds long, and I’m going to ask you to watch it twice, so please take the 11 minutes. Just do it. Trust me:)

Go back and watch the video again, but this time, watch it with a different thought process: Every time the concept of information, seeking it, accessing it, categorizing it, etc comes up during the video, think “prospects looking for my products and services and information about them”.

Are your products and services as easy to learn about and buy as you thought they were 10 minutes ago? Is your message as clear as you thought it was?

Blogging Customer service Marketing Media Technology Video

Video for your business: Did the Queen beat you to it?

queenyoutube.jpg Just a few days ago, the Queen of England announced that she had started her own YouTube channel. Unfortunately, her channel doesn’t allow us to embed her YouTube videos here, so you get a screen shot and a link instead of a live YouTube viewer. As you can see above, they’ve even gone back to 1957’s first TV broadcast from the Queen and placed that on YouTube.

I’ve told you about a few stories of other businesses who are using YouTube for promotion, like the “Will It Blend” people who rode to huge success after recording video of the blending an iPod in their high-end blenders (most recently, they blend an iPhone). Likewise, a few other examples are in the ToBlog list.

Now, even someone that many would perceive as “stuffy” shows that she gets it.

“I very much hope that this new medium will make my Christmas message more personal and direct,” The Queen said from her Sandringham estate in Norfolk.

Personal and direct. I couldn’t have said it better. Isn’t that what the small business owner wants and needs? You know my opinion on that:)

Creating your own videos doesn’t require a bunch of expensive equipment and pricey TV studio time. Many effective videos have been created with nothing more than a webcam. Like blogging has its place in small business marketing, so does video. YouTube provides the platform at no cost. What are you waiting for?

A reason? Some ideas? Ok, I’ll toss in a few.

Software companies can use them to expose new features – or even dry run a prototype feature. They can be used for detailed help, or tutorials.

Retailers who sell everything from espresso machines to chainsaws can put them up to provide answers and instruction for common issues and questions from their clientele. You could even include a DVD of tutorials and instructive videos with your purchase. Major manufacturers have done this for some time. Why not you? People don’t expect HDTV quality with network talking heads, you and your staff will do the trick

Internet business pioneer KenMcCarthy has been trying to sell internet businesses on the value of Internet Video for at least 2 years. Maybe with the Queen’s help, the rest of us will follow suit. I’ve tinkered with it some, but not gotten serious about it. Perhaps it’s time.

What about you?

If the technology throws you a bit, there are facilities out there to help you, even if all you have is a webcam and no technology skills. probably the easiest one I’ve seen is Instant Video Generator, but there are others. Don’t let the technology throw you, just start doing it.

Entrepreneurs Media

Gordon Gecko was wrong.

Yesterday, I was reading an article about a positive entrepreneur documentary in the Wichita Business Journal. Now there’s an odd thing.

No, not me reading a local business publication from the Midwest, but a positive movie about entrepreneurs.

Is that a fairy tale or what? If you believe some in the media and even in politics, business people are evil. They steal from the poor, avoid taxes and never put in an honest day’s work in their life. They don’t “deserve”  their wealth and probably got it all from mommy and daddy, or something like that, right?

If you believe that “never put in an honest day’s work in their life” thing, take a look at the Trump books where he gives his complete work schedule for a week (Trump 101 and Think like a billionaire). Most people never work that hard. Sure, maybe the work they do is hard, but take the time to read it, if nothing else, just to get a taste of the schedule someone like that has to maintain. What people like him do, day in and day out, is not easy.

Gordon Gecko was a character in the movie “Wall Street”, a ruthless Wall Street businessman played by Michael Douglas. One of the references in the article refers to the infamous Gordon Gecko quote saying “Greed is good.” Gecko also said that business is a zero-sum game, as the article notes, meaning that the only way I can get success is at the expense of someone else.

Bull biscuits.

First of all, Gordon Gecko was a character in a movie. He isn’t real.

Second, I seriously doubt anyone at that level of accomplishment is foolish enough to think that business is a zero-sum game. Maybe that’s the message Hollywood wants you to believe, who knows.

Successful business people know better. The best business people invent new ways to generate revenue, by thinking harder and doing things that everyone else is too lazy to do. They don’t have to stick a thumb in someone else’s pie. That leads me to something I was reading about Trump this morning.

I was reading a note from Dan that mentioned that Donald Trump once bought a house from a former billionaire who was down on his luck. He bought the house out of foreclosure so it was clearly his, but rather than have the sheriff go to the house and boot the owner out, he wrote him a check for $100,000 – on the condition that he leave the house immediately.

Why did Trump do this? He didn’t have to.

Trump is smart enough to know that anyone who got to be a billionaire one time is awfully likely to repeat their success. He knew that some day, he might sit across the table from this same guy, or need a favor. And of course, he knows that the law favors the squatter, even in a mansion. If the guy really wanted to be a pain in the rear, he could trash the place, and force Trump to go to court and wait months to get the guy kicked out of the house by the sheriff. That’s too much like work, plus it wastes the asset that Trump has just purchased.

Most importantly, there is no point in stepping in the middle of the guy’s back as he’s face down in the mud. Someday, Trump might slip up and need someone’s help. People remember getting stepped on. They also remember when you don’t and knew that you could.

It’s better to have a pocket full of favors owed to you than not, even if you never cash ’em in, and it’s OK to be a successful business owner. Really.

Competition Media Photography

Even the little guy needs to be dotting I’s and crossing T’s.

Yesterday, a mountain climber friend who happens to take photos (every now and then) sent me a story about a photography-related lawsuit.

As an occasional photographer, it’s surely interesting on a personal basis.

As someone who (in another life) used to count a thousand or so photography studios as clients, it reminds of old times with clients who had to pay close attention to such things.

As someone who advises business owners on competitive matters, I’ve posted “a few times” about paying attention to the little things. You might have noticed:) Usually, this is in the context of being competitive and doing what others won’t do because they are lazy, incompetent or simply aren’t thinking like a customer.

Sometimes, these little grind-it-out things that you don’t want to do, but need to do, are a big serving of CYA that you come to appreciate long after the 2 minutes of grunt work is over and done.

Like this one:

It would have been EASY to blow off getting that model  release. It’s just a signature for yet another old shot of a little girl. Who cares? Why bother the mom with it?  It would have been EASY to not keep the releases on file.  Or to purge them at the end of the month, quarter, year, whatever.

But he didn’t.

And before long, a global corporation (or at least, some small part of it) appreciated that someone pays attention to details.  Not to mention, his insurance company likely appreciates it. Ultimately, I suspect he’s pretty happy he did so as well.

Blogging Competition Management Marketing Media Web 2.0

Competitors: How to easily keep an eye on them. Free.

When I was in the software business, I didn’t watch our competitors too much.

For one thing, I really didn’t consider them competitors. Sure, we lost a sale to them once in a while, but more often than not, it was due to (I kid you not) lies and deception, or a misplaced idea about what was important in the systems we do (yeah, call that a sales or marketing stumble – because better marketing should have eliminated those reasons). Sure, I recognized that they were in our market, but in many ways, they just didn’t get it.

We were the leaders in the market. I watched the competition to see what they had copied of ours, but only on one occasion do I recall that we felt the need to copy something someone else did (a visual sales tool – we were the last to do this).

As such, I focused on innovation, on interacting with customers to figure out what they needed etc. It worked for us. Everyone else was watching and copying us, and we simply kept innovating. It’s a tough position to be in, but it beats the heck out of being #2, where you’re always trying to catch up.

And of course, because the tool I use now didn’t exist.

Google Alerts.

Google Alerts lets you setup a permanent Google search of one or more of these areas: news, blogs, video, web sites (ie: search engine results) and Google Groups (Google’s NNTP newsgroups mirror).

For example, one of my clients owns a coffee shop (you may have picked up on that by now<g>), so I have a Google Alert that once a day does a search for new results on Starbucks. Blogs, news, web sites, etc.

I also have searches on my name (I strongly recommend you do this as well – but for your name<g>), the town where I live, social and political issues or personalities important to me, prospective clients, clients and a few other groups I won’t divulge.

I can either get these notifications as soon as Google finds them, or I can get them scheduled to appear once a day.

They come to my email.

Simple as pie, and extremely valuable. Not only is it easier to know what’s going on in my niche (and my clients’ niches), but it takes a lot less time and I see things that I might not ordinarily see.

Try it, I think you’ll find it quite useful.

Last but not least, don’t forget about what happened to Kryptonite, the bike lock people. In 2004, they ignored a blog about their locks being picked by a Bic pen. They knew about the blog post, but did nothing to address it.

After the story appeared in the New York Times – at which point they could no longer ignore it – Kryptonite found themselves replacing 380,000 locks worth over $10 million, and their attitude through the whole affair didn’t exactly endear them to their customers. Pay attention.

Another post on this subject –

Advertising Marketing Media Strategy

The “Do Not Call” list is a PLUS for smart businesses

Last week in the Wall Street Journal, Wendy Bounds wrote a column about why the “Do Not Call” list doesn’t stifle your business.

I’d take it one step further. The “Do Not Call” list is actually GOOD for smart businesses.

Why? Because all the marketers who aren’t paying attention will just look at their feet and sing “Woe is me” about losing another media. Yes, the telephone is effectively, just another media.

The thing is, cold calling is one of the worst medias there is.

  • You don’t have a warm prospect.
  • You don’t have an appointment.
  • You’re interrupting whoever picks up, more often than not.

What about that says “I just lost a good prospect”?

People HATE cold telemarketing calls. Some people even seem to hate it when their credit card company calls to verify a charge – and those are people trying to protect you (and themselves), they aren’t even selling anything.

The smart business finds a better way to use the phone.

Pre-recorded messages that help your prospects / clients.

Inbound phone answerers who answer the phone and know what they are talking about. Not press 1,2,0,1,1,267 and then hold down the 0 key to get a person who you can’t understand very well.

Chasing a prospect results in the same thing that chasing anything else does: the prospect running away.

Cold calling is sometimes compared to direct mail, but there is little to compare.

  • Cold calling forces the prospect to deal with you on YOUR schedule. Direct mail is opened on their schedule.
  • People answer the phone because it rings (or not, more likely these days). Direct mail gets opened because it was done right and looks like something interesting.
  • The cold caller takes action on your marketing message by getting torqued at you and hanging up. The person who gets your direct mail has to take action to show they are interested, otherwise it’s a simple toss-it-in-the-trash thing.
  • Cold calling is all about interruptions. Direct mail interrupts nothing.
  • Cold calling is about selling to someone who doesn’t think they want what you have, looking for a way to say no or just hang up. Direct mail only attracts the interested party, a person warmed up to the idea of your product or service, looking for reasons to buy, or say yes. Looking to solve a problem, fill a need, or satisfy a want. Cold calling does none of that unless you just get lucky.

Of course, there are plenty of other ways to generate warm leads other than direct mail, but if you think about it, any sort of lead generation process (like direct mail) is an ATTRACTION process. Cold calling is anything but. Replace “direct mail” with your favorite attraction marketing method or media in the above list and you’ll likely find that it works just fine.

Lead generation marketing attracts qualified people who are interested, not ticked off people who  waste your time on the phone and get annoyed with you before they might become interested.

Let the other person complain about the Do Not Call list hurting their business.  Meanwhile, go out there and sell something to the person your marketing attracted.

Blogging Media Technology

WordPress MU is a great tool. Sadly AdSense link bait spammers agree.

I absolutely love WordPress. It’s a great piece of software – the software that runs this blog.

The code is clean, easy to modify to make it do anything you want, and the wealth of themes and plugins that the WP community has produced is amazing.

But it has a dark, ugly, shoulda-never-been-released-for-free side: WordPress MU.

That’s MU for “Multi-User”, meaning that you can install WP MU once and create thousands of blogs without having to reinstall it. For free.

Free means that it’s a spammers’ delight.

Why? Because these slimeballs have clearly managed to automate this process:

  • Mount a blog on a MU installation
  • Automatically steal article content via article directories, blog content via RSS, etc.
  • Publish the free content as a blog post without the resource box and hot links (thus violating the terms of publication) and instead, use the article as link bait /SEO bait for sites that the thief’s blog(s) link to.
  • Repeat this process thousands of times on many different URLs.

Authors can’t track down these vipers and get the content removed from the thieving sites, nor can they get the sites nailed because they are typically hosted by slimeball ISPs who wont respond or don’t care. Or they are hosted overseas where content protection laws are either weak-kneed, ignored or both.

Some suggest that you can perhaps eventually trace some part of the web host or ISP service back to a US vendor somewhere, somehow. Try talking to Nynex about a site in Taiwan that stole your article, who is using a web host over there who somehow uses that pipe’s provider. They’re gonna care?

How much time do you have per day to spend discussing such matters with ISP1, ISP2, ISP3, ISP4 etc, only to have another 2 or 3 of them pop up 10 minutes later.

Just like with email spammers, it’s like playing whack-a-mole trying to chase these guys down.

Obviously, it’s also a substantial waste of time running traceroutes and so on trying to find out a way to tie the thief or their blog back to a US or European internet provider.

Over the last 25+ years, I’ve caught my fair share of people using my software without paying for it. Not one of them torqued me like these people do, probably because there’s really very little you can do about it because of the nature of the net, and the time expense of chasing them down (much less the futility).

So what would YOU do about this problem – if anything? Realistic comments only, please.

Blogging Marketing Media

Bob Dylan recommends my blog?

Examples of great viral marketing are more evident today than ever – and they are a great way to get a huge crowd to suddenly find out about you and your product or service. Sometimes they are accidental, sometimes they are the result of some brilliant thought and planning.

Last weekend, I found a video of Bob Dylan recommending my blog to his fans. I would have never expected it from him.

You can view the video here:

Bob’s marketing team is pretty smart. Virally smart.

Advertising Media

Dubai anti-smoking newspaper ad mocks 9/11

If you’ve read here long, you know I’m not shy about pointing out boring advertising.

Note that not being boring doesn’t mean you have to be tasteless.

This ad ran as a public service ad on 9/11 in the Khaleej Times, the leading English newspaper in Dubai.

Impactful? Hard to deny.

Tasteless as hell? No question.


Marketing Media Scouting Strategy

Are you fishing for prospects in the right place? Bob Mazzuca is.

Unlike several predecessors, new BSA Chief Scout Executive (CSE) Bob Mazzuca appears to understand his customer. Finally, we might have gotten the right guy in the big camp chair in Irving.

Despite taking office only 14 days ago, he’s already made a TV appearance on a Dallas opinion piece, and appeared in an early September Forbes interview, where he shared his views about what Scouting.

Mazzuca’s Forbes interview wasn’t full of the “Timeless Values” stuff that bores boys to tears (despite attracting donors and parents). Instead, he said this when Forbes asked “AS THE NEWLY APPOINTED CHIEF SCOUT EXECUTIVE, WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO DIFFERENTLY TO DRAW MORE SCOUTS TO THE ORGANIZATION?”

We have to become more effective in the use of technology and in the whole world of cyberspace. MySpace, YouTube–places like that where kids spend an inordinate amount of time engaging with each other and engaging with ideas. We have not been particularly effective in being creative in that arena and my goal short-term and intermediate term is the drive to understand that world to the point where we could actually participate in the dialogue that happens there.

However, the magic of scouting begins outdoors. Challenging them both physically and mentally teaches them leadership skills. You can’t do that in a virtual environment. But if where they are right now is in that virtual world, then the best chance of having them come with us on this adventure in the outdoors is to figure out how to deal in that world.

It’s Marketing 101, folks – Fish where the fish are.

Later, Mazzuca talks about a secret – which he then reveals to Forbes…right where many of his target audience will see it.

I have this vision that I am secretly unleashing. We need to re-engage our alumni. There are millions and millions of people involved in scouting and who’ve had a wonderful experience in scouting. I have this vision of the largest gathering of Eagle Scouts in the history of mankind on The Mall in Washington, D.C., prior to the jamboree, where we invite every Eagle Scout to come and rededicate themselves to the principles of scouting in 2010.

To that end, we’re launching a major Eagle Scout search. Say we want a few “bald eagles.” We want to bring them home.

Once again, fishing where the fish are.

More importantly, Mazzuca even seems to be willing to take his case to the TV camera.

In the past, the only TV interviews coming out of BSA headquarters seemed to consist of a “no comment” or a litany of “may as well be no comment” comments from BSA mouthpiece Gregg Shields (note to the new CSE: get rid of the PR hacks) – and then, only when Scouting was in the news for less than positive reasons. Even in the face of all the troubles with lawsuits, Jamboree problems (remember the heat during the President’s visit?) and so on – you never saw a CSE.

He got a little help from Dallas’ Tracy Rowlett. Rowlett is the news anchor for Dallas’ CBS affiliate, KTVT. This week, Rowlett’s “Perspective” piece took a contrarian view to most of the national media pieces we see about Scouting these days. Remember, CBS was the network that first broke the story about the Seattle court order to turn over piles of old records about 5,000 adults kicked out of (or denied access to) Scouting. News that needed to be reported – and recently lamented about here because of Irving’s weak-kneed response.

During Rowlett’s piece, we see a bit of Mazzuca’s feel for the real value of the program to the country’s youth, as well as what a CSE (CEO) should have been saying in public, out loud, all along.

Somebody give Bob Mazzuca a pole, he knows where to fish.

So…where are YOUR fish?