Category Archives: marketing

Gone Fishing…


A friend at work offered a book he thought I would like, Shift by Peter Arnell, a big-time marketing guy in NYC. The book is pretty good, it is more about his struggle to go from over 400 pounds down to circa 150 (awesome feat, imho) but throws in some good life and business tidbits, as well.

His grandfather worked the fish markets in New York and would tell him this quite often, sometimes literally in regards to fishing and others, life. It resonated with me as I become more involved in business development in my company. I am trying to find where the fish are biting and then gently nudge management in that direction.

For a brief moment, I considered sending this drawing to Mr. Arnell and sharing what I said above. Then I read some stories that paint him to be an asshat. My fantasy of him loving my work and showering me with praise and being my new best friend melted into cease and desist orders and screaming into phones. Extreme, I know. He comes across as very charming in his book, very likeable, but that is easy to do in a book (or in a blog with stupid drawings) but a real jerk-wad in real life. Granted, the stories were few (and there were a fair share of positive ones) but why open myself up to that. I have enough asshats yelling at me.

What do you think? Share or keep our little secret?

It’s the Conversation, Stupid…

Twitter (and blogs and other social media stuff) is about conversations and relationships. It’s not another¬†megaphone to scream your spam direct marketing information about your products and services.

Biggby Bob (@BiggbyBob) gets it. Frank Ellison (@Comcast Cares) gets it.  Chris Brogan (@ChrisBrogan) gets it. Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) gets it. Zappos CEO Tony (@zappos) gets it. Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) gets it. Many, many others, too many to list here, get it.

To all of you self-proclaimed “SEO Experts” “Social Media Gurus” “Social Networking Ninjas” Be human. Be You. That’s what it’s all about.

It’s the conversation, stupid.

Chock Full O' Zen


I Know A Guy

I work with a guy with family in Italy. He had the chance to visit them last year while he was on his two week training duty with the Navy Reserves. He told me about their small farm, only a couple of acres passed down over the generations. They make their own wine through an organic process that the big wineries do not use. Very old world. His dream is to import and sell their wine here. Besides the obvious bearucratic hurdles of importing wine, he is hesitant because of not really knowing how to go about marketing and selling the wine.

What an opportunity! I can think of a bunch of possibilities to get the wine in front of customers right off the top of my head. There are several wine festivals throughout the year. Set up tent. A new wine bar, Wine Me Up, recently opened in Westminster. Ask them to try a couple bottles. I have noticed a good number of wine clubs in the D.C. and Baltimore area. Approach them with free samples. Get involved in the wine blogs out there (there a lot!) and talk about the small family farm story.

This all could be done on the side, after hours from his “real” job. He has the entrepenurial spirit, he is a one-man company working a subcontractor. I think it could work.

The Music Store (Part 3)…

My foray into marketing/media consulting is going swimmingly. The Store owner likes the blog design and we meet on Saturday to finalize it and get it published! The ideal next step is to get him on some social networking sites like Facebook, My Space, Squidoo, or Flickr for cross-promotion. He is new to all of this so I don’t want to inundate him, so hopefully things will progress naturally.

A Smart Move…

My wife pointed out a commercial for a plumbing company local to the Baltimore area. They have a very smart advertising campaign. The ad emphasizes the fact that they do the work, not subcontractors, on every project.

One of the national home improvement chains has been involved in a scandal over the last year. They subcontract home improvement projects and some their subs have not done the best quality of work. When the customers complain, the chain’s local store would not accept responsibility for the work. A Baltimore news station’s I-Team was all over the store, making the chain look very bad in the process.

I do not necessarily agree with the adage, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” I would think the bad publicity the chain received from this story kept people away or at least made them think twice before letting them do work in their house. My wife and I would. Everything is marketing, even bad customer service.

The plumbing company is very smart for jumping on this and emphasizing the face they, not subcontractors, do the work.

The Music Store (Part 2)…

I talked with the couple who own the music store. They are intrigued and have been asking questions. They have a store website but they voiced their frustration with it being slow to update. Bob, the owner, has started an email update to his customers. It provides nice information about events and happenings but the best part is the slogan he uses in the subject line. It is a great play on the store name and very catchy. That title is what gave me the idea for them to start a blog and possibly move to social websites.
I am excited and but a little nervous. This is the first time I have done anything outside my comfort zone like this. My hope is that helping them start this new promotion tool will increase my knowledge and confidence.

Hey! I have work to do. How cool is that?!

The Music Store…

We are friends with the husband and wife owners of a music store here in town. It is pretty successful. They provide instruments to the band students for the schools in the town and most likely the county. They also get some business from those who keep playing various instruments into adulthood.

The other day, we received a bulk email from the store advertising a bluegrass guitarist appearing at the store. I did not think much about it until I saw a follow-up email today rehashing the appearance. That got me to thinking. The email updates are great. Up until now, the only way they got the word out was through advertising in the local paper and merchandiser plus they get pretty good word of mouth. So, the emails are a great way to promote events, sales, new shipments, etc.

I looked on their website to see if maybe they have a blog, which the did not. Ideas started flowing. A blog could have promoted the guitarist’s appearance before and then have an employee blog during with an update after with pictures. The blog could link to a Facebook page or to a Squidoo page that could have ads for special deals on instruments. I wondered, “What would the social object for the store be?”

My wife is good friends with the wife. She is going to approach her about my ideas. Maybe we can help each other. I can bring them into the Web 2.0 and they can be my first marketing client.

The possibilities are great…

Spoke in the Wheel…

One of the principals of my company asked me today, “What can [we] do differently?” I immediately started to talk about being more efficient in certain processes. Which is true. There are some things we could do a little smarter that would make life better for those involved.

A quick story. Our company is very small and the business development effort right now consists of one permanent person who is assisted by to of the company officers. I volunteered my help during one proposal effort and I could not believe the amount of gratitude I received for such little effort. It was nice but I did not think I was really doing all that much. I told the BD person, “There are a lot of people in this company with skills that can help. You just need to reach out.”

So, in answer to the question, what can be done differently, my first answer is the company needs to involve more people in the processes of running the company. One person to do it all becomes very overwhelming for that person, likely to cause them to burnout.

A little later I was reading through Seth Grodin’s blog and followed some link’s to this Squidoo page. It got me to thinking more about his question. What I am starting to see, too, is a company that has lost some its identity. In the quest to grow and find new opportunities, I think it has lost sight of how it originally saw itself. What is its definition and strategy?

I did mention this, somewhat, during our conversation. I said the company needs to broaden its horizons and not put all of its eggs in one basket, so to speak. We need to branch out, making our current customer-base one “spoke” in the company wheel. Once we identify who we are, our type of wheel, the spokes should fall into place.

The Wonderful Web 2.0…

I visited Seth Grodin’s blog for the first time today. As I read through his posts, I happened upon one talking about a shortage of digital coaches. At the bottom of the post was a link that led to a digital coach lens on Squidoo. I didn’t pay too much attention to the actual page the link took me to. Instead I started browsing through some of the various Squidoo “lenes” as he calls them. It was mixture of marketplace, marketing tool and blog all wrapped together. It was amazing. I immediately created two lenses, one on running and one on Westminster Coffee Shops. The later is not published, yet. I am still working on it. I followed another to bookmark my page on (I had to create an account, first).

I am starting to understand what Hugh MacLeod and Seth Godin are talking about. The old way of marketing things is giving way to this Web 2.0. I got to think about it. Anyone opening a new business of any kind can create a whole marketing plan for free just by doing what I did above. Squidoo can be a starting spot, since it looks to be oriented to give people a place to share their expertise or products. From there, they bookmark it on the many different social bookmarking sites. Their blog can point people to the Squidoo lens and also be added to social bookmarking sites. It is all too incredible. It is the new word-of-mouth.

I should thank my customer. Out of sheer boredom, I started reading blogs. That led me to create my own. From there, I have created a lens and bookmarked it on a social bookmarking site. At the tender age of 40, I have joined the internet generation. The wonderful web 2.0…

Who’s the Customer?

Last month I heard a radio commercial for my old company. The one that fired me. My first reaction was that of surprise. Surprise that the president of the company would pony up the money to buy radio spots. Then I started to wonder, “Exactly who are they advertising to?”

The company is a typical defense contractor in this area. They offer software engineering services. The radio station I heard the ad on is a talk station geared toward the male, 18 to 50 age demographic. Their customers, government middle managers and larger government contracting companies (Lockheed, General Dynamics, etc), don’t usually hire subcontractors from radio commercials. When I left, the company president was not at all enthused, actually downright hostile, to working for commercial interests.

The more I think about it, the more it is clear that they really wasted their marketing dollars on that ad campaign. They did consider who they wanted to receive their message. The first question they should have asked themselves is, “Who is our customer?” Their customers are who I mentioned above, the government and larger contracting companies. Once that is figured out, then the right media to use can be determined. They would have been better served taking out some print ads in regional business journals. Even better, they should have went the direct marketing route by sending someone to call on prospective clients. They lost a good business development guy when Roger left and I do not believe they ever replaced him. I remember hearing that the exec VP was going to take up the BD duties but he really is not personable enough to do sales. Maybe that is why they went the radio route.

Basic marketing. Who is your customer?

%d bloggers like this: