Friday, January 25, 2008

On Line, Off Line, A Peek into the Future that is here now.

First of all, a tip of the Hat to Anthony Juliano and his continued postings on SoundBite Back. Anthony alerted me to a Seth Godin Seminar and then started a conversation about some of the points that were presented in the seminar. Go ahead and read it, including the comments and add your own too. I also have come across a couple of stories that echo and add substance to my comments as to where the internet is gaining and where they are taking from. Both of these stories are from MediaPost:

Record Audiences For Newspapers Online
by Erik Sass, Friday, Jan 25, 2008 7:30 AM ET
WHILE THEIR PRINT EDITIONS CONTINUED to slide, newspapers enjoyed an online audience boom in 2007, according to the Newspaper Association of America, which says the total unique audience for newspaper Web sites increased 9% in the fourth quarter to an average 62.8 million per month, compared to the same period in 2006. The figure from October, when 63.2 million people visited a newspaper Web site, is an all-time record.

Furthermore, the statistics, compiled by Nielsen Online, show that 39% of all active Web users visited newspaper Web sites during the fourth quarter, for an average 44 minutes per month--a slight increase over last year's fourth-quarter average of 43 minutes, but substantially higher than the 36 minutes in 2004.

In the most recent quarter, the visitors yielded over 3 billion impressions--up 7.3% from the fourth quarter of 2006.

This good news from newspaper Web sites is tempered, however, by the slowing of online revenue growth over the last year. While fourth-quarter totals are not yet available, during the first three quarters of 2007, online revenues totaled about $2.32 billion--a roughly 20% increase over the same period in 2006.

That number is a smaller increase than 2005-2006 in both dollar and percentage terms, when online revenues grew an average 31%.


News Brief
TV Viewers Migrating To Web
Friday, Jan 25, 2008 7:30 AM ET
THE STRIKE IS CHANGING HOW some people watch TV. In short, they aren't. A new research study from MindShare reports that of 1,000 adults surveyed in an online poll Jan. 11-14, almost half are spending more time online, due to the strike. More than 60% of viewers said their favorite shows were now in repeat mode. Tata Sato, director of consumer insights at MindShare, says close to half of those polled are "frustrated" that their favorite shows are affected, they still want the writers to get "a fair deal."

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Every detail matters

5 years ago, after a sabbatical from the broadcasting business for a couple of years, I returned to help businesses make good decisions with their marketing and advertising. I have spoken with hundreds of business owners and managers about this subject for nearly 25 years and am blessed to have had such a fun career.

I look for details. So do your customers and clients. Both consciously and subconsciously, the details make a difference.

Here's a great article on one of those details that is from my email from the folks at business-know-how. I agree with most, but not all of it. See how you measure up:

10 Business Card Blunders That Hurt Business

by Laurie Hayes

You don't have to be a Fortune 500 company to have an effective business card that captures attention and inspires someone to want to know more about you and what you offer.

By being aware of these ten common blunders and making sure you avoid them, you'll have a business card that gets noticed and increases your number of referrals and customers.

1. Miniscule print. Have you ever received a card that has a huge graphic taking up half the card and print so small you can't read the phone number? Well, I have. Too many in fact. And after straining my eyes and holding the cards under bright lights, trying to "crack the code," I eventually pitched them into the trash.

Make your name, phone number, web site and address easy to read. Business people are busy and won't spend more than a few seconds trying to decipher your information. Most don't carry magnifying glasses in their back pocket either.

2. No physical address. Perhaps you don't want to give your physical address because you work from home.

Unfortunately, holding back on contact information is harmful and hints that your business is not well established or reputable. Consider getting a post office box or asking a colleague if you may use her business address for your mail. Create a suite number to create an image of professionalism and longstanding.

3. Slick texture. It is often recommended to have a business card that "feels" different from everyone else's so it stands out. The problem that arises with this practice is some of these cards cannot be written on.

Last week at an event, a gentleman gave me his card and struggled to write some additional information onto it because it was made of slippery plastic. He did his best, but by the time I got home, the information was gone.

4. Blank back. The back of your business card is prime real estate. Something that very few people use. Use this valuable space to print a coupon, offer a special report or complementary consult.

Create an offer that inspires action such as, "Present this card for a 25% discount on your first visit." or "Bring this in with you and get a free oil change."

This gives people an added reason to hold onto it.

5. No photo. Placing your picture on your card makes you more memorable and instills a stronger sense of connection. As people look at your card time and again, they begin to feel like they know you and are more apt to get in touch with you.

Imagine collecting 50 to 100 cards at an event then trying to remember who's who. Your picture creates instant recall while others may be quickly forgotten.

6. Incongruence. If you offer a web design service and don't have a web site of your own listed, your card will raise red flags in people's minds. I recall meeting a gentleman who introduced himself as a web designer and gave me his card.

When I asked him why he didn't have his web site listed, he said he didn't have one.

If you want to sell a Ford, drive a Ford. If you want to sell cell phones, have one and make your number available. If you want to sell toll-free service, make sure you have your toll-free number on your card.

You have to walk your talk and demonstrate that you live, eat, breathe and firmly believe that what you offer is of tremendous value to others, starting with yourself.

7. No benefits. A graphic, your name and contact details don't do a whole lot to create a memorable impression, and by the time new contacts get home with your card, they may have forgotten what it is you do.

Create a tagline or something memorable that expresses a benefit and states exactly what business you're in.

For example, a local delivery rep may have "Your important business packages delivered same day or get twice your money back!" That's grabs a person by the eyeballs and makes it very clear what the business does.

8. Not unique. Ninety percent of the cards you collect look the same. After all, how creative can you really get? Well, you'd be surprised ...

  • crop a corner or have a stencil cut out
  • attach a magnet to the back so it's displayed on a fridge or file cabinet
  • include contact details in Braille
  • make the back a scratch ticket for a discount
  • place a mini map to your location on the back
  • make it 3D
  • make it look like the product you're selling, i.e. a cell phone
  • place it in a protective sleeve
  • have a picture of a satisfied client on the front with a testimonial
  • if you're a lawn care company, make your card a packet with a few seeds inside

The creative possibilities are endless.

9. Challenging sizes. Although creatively shaped cards and over-sized cards do stand out, they can pose challenges for those who use scanning software to import the cards into electronic storage devices.

And, oversize cards don't make it into the standard business card albums or card holders.

Your card may stand out and stand alone, but it might also become lost or overlooked because it's not stored with others.

10. Home jobs. No matter how hard you try, a home-made business card simply can't compete with professionally printed cards. Perforated and light-weight cards scream "cheap" and "amateur" and will lessen your ability to make an impact.

Professional business cards can be printed inexpensively and go a long way to create an image of professionalism and quality for both you and your business.

Simple, inexpensive changes to your card can make the difference between boom or bust in the number of referrals and new prospects you attract.

Invest in creating an effective, professional card and you will be rewarded many times over.

Copyright 2008 Laurie Hayes - The HBB Source

Laurie Hayes, founder and visionary behind The HBB Source, helps government and corporate employees break free of their jobs to live their dream of entrepreneurship. To subscribe to her FREE e-zine for valuable resources designed to create home business success, visit

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Technology Update

On my other Blog, I wrote about an issue with compatible software involving Microsoft and others.
Click here if you want to read it and learn like I did.....

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Another Book Review

Okay, this is not going to turn into the book of the day club, although one of my daughters reads about that fast.

It just is a matter of timing, like most of life. Last night the subject was Marketing, Advertising, and Public Relations.

Today in my email was Harvey Mackay's latest and he happens to review a book on break-through's in business.

(By way, I have read Harvey's first two books and most of his most recent).

Here's Harvey's words:

The 'breakthrough' book for a breakthrough year

I just finished reading a great new business book that really breaks new ground, and I am recommending that my readers put it on their 2008 reading list. That book, The Breakthrough Company by Keith McFarland, examines nine companies which found ways to grow exponentially, while others like them settled for merely succeeding.

Did you know that just one-tenth of one percent of U.S. firms achieve revenues of more than $250 million in sales? Almost all books and media focus on these sizable companies, but this new work takes you through the steps from a one-person shop to the big time.

McFarland took five years out to "Catscan" and "MRI" more than 7,000 growth companies seeking to become powerhouses in their industry. He narrowed his study to nine breakthrough companies—ADTRAN, Chico's, Express Personnel, Fastenal, Intuit, Paychex, Polaris, SAS Institute and the Staubauch Company. His goal: To identify the secrets of breakthrough, which enable a firm to grow to $1 billion in sales and beyond.

In interviewing more than 1,500 executives on four continents, McFarland discovered that much of what is believed about what it takes to build a breakthrough company is just plain wrong. Included among his myth-busting insights, McFarland says that breakthrough companies:

  • Discover profitable niches where others see only challenges. I call this "nitch picking."
  • Focus on building an organization where you can hire ordinary people who can do extraordinary things. They've got some surprising ways of doing it too. It's essential to have quality people, which becomes less of a challenge when you build a great company, because the best people have a way of finding you.
  • Spend less time worrying about corporate culture than they do corporate character. You can't fake character.
  • Point to difficult times as the periods when their organizations learned the most and made the most progress.
  • Surround yourself with insultants. Yes, I said insultants. You must always have people who question your ways of doing business.

Perhaps my favorite chapter is "Crowning the Company," where "leaders serve their company rather than have the company serve them." These companies might have started out as one-man bands, but they grew into sovereign organizations where "they honored the organization more than the individuals in it."

For example, if you visit Roger Staubach, NFL Hall of Fame Dallas Cowboys quarterback, at his commercial real estate company, you'll notice that something is missing—practically anything relating to football. Ask him why and he'll tell you, "It's because we are building something here that is bigger than Roger Staubach."

If you choose to crown your company, here are some of McFarland's tips:

  • Crown the customer first. "If everyone in the organization is taught to view their own departmental activities as always secondary to the needs of the customer, then employees will consider the customer their top priority."
  • Avoid the trappings of corporate royalty. Breakthrough execs are paid market rates, but they tend to receive the same treatment and benefits package as any other employee.
  • Shift from commander to coach. Leaders must adapt their skill-sets to begin coaching and developing new capabilities throughout the organization.
  • Encourage chaotic communication. You need to have an open-door policy. Everyone in an organization should be encouraged to talk to anyone at any time.
  • Cut employees in on the action. And it doesn't always have to be money. It can be benefits like flexible workdays, on-site health care, fitness center or day care.

McFarland says that breakthrough companies continue to up the ante to increase the size of their bets to match the growing stakes of the game in their industries. Many companies fail to break through because they fall into the trap of playing it safe. As I always say, sometimes it's risky not to take a risk. The key is knowing how to tell the difference from a good bet and a merely risky one, and the author gives you a detailed plan of action.

But what makes this book stand out from so many others is the simple, straightforward language and the proof that many companies, no matter how mundane or unglamorous the product, have the potential to break through.

Mackay's Moral: If you're looking for a breakthrough, break open this book.

Miss a column? The last three weeks of Harvey's columns are always archived online.

More information and learning tools can be found online at

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Book review by someone in the biz

Over 190,000 books are published each year in America. I read maybe 5 to 10 a year. So how do I pick out a good one? Fortunately for me and you, Anthony Juliano has given us a three part review of The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR at his blog SoundBite Back. Here's what he says in the final installment and there's links to the first two parts too!

This is the last of three post on the SBB Book of the Month, The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR (you may want to read post 1 and post 2 if you haven’t already). A few more places where I believe the Rieses get it wrong:

  • The Rieses argue that the prevalence of “alternative” forms of advertising—their examples include blimps, stadium naming rights, and point of purchase displays—demonstrate that advertising is less effective than ever before. The problem here isn't that this premise is wrong—they’re 100% correct when they say there’s more advertising clutter out there than ever before. But PR has exactly the same problem. That’s why you’re see PR agencies using more promotional stunts—some very effective—to get the audience’s attention, instead of just relying on earned media. We have more stuff competing for our attention these days, and that’s true whether you’re talking about a full-page newspaper ad or the full-page news story running next to it.
  • The most egregious head-to-head comparison the Rieses make is between Coca-Cola and Microsoft. Here’s the crux of the argument: the Coca-Cola brand, launched in 1886, was built on advertising; the Microsoft brand, launched in 1975, was not built on advertising; therefore, advertising must be in decline. Again, I don’t disagree that the rules of the advertising game have changed dramatically, but this example is beyond oversimplified. The reason why Microsoft didn't need a large advertising budget to build its brand is that they had very little competition. If you had a near monopoly, how much would you spend to advertise your product?
  • In a book full of flaws, the biggest one may be the Rieses use an ad from Long Island’s Adelphi University to demonstrate why advertising doesn't work. The headline: “Harvard. The Adelphi of Massachusetts.” This ad’s failure has nothing to do with advertising itself and everything to do with a horrible ad concept. If you’re an unknown, you don’t take on the brand leader by claiming you can beat them at their greatest strength (especially when you probably can't beat them at their greatest strength). This goes beyond David vs. Goliath: this is David dropping his slingshot and challenging Goliath to a wrestling match. With one hand tied behind his back. After insulting Goliath’s mother. Sure, bad ads won’t help you build your brand. But bad examples like this don’t help the Rieses build a case for PR's supremacy.
Overall, The Fall of Advertising & the Rise of PR provides some good case studies in PR done well and advertising done poorly. But in focusing only on those extremes, the book ignores the true problem that today’s marketers face: both advertising and PR face serious challenges in today’s cluttered, chaotic communications environment, and marketers need to use every tools available to them. Sometimes that’s PR. Sometimes its advertising. And sometimes its neither. But don’t put away that slingshot just yet.

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Enough with the cutesy cell phone ring tones!

Jim Meisenheimer's latest newsletter talks about Professional Cell Phone Etiquette:

9 Cell Phone Etiquette Tips For Salespeople

Do you know what cell phone etiquette is?

Here's what it's not!

Do you remember life before cell phones? I do!

Do you remember where the bank of telephones were located and where they weren't located? I do!

Could you find telephones at every table in every restaurant? I don't think so!

Could you find telephones for everyone in hotel and rental car shuttle buses? I don't think so!

Could you find telephones on escalators and elevators? I don't think so!

Could you find telephones anywhere other than an obscure place where your telephone conversation couldn't be heard by all? I don't think so!

I believe it's rude and obnoxious to force people to listen to your private conversations.

Now having said all this I fully realize my little rant is not going to change the world. However I feel better getting it off my chest.

Here are 9 cell phone etiquette tips for salespeople and entrepreneurs. These tips are meant to be constructive and helpful.

1. Get rid of the cutesy and loud ring tones. Choose vibrate over the ring tone.

2. Turn off your cell phone when going to a meeting, a restaurant, a church, a movie, and yes even a sales call.

3. Keep your distance from other people. Allow 10-20 feet from the closest person.

4. "Can you hear me now?" Everyone can hear you now. The technology is so good you can actually talk at a lower volume and still be heard. So unless somebody says, "I can't hear you" you don't have to raise your voice to talk on your cell phone.

5. "We just landed, I'm waiting to get off the plane." So what and who really cares?

6. Do you really need to use your cell phone behind closed doors in the washroom?

7. Using your cell phone in a restaurant is rude. Bring a book instead.

8. It's stupid and dangerous to be on your cell phone while jogging, biking, and rollerblading - yet I see people doing it every day.

9. It's risky business using a cell phone while driving at any speed. There are so many people who are talking and driving, you just might want to pay more attention to your driving. Have you ever had a "Close call" while you were talking and driving? Enough said.

Cell phones are a phenomenal resource for salespeople and entrepreneurs. You can't control how other people use their cell phones, you can however make better use of your cell phone.

Finally, I wouldn't be too quick to give a gazillion people your cell phone number. Everyone who has your cell phone number, including family, friends, business associates, sales prospects, and even your best customers expect a return call within an hour.

It's impossible to take control of your time and your life when hundreds of people have your cell phone number. You can't be proactive when you're tethered to your cell phone being reactive.

It's your life and your time is limited. If you give it some thought, I'll bet you can take back control of your time and your life.

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The Best Time of the Day to Sell

Wayne Ens is a radio sales trainer, consultant and a Canadian! A few years ago he came to town and did a presentation on Top of Mind Awareness to over 400 business owners. Wayne is an author, ( I have his book), and sends out a newsletter. Here's his latest:

Morning Head

Have you ever heard the expression “Things will look better in the morning?”

It’s not just an expression, it’s true!

God sent us this wonderful thing called sleep that erases all of the unimportant crap that our brains absorb during the day.

If you want to sell more 52-week business, make your presentations when

‘Things look better’ to your clients.

According to our records, 75-80% of all major media sales are made between 8 AM and 11:15 AM.

It appears that by the time afternoon roles around, busy decision-makers have had staff problems to deal with, their show rooms are busy, and their brains are full…too full to consider exciting new ideas or directions with an open mind.

Educators have also proven that the human mind captures and retains new concepts better in the light of a new day than during a late afternoon seminar.

Want to make more major sales?

Then make sure your weekly planner is packed full with face-to-face pro-active presentations every morning. Do the stuff that makes you “busy”, although not necessarily productive, later each day.

P.S. Want to make an important uninterrupted presentation in the morning? Try scheduling an off-premise breakfast meeting.

Wayne Ens

ENSMedia Inc.


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Laugh about paying your Taxes?

The battle is on for the do-it-yourselfers in the battle for income tax software. Last week it was brought to my attention that not everyone likes the H & R Block Talk to the Box campaign. Today in my email was this story from Mediapost about a contest that TurboTax, (the folks in the box) is having.....

TurboTax, Comedian Team For Promotion
Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008 5:00 AM ET
COMEDIAN JAY MOHR IS TEAMING with TurboTax to offer, a competition for wannabe comedians to showcase their talent, win $10,000 and the opportunity to open for Mohr at an Improv comedy club in Southern California.

"Most people think doing your own taxes is hard, and being funny is easy," said Mohr, whose credits include "Last Comic Standing," "Jerry Maguire," "Saturday Night Live," and "The Ghost Whisperer." "We're out to prove them wrong. TaxLaugh will give comedians the chance to make a name for themselves by making people laugh about something no one likes--taxes."

To enter, budding comics can create and submit a comedy video of up to three minutes. It can be stand-up, sketch, alternative or musical comedy, as long as it's about taxes. Videos can be submitted through March 24 at 11:59 p.m. Mohr will help pick the winning video and his opening act for one night.

--Nina M. Lentini

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Got 5 minutes & 6 seconds to watch a video?

I am a curious individual. I want to know how things work, how people work, what makes things and people tick, react and respond.

I read. I discovered the other day that most of my internet time was reading time. I also read the old fashioned way with books, papers and the like.

I will read books in 5 minute chunks. Sometimes an hour's worth of 5 minute chunks at one time.

I thought it might be due to a short attention span, but it is due to the process of being stimulated to think about what I have just read. I can't digest any more until I have chewed on that which I have just read. This is the learning process based on curiosity and application (in contrast to the learning process based on memorization).

Right now I'm reading two books nearly everyday for at least 5 minutes daily. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. And Purple Cow by Seth Godin.

The video is from Seth's Blog. I found out about it because I get updates from his blog sent to me daily. (By the way, you can get updates from this blog sent to your email daily too. Just enter your email in the box on the right side of this page). Enjoy.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Just what is "Value" to YOUR customers?

From my email comes these selling tips:

Beyond Value: How to Become Invaluable to Your Customers
By Jill Konrath
As sellers, we're continually told to sell value and to let our prospects know about all of our value-added services. After all, that's how we're going to win the sales. Right? Not necessarily. Value is relative. It's in the eye of the beholder. So much depends on how the decision makers you're dealing with perceive "value." And even then, selling "value" may be totally ineffective - or not enough to make the difference.

To be successful in today's business environment, you may need
to be invaluable to your customers.
Basically customers can be segmented into three different types based on their perceptions of value and what you can do to increase your sales effectiveness when working with them.

Commodity Buyers
These buyers know exactly what they want and how to use it. They don't need sellers to explain the details. Commodity buyers typically value:
  • Low costs. They don't want to pay any more than necessary. To be successful with these buyers, companies need to pull as many costs as they can out of their supply chain.
  • No hassles. Make it simple, simple, simple to do business with your company. Give them an 800 number, send quick quotes, or allow easy online ordering and they're happy.
We're all commodity buyers at times. When I order things like contact lenses and office supplies, I just want good pricing and fast service. As a seller, there's little you can do to create value or sell "value add." I really don't care. It's up to your company to make it cheaper, simpler to order, delivered to my door and with easy returns if I need to send it back.

Strategic Partner

These people are looking far beyond the scope of your products or services. They want a strategic partnership. They're looking at how to best leverage their organization's core competencies in combination with another company's core competencies. These buyers value:
  • Intimate and strategic relationships between multiple levels within both organizations.
  • Mutual investments in joint projects.
  • Merging of systems to accomplish more than either organization could do alone.
Working with Strategic Partner buyers requires a major corporate commitment and is far beyond the scope of any one seller. If your company isn't capable or willing to do this, these buyers aren't interested in working with you. By yourself, you can't create the value they need. But if your company chooses to do this, you and your firm will become absolutely invaluable.

"I Need to Make a Sound Decision" Buyer
These buyers are either spending a lot of money on a decision or they don't know everything there is to know about what they're buying. Typically their decision process is complex, involves multiple people and takes place over an extended period of time.
If corporate decision makers are seriously considering your product or service, they assume it meets their basic requirements and that your organization is reputable. Having a decent offering gets you in the game, but does not typically provide enough value to win the business.
In fact, with these these buyers, the seller creates the value by what they personally bring to the relationship. These buyers value sellers who:
  • Help them understand their problems in greater depth.
  • Add additional insights into the challenges they face.
  • Share relevant information regarding "best practices."
  • Develop unique, innovative approaches to resolving their business issues.
  • Keep them up-to-date on trends in the industry and how others are addressing them.
  • Help them find ways around the obstacles they're encountering, and
  • Propose new ways to do more with the same investment.
Becoming an Invaluable Resource
What makes a seller invaluable? The ability to contribute so much more with each and every customer interaction - so much so that they can't imagine doing business without you. Let me give you an example. Say your company handles direct mailing programs, a fairly non-differentiated service offering. Here are some ways that you, as the seller could become invaluable to your customers. You could:
  • Share ideas about other company's direct mail programs - what works, what doesn't.
  • Help them find ways to increase the results of their existing direct mail programs.
  • Show them how to reduce the overall costs of the program while maintaining its effectiveness and integrity.
  • Let them know what their competitors are doing.
  • Develop ways to increase the quality of their database.
If you keep thinking, you can come up with even more ways to become invaluable such as:
  • Working collaboratively with related vendors (i.e. agencies, telemarketing firms) to smooth out the hand-offs.
  • Helping them establish important criteria for their vendor selection process that they currently may not be aware of.
  • Proposing ideas for new programs to help them achieve their desired marketing results.
  • Acting as an advocate within your own organization on issues impacting the customer.
  • Suggesting ways to improve the work flow between all companies and internal departments working on the project.
To become invaluable, you must bring more to the relationship than just your standard product or service. What you want to create is a situation where corporate decision makers can't live without your ideas, insights, and knowledge. Becoming invaluable doesn't just "happen." You need to invest in yourself. Learn more about your customer's business. Figure out how to help them improve it. Be an idea generator. Become an expert in your field. It takes a real commitment on your part. Only the best make that commitment. But it truly sets them apart from everyone else and literally makes them invaluable.

Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies, helps sellers crack into corporate accounts, shorten sales cycles and win big contracts. She is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and association events. For more article like this, visit . Get a free Sales Call Planning Guide ($19.95 value) when you sign up for the Selling to Big Companies e-newsletter.

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Creating good P.R.

There are a number of elements required to create good P.R.

  1. Do something GOOD
  2. Let people know about it
  3. Repeat.
Local radio station WAJI, (not part of the broadcasting company I am affiliated with) has done it again.

And the word is spreading nationwide. A tip of the hat to Barb Richards, Candy Wendling, and Mac along with the fine folks at Sweetwater Sound including Chuck Surack for a job well done, twice!

The following came in my email today from the Radio Advertising Bureau, which is THE organization that radio stations nationwide rely on for research, tips, trends and tips. Read it for yourself...

Sweetwater CD Raises Funds For Children's Hospital.

Sweetwater, the fourth-largest music instrument and pro audio retailer in the world, according to Music Trades magazine, and Fort Wayne radio station Majic 95.1, have combined forces to issue Majic Miracle Music, Volume II, a compilation CD of new recordings by nationally known recording artists.

Volume I of Majic Miracle Music has raised more than $8,500 to benefit Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Sweetwater donated all recording studio time, disc replication, and marketing services, so that the entire $10 purchase price would go to the children's hospital. Volume I is available at local book stores and online at:

Nationally recognized artists, including Gin Blossoms, Jars of Clay, Smash Mouth, Nick Lachey, Landon Pigg, Josh Kelley, Ryan Cabrera, Anna Nalick, Michael Tolcher, Teddy Geiger, and comedian Heywood Banks, appeared on the first volume with new, acoustic versions of their popular hits. Six of the songs were recorded at Sweetwater Productions, the region's premier recording studio. The others are acoustic recordings donated by the artists.

The CD artwork features 4-year old Aleigha Sweet, a Riley patient from Fort Wayne who experienced a true miracle, undergoing successful cancer surgery to remove a lung tumor. Since then, she has been in complete remission and her prognosis is very positive.

"Doing a charity CD has been a goal of Majic's for a long time! Now, with the help of Sweetwater and some very generous musicians and cooperative record labels, that goal has been reached!" said Majic Program Director, Barb Richards. "By purchasing the CD, people are purchasing a miracle, because all dollars raised go directly to our state's only non-profit children's hospital, Riley Hospital for Children. How great is that?"

The $8,500 in proceeds was also used as matching funds for Majic's annual Riley Radiothon, which raised more than $162,000 this year.

Majic Miracle Music is a project of "Sweetwater Studio 95," a partnership launched last summer by Sweetwater Sound and Majic 95.1, for the recording of live, acoustic versions of songs by bands and artists visiting Fort Wayne. These recordings, along with extended interviews, are broadcast on Majic on regular rotation. Sweetwater's recording of Landon Pigg's "Can't Let Go" was also distributed via MP3 to radio stations throughout the country for broadcast.

Volume Two of Majic Miracle Music was issued in November, and includes REO Speedwagon, Daughtry, Sara Bareilles, Jon McLaughlin, Ben Jellen, Michael W. Smith, the Virgin Millionaires, and others.

"We're delighted to be a partner in supporting a wonderful organization like Riley Hospital for Children, and to be able to contribute by doing what we do best," said Sweetwater President and Founder, Chuck Surack. "We hope that everyone will show their support by purchasing the Majic Miracle Music CDs for themselves, and as gifts for friends and family."
Source: The Music Trades, 01/01/08

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How to make money online and not turn off your customers.

Last week in the news was the story of Hasbro vs. Scrabulous. Read more at Anthony Juliano's SoundBite Back Blog here and here too.

Today, I share this story of how a company is doing it right. The company is Electronic Arts and the game is that old family favorite, Battle Ship.

Here's the news that came in my email from Kim Komando:

A new business model for games Electronic Arts is trying a new way to generate revenue. It will offer the latest installment of its Battlefield series for free. The game will be distributed over the Internet. Players will be able to purchase virtual gear. Additionally, advertising will be shown to players. READ MORE

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H & R Block's talk to the box campaign?

The latest from Chuck McKay's blog, Fishing For Customers, tackles a subject that is taught in advertising circles.

There are various ways to get a customer to buy including emphasizing how wonderful their life will be with this purchase, or the opposite approach, which is to emphasize fear of what will happen if you don't buy.
These approaches are common to all sales.

Yet Chuck has a warning for you if you are planning on using the FEAR approach, read his words of wisdom:

Kenny Rogers has said he sings songs that men wish they could sing to their women, and that women want to hear from their men.

Songwriters understand that.

A number of years ago I audited a UCLA Extension songwriting class from my friend, Grammy nominee Barry Kaye. Barry made a point during a song critique that I've never forgotten: people identify with songs and singers. No singer will ever sing a song that paints the protagonist as a wimp. Even more importantly, no listener will identify with such a character.

His advice to aspiring songwriters? Never write a song that doesn't make the singer an admirable character.

An advertising lesson.

As you may suspect, aspiring advertising copywriters can learn from Barry's comment. Never write an ad that doesn't make your purchaser an admirable character.

In general, I like the H&R Block “I've got people” campaign (“I can deduct my gauplattlerhosen?”), but right now there is no way I'd buy that particular software package. I've been soured by the advertising.

The ad opens with a man sitting in front of his computer as his wife enters the picture.

She: “Hey, how's taxes?

He, quite sheepishly: “I'm stuck.

She: “Stuck, huh? Humm. Maybe you should get some people to help us.

She becomes sarcastic. “Oh, that's right. We didn't use people. We used a box.

Then, like a mommy driving home a point to a naughty child, she holds the box in front of him and says, “Well, maybe you should tell the box you're stuck.

He, cowering: “I'm stuck.

The announcer then ties the software to the “I've got people” campaign: “Tax cut from H&R Block is the only tax program that gives you direct access to H&R Block professionals.

I have in the past acquired tax software packages and calculated my own return. If I didn't already have a relationship with an amazing accountant, I might consider purchasing H&R Block's software.

At least, I might have before I saw this ad.

And as we get closer to tax time and it airs more frequently I'm finding that it's grating on me. First, I'm annoyed by the wife. Second, I'm even more annoyed by the husband who allows himself to be scolded as if he were a 3 year old caught raiding the cookie jar. By extension, I've become negative on the product.

Am I the target?

Perhaps I'm not a member of the audience this ad is designed to persuade, and my opinion is not relevant. And, whether it is or not, you should never let one person's reaction to any ad influence your decision to run it.

But I suspect that my reaction to the characters in that ad may be a common one.

Be careful how you portray the people who may buy what you've got for sale. As Barry Kaye pointed out, nobody identifies with a loser.

Chuck McKay is a marketing consultant who works with professional practices and owner operated businesses. Questions about writing effective advertising copy may be directed to
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The Effect of Higher Gas Prices

The Nielsen Company released a study today that came in my email about how gasoline prices are changing consumers shopping habits. After reading this, my question to you is what can you do to make your store, shop, or business a destination that consumers will still want to drive to? Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments, and perhaps we can help each other out. Here's the study report:

Monday, January 21, 2008

Gas Prices Changing Consumer Habits

A new study from The Nielsen Company finds that 49 percent of U.S. consumers are reducing their spending to compensate for rising gas prices, up four points from June 2007. 70 percent of consumers are combining shopping trips and errands, and 41 percent are eating out less, and 39 percent staying home more often.

Todd Hale, senior vice president of Consumer Shopping & Insights, said "... Large numbers of consumers eating out less and staying home more... signal a tough year for some restaurants... there may be an opportunity for consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers and retailers to find... growth in... at-home meal solutions and at-work meals."

The survey finds that record-high gas prices likely contributed to 2007's less-than-stellar holiday sales season. Sixty percent of consumers surveyed said they had less money to spend during the holidays due to increased gas prices.

Hale continued... "... our research shows a jump in consumers shopping on the Internet as a way to deal with high gas prices... a wake-up call for manufacturers and retailers alike to step up their ‘direct-to-consumer' efforts and utilize the Internet to communicate directly with consumers in 2008... "

The survey shows that 27 percent of consumers are reacting to gas prices by shopping more at supercenters, or megastores and big-box stores, where more items needed are in one store.

"Nearly a third of households still travel 11 miles or more to a supercenter, and high gas prices will likely reduce the number of quick trips these households make," said Hale.

Twenty-five percent of consumers are using coupons to save money, up from 20 percent in June 2007. Twenty-three percent of consumers indicate they will buy less expensive grocery brands to deal with higher gas prices, signaling a possible boost for private label or store-brand products and lower-priced branded products.

Impact of Higher Gas Prices on Consumer Spending and Driving Habits (% of respondents)

June/July '05

June/July '06

June/July '07

Dec '07

Combine errands/trips





Eat out less





Do more at home





Reduce spending a little





Reduce spending a lot





Shop more on Internet





Shop more at supercenters





Switch to lower price gas stations





Use more coupons





Buy less expensive grocery brands





Use lower grade gas





Source: Nielsen Homescan Survey, December 2007

(The survey was conducted in December 2007, when regular gas averaged $3.06)

"2008 will likely be a challenging year for U.S. consumers and the economy as a whole as we grapple with growing inflation, credit card debt, declining house values - - as well as expectations for gasoline to hit $3.40 by spring," said Hale. "Manufacturers and retailers need to be alert to the fact that consumers are looking to save by altering where they shop, how they shop and what products and brands they buy. Value, convenience and competitive pricing will be more important than ever in the year ahead.

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