Saturday, January 19, 2008

How a blog can help your business grow...

So, you've heard something about "blogs", but what do they have to do with your business?

The folks at Small Fuel Marketing have put together some ideas on how to use blogs as part of your marketing plan. (READ MORE)

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Money in Medical Marketing

With all the talk about what to do with healthcare in the good ole U.S. of A., the money will be spent to influence the voters between now and Election Day. Here's more from my email:

AMA Tripling 2008 Political Ad Effort
Chicago Tribune
The American Medical Association is tripling spending on its campaign for the uninsured. The group, which represents about a quarter-million U.S. doctors, will shell out about $15 million this year on its "Voice for the Uninsured" effort. But even with the increase, the AMA has tough competition in getting its message out.

Political and issue ads could account for a whopping $3 billion in media spending this year, according to TNS Media Intelligence. As of the tracker's last count, more than $67 million in political and issue ads has been spent since the beginning of January alone, a figure that national and local races. Still, the AMA thinks it will be able to break through.

"By November, millions of Americans will have heard the AMA's concern that one in seven of us is uninsured, and they will have heard our call to voters to cast their ballots with the issue of the uninsured in mind," says Dr. Samantha Rosman, a Boston pediatrician and AMA board member. - Read the whole story...

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ever try and buy Life insurance after you're dead?

I know, it sounds silly, no... more like stupid, idiotic, and impossible.

But that's almost a direct comparison to the folks that create a bad or marginal product and then expect the marketing team and the public relations folks, and a pile of cash spent on advertising to sell this "yucky" product.

Anthony Juliano has a more eloquent way of saying it on his blog today...

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Jump on or get run over, (the internet is not a fad, nor is it bad)

A very good friend of mine who moved to California last summer has been resisting technology and the internet. He is in his middle 60's and is very bright, smart, full of marketing wisdom and a mentor of mine. Someone else that I have not met, but his books that I started reading 20 years ago and is now in his 70's, Harvey Mackay, shares with us the leap he took into the world of the Web 2.0. Here's what he has to say, (from my email):

Harvey Mackay's Column This Week

How I went from low tech to high tech

In the past 30 days, I have done a podcast, a teleseminar and a webinar. Thirty months ago, I wouldn't have even known that a webinar was an interactive seminar on the Internet! In our age, we are seeing the tools of business reinvented overnight. As the longshoreman philosopher Eric Hoffer wrote, "In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future."

What's the single biggest change I have spotted in those 30 months? The invasion of highbrow technology into the once low-tech world of small business:

  • In New York City, I recently got a shoeshine. Did I gaze at the crowds walking by? No, I was tuned into CNN on the shop's big-screen TV.
  • Kids wear braces, right? They clock time in orthodontic treatment rooms. Is it any surprise that more and more of them are now equipped with Internet-accessible computer terminals? A reader, Mandolyn McIntyre, wrote me recently that dentists now have "the power to automatically text message appointment reminders" to their customers. This reminder sure has a new byte to it.
  • There's an increase in the number of doctors with computer terminals or Wi-Fi access in reception areas so queued up patients can sign-on to read their email. In a few years, that rack of dog-eared Newsweek and People magazines may be a waiting-room dinosaur.
  • When I popped into the local Asian takeout recently, the owner was clicking away at her computer. "Doing the books?" I asked casually. "No, taking an order. Mr. Mackay, do you realize what's happened since we started offering online ordering? Our average ticket is up 25 percent!"

Most small business people are far more computer savvy today. What's more, costs have plunged and availability has surged. Earlier this year, Steve Rucinski wrote on podcasting for Small Business Trends and noted: "With forecasted sales of over 120 million MP3 players and 200 million MP3 enabled cell phones in 2007, the potential audience for podcasts continues to grow at a strong pace." Rucinski says you can launch your own podcast studio with a $500 kit. "Internet based radio stations are emerging to serve the small business audience," adds Rucinski.

How should small businesses keep a handle on the technology surge?

  • Look for the trends that are right for your niche. Don't just pump up your Internet presence to be techno-chic. There are millions of customers out there who will hold you accountable to the Internet promises you make. Set new expectations, and customers will challenge you to meet them.
  • Flush out the mechanical bottlenecks. You can spruce up your high technology to be the hottest in cyberspace ... but if you don't have enough phone lines and receivers to handle demand, what will it matter?
  • If you're in the service sector, definitely scout what's happening in the mega-cities. That's where the innovations like big-screen shoeshine parlors or in-cab passenger videos surface first.
  • Computer files offer an unprecedented opportunity to keep customer records. Those same files allow you to pinpoint what really rings the register. If you're a carpet cleaner, for instance, you might find 80 percent of your January revenues are in lifting red wine stains out of ivory white plush.
  • Get competent and reliable technical assistance. Setting up an e-menu or a podcast studio might cost peanuts. They can also bankrupt your reputation if the technology isn't maintained and updated.
  • Ask your customers, especially younger ones: What can we do to make your life more informative or easier? Recently I read about a group of funeral homes offering a paid service to preserve DNA samples of a loved one. Sound morbid? Consider the breakthroughs in gene tracking, and what your health-conscious grandchildren might want to know about great-granddad's genetic markers.

The Internet is like the computer was before it. Both are tools. They can revolutionize how you administer and publicize your business, regardless of the size of your bottom line. But there is no substitute for the product itself. Stay abreast of the trends, but stick to the business of keeping your core products and services competitive.

Mackay's Moral: Minus know-how, the cutting edge can cut a deep gash.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

How clean is your toilet?

Creative way to sell bathroom fixtures?

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Not another tired, old theme-sale

From my email comes the latest from Chuck McKay:

Going For The Gold

There's something to be said for experience. For that matter, there's something to be said for age.

There comes a time for most of us in which we realize that we've already considered the current topic. We realize that we've come to some conclusions. We realize that there's no new evidence to change our conclusions.

I think this is why older people are considered by younger people to be so set in their ways.

The older people have already considered whether a particular behavior is supportive or enabling. They've already determined that shorter-term investments come with higher volatility than longer-term investments. They've already determined that bad advertising concepts can't be saved by creativity.

And I, it appears, have become one of those crotchety old advertising people.

I'm no longer willing to give the benefit of the doubt to lame ideas that, although they won't go away, have never proven to be of value to any company, anywhere.

Like this one: “The Olympics, the political conventions, the elections, leap day, the landing on Mars and some exciting anniversaries give advertisers lots of potential themes in 2008.

The author goes on to list such door-busting themes as:

Feb. 18: Presidents' Day
May 25: Indianapolis 500.
Aug. 8-24: The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.

I won't be reserving judgment on this one. These are bad ideas.

But the sad point of this list? Somebody will attempt to use these.

Some office supply store will offer a “200 Meter Freestyle” printer ink discount. Some family restaurant will offer a “Team America” platter. Some car dealer will hold a “Gold, Silver, or Bronze” sale.

By association, these people may get some weak attention.


Regardless, its dangerous to assume that people interested in the original event have any interest in what you have to offer. And if they do, they need to associate you as the solution to the problem they're trying to solve.
  • What's your positioning statement? “We know that you're interested in the Olympics. Unfortunately, we're not them.

  • And the shelf life of these ads is, at best, only days. Once the event is finished, so is the entire budget you've spent on it.

  • Then there's the problem of trying to get your ad to cut through the clutter of all of those other companies doing Gold, Silver, and Bronze sales.
  • Conclusion: Don't waste your money trying to piggyback on someone else's theme. Invest your money, instead, in getting your unique message into the minds of people who are interested in what you offer.

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    How NOT to be a flash in a pan

    Short term thinking leads to short term success. Nearly every business needs a long term strategy to provide a foundation for your long term stability. I call this investing in your future clients (READ MORE)

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    What do you have for sale?

    Last summer my wife and I stayed at a Westin Hotel in Indianapolis and I noticed that if we wanted to buy a bed like the one in our room, we could buy one while we were at the hotel!

    Other hotels are starting to convert themselves into retail space where guests can buy towels, hair dryers, even coffee makers. Now there is a hotel that is being designed as a "Try it Before you Buy it" retail space. (READ MORE)

    Which prompts me to ask you? What do you have for sale? There probably things you can sell and make money with right under your nose, or feet, or....

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    Change your business model to compete

    Sometimes the best way to sell your service in a marketplace that is crowded is to create a new business model. Everyone of us is required by law to carry auto insurance if we drive. Nearly every insurance company uses the same business model to determine what you pay, and it's based on your age, driving record, and your car and some top secret formula unknown to the common man.

    So what if an insurance company created a different business model, where you buy your auto insurance by the mile? (READ MORE)

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    The 2008 American Consumer Preview part 3

    From my email (plan accordingly):

    Wednesday, January 16, 2008

    Gloom, But Not Doom, According to Consumers

    Continuing "Trend Week," the consumer holds the reigns to the near future. As reported in the recent BIGresearch economic news briefing of Consumer Insights, consumers aren't willing to put present economic conditions behind them to start a new year. With holiday bills rolling in, gas prices hiking up, and a housing market without a foundation, only 33.6% indicate that they are very confident/confident in chances for a strong economy, the lowest reading since the 33.4% recorded in September '05 (post-Hurricane Katrina). This month's reading is down more than three points from December's already-weak 37.0%, and almost 17 points lower than one year ago 50.5%.

    It looks like the "holiday hangover" has begun to set in, says the report. More shoppers have plans to freeze their unnecessary spending, with 41.2% indicating they've become more practical and realistic in their purchasing, up from December (40.3%) as well as January '07 (39.6%). However, now that the gift card redemption season has begun, retailers can begin counting that revenue. However, 49.9% of consumers indicate this month that they are focusing on needs over wants in purchasing, rising from December and January '07.

    5.2% of consumers fear becoming laid off, up from 4.5% last month and the highest reading since February '06.

    With the Energy Information Administration forecasting gas prices at over $3/gal in '08 and well into '09, the 74.5% of consumers impacted by fluctuating gas prices report that:

    • 41.5% are consolidating their shopping trips
    • 40.6% are shopping closer to home
    • 35.4% are perusing aisles for sales
    • 29.0% are clipping coupons

    Of the 34.1% of consumers affected by the problems in the U.S. housing market, and the 28.4% "unsure," to cope with this situation:

    • 45.5% are dining out less
    • 42.0% are driving less
    • 37.8% are on the hunt for sales more often
    • 36.9% shop closer to home
    • 35.8% are taking fewer shopping trips
    • 35.7% are spending less on clothing

    With declining confidence, mounting credit card debt, a shaky housing market, and holiday bills left to pay, the 90 Day Outlook of Future Purchases continues to decline from last month as well as last year, with Lawn & Garden the lone category gaining from December.

    Among those planning to buy or lease a new vehicle in the next six months, 12.5% are considering hybrid. increasing interest in cars. 62.2% of potential car buyers are considering more fuel-efficient vehicle types, up from 54.0% in January '07, with slightly declining interest seen in trucks and cross-over vehicles.

    See the complete BIGresearch report here.

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    Increase your productivity

    With your laptop and free online resources. Last night I wrote about this complete with clickable links on my other blog.


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    Tuesday, January 15, 2008

    More on the 2008 American Consumer (part 2)

    This time, we take a step back at 2007 trends to see how the economy is affecting our lives. No big surprises here, except we are adaptable consumers.

    From my email:

    Impact Of Higher Gas Prices

    Because of higher prices, consumers say they will:

    June 07 Dec 07
    Shop more at supercenters 23% 27%
    Switch to lower price gas stations 26% 26%
    Use more coupons 21% 25%
    Buy less expensive grocery brands 19% 23%
    Use lower grade gas 14% 15%

    Source: Nielsen Homescan Survey

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    Names, Shnames, & Games

    I recently commented on a local car dealership changing names and throwing away their namesake. Please click here to read Anthony Juliano's words of wisdom at his Blog SoundBite Back. (Also read the comments to see some follow up discussion.)

    Yesterday the subject of names was mentioned in the morning paper and was followed up in SoundBite Back.

    This morning on N.P.R.'s morning edition I heard about Hasbro trying to shut down an on-line knock-off of their trademarked Scrabble game that is being played on Facebook.

    Scrabble Maker Hasbro Mad over Scrabulous

    Morning Edition, January 15, 2008 · Scrabble is one of the most popular board games with more than 100 million sets sold worldwide. An online version of the game, called Scrabulous is getting a lot of attention. But Hasbro, the maker of Scrabble, isn't happy. That's because it isn't the maker of Scrabulous. Click here to go to the NPR Page on the Web and listen to the story.

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    Monday, January 14, 2008

    The 2008 American Consumer Preview

    The 2008 consumers are unlike last years consumers, as we are battle weary, scared of the economic stability of our communities and our country, and wondering what will become of all the issues being talked about by the presidential hopefuls.

    Yet, month after month, consumers have to stretch their incomes a little further and buying decisions are being made as individuals and families. As Americans we want to be optimistic and as I do my job, I am always encouraged by those that are starting new businesses and chasing after their dreams.

    The following report about the 2008 consumer came in my email today:

    It's Official: Consumers Are Sucking It In Retailers turned in December sales reports that were somewhat more disappointing than expected. And experts say the results don't just sum up a lousy holiday period -- they're predictive of a newly cautious consumer.

    Middle-of-the-road department stores were hit hardest, with Kohl's same-store sales falling 11.4 percent, Macy's sliding 7.9 percent, and JCPenney dipping 7.5 percent. Even high-end luxury stores, which have been strong performers, struggled: Nordstrom says its sales fell 4 percent, and Saks eked out a gain of 0.8 percent. (Same-store sales at Neiman Marcus posted a 2.9 percent gain.)

    Specialty apparel retailers are also wrestling with much weaker numbers. Same-store sales at Chico's sank 13.7 percent; sales at the Limited Brands, which includes Victoria's Secret and Bath and Body Works, fell 8 percent; and at the Gap, which includes Old Navy and Banana Republic, as well as Gap stores, sales slid 6 percent.

    For teen retailers, Aeropostale was a standout with a 12.2 percent gain, but sales at both Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle Outfitters fell 2 percent, and sales at Hot Topic dropped 6.2 percent.

    Wal-Mart was an unexpected bright spot, posting a comparable-store gain of 2.7 percent at the higher end of its forecast. But Target, just a day after announcing the retirement of its CEO, says its same-store sales dropped 5 percent in December.
    Overall, December same-store sales growth managed a gain of just 0.2 percent from the prior month and last year, according to TNS Retail Forward, a Columbus, Ohio-based consultant that tracks about 50 key retailers.

    To a degree, the weather was a major factor, says Weather Trends International. "This five-week retail calendar (Dec. 2-Jan. 5) was the third-coldest in 15 years and the snowiest in seven years," it says, "bringing major disruptions to the critical holiday shopping season." But the real villain seems to be the economy. "The retail numbers leave little doubt that shoppers are in belt-tightening mode," TNS Retail Forward says in releasing its index. "No part of retail spending is immune right now. From stores to online retailers and lower-income to higher-income shoppers, there are signs of weakness that will persist into 2008."

    Shoppers included in its ShopperScape survey, fielded in the week between Christmas and New Year's, say they spent $635 on average this year, compared with $710 last year. Fewer shoppers (82 percent versus 88 percent last year) say they shopped online for gifts, and the percentage of online purchasers also declined a bit, to 77 percent from 80 percent.

    Gift cards, which retailers count on to spur January sales, also disappointed. About 56 percent in the ShopperScape survey say they received cards, compared with 58 percent a year ago. And the average amount on the cards declined, too -- to $124, from $136 last year.
    (Source: Marketing Daily, 1/11/08)

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    Advertising Overload?

    Let's face it... Nearly everything in your favorite grocery store has advertising on it. From the cans of soup to the sticker on the bananas, it's there all around you. You were probably used to it so it wasn't thought of as advertising, it was just a label. Even store brands have advertising on their packaging, instead of a generic label.
    So in order to get our attention, they needed to do something remarkable (purple cowish).

    Here's what's coming:

    Video Ads Are Planned for Grocery Carts

    SEATTLE (AP) — Microsoft Corp. is bringing digital advertising to the grocery cart. The software maker spent four years working with Plano, Texas-based MediaCart Holdings Inc. on a grocery cart-mounted console that helps shoppers find products in the store, then scan and pay for their items without waiting in the checkout line. Click here for the rest.

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    Sunday, January 13, 2008

    The Update on DeHaven Chevrolet

    Updated May 5, 2008:

    The past several days many people have ended up here at this blog posting when they were looking for information on Jack DeHaven.

    Based on the words typed into Google's search box, people were looking for information on the death of Mr. DeHaven. So I did my own search of Google, the local obits, and news outlets webpages and came up with nothing even hinting to the passing of Jack Dehaven.

    Today, that all changed. Today there is a listing on the website:

    Jack M. DeHaven II

    JACK M. DeHAVEN II, 42, died Tuesday, April 29, 2008. Born in Fort Wayne, he was the owner of DeHaven Chevrolet, Fort Wayne, and DeHaven Chevrolet-Cadillac, Kendallville. He was a graduate of Indiana University where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity. He enjoyed his summers at Lake Wawasee where he was an avid boater. Survivors include his wife, Jane of Roanoke; daughter, Lizzy DeHaven; and sister, Jennifer (John) Bryan of Florida. He was preceded in death by his parents, Jack and Patty DeHaven. Service is 11:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Vincent dePaul Catholic Church, 1502 E. Wallen Road, with calling from 10 to 11:30 at the church. Arrangements by D.O. McComb & Sons Pine Valley Park Funeral Home, 1320 E. Dupont Road. Burial in Greenlawn Memorial Park. Memorials to Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Research, PO Box 80201, Fort Wayne, IN 46808 or Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation, PO Box 548, Syracuse, IN 46567.
    Published in the Fort Wayne Newspapers on 5/2/2008.

    And now what I originally wrote 3 months ago makes sense regarding the name change of the family dealership, although I still wish they would have retained the name, if nothing else than as a tribute to the DeHaven family.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with those of you that have lost a friend, husband, father, and brother. (Out of respect, the title of this posting has been changed).

    Here's the story that I read in the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly about the demise of Dehaven Chevrolet:

    DeHaven Chevrolet has changed its name to reflect some internal changes in its ownership structure. The dealership at 5200 Illinois Road is now known as Summit City Chevrolet. The name was chosen because “we wanted to do something that tied us in to the community,” said general manager John Garcia. Employees at the dealership surveyed customers to see what name they preferred, and the choice also had to satisfy General Motors’ criteria for dealership names, Garcia said. Jack DeHaven is still the primary shareholder. The dealership’s Web site is now Signs with the new name, which became effective Jan. 1, are on order and should be up within about three weeks, Garcia said.

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    Starbucks news & XM news

    From my email:

    XM Satellite Radio has ended its marketing agreement with Starbucks Corp. and will soon drop the Starbucks-branded channel from its lineup.

    There's a lot more Starbucks news. Just enter Starbucks in the search box to the right to get the latest.

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