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December 17, 2008

Death of Taglines

Posted by Brad Abare | Filed under: Marketing

2008_12_17_Taglines.jpgThe "Made to Stick" brothers, Dan Heath and Chip Heath, deliver stellar advice yet again in their latest Fast Company column, "Kill the Slogans Dead," as they admonish us to "fight the urge to think in clever taglines."

Slogans, argue the Heaths, are not anything new. "The Oxford English Dictionary traces [the word slogan] back to the year 1513, referring to a battle cry of Scottish Highlanders." Slogans were often displayed on their coat of arms, including this gem from the Donnachaidh clan: "Fierce when roused."

The "slogan-virus" is rampant these days and it's the antidote to a good story. "When you have a big idea, make it come alive with a story. Make it real, color in some details, let it be something people care about. Just don't make it snappy."

This is one of the things I appreciate about the Personality Profile™. Instead of a crescendo at the end unveiling a great tagline, the process results in a frame-by-frame story that captures the essence of the organization. The Profile becomes a framework for decision making and storytelling, with everyone working from the same page.

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May 7, 2008

Finishing What You Start

Posted by Shawn Stewart | Filed under: E-mail Newsletter

Do You Follow Through?There's Something To Be Said for Follow Through

Q: What do basketball and marketing have in common?

A: If you don't follow through, you won't do well.

Allow me to explain.

I remember basketball summer camp like it was yesterday. That's where Mr. Urcheck taught me the correct way to shoot a basketball. I learned how to position my legs—shoulder-width apart, body angled toward the basket. I learned how to hold the ball—shooting arm in a C-shape, palm facing up and ball resting on the fingertips.

I can still hear Mr. Urcheck barking out instructions: "Bend your knees, extend your arm, follow through!" I also remember having to run laps for not following through on my shot!

He was trying to make us realize that one of the most important factors for a shot's success happened after the ball was released—aka the "follow through." We were told that a correct follow through involved pretending we were sticking our fingers down into the hoop after we let go of the ball at the top of our shot. The purpose? To ensure the shot was as targeted as it could be and the rotation of the ball was correct. In short, it helped ensure the ball had everything it needed for its journey toward two points (or even three!).

The older I get the more I see the importance of follow through in every aspect of life. Your marketing is no different.

Continue reading "Finishing What You Start"

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May 1, 2008

Confidence Evaluation Tool Is Up

Posted by Shawn Stewart | Filed under: Marketing

We sent out a tool earlier this week to our Think subscribers that measures the current confidence level within an organization as it relates to their ability to communicate and market themselves. So far so good! It's been interesting to see the results so far.

We've been encouraged that many have told us that the evaluation has been helpful in bringing things to the surface that need to be fixed and also accurately framed up their organization's current position.

We're opening up this tool and placing it on our site for everyone to access. You can download it here.

Some people have begun sharing it with their employees and coworkers and even employers to gain an even more accurate picture of where their company is at. Please feel free to share it with others, that's what it's for!

When you submit your results back to us, we'll send you back a free report that sheds even more light about your score and what you can do to improve it. we hope you'll find it as helpful as those who've already taken it and responded.

P.S. - The download is a dynamic PDF and you'll need Adobe Acrobat 7.0 to see it. And as always, we don't share or rent or sell out your information in anyway shape or form.

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April 28, 2008

Personality Not Included by Rohit Bhargava

Posted by Brad Abare | Filed under: Marketing

Personality Not IncludedWhen I first heard about Rohit Bhargava's new book, Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity--And How Great Brands Get it Back, I got a little nervous. What would his philosophy be? Would our approach differ? What if he's right and we're wrong? Yep, I had all the typical fears and jealousies you'd expect from an entrepreneur who has built his entire company on the idea of personality-based communication!

Up until recently, the conversation about companies having personality has been for the most part silent. And while I am not so naive to think that we here at Personality™ have a corner on the conversation, it has been a little lonely. Thanks to Rohit's book, we may be meeting some new friends.

I've got to say up front, unfortunately, that I read Personality Not Included with a bit of skepticism because of how engrossed in the idea of organizational personality I have been for the last several years. While I don't apologize for the bias, it does temper my enthusiasm because a lot of Rohit's ideas are echoes.

That aside, the book is indeed a decent read. It's divided into two sections. The first section is comprised of just six chapters because, says Rohit, of the more than 100 marketing and business books on his shelf, "Chapter 6 is the sweet spot." The second section of the book is packed with techniques, guides and tools that work alongside the first half's six chapters. Combined, the book is an argument for why personality matters in your company and how to go about doing something about it.

Continue reading "Personality Not Included by Rohit Bhargava"

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April 1, 2008

Discipline is the Secret to Successful Marketing

Posted by Brad Abare | Filed under: E-mail Newsletter

Cut Back on the Sugar, Slow Down and Focus

Maybe you're like me--sometimes when I go into a Borders or a Barnes & Noble, I get visually overwhelmed. My mental curiosity kicks in and I want to look at everything all at once. I bounce around the store like a 6-year-old hopped up on a pound of sugar, mesmerized by all the things I could look at next. When it comes time to leave, I have the sense that I never really saw anything.

Last month we talked about the importance of clarity for your business and for its communication. But what happens when the view of what you do is crystal clear, but your inner opportunist can't stop for five minutes to focus on anything?

We have a friend who works at a mid-market insurance brokerage. He's responsible for their IT and web development. Recently, one of their executives asked him to create a virtual tour of their offices. The executive didn't give any direction for doing it, didn't discuss what he wanted it to accomplish and didn't have a clue about what it should really communicate or what it should focus on. This person just saw it on someone else's web site and thought it was a good idea.

Is it a good idea?

Continue reading "Discipline is the Secret to Successful Marketing"

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February 5, 2008

Straight Talk: Three Ways Companies Lose the Nerve to Communicate Clearly

Posted by Brad Abare | Filed under: E-mail Newsletter

Have you ever watched someone walk along the edge of a curb, treating it as if it were a balancing beam? One foot in front of the other—toe to heel, heel to toe. It's no big surprise they usually manage to keep from falling off the curb and "plummeting" six whole inches to the street below. After all, they are doing something they've done since infancy—walk straight without falling over. Not terribly difficult.

Now suppose that person is you. In front of you is an eight-inch wide curb stretching 20 feet in length. Your goal: put one foot in front of the other until you get to the other side. In other words, walk straight without falling over. This time though, the curb isn't six inches from the street, it's 60 feet. That's right, there's a 60-foot drop to the blacktop below. Scary, huh?

The only thing that's changed from the first scenario to the second scenario is the consequence for failing to stay on the curb. That's it. But that's more than enough to allow fear to enter the picture. Essentially you begin to second-guess your ability to do what you know for sure you can do—walk in a straight line without falling over.

Ironically, your second-guessing and lack of confidence actually heightens the likelihood for failure. What if you were able to take the same confidence you had in your abilities when the stakes weren't as high and use them in the scenario when the stakes are higher (60 feet higher to be exact)?

Continue reading "Straight Talk: Three Ways Companies Lose the Nerve to Communicate Clearly"

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May 3, 2007

We Need to Get Better at Storytelling

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

We believe in the power of storytelling. Bono, the frontman for U2--arguably one of the biggest rock bands in the world--and the social activist behind Product Red, One and DATA, agrees with us:

"We need to get better at storytelling," Bono told the Times. "Bill Gates tells me this all the time. We've got to get better at telling the success stories of Africa in addition to the horror stories." (from E! Online)

That's why we offer the Storytelling Workshop and have put together a white paper on how to tell your cause's story. We've been on the story train for a while, but it's nice to have Bono on board.

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January 11, 2007

Blogging for Charity

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

Network for Good is offering charity badges, little web widgets bloggers can add to their sites that help raise money for the charity of your choice (and as soon as MySpace and Facebook functionality is up, this will go far beyond bloggers). Anyone can basically create a badge that promotes the charity of their choice (as long as it's registered with Network for Good) and customize it with their own text, photos, etc. and slap it on their site. The badge shows how many donations and how much money you've raised for your cause. How cool is that?

The project is supported by Yahoo! and they even offered a matching grant to the top fund raiser in the first month ($49,537 went to the Sharing Foundation). You can also check out the top 10 fundraisers.

For non-profits this is a cool way to mobilize your donors to raise money for you--just make sure you're on Network for Good. For businesses this is a cool way to raise money for your favorite charity of choice. (link via Nonprofit Blog Exchange)

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December 15, 2006

Are You Measuring?

Posted by Brian Zopf | Filed under: Marketing

And now for my next trick, I'll take things even one step further. I'm about to mystify you with a stunning and amazing truth from the world of marketing. Are you ready? "Good business turns a profit, while bad business does not."

Are you disappointed? You shouldn't be. You see business, at its essence, is about working smarter, not harder. This simple, little truth--far too often overlooked--applies equally well to the world of marketing. When it comes to spending and investing, truly successful companies follow one simple rule: Every dollar spent must result in more than a dollar return. It's not exactly rocket science. And yet it's truly painful to consider how many millions of dollars are literally wasted every year--say, on marketing strategies--that do not work.

There are as many ways to measure ROI as there are aspects of a business to be counted. But please, please remember this one simple truth: If the number of dollars going out is greater than the number of dollars coming in, it doesn't take the entrepreneurial genius of Phil Town or Warren Buffet to tell you your business is doomed and your marketing dollars are being flushed.

Are your marketing dollars really going to good investments? Are you sure? The unfriendly truth is: You can't know unless you're measuring.

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October 24, 2006

Helping the Homeless with Marketing

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

A Cornell University business major spent part of his summer internship helping the homeless in New York City. Matthew Zimmerman worked with the marketing company Sinek Partners and was given the task of helping beggars increase their revenue. Zimmerman focused on helping beggars forge an emotional connection through the message on their signs. For at least one beggar what was usually an all day chore to collect $30 happened in less than three hours.

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September 29, 2006

Accomplishments Over Activities

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

When talking about a cause you should stress accomplishment over activity. Kivi Leroux Miller at the Nonprofit Communications blog recommends this strategy for annual reports, though it applies to just about any communication about your cause. But sometimes getting to the accomplishment requires a bit of digging.

Miller offers this sample conversation of the process:

Nonprofit: We hosted a golf tournament and a silent auction as fundraisers.

Me: And that’s important because ...

Nonprofit: The events raised $20,000.

Me: And that’s important because ...

Nonprofit: We need the money.

Me: For what?

Nonprofit: Our scholarship fund.

Me: Which is important because...

Nonprofit: These kids can’t afford college otherwise.

Me: And how many scholarships did you fund with $20,000?

Nonprofit: Five.

Me: So which sentence is the accomplishment that should lead the section on this area of your work? "We held a golf tournament and a silent auction." Or "We helped five students attend college."

It's not about golf, banquets or auctions. It's about education, justice or equality.

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September 20, 2006

You Can't Manage What You Don't Measure

Posted by Brian Zopf | Filed under: Marketing

There's a lot of talk about growth these days. If you listen to what people tell you there's "unprecedented growth" and progress in almost every sector of society: in our nation's economy, in our collective knowledge and expertise, in terms of education, morals and, of course, in business. But "growth" in regards to what? According to what standards?

Everything can be measured in one way or another. The problem is: It rarely is. It's one thing to say or feel you're experiencing growth. It's another thing to know it. Test hypotheses. Track your efforts. Even though statistics can be manipulated, anything you can back up with numbers will undoubtedly receive more attention in the public square, while resulting in more trust among your constituents. This applies to personal life, as well as business.

How you measure something is entirely up to you. But one thing is certain: You can't manage--for better or worse--what you don't measure. Without a starting and ending point, you have no measuring stick.

A few words of advice when measuring ...

Continue reading "You Can't Manage What You Don't Measure"

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December 13, 2005

Why People Stop Giving

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

Out of 100 people who stop giving:

There's only so much you can do about the first three, but the last item speaks volumes.

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November 28, 2005

Online Surveys

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

Finding out what people think has never been easier. Online surveys are cheaper, easier and more accurate than ever. Inc magazine talks about different ways businesses utilize surveys and highlights some of the survey companies out there. Thanks to new technology you don't need deep pockets to find out what the people you're serving think.

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November 8, 2005

Spin Sounds a lot Like Manipulation

Posted by Shawn Stewart | Filed under: Marketing

We had a lively discussion the other day in the office about the state of our culture and how that applies to marketing and advertising. We live in a world that puts "the best foot forward," even if there isn't a good foot available. Marketing, brands and advertising are all focused on a bottom line. There is no problem with keeping an eye on the bottom line, you better! Good business is just that, good business. But—and that's a huge but—at who's expense?

Continue reading "Spin Sounds a lot Like Manipulation"

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October 26, 2005

The Prize Inside

Posted by Brian Zopf | Filed under: Marketing

As a child I would do anything for a quarter. And as luck would have it, the world contained so many things that were happy to take my money—all of them located conveniently on my level: stand-up video games, the candy counter at 7-11, matchbox cars, and all manner of collector's cards. (Things like newspaper dispensers and soda machines were always there too, but somehow I never seemed to notice them. It was only after I grew up and joined the business world that I deemed it worth the time and effort to bend over at the waist awkwardly, squint to read the headlines through the scratched and tinted glass, and race against the snap of the door to save my hand.)

Of course now you can't buy anything for a quarter—not even a quarter-pounder. It's more like a $1.50 anymore.

Continue reading "The Prize Inside"

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September 26, 2005

Making the Most of a Convention

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

This originally appeared in our e-mail newsletter. If you're not getting it, you can sign up today.

A few weeks ago I manned a booth at the Minnesota State Fair for my alma mater, Bethel University. In the process I learned a few things about what works and what doesn't when you're trying to connect with potential customers in a convention hall.

Continue reading "Making the Most of a Convention"

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September 22, 2005

Dove's "Real Beauty" Marketing Campaign

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

Dove beauty products have been getting a boost from their "Real Beauty" campaign which features wrinkled, freckled and full-figured women—basically real women—instead of size 2 models. But how do you justify such a move to the men on the team? When they seemed unconvinced that typical advertising makes many women feel inferior, a simple—yet blunt—analogy did the job: "Imagine thinking every day that your [penis] isn't big enough. Men just aren't surrounded by images that make them feel deeply insecure." Sometimes personality takes guts.

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September 19, 2005

Weakness Works

Posted by Brad Abare | Filed under: Marketing

Last month I wrote about the power of weakness and, wouldn't you know, a creative soul on the Personality™ team suggested I actually try it out. His very suggestion made me think back to when I was a kid, when I would pray to God that he would help me to win my soccer games. Every time I ended the short little prayer, "God help us win," an overwhelming thought took over and said, "Maybe you should actually be an answer to your own prayer and go win it."

My lesson in practicing the power of weakness turned out to be easier and more rewarding than I thought.

Continue reading "Weakness Works"

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August 30, 2005

The Power of Weakness

Posted by Brad Abare | Filed under: Marketing

Earlier this year, in a Monday Morning Memo from the Wizard of Ads, Roy H. Williams had some keen insights on being authentic when it comes to marketing.

Features and benefits, features and benefits, features and benefits. We've polished our pitches to such a degree that we've dimmed our abilities to persuade. The customer is only half listening because the inner self is asking, "What are they not telling me?"

To win back the attention of customers and earn credibility, Williams suggests that marketers learn to name features, benefits, and the downside.

Trust me, the customer is already trying to figure out the downside. Why not just tell them? It's the best possible way to insulate yourself from the backlash when they finally figure it out for themselves. ... This powerful "tell the truth" technique is easily perverted into just another oily sales trick when the downside you name isn't the real one. As Francois Duc de La Rochefoucauld observed 350 years ago, "We only confess our little faults to persuade people that we have no big ones."

I agree with Roy. I guess people aren't as stupid as we think.

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August 22, 2005

Business Card Tips

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

Check out for lots of helpful ideas about how to get the most out of your business cards. The tips include ways to get the most out of networking—like giving your cards out two at a time—and using them as bookmarks so you'll always have one handy.

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July 28, 2005

5 Cheap Ways Your Company Can Add Personality

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

This originally appeared in our e-mail newsletter. If you're not getting it, you can sign up today.

It's a tough market out there. In order to succeed, you need to stand out. Being the best isn't always good enough. Your company needs to have personality, it needs to have something that enables you to connect with people, something that forces them to remember you.

And it doesn't have to break the bank. Here's 5 ways you can connect with customers on the cheap:

Continue reading "5 Cheap Ways Your Company Can Add Personality"

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July 23, 2005

Traffic Epiphany

Posted by Brian Zopf | Filed under: Marketing

I was peacefully sitting in traffic this morning, minding my own business at 3 mph when some yahoo in the lane next to me totally cut me off! I'm not sure where he thought he was going go or at what speed he thought he might get there, but wherever it was... he didn't.

My first reaction was to get mad; but instead... I had an epiphany.

Continue reading "Traffic Epiphany"

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July 21, 2005

Punctuation Matters

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

Those pesky little commas really do matter. Signs at North Miami Beach bus stops declared, "Say 'NO' to Drugs from the NMB Police D.A.R.E Officers." We certainly hope the D.A.R.E. officers aren't doling out drugs. Let that be a lesson: Misused punctuation can turn D.A.R.E. officers into drug dealers.

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July 11, 2005

Lessons from a Pirate: Madness or Brilliance

Posted by Shawn Stewart | Filed under: Marketing

The other night my fiance and I were at home working on our wedding invitations, we decided to put on a movie as background noise for our envelope stuffing. The chosen noise, Pirates of the Caribbean. In my opinion Captain Jack Sparrow is one of the most likeable movie characters to come along in recent history. Johnny Depp was absolutely brilliant in bringing the eccentric pirate to life.

Anyway, something that Captain Jack said really made me think. The character Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) said to Jack, "This is either madness... or brilliance." To which Jack responded, "It's remarkable how often those two traits coincide."

You know what, he's right. Think about it, everything from the Space Shuttle, to FedEx to Google have been considered both.

For instance, Target. I can guarantee naysayers have that said Target couldn't compete with the likes of Wal-mart and Kmart. Umm, sure they won't.

How about another for instance: Starbucks. Again the negative bombers attack, "Who's going to pay $3.50 for a coffee?"

So what's my point? The point is more of a question, how often do you take risks with your business especially with your marketing? Are you afraid of being considered mad? If so you may never be considered brilliant. You could learn a lot from a pirate.

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June 24, 2005

Word of Mouth in the Driveway

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

A recent study showed that when one of a person's 10 closest neighbors buys a car, the chances of that person buying a car of the same brand within the next week and a half jumped 86 percent. That's some amazing word of mouth, and it's not just keeping up with the Jones'. The trend happened even more with used cars than new ones.

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June 23, 2005

The Power of Words

Posted by Brian Zopf | Filed under: Marketing

Words are powerful. Really.

I learned this lesson early on as an English major in college. The pen is mightier than the sword, I believe, for two reasons:

1) It has the power to sway the minds of those holding the sword—and therefore is the stronger of the two.

2) It is both our link to the past and the key to our future.

Continue reading "The Power of Words"

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June 16, 2005

For Breakfast: Bagel & a Marketing Lesson

Posted by Brian Zopf | Filed under: Marketing

I recently went to a coffee shop (which shall remain nameless) and ordered my usual early morning bagel. I specifically mentioned "eating in" and spelled my name twice for the cashier. (OK, So "Brian" isn't quite as simple as "Ed" or "John," but then it's not exactly "Xavier" either. "Mmmhmm. I see. Your name is Bill. And would you spell that for me please?") You've probably already guessed where I'm going with this...

Continue reading "For Breakfast: Bagel & a Marketing Lesson"

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June 3, 2005

Cake Marketing: Presentation Tastes Better

Posted by Shawn Stewart | Filed under: Marketing

I'm getting married in August—Yeah! And of course Val, my fiancé, and I are right in the middle of all the details. Last week while I was at work she and a friend went cake tasting to see where we would get our overpriced dessert. She had two appointments, one after the next. After the first tasting, Val gave me a call to tell me how it went. She was pretty much sold, good cake, good price, friendly owner. She felt the next appointment would be a formality.

Off she went to the "formality" appointment. An hour and a half later I got a call from Val laughing on the other line. She went on to explain the difference in the experiences of each shop. She had her mind all but made up going into the second tasting, and the second bakery swayed her opinion dramatically.


Continue reading "Cake Marketing: Presentation Tastes Better"

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June 2, 2005

Youth Specialties Shuts Down & Offers Paper Doll Contest

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

One of our clients, Youth Specialties, a company that provides youth ministry materials and training, is shutting down. For a week. They're in the midst of some big company-wide changes, and sensing the general worn-down state of the staff, they opted to give their people some needed rest before the next big push.

The entire company is taking a paid week off—not vacation or sick time—just a free week off. Sometimes your company's personality comes out in how you treat your employees, not just your customers.

In other Youth Specialties news, they've created some, shall we say interesting videos. It's a part of their Paperdoll Video Contest advertised in the recent magalog we designed for them. You can print out your own paper dolls and accessories online, make your own video and enter the contest. Somehow, this seems like exactly the kind of thing youth pastors would do.

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May 19, 2005

Rental Car Fun

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

Car rental agencies are beginning to offer more than the bland basics, with Hummers, Volvos and Jaguars. The cool cars work for special occasions, making customers happy, pulling in more money for the rental agencies and showing off vehicles for the manufacturer. Everybody wins.

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May 16, 2005

Marketing Star Wars

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

The final installment of the Star Wars series comes out this week, and the marketing has been hot and heavy. Yoda's been pitching Diet Pepsi, Chewbacca's recording ringtones for Cingular and Darth Vader is hocking M&Ms. If that's all a bit too much, the Organic Trade Association is cashing in with a Store Wars spoof starring Cuke Skywalker and Darth Tader.

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May 12, 2005

What Every Good Marketer Knows

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

After a not-so positive mention in the New York Times, marketing guru Seth Godin (of our previous post Marketing Master in Action) offers a list of what every good marketer knows. It's a nice checklist to see how your marketing ranks.

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May 2, 2005

iPod Shuffle: Creating Strength from Weakness

Posted by Ken Erickson | Filed under: Marketing

iPod ShuffleThis last weekend a friend of mine gave me the fabulous gift of an iPod Shuffle for DJing his wedding. This was my first iPod, and I was jazzed about the gift. It weighs in at a whopping .78 ounces, is smaller than a pack of gum, and can still hold over 120 of my songs! Lovely.

Yet the only downer to the little gadget is the missing viewing screen. Now, this could be the end of a great little piece, but I believe Apple made the most of this weakness. Instead of dealing with the negatives of not having a screen, they turn it into a positive by calling the new iPod "Shuffle" (acknowledging what it is). Then in promoting the iPod Shuffle they reinforce the message by touting that we may as well face it: "Life is Random" and "Enjoy Uncertainty," as seen in print, TV and online ads.

Turn your weakness into strength. If you don't, your competition will.

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April 29, 2005

Marketing: Just Do It

Posted by Mark Abare | Filed under: Marketing

While pondering the topic for my very first blog entry, I keep coming back to the fact that I don’t feel like I have anything worthwhile to say.

Then it hits me: As a business there will be times when you don’t feel creative, or don't think you have much to say. But the fact of the matter is, it’s all about continuing on and pushing through. Marketing is all about getting in front of your audience and being noticed. You can't let a lack of ideas hold you back.

You need to come up with something worthwhile to say or do and make people pay attention. Here's where it might help if your organization had a defined personality. You also might need to give up on the idea of a brilliant postcard campaign and just send a personal note. But you have to come up with something.

Of course you don't want to do something just to do it and get yourself in front of people. That's annoying. Sometimes it works: some of the cheesiest mailings have come across my desk, but those pieces stand out. But often they stand out for the wrong reasons.

The bottom line is you need to keep at it. Sometimes it's a simple idea done consistently that will pay off when the brilliant idea done expensively won't.

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April 26, 2005

Speak Up: Word of Mouth Marketing

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

Word of mouth marketing gets a boost of respectability with the founding of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. Using legitimate forms of word of mouth marketing is becoming more common, more traceable and more successful.

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April 25, 2005

The Toyota, Texas and Trucks Marketing Strategy

Posted by Brad Abare | Filed under: Marketing

It's nice to see the Japanese are proud to be American too. Say hello to Toyota, the great American car company. At least that's what they want you to think. Ford and GM are trembling because of Toyota's increasing market share which spells disaster for Ford and GM's already pitiful bottom line. The big American car companies think they have the market dominated when it comes to trucks because, as Daren Fonda in his April 25, 2005 Time article (subscription required) points out, "Pickup country is perhaps the last auto segment in which patriotic shopping habits prevail."

Not so fast you slowpoke, quality-challenged American car companies. Watch Toyota as they creep further and further into the American psyche. Talk about working on their personality, Toyota already has its name slapped on the Houston Rockets basketball arena,
they're courting Texans by building an assembly plant in Texas, and teaming with cowboy-boot maker Lucchese. Plus they are the first foreign car maker to be a sponsor of the all-American racing league, NASCAR. Now if the Toto toilets would just hurry up and get affordable over here...

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April 18, 2005


Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

Instead of playing the field and pitching your company at every turn, perhaps you should play hard to get. Avoid the attention, and suddenly you're cool. If it fits your company's style it could be a winning marketing plan—or un-marketing plan.

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March 14, 2005

Reaching the Luddites

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

28% of adults have no cell phone.
21% have no access to the web
(Ad Age).

Ignore these non-wired folks at your risk.

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March 7, 2005

Seth Godin: Marketing Master in Action

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

The marketing guru Seth Godin (author of Purple Cow and Free Prize Inside) has a new book coming out in May, All Marketers are Liars.

New book—rah, rah, rah. But more importantly, pay attention to how Godin markets this new book. You can learn a thing or two from watching a marketing master in action:

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March 1, 2005

Marketing Narnia

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

The parade of fantasy series-turned movie continues this fall with the release of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first in the Chronicles of Narnia series. But just how do you market a well-loved children's tale with inherent Christian themes and broad appeal? Very carefully. Disney is beginning the marketing process by talking to the right folks, the same people who handled The Passion of the Christ. They'll be walking a marketing tightrope this year, which shows just how important knowing your audience is.

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February 15, 2005

Personality is Connection

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

I like to do business with places that connect with me. Sometimes it's a personal connection--my accountant answers my constant e-mail questions and my lawyer meets me for breakfast. In both cases I look forward to working with them, even though it means I'll be spending money.

On the other end of the spectrum is the financial consultant who hasn't talked to me in over a year and a half. The last time I tried to get in touch with him he never returned my call. I doubt I'll be consulting with him again.

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February 9, 2005

Dumb & Dumber

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

See Dick. See Dick fail. Don't be Dick. Learn from Business 2.0's 101 Dumbest Business Moments of 2004.

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January 25, 2005

Making Decisions

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and the newly released Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, talks about the power of a snap decision.

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January 23, 2005

You Can’t Please Everybody

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

And sometimes it’s better that way. French carmaker Renault is notorious for making ugly cars that people either love or hate. And then those ugly-car lovers buy, buy, buy. Renault designer Patrick le Quement shares his advice for convincing companies to embrace risky design.

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October 12, 2004

Lessons From the Video Store

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

Blogging is big business (if you're asking "what's a blog?"—you better read up). 2005 has been proclaimed the year of the blog (wait, wasn't that 2004?) and stories are popping up everywhere

Forget Marketing 101. Try renting a movie for the latest marketing dos and don'ts.

A few weeks ago my wife rented a movie. We went out of town for a weekend and came back to find the DVD still sitting on the coffee table. We ended up returning the movie the day it was due. No big deal.

The next morning I received an automated call from Hollywood Video letting me know the movie was overdue. Nice touch, though I brushed it off thinking I had returned the movie the night before.

Later Hollywood Video called again. This time it was a real person informing me that we had returned the movie to the wrong store. Doh. My wife rented it, I returned it; there are two locations near our house, I must have picked the wrong one.

You guys can handle that, right? Wrong. It was my problem. I had to go pick up the wrongly-dropped off DVD and return it to its rightful location, incurring a $4+ late fee in the process, since the movie wasn't returned to the proper location in time.

So what have we learned from Hollywood Video?

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September 15, 2004

Customer Evangelists

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

This originally appeared in our e-mail newsletter. If you're not getting it, you can sign up today.

One of the hottest marketing trends today has taken a page from 2000-year-old Christianity. After all, it survived crucifixion, persecution and a large chunk of history. Those Christians know a thing or two about spreading an idea, though the idea itself certainly plays a part.

Evangelism is what Christians do so well, simply telling others about their faith. That same concept has been applied to business and marketing lately, with the twist of letting customers do the work. Rather than wasting ad budgets on expensive commercials that aren't working, why not invest in your customers? Let them do the advertising for you.

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July 14, 2004

Election Year Marketing

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

This originally appeared in our e-mail newsletter. If you're not getting it, you can sign up today.

Politics may be an odd place to find business wisdom, but you'd be surprised. You can learn a lot from what George W. Bush and John Kerry are doing (or aren't doing) that can help your organization's marketing efforts. As the election year heats up, pay attention to what works and what doesn't.

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May 17, 2004

Being Safe is Risky

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

This originally appeared in our e-mail newsletter. If you're not getting it, you can sign up today.

So often we like to go with the safe answer. It may not necessarily be the best solution, but it works for everyone else. Maybe a church advertises in the phone book because that's what churches do. Maybe a nonprofit organization sends out monthly donation letters because that's what nonprofits do. Maybe a clothing store has weekly sales because that's what stores do.

The problem is that's what everybody else does. Every church, nonprofit and store are doing the same things and nobody notices. In his book Purple Cow, Seth Godin says it's risky to be safe. Being safe may seem safe, but it's increasingly becoming risky because everyone is safe. If every corner store has the same sale, suddenly your sale isn't bringing in the customers like it should. Suddenly your safe idea is a big risk.

Instead, Godin claims it's safer to be risky. By trying out there ideas, being willing to take a chance, doing something different than everyone else, you're actually in a much safer position. You're more likely to be noticed by being risky.

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March 14, 2004

The Customer is Always Right

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

This originally appeared in our e-mail newsletter. If you're not getting it, you can sign up today.

The customer is the center of your world. The very basics of our economy involve offering something to customers. You sell them bagels or tax services or a Friday night worth remembering. Even nonprofit organizations have customers, the people targeted by their services--maybe kids at a weekly after-school club or cancer patients. The bottom line is that the customer is always right.

At least that's the way it's supposed to be. But so often it isn't. The waiter at your restaurant doesn't refill your drink and acts annoyed when you complain that your burger is medium-well and not well-done. Or the cashier that doesn't smile and barks commands. Sometimes poor customer service is simply thanks to a bad day and next time it'll be better. But sometimes you don't get a next time. You need to offer top-notch customer service the first time around or risk losing your customer, no matter if you're a retail business, a service provider, or a nonprofit.

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February 10, 2004

How Can You Reach Your Audience?

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

This originally appeared in our e-mail newsletter. If you're not getting it, you can sign up today.

That's the burning problem for many organizations and businesses. How do you get the college kids to buy your pizza? How do you get deep-pocketed donors to boost your non-profit bottom-line? It's all a matter of getting your message out to the right folks.

When you're trying to spread the word, you have plenty of choices. You can unleash a flood of postcards, fire off a few thousand e-mails, or whip up a radio jingle to name a few. But some methods are more effective than others. You want to find the method with the best return for your investment possible.

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January 20, 2004

Event Promotion

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

This originally appeared in our e-mail newsletter. If you're not getting it, you can sign up today.

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of promoting an event, you might be wondering what event you should be promoting. For some this is obvious: concerts, grand openings, camps, retreats, etc. For others, you might think events have little to do with your organization. But don't write them off so quickly.

A grand opening can grab media attention (like Dave Gold's 99¢� Only Stores). An open house can help connect your organization with the public. A retreat can relax and motivate your stressed employees. An event itself may not contribute directly to the bottom line, but the publicity, the boost to your brand, or the refreshed employees can more than pay for the event.

Now that you want to plan an event, how do you promote it? Even if you're throwing a mandatory company retreat, success will be determined by attitude, which is heavily influenced by how you promote it.

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January 6, 2004

New Year's Suggestions: Be More in 2004

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Marketing

This originally appeared in our e-mail newsletter. If you're not getting it, you can sign up today.

It's time to start the year off right for your organization. But let's not call them resolutions--those are easily broken. How about suggestions? Here's a few simple marketing suggestions to help you be more in 2004.

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