Archive for the 'Business' Category

Follow up to Marketing 101 seminar: Social Media


One of the questions I was asked by multiple people after the marketing seminar was “which social media tool is right for me and my business?” This USA Today article provides a good general summary of the social media heavy-weights giving you a starting point for your small business.

Here are my two cents to add to the article and a recap of what I said at the seminar about tracking mentions of you and your business online:

  1. Set up Google Alerts for your business
  2. If you don’t use Twitter, keep an eye out for you your business/organization using their search tool
  3. Implement Google Analytics or some other analytic system on your website
  4. Create a LinkedIn account, it’s easy and helpful

I’ll be recapping some of the other points from the seminar with blog posts over the coming week. So keep an eye on this blog or follow us on Twitter for instant notification.

    Authentic Traditions In Business


    Habit is an acquired pattern of behavior that often occurs automatically. Stopping at the same place for coffee each morning on the way to work or grocery shopping every Monday evening are consumer habits.

    Tradition is also repeated behavior, but it’s driven by emotion and the positive feelings of prior experiences – tradition just “feels right.” While we usually just go through the motions with habit, we’re more willing to modify our typical routines for tradition.

    Unfortunately, many businesses think tradition is just their yearly schedule of sales (spring sale, 4th of July sale, etc.). The businesses and organizations that understand tradition (and people’s affinity for tradition) transition from being just stores into brands with loyal followings.

    Need some ideas of how to integrate tradition into your business? Here’s what others have done:

    • The Boy Scouts
      Each year after Christmas the Boy Scouts drive through town and pick-up old Christmas trees. For a few bucks I save the hassle of getting rid of my tree and support a great organization. I know that for probably the rest of my life I can count on the scouts to pick up my tree. For the scouts, picking up trees is consistent with their core value of public service and also acts a fundraiser for their organization.
    • Hardware Sales
      For as long as I can remember, Hardware Sales has given fifty-cent pieces in its change instead of two quarters. There’s no cost in doing this, it’s memorable and it fits perfectly with who they are and what it’s like to shop there.
    • Les Schwab
      For over 20 years Les Schwab has run an annual promotion giving away free beef with every new set of tires. The promotion has a down-to-earth legacy and conveys the unique working-man roots of the Les Schwab brand.

    In addition to each having traditions that correspond with their core values the Boy Scouts, Hardware Sales and Les Schwab traditions all have something else in common: If any of them ever stopped their tradition people would notice and complain. That means they’re doing something right.

    Design Has A Shelf Life


    Phone Helper
    (image via the great site Modern Mechanix)

    Design is a funny thing in that today’s perfect design solution can become outdated or in need of replacement in short order. Over the years I’ve seen companies and organizations cling to their expired logo/website/brochure because the VP’s son designed it, or because they spent thousands of dollars on it 3 years ago and are stubbornly trying to get 5 years of life out of the project. To the company’s detriment, the design that was originally created to help that company be profitable (insuring they stay in business), does the opposite and starts to cost them money (lost business, perception as an industry laggard, etc.).

    Design has a shelf life. Your business, markets, and life are in various states of flux, but that’s no excuse for settling for off-strategy or expired design/branding.

    Shapoopi: When was the last time someone was excited to see your ad?


    While watching TV last night I ran across King 5’s Evening Magazine. They were running a piece previewing new Vern Fonk Insurance ads that will start running in February. (If you haven’t seen Vern Fonk Insurance’s low budget and goofy TV ads before I linked to a few below.)

    And yes, you read that right, Evening Magazine was doing a story on a local business’s ads that haven’t even started running yet. No, the ads don’t appeal to everyone (they’re not supposed to) and yes they’re so bad they’re good. It’s that one-two punch that makes the ads a pretty good case study. They attract and qualify the ideal group of prospective customers while entertaining a few others along the way.

    You might not like the ads, but when is the last time someone was excited to see your ad? Or better yet, told a friend about your new ad?


    A Sincere Question For You


    BBBIs the Better Business Bureau still relevant?

    Have you used their services or filed a complaint with them recently?

    Do your customers care if you’re a member?

    As a consumer, does seeing the BBB seal displayed in a business give you any reassurance?

    Apple’s Advertising Creativity – part 2


    A while back we wrote how we loved seeing Apple use the traditional banner ad format in a more creative way. They’re doing it again with a new ad we saw on the website today. Click here or on the image below to see it in action.

    Apple 3

    Trying Harder


    My cell phone conversation today with the dry cleaner:

    Dry Cleaner: “Hello, Vienna Cleaners.”

    Me: “I might have dropped a shirt off there before Christmas, but I can’t remember. Can you check and see?”

    Dry Cleaner: “Sure… <pause> Looks like you have one here.”

    Me (surprised): “Huh? Oh, ok… Thanks. I’ll be there in a minute.”


    Here’s the kicker – she didn’t ask for my name to find my shirt. In a matter of seconds she looked at the caller ID, looked under “L” on her cleaning list for Lee, saw my cleaning slip and told me I had a shirt ready.

    And that’s how it should work with your customers. Be pro-active, try harder. Not because you have to (even though you do) but because you’re smart and you want to. It’s often the small (and free!) things that get your customers to tell their friends about your business.