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DSC00064Marketing Misfire Photo of the Week I couldn't resist taking this photo while walking around in Manhattan. I'll leave the company name out of it but this was their main marketing message on the front of the building. They may want to consider...

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video-300x300Beginner's Guide to Video Marketing Disclaimer: I'm am not a professional video producer. If you've read my blog for a few years you'll know I typically embrace the latest mediums in marketing, learn them, and implement them in my teams'...

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Clean ShirtsHome Delivery Dry Cleaning Case Study: How Performance... Many of my readers are marketing professionals so stick with me on this post until the end. Although it looks like a post reviewing local dry cleaners it was actually inspired out of seeing first hand...

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Hotel Video Marketing - Good Tool or Not? I recently wrote about an experience I had in Europe staying at Ibis hotels. I was impressed with their marketing of their services and the backing of that brand marketing by hotel staff. The post was...

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Yoda.sized5 Steps To Analyzing That New Marketing Effort I was recently watching the original Star Wars movies with my kids. An absolute timeless series, but it's amazing how much more suspenseful that was when I was much younger. Graphics and special affects...

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Home Delivery Dry Cleaning Case Study: How Performance Impacts Brand Image

Category : branding, general marketing, strategy


Many of my readers are marketing professionals so stick with me on this post until the end. Although it looks like a post reviewing local dry cleaners it was actually inspired out of seeing first hand how performance directly impacts a brand image.

I despise ironing. There – I said it. I feel much better. I ironed my shirts for many years but as my use of button down shirts grew, it seemed like I spent most weekends ironing. I also dislike spending money on something I can do myself. But, like plumbing and electricity, I decided it was time to outsource. (side note: plumbing and electricity were outsourced as it was determined that I couldn’t do that myself :) )

My wife and I had heard that there were actually dry cleaners that picked up and dropped off at your home and after a quick price comparison we felt the few extra cents might justify the efficiency in this service.

So we searched for Minneapolis and St. Paul cleaners that delivered and we went with Total Care Cleaners. After a few months I was sold. The service was excellent. I put my shirts in a bag and hung them on the door where they were picked up. All the shirts came back in perfect shape ready for wear. We also found the customer service to be very good. No matter when we called or emailed, we always had a live response or one shortly after. Never a lost shirt and never a missed delivery.

Then came some tempting PR for a local competitor – Mulberrys Garment Care. They advertise 100% toxin-free cleaning. From their site:

“At Mulberrys, our award-winning dry cleaning and stain removal experts use pressurized, naturally occurring C02.¬†The use of odorless C02 enables us to return your clothes cleaner and without the chemical smell. Also, because no heat is used, your clothes are finished without the fading, shrinking, pilling or stain-setting common to all other dry cleaning methods.”

We thought it couldn’t hurt to give them a try. I was sucked in by what came back on that first order. The shirts came back on nice wooden hangers and [drum roll please] they had collar stays already in the shirts. Wow! What a great perk for essentially the same price. Although my wife and I are loyal consumers it looked like we’d been lured and had found a new service for my shirts. This was just too good – they’re environmentally friendly and offer some nice value-adds.

Then, the wheels started coming off. First, it was a lost shirt then a lost suit and then a handful of shirts on one order. (Note: all the items were found and returned within a week). It wasn’t so much the temporarily lost shirts that bothered us as much as the lack of response to our emails or voicemails. We actually ventured into their store in a local grocery because we couldn’t get a response and we found chaos. There was no explanation or reason for the lack of response and we got vague answers as to the location of my shirts. For the record, all the people were pleasant and when they got the clothes right, they did it very well. But, we were using up the time we hoped to save by using this service in chasing down lost items.

We also found out they were expanding to other cities. What?! It seemed they were struggling to serve this city. That’s when the analytical business side of my head kicked in.

Total Care Cleaners understood the core needs of their consumer. Clean, pressed shirts delivered on time and the complete order in tact. Not only did they understand, but they did it well and delivered responsiveness when their customer needed it. No big value-adds – just dependable service. Mulberrys already had expanded to nice perks and value added features they knew their customers would like. But, they were missing that reliability and service that makes the extra features nice to have. In the end their brand is suffering because they haven’t mastered their core business the way the competition has.

Hopefully, we all supported Small Business Saturday this last weekend and we all got the chance to see some small businesses in action. I love to support small, local businesses that understand their target markets and the needs of the consumer. Who wouldn’t want to support that?¬†Understanding your core business and executing on that before expanding is key in my opinion.

Any interesting insights around small business from this weekend?

A True Story About a Chair

Category : general marketing, strategy


jillchair.jpgThis is a true story and you need to read it.

While out to eat with friends recently, I heard a story that so caught my attention that I couldn’t wait to write about it. A former co-worker and now close friend of my wife and I humbly relayed something she’s started at work. She’s not the type to boast or draw attention to herself and to further put this in perspective, she’s the antithesis of the corporate, political-playing title climber. She’s got an incredible personality, truly enjoys people, and rarely is found without a positive glow. So, can you imagine that she’s potentially changing the way a Fortune 500 listens and communicates with its employees and customers?

Well, she is and she’s doing it with a chair.

She works in Communications for a very large retailer based in the Midwest who has thousands of stores worldwide, thousands of employees, and a bustling technology-filled corporate campus filled with energetic people trying to climb the ladder and change the world of retail.

Then there is Jill. She had a simple idea that – at first – was met with opposition. But, her perpetual optimism won over management and they told her to give her idea a try.

So, she plopped down two chairs in the heart of this busy corporate campus and put a sign over the two chairs calling out a topic for the day. She occupied one chair and then waited. And waited. And waited for another employee to sit down and discuss the topic she had posted. No technology. No motives. Just a person genuinely interested in her co-worker’s thoughts and feelings.

Well, her wait was short. People started to sit and talk. One at a time, Jill sat and spoke with employees. Taking notes on employees concerns and feedback, she promised their input would be anonymously passed on to upper management – and it is.

Would you believe that at times there are lines waiting to talk with her? They trust Jill and love sharing their thoughts with her. There are plans to not only increase the frequency of when she’s there to talk, but now she might sit at stores and talk with customers about their experience.

Again, two chairs. A topic. No technology. The whole world of business broken down to its simplest form – face to face, honest communication.

Here’s the copy that is used to advertise The Chair:

“The Chair” is designed to spark open, face-to-face, one-on-one conversation with employees in the simplest way possible: by offering employees a topic to talk about, an empty chair to sit on and an Employee Communications team member to listen to them (really listen – without a laptop, cell phone or Blackberry in the way). “The Chair” gives us a pulse-check on employee opinions, thoughts and ideas, while giving employees a place to be heard. “The Chair” is set up every other Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to noon for corporate employees, with plans to expand it to store employees in the future.

With all the texting, blogging, IM, emailing, chatting, Twittering, etc. isn’t it awesome that a simple thing like this is having such a dramatic effect on a very large company? With any company, constructive feedback from employees and customers is not easy to get. As a marketer, I practically jump off the ceiling if I can get a customer or employee to sit down and tell me honestly what they think of our products or marketing plan.

Honestly, I’m not sure just anyone could pull this off. If you could meet Jill, you’d instantly know why this is working. But, I think more companies need to try. Listening is so important to understanding, and understanding customers and employees is what empowers businesses to improve.

Like a lot of corporate environments, people are falling all over themselves trying to take credit for the idea, but in the end it was all Jill. She’s loving it and has truly carved out a niche for herself in corporate America.

If you’d like to learn more about this effort, let me know and I’ll put you in contact with Jill.

What are your thoughts on The Chair?

Announcing a New Contributor To The Lonely Marketer

Category : general marketing


Tom TeynorIf you’re a regular visitor to the Lonely Marketer you’ve no doubt noticed that regular posting on the site has slowed a bit. A combination of a more demanding job and a growing family have been the culprits. But, I’ve missed the writing and interfacing with readers and am hoping to get back to a more regular schedule soon.

In the meantime I’m very excited to announce that Tom Teynor – a successful marketing professional and good friend – has agreed to be a guest contributor on the Lonely Marketer. I was excited to hear that Tom will be an author here because he brings tons of good experience from many areas of marketing.

Tom has over 10 years of sales and marketing experience and is currently the Sr. Director of Marketing at Wolters Kluwer Financial Services – a B2B software and services company. Tom is currently responsible for go-to-market strategy and is responsible for marketing management, internet marketing, creative service pricing, and market research. He has also led product management.

Aside from work he enjoys spending time with his family, biking, kayaking, golfing, and snowboarding.

Tom’s first article will be published tomorrow. Welcome Tom!

Need Content Marketing Ideas? Check This Out.

Category : general marketing


Junta42We all can come up with fun, new ways to market our products or services, but at the end of the day it all comes down to content. Content marketing is what really sells. The well-written content is what truly attracts new customers.

Joe Pulizzi has been a long-time contributor to the Lonely Marketer community so when I saw his site, Junta42, come out with an incredible list of blogs that focus on content marketing, I knew I had to write about the effort. The Junta42 Top Blogs has a little something for everyone and is a very well put-together, comprehensive list of some of the top marketing blogs around.

Here are the top 42 (and yes, that is the Lonely Marketer proudly sitting at #33):

  1. Straight Talk with Nigel Hollis
  2. web ink now
  3. Conversation Agent
  4. Marketing Interactions
  5. Buzz Marketing for Technology
  6. ContentMarketingToday
  7. Copyblogger
  8. Web Strategy by Jeremiah
  9. Daily Fix
  10. Influential Marketing Blog
  11. Logic + Emotion
  12. CK’s blog
  13. Rexblog
  14. BeTuitive
  15. Consumer Generated Media
  16. Diva Marketing Blog
  17. The Origin of Brands
  18. The Viral Garden
  19. What’s Next
  20. Bernaise Source
  21. Drew’s Marketing Minute
  22. Made to Stick
  23. Writing White Papers
  24. Greg Verdino’s Marketing Blog
  25. Writing on the Web
  26. Joe Wikert’s Publishing 2020
  27. AttentionMax
  28. Brand Autopsy
  29. Branding & Marketing
  30. Eat Media Blog
  31. Passion2Publish
  32. Think Tank – King Fish Media
  33. The Lonely Marketer
  34. Custom Publishing Council Blog
  35. ExperienceCurve
  36. Marketing Whims
  37. Seth’s Blog
  38. THINKing
  39. Inspire Action
  40. Pandemic Blog
  41. Relevant and Valued
  42. The A-Ha! Blog

I’ve actually found some great new blogs in here that I didn’t know about before which is why these lists are so fun!

Experience Today’s Marketing Manager Needs

Category : general marketing


Juggling ActI found myself recently in the position of backfilling a position that I held as a small business Marketing Manager. Not only was I overly picky about selecting candidates to interview, but I found myself amazed at the amount of experience for which I was looking. Today’s small business Marketing Manager position has evolved into so much.

This is not your large company marketing group. We don’t have a group for web marketing, a group for developing sales campaigns and related marketing tools, a group for print advertising, and on and on. I found myself looking for someone that has a little experience in alot of things rather than someone that was specialized in one area of marketing.

Now, if you are specialized don’t freak out about what I’m writing. Larger companies, agencies, and self-employed marketing professionals are all excellent locations for someone that has specialized. I’m writing from the small business perspective and what I need in that role. Here are some of the major elements of experience for which I was looking:

  • Content Writing: I wanted someone that had exhibited writing experience. That could be white papers, application notes, web content, ad copy, etc. Marketing starts with content!
  • An Understanding of SEM/SEO: I was not looking for someone that had proven experience optimizing a website. What I did want is someone who understood the concept and why optimizing web pages and paid search campaigns for search engines was so important in today’s marketing mix. If they mentioned anything to do with keywords, they made it to the next round. Interesting note - one of the candidates was touting his Google Adwords experience so I turned my monitor around, handing him the keyboard and asked him to show my top performing ad group. He had no clue how to find that most basic element.
  • Lead Generation: I was betting I wouldn’t get this experience, but I actually did. I was happy to have candidates in for interviews that had displayed experience in lead generation campaigns. The best candidates talked about “Qualified” leads.
  • Exposure to Social Media: Oddly, this was tough to find. Maybe it’s because I’m so connected with social media that I expected to see more experience with some aspect of the communication medium. No one I interviewed had direct experience (I’ll be curious to see what two years down the road brings). But, the candidates that displayed and articulated the importance of social media in the marketing mix proved to me they were current. I will say that each of my final round candidates did invite me to hook up on LinkedIn. Very nice touch.
  • Sales Campaign Experience: It was important to me that the candidate had some experience in working with sales on sales campaigns.
  • Market Research: Everyone seemed to have this. But, many could not spell out the steps they took in their research.
  • Creativity: I needed some display of “out of the box” thinking. Something that would lead me to believe the candidate could lead us in new directions and challenge me in my thinking.
  • Ability to Learn: I’m not crazy – I didn’t expect to find every characteristic I listed above. But, I wanted the candidate to have some of the experience and proven track record for learning “on-the-job” and quickly.

I found the whole process very interesting. I never took a step back before to really put down on paper the experience that I thought the small business marketing manager should have. It’s a fun and exciting juggling act that at times can be stressful and at times be immensely gratifying.

New Conference: Small Business Marketing Unleashed

Category : general marketing


Small Business Marketing UnleashedI was very excited when Jennifer Laycock and Robert Clough over at Search Engine Guide announced their new conference called Small Business Marketing Unleashed in Houston next April 21st and 22nd. Here’s an excerpt from the website:

What if you went to an online marketing conference and instead of going home with a notebook full of sound bites, you went home with a detailed plan of action to improve traffic and sales on your web site? What if instead of talking at you, the conference speakers worked with you to come up with a plan for your business?

That’s exactly what will happen for small businesses who gather together with some of the best and brightest minds in online marketing next spring.

I know much of my audience is small business marketers and I can’t think of a better conference to attend. Plus, the venue is a replica of the Alamo which certainly is a nice change of pace from the typical conference ballrooms.

I was also honored when Jennifer and Robert invited me to speak at the conference! I’ll be speaking on Blogging for Business which is a topic I love and believe in very much.

The agenda is packed with great information so check this one out – it’s definitely worth your time!

Tony Bennett and Search Engines?

Category : general marketing, search engine marketing


With all the “advice” we’ve been receiving from search engines on how to manage our sites and provide the right user experience, I was thrilled to happen upon a little experiment. I recently created for myself the opportunity to do some user experience testing on the various search engines. I was surprised by the result and surprised by the advanced universal search experience on some engines while others really lagged behind.

You can read my full How Tony Bennett Inspired a User Experience Experiment article over on Search Engine Guide!

Small Business Brief Re-Launched And Transformed

Category : general marketing, social marketing


Small Business BriefIf you haven’t heard some of the buzz over the last week, you’ll want to tune in quickly and check out the new and improved Small Business Brief! My friends Jennifer Laycock and Robert Clough at Search Engine Guide have re-launched their Small Business Brief into a much more current story submitting and voting format.

The popular small business news site has turned into a site dedicated to just about every aspect of small business. Sales/Marketing, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Management, Website Development, and Employees are just a few of the categories that you’ll find on the site.

Is this just another Digg or StumbleUpon? Absolutely not. Those site are very big and very broad while the Small Business Brief is a perfect niche site for small businesses. For more information on the new site, stop over to Matt McGee’s Small Business SEM and see his Q&A with Jennifer Laycock about the re-launch of the Small Business Brief.

Now, I never thought I’d ever say this, but would someone please FETCH this post??

It’s a Constant Power Struggle

Category : general marketing, strategy


fists.jpgWhat happens when two very opposite personalities and perspectives square off on a business process? Typically, nothing good. But, that is sometimes the case between marketing and IT departments. We don’t understand each other and because the gap is wide between how we each approach the business, sometimes we don’t try. IT people think us marketers should stick to our flyers and brochures while us marketing people think the IT guys should worry about keeping desktop computers running and the network fast.

Well, the truth is we both do a lot more than that and our worlds are slowly converging.

New marketing mediums such as blogging, podcasts, video, RSS and more have forced more than a few IT and marketing departments to share a conference room and hash out their differences. I certainly have been a part of a few of those!

I’ve had a post planned for sometime now outlining the friction and steps to improve, but my “Get to the Point” newsletter from MarketingProfs popped in yesterday and took care of that for me. The article titled, “Information Technology is from Mars, Marketing is from Venus” does a great job of telling the story. It’s a short article so take a few minutes and check it out.

I’m curious – is there anything you’d add?

The Worst Tagline Of All Time

Category : general marketing, strategy, trade shows


Trade Show ImageI’ve been at trade shows and conferences as an exhibitor and attendee off and on for the last few weeks and have seen literally thousands of slogans and pitches. But, for some reason, this one stopped me dead in my tracks:

Tomorrow’s Solution Today

This might be one of the worst slogans of all time. No, I’m not going to name the company. I actually spoke them and they’re very nice people. They’re a small company with a white board product focused towards the education market. When asked about the slogan, they said they don’t have the time to put into a marketing activities like slogans. That was as far as the conversation went.

This was a large show with hundreds of exhibitors and they spent thousands of dollars to be there. Here’s how their name and description showed in the show guide:

Company Name (Which, as you can imagine, gave no indication of their product)
Tomorrow’s Solution Today

Ouch. Attendees of this show couldn’t hope to reach every trade show booth so I’m sure many of them went to the show guide to find out who they wanted to meet. I’m sure 100% of those people breezed by this company’s description without a second glance. What would stop you?

  • If it’s tomorrow’s solution, why would I want or need it today.
  • A solution to what? For what do I need a solution?
  • What product or service? Everyone has a “solution”.
  • The white board product is great, but there is nothing futuristic or visionary about it. So, why is this the product of “Tomorrow”.

Okay, enough with bashing the slogan. They’re obviously not focused on or interested in marketing (but they should get interested soon). Check out Ryan’s recent post about another bad slogan attempt.

So, what goes into a good tagline or slogan? Well, there are many opinions on this, but here are a couple tips I think are important:

  • Keep it simple – Making someone think a little is a good thing, but too much complexity will drive the casual browser away.
  • Stay Relevant – Keep it short, but indicate something about your product or service that might grab some attention.
  • Be Unique – Find someway to make your slogan stick. Don’t be afraid to stick out from the crowd.

What other suggestions do you have for a small business that wants to create or improve their slogan or tagline?