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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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My Site Got a Little More del.icio.us

Category : blogging, Uncategorized

0

delicious42px.gifIf you’re ever curious to see what I read and bookmark, just visit the Lonely Marketer. I’ve placed a del.icio.us widget in my right sidebar so everytime I bookmark a post or news story that I want to reference later, you’ll be updated as well. Typically, I bookmark information that would be of interest to the readers of the site.

For those of you not familiar, del.icio.us is a social bookmarking site popular with bloggers and others that participate in social media. You can bookmark web pages, posts, or sites that you want to keep and then you can access those bookmarks from any computer. Plus, you can tag them for easy searching down the road. I actually use the site outside of blogging as well. It’s great for bookmarking market research and other job-related information.


Building a New Blogger Toolbox

Category : blogging, Uncategorized

8

blogtoolbox.jpgDrew McLellan of Drew’s Marketing Minute never ceases to amaze me. He’s always coming up with practical activities that serve a purpose. His newest venture, Help me build a new blogger toolbox, is no different. There are so many new bloggers jumping onto the scene every day and this is a great way to give them resources that encourage them to come up with engaging, well-written content.

I had plenty of help from other bloggers when I started and I’m sure you did too. Even if you’re not a blogger, I’d follow this list as you’ll probably find incredible content you didn’t know was out there.

Here’s how this works:

1) Anyone who is interested, create a post listing a few blog sites (and maybe give a word or two as to how you’d categorize them) that:

  • Are chock full of practical tips
  • Act as a living lab on how to write compelling blog posts
  • Demonstrate how to build a community
  • Teach marketing tools
  • Are welcome wagons – bloggers who spotlight newbies

2) If you want, use the photo above as the graphic – great, gotta love consistency

3) Link back to Drew’s post, so he can find yours and add it to the master list

4) If you think its of value to your readers — why not grab the list before yours and just top it off with your new additions

5) Encourage your readers to do #1-4

New Bloggers Toolbox

Here’s The Toolbox List with my additions. More on why I added them below.

Converstations (chock full of practical tips)
CK’s blog (compelling blog post examples)
Viral Garden (demonstrate how to build a community)
Lonely Marketer (teach marketing tools)
Successful & Outstanding Blogs (bloggers who spotlight newbies)
Techno//Marketer
Internet Marketing Monitor
The Marketing Technology Blog
Create Business Growth
Modern B2B Marketing

My Additions:

Techno//Marketer (very compelling posts about new media and technology)
Internet Marketing Monitor (On top of practical tips in the Internet Marketing world)
The Marketing Technology Blog (Great site for teaching and creating marketing and blogging tools)
Create Business Growth (Have done an excellent job of reaching out and building community)
Modern B2B Marketing (Compelling blog posts that contain tips and tricks on Internet Marketing)

I encourage you to jump in and participate – someone just getting started will really appreciate the help and encouragement!


I’m an Asteroid!

Category : Uncategorized

4

Believe me, I never in a million years thought I’d write that phrase – and certainly not publicly. But, I cannot hide it any more. I’m an asteroid and very proud of it! And you, my loyal readers, can take your shot at me in a classic game of Asteroids.

The folks over at Create Business Growth have created a game called CBG Rocks and it’s alot of fun. Me and Nate Whitehill are featured as asteroids along with Paris Hilton and Donald Trump. Check it out…


Branding Rant: I Don’t Understand AT&T

Category : branding, Uncategorized

13

atandtphone.jpgI’m a cell phone geek. I’m not afraid to admit that. No, I don’t have the best one on the market, but I very much enjoy watching the new technology roll out. That’s why I’ve been very tuned into watching AT&T work with the Cingular brand after they acquired the popular cellular provider.

If you’ve followed telecommunications over the last 15 years, you’ve been able to see the twisted web of spinoffs, takeovers, mergers, and buyouts. I won’t go into it all. But Cingular being back with AT&T is nothing new. When AT&T acquired Cingular they rolled out the tagline, “Cingular is now the new AT&T”. I thought not going with the Cingular brand was risky at the time. Now, after reading BtoB Online’s article about the Cingular brand being phased out altogether, I think it’s a bad move.

AT&T is trying to create synergy among their various business units which makes sense. The bundled service plan is a major play for service providers. But, what happens to a fresh, young cellular brand in Cingular that conjures up images of the hottest new phones and the newest “unlocked” technology?

My first cell phone was with AT&T Wireless about 16 years ago. It was a Motorola brick with poor reception and a calling plan that included about 20 minutes a month. That image coupled with a stodgy, “old school” telecommunication company in AT&T leaves me wondering how I’m going to engage with that old Cingular brand.

I’ll be curious to see how this plays out for AT&T. I’m also wondering how social media will affect them. See, there is a strong and loud group of early cell phone technology adopters that rush out to buy the newest phones, play with them until their fingers bleed, and then write reviews that are plastered all over the Internet.

Will these early adopters feel the same passion for the newest AT&T phone as they did for the newest Cingular phone? Yes, it’s the same phone and same service but a much, much different brand.

UPDATE:

Doug Mitchell has a good post covering the AT&T branding as well.


My New Definition of Courage

Category : Uncategorized

5

pathway.jpgI recently spent a week in my wife’s hometown with our kids helping my Mother-In-Law pack up her home of nearly 30 years. It was here that a new definition of courage and strength became apparent to me. To be honest, I’m writing this more for me than my readers as there aren’t too many connections to small business marketing. There are, however, valuable life lessons to take away.

How many times do we plan for that next step in life, map out a course to get there, and begin our journey in the direction we intend? Small business owners, employees, students, stay-at-home parents all map out courses on a daily, monthly, yearly, and lifetime basis. You read all the time about the courageous and daring small business owner who laughs in the face of adversity, changes directions for his venture, and wins despite all the challenges he or she faced. We all have goals and dreams, right?

But what happens when life takes it upon itself to write the script for that next step in our lives? What happens when your plans and dreams become a thing of the past and you’re handed a new journey – like it or not. What does that new journey hold? Where will it lead and why are you on it are just a couple questions that are a part of the new reality.

We packed boxes and helped my Mother-In-Law prepare to leave a house that isn’t about walls and bricks – it’s about memories, dreams, and loved ones. It’s about a course that was changed by life. Courage is finding strength when life presents you with a new course. Courage is starting the journey down that path not knowing exactly where it will lead.


Time To Wake Up and Smell The Coffee

Category : branding, BrandingWire, Uncategorized

9

bw_logo_no_tag-med.JPGWelcome to the inaugural BrandingWire post on the Lonely Marketer. For our first case study we’re focusing on a fictitious company and situation. Please contact one of the BrandingWire members if you’d like your company brand and story to be the focus of an upcoming post.

The Case Study: The coffee industry is large, competitive and full of unique tastes and styles. With that premise put in place, imagine a small coffee company in mid-America. Operating for 8 years, they have a few retail stores, no debt and are moderately successful and profitable. Their operations are funded out of steady cash flow and all their beans are roasted on-site. Their retails stores have an open, relaxed feel to them – sort of country-funky. Although there is a very strong local attachment to the company, there is little recognition outside of the area, but the owner is committed to doing whatever it takes to create a thriving business. Their brand name is decent, but nothing memorable and they have a poor tagline – Great Coffee at Great Prices. There is nothing setting their identity apart and their logo needs help.

So, this coffee business has the money and the desire to grow, but they’re unsure of where to start or how to do it. Let’s toss around a few ideas for our imaginary bean counter.

The Image

We’ve said there is a strong local attachment to the coffee brand – it’s time to capitalize on that. Start by tapping that local attachment for insight as to why the brand is so strong with area residents. Why do they prefer this coffee over Starbucks, Caribou and other larger chains? What characteristics of this coffee shop resonate most with locals? What needs improvement? Through surveys and discussions with customers, the coffee shop can formulate their list of top selling points that separate them from competitors.

With the brand information gleaned from local customers, a new logo and tagline should be developed that infuses local charm and promotes a coffee drinking experience. Grocery store shelves are stocked full of generic coffee brands – why compete there? Promote an experience for the coffee drinker who wants something more from their cup.

The Placement

This BrandingWire pundit thinks it would be unwise to beef up coffee operations to the point of attempting to push out mainstream brands from every grocery store shelf in the U.S. Let’s start by pushing mainstream brands off their local grocery shelves and create a web experience to push the brand outside of the area.

First they must examine their local, physical branding. Their stores should be redesigned to incorporate the new, fresh, locally-infused brand elements (logo, tagline, URL, etc.). Store employee clothing, coffee cups and “for-sale” drinkware, and bags of coffee for home brewing should be redone to incorporate the new brand elements and give local coffee drinkers additional reasons to feel attached to the local brand and experience. The newly designed coffee packaging should be pushed at every local grocery store, coffee shop, and restaurant – the brand should dominate anywhere locally that sells coffee.

Next, a web presence that embodies a lively and fresh coffee shop atmosphere must be created. Although it will incorporate local characteristics, the web site should be built to reach out to the rest of the world and whet the appetite for a taste of your local brand. The site will combine:

  • All of the new branding elements.
  • A social conversation room for consumers to read about and converse with others who enjoy coffee. By correctly reaching out to the demographic that engages social media, the coffee shop will be able to tap viral marketing that will proliferate their messages for them.
  • Videos of local stores, local landmarks and profiles of local customers who have become part of the brand.
  • Recipe book of coffee-related foods and beverages offered up by the new community of contributors.
  • If possible, local musicians will be featured with music recordings for download.

A full social media blitz will take this small coffee shop well beyond its local ties.

Engage. Converse. Convert.
Branding also happens on the search engine results pages, and that’s exactly where this coffee shop should aim when expanding out of their local area. Sites such as CoffeeGeek.com and CoffeeUniverse.com prove there is a “thirst” for communicating and socializing your coffee preferences. Do multiple searches and some quick surfing, and you definitely see brands start to present themselves online. Companies such as Storyville Coffee Company (saving the world one cup at a time), Timothy’s and Cafe Britt take different approaches but are consistently present in search results.

  • A well optimized website can yield positive organic results and keep the company in the mind of coffee drinkers who look for their next coffee experience online.
  • A related paid search campaign can solidify the brand among search engine users.

An approach such as this capitalizes on searchers looking for gifts or new coffee drinking experiences.Participation in industry online forums can also play a role in developing the online presence. Positioning themselves as a participant and expert in the world of coffee can lead people to want to check out their brand and even give it a try. Other methods of online advertising such as strategic banner placement and text links can also be used to draw in the coffee drinker. The idea behind this online rebranding is to engage the coffee drinker, give them the option to converse and share their preferences, and then convert them to their brand.

The sky is the limit for this coffee maker if they can infuse their new brand with the opinions and characteristics of their local following, reflect that brand with a strong local presence in stores and on shelves, and create greater awareness of their brand and products with an online brand building campaign.

For a view of all the posts from participating BrandingWire members, either visit the website or our new portal where you can see all member sites in one place.

Get more high-voltage ideas at BrandingWire.com. The contributing members are:

    Olivier Blanchard
    Becky Carroll
    Derrick Daye
    Kevin Dugan
    Lewis Green
    Ann Handley
    Gavin Heaton
    Martin Jelsema
    Valeria Maltoni
    Drew McLellan
    Patrick Schaber
    Steve Woodruff

The Official Minnesota Blogger Hour

Category : blogging, Uncategorized

2

A few of us Minnesota bloggers got together for the first official Minnesota Blogger Hour last evening. Paul Jahn, Aaron Weiche and myself met and had a great evening of dinner, drinks and good conversation. We thought it might be fun to expand the group and try to put together a network of local bloggers who want to share ideas, network, and enjoy a few hours talking about all the geeky things us bloggers enjoy.

If you’re interested in joining us, please contact Paul, Aaron, or myself and we’ll add you to the list (which is growing already)!

Wondering how many other Minnesota bloggers there are? Check out the list put together by City Pages. I think you’ll be surprised.


Your Voice As An Extension Of Your Brand

Category : branding, Uncategorized

4

coffeespill.jpgI had an interesting situation today that made me think about phone conversations being an extension of your company and even your brand. I could be over-thinking this, but I was completely turned off by a company based on the attitude of the person with which I was speaking.

I wrote recently about doing my best to return calls and treat all people with respect with regards to fielding calls from people wanting to talk to me about their company and hopefully get our business. I respect their job and have made many good contacts building relationships this way. I was on vacation last week and dedicated an hour today to returning voicemails.

My last call was to a salesperson from whom I purchased some online ad placements for the first six months of the year. Her voicemail indicated she wanted to discuss the rest of the year. So, I called her back to discuss.

Her first reaction to me was not knowing who I was and not having heard of our company. Okay, she probably makes alot of calls so I explain further who I was and what she called me about. Long pause. Then a sigh from her giving off the feeling of annoyance. Is she having a bad day? Not sure. I ask her if she would like to call me back when she has more time. She responds by saying she’s too busy right now and I should try to reconnect with her.

What? I have the budget dollars that she wants and I need to try to get her attention to spend it? I received an email from her later explaining she now knows who I am and would have time to talk, but not mentioning her unprofessional tone on the phone.

Maybe she did have something bad happen to her today that clouded her mood. I understand that. But, my point is that she shouldn’t have answered the phone. How could I walk away from that feeling the same way about her or the company? Am I being irrational? I don’t think so, her company’s brand was put on the line when she picked up the phone. Now, I have a new image. She marketed herself and her brand poorly by a the way she handled my call.

The good news is this is a rarity with my phone dealings…most people are great and very professional with which to work. Whether you’re working a trade show booth, sending and email, selling a product, or marketing a company the manner in which you go about your communications plays a huge role in how people view you and your company.


In Case You Missed It….

Category : blogging, Uncategorized

10

My buddy Matt McGee over at Small Business SEM had a post recently that I thought was a great idea. He’s had a surge of subscribers in the last six months so he’s doing a recap of older posts that his new readers might not have seen. Well, I’m stealing the idea (thanks, Matt :) ). Hat-tip to Matt for the idea.

I also have a fair amount of new readers in the last couple of months so I thought I’d list some posts from earlier in the year and last year that were popular among my subscribers at that time. Enjoy and let me know what you think of them!

Actually, this is a good exercise for every blog! Here are 4 blogs I’ve recently subscribed to and am enjoying reading. Let’s see if they’d be up to sharing some of their most popular posts.

Anyone else interested in sharing their popular content? Oh yeah, don’t forget to check out Matt McGee’s – I think you’ll like what you see.


Milestones At The Lonely Marketer Today!

Category : blogging, Uncategorized

23

Thank you Lonely Marketer readers!

I’ll be honest, when I first started authoring The Lonely Marketer in the beginning of the year I wasn’t sure who would read the site. I felt I had good things to share, but there are so many smart and well-written sites out there. I wasn’t sure where this would go.

Well, thanks to you – my readers and contributors – I’ve reached some major milestones this week! Yes, there are sites with much more impressive stats, but I’m proud of where this has gone and I’m so appreciative of all of you who have been a part of this site’s success.

Here is what has happened this week:

stats_500.jpg

500 subscribers! I saw the stat on my site this morning. But almost more importantly my 300th comment happened this last weekend as well. I was so happy it was Drew McLellan of Drew’s Marketing Minute that was the 300th. Drew is an example of why I started this blog. I’ve never met Drew, but we’ve corresponded on email many times, commented on each other’s blog, and have participated in joint projects. I consider him a friend and look forward to meeting him in person one day. If I had never started this site, I wouldn’t have met him as I wouldn’t have met many others.

I’m sure many friends and family wonder why I spend hours at night building this site when there is no money coming from it. Well, I consider the friends I’ve gained, the solid business contacts, and the knowledge I’ve gained from others….absolutely invaluable!

A big thank you to other site authors who have referred me the most visitors! In no particular order, they are:

Thanks again to all who have made this site so much fun to maintain and grow!