Marketing & Branding

Facebook changes the rules!


Drew McLellan is the owner of McLellan Marketing Group

Whether you knew it or not -- or chose to obey it or not -- until this past week it was against Facebook's terms and conditions for businesses to run contests on their own timelines, unless they used a third party app like Shortstack.

You can now invite Facebook users to like, comment or even create a post on your page as a way to vote or enter a contest. 

I know many of you are thinking… "I've been doing that for years!" Well, now you can do it legally.

You still need to have:

  • Official rules, outlining the contest and how you will select the winners (including terms and eligibility requirements)
  • A notice that states that Facebook is in no way sponsoring, endorsing or administering your contest or promotion.

If you're thinking about running a contest for your Facebook page, be sure to read Facebook’s promotional guidelines, found in Section E, here.

All of that is well and good. But keep in mind, you still need to apply some marketing sensibility to your contest. If it isn't relevant and of value to your Facebook page fans -- it's not going to work.

Follow these simple rules for creating a Facebook contest that will actually accomplish what you want.

Have specific outcome goals: Why are you running the contest? What will success look like?

How will you monitor contest: What if your contest garners way more attention than you anticipated? Who is overseeing the page and how will you handle the increased traffic?

Think bigger picture: Great -- you now have all these new FB fans. What are you going to do with them? What happens over the next few weeks and months to keep them engaged and connected to you?

Teach them about your brand: Your contest should help the FB user get to know your brand and product/service better. Make sure the contest itself and the prizes reflect what you're all about.

(Check out these successful FB contests for some ideas)

Facebook contests probably fall under the "just because you can, doesn't mean you should" maxim. Don't get me wrong. They can be an incredible opportunity to bring your brand zealots closer to you, get connected with some of your customers who are still holding you at arm's length and introduce you to a whole new group of people.

But remember that Facebook is permission-based. So if you are annoying or worse -- boring -- you're going to shorten your friend list and your influence.

Go forth and give things away. But make sure you follow the rules. (Mine and Facebook's!)

 ~ Drew McLellan, McLellan Marketing Group's Top Dog

Can you tell me about your brand?


Drew McLellan is the owner of McLellan Marketing Group

At McLellan Marketing Group, we often get to help new companies create their brand and existing companies discover their brand. That may sound ridiculous -- surely a company should understand it's own brand, right?

Not really.

Many companies can't articulate how their company is different from their competitors. They talk about product features or unique service offerings but they never dig down deep enough to truly identify how or why they are different in a way that matters to their customers.

Your brand isn't about what you do or sell. It's about why your company exists and how the world would be a different place if it didn't.

Let's say you sell a widget that helps me use a GPS locator to find my pet if he/she ever got lost. You don't sell the widget. You sell peace of mind. You sell furry families. You sell protection of one of the most coveted bonds on this planet -- a person and their beloved pet.

Why do you make that widget? Maybe you're a huge dog lover and you've experienced the heartbreak of having a dog get loose and never knowing what happened to him. You don't want some other kid to ever go to bed crying like you did.

That's your why.

That's the essence of your brand… and it has nothing to do with GPS technology or the fact that I can buy your widget in pink, blue or chartreuse. And before you say it -- yes, this applies as much (if not more) to B2B companies.

Wondering what your brand is all about? Try answering these questions - but the answer can never be the product or service you sell.

  • Beyond profitability, what is the mission of your company?
  • If your company were to leave a legacy, what would it be?
  • How does your organization make the world a better place?
  • If firm disappeared tomorrow, what would be missed most of all?
  • What is the single most-important aspect of your company?
  • With regard to your organization, what do you feel passionate about? 
  • What business is your company in? 
  • What business is your company not in? 
  • Which three adjectives best describe your organization? 
  • Who (customer) would love your company the most? 
  • How do you prioritize your customers? If you had to allocate 100 points between the different customers segments or types (in terms of importance), how would you do so? 
  • What customer need does your product/service fulfill? Why does your target customer need or want you sell? 
  • What emotion(s) do you most closely associate with your product or service? 
  • How will your organization change your industry? 
  • How will your company change the world? 

 And some fun ones to really get you thinking differently:

  • If your company was a shape, what would it be?
  • If your organization was a texture, what would it be?
  • If your firm was a mood or feeling, what would it be?
  • If company was something from nature, what would it be?

Don't be one of those companies that doesn't have any idea how to answer these questions, or worse -- doesn't understand why you should bother. In a world where everyone has competition and it's so easy to become a commodity -- don't underestimate the power of understanding your brand and beginning to explore how you can bring that brand to life for your customers.

~ Drew McLellan, McLellan Marketing Group's Top Dog

Email marketing: Are you missing out?

Katie Stocking is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

Did you know that for every $1 spent on e-mail marketing, the average return on investment is $44.25? (Source: Experian). Our clients are always asking us what their expected ROI will be, no matter what type of advertising we’re talking about. Usually, of course, we can only give estimates, and even though this is somewhat the same case – this is a very high ROI for such a small investment. Why, then, aren’t you utilizing e-mail marketing? Or maybe you are, but it doesn’t look like the image you truly want to be presenting for your brand.

Here are some tips of how to get started or improve your current situation: 

1)   It all starts with the top: Make sure you’re using a strong copywriter to put together your e-mails from the subject line, all the way to the bottom. If you’re subject line isn’t catchy, you’re strongly reducing the chance of people opening the e-mail you just paid to send.

2)   Make sure the e-mail looks as professional as you are:  You’re working everyday to make sure the job you do or your company is the best it can be, right? So make sure you’re not sending out something that reflects anything less. If you’re sending out something that is misaligned, not really the same colors as your logo, or looks like it’s from the 1980s – it probably is not giving people your best impression. It’s so inexpensive to get a nice template designed for you, so spend the money (remember that amazing ROI?!) to do it right.

3)   Database building is key:  Usually when we start working with clients on e-mail marketing they ask about purchasing lists. (Similar to what you would do for direct mail). Unfortunately for advertisers (fortunately for consumers) e-mail databases aren’t truly for sale. You normally have to send your e-mails to a 3rd party to send it out for you and therefore lose a lot of the control. Really though, wouldn’t you want to personally be reaching people who have shown interest in your business? Just make sure you come up with a process to constantly be building your database. If you host an event, have a sign-up. If you start working with a new client, make sure to add them so they stay in the loop, etc!

4)   Get creative: Last Thursday I went to Legally Blonde at the Des Moines Community Playhouse (which was awesome by the way!). Then, Friday morning I received an e-mail from them asking if I enjoyed the show and asking that if I did, to please tweet and/or Facebook about it. What a fantastic idea! There is no cheaper way to grow ticket sales than with free testimonials, I suspect. Their e-mail was personalized to me, they wanted to make sure I had a good experience, and then reminded me to take a few seconds to tell my friends.

If you’re still not convinced, check out “25 Mind Blowing Facts about E-mail Marketing".

Where does your e-mail marketing stand? E-mail me at!  And sign up for the Happy Medium e-mails. (See what I did there? You can do it too!)


AdAge Power 150 powers down

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 1.34.10 AMAs 2006 wound down, a marketing professional named Todd Andrlik created the Marketing Power 150 which was (at the time) a very all-inclusive list of the top marketing blogs in the world.

Back then blogging was just beginning and it was a huge thrill just to get a few hundred readers or a comment here or there.  I launched my own blog, Drew's Marketing Minute in 2006 so I was elated to hear I'd been included in Todd's original list of the best marketing blogs.  

The list enjoyed early success, quickly rising to become the most comprehensive and definitive barometer of industry blogs. It was widely cited in books, bios, blogs and mainstream media, including Fast Company and the Wall Street Journal. It also inspired dozens of similar lists across numerous industries.

When Todd ran the list, it was 150 blogs and no more.  You either made the list or you didn't.  But late in 2007, Todd sold the list to AdAge and as you'd expect, they made some changes.  They continued to call the list the Power 150 but the list grew exponentially - ranking over 1100 blogs as they shut it down earlier this month.

What makes the powering down important to any of us is that it signifies how quickly the social media landscape is shifting.

In the post announcing the decision, AdAge said "Why are we shutting it down? Since we took over the list from Todd Andrlik in 2007, conversations on marketing have broadened their reach well beyond personal blogs to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many other places. If blogging lowered the barrier to entry, social media obliterated it."

Does that mean blogging is dead?  Despite some people suggesting that's the case -- I don't think so. It just means that digital marketing isn't so linear today.  Before the barrier to entry was a blog.  But today, you can jump into social media via Pinterest, Twitter, a blog or Google+.  Blogs are no longer the only way people can or do share content. 

If I were a betting man, I'd say the other reason AdAge decided to freeze the Power150 (the list still exists -- they just aren't updating it any more) was the sheer volume of marketing blogs out there.  Their list is currently over 1100 blogs and I'm sure they were being barraged by new marketing blog authors every day.  Back when Todd started the list -- it was manageable and scalable.  But today the volume of potential entries and the time it would take to review all the prospective sites couldn't be sustained.

Whatever the reason, the Power150 was iconic in both marking the launch of social media/blogging and the moment when the list couldn't keep up any more.




Consistency isn't optional

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 8.16.28 AM

Drew McLellan is the owner of McLellan Marketing Group

Think of some of the most famous and recognizable advertising marks. How about McDonald’s golden arches? Or Coca Cola’s logo.

Now, imagine for a minute how the golden arches would look if they were blue. Or the Coke logo on a green can. (This blue M outside a McDonald's is in Sedona, AZ)

It’s just wrong, isn’t it?

Companies invest a significant amount of money and effort into creating a brand. A big part of brand awareness and recognition is the visual cues, like color.

If McDonalds and Coke don’t mess with theirs, why in the world would you ever consider changing your logo colors on a whim? Or use different fonts every time you communicate with your key audiences?

And yet businesses and nonprofits do it all the time. If you're guilty -- stop.

Next time you get bored with the look of your company’s identity, put a can of Coke on your desk, or drive by those golden arches.

Then, just leave everything be. Every single time!

~ Drew McLellan, Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

A look at Word of Mouth's payoff

Drew McLellan is the owner of McLellan Marketing Group

Everyone loves getting a referral and many businesses live and die by them. And yet, most businesses do not have anything in place to encourage word of mouth -- other than doing a good job and hoping their customers will brag about them.

Hardly a marketing strategy. Should you do a good job? Sure. But there's so much more you can do. Don't want to expend the energy? Hopefully this infographic from Noble Imaging will change your tune. Look at the impact word of mouth can have and how that translates to some serious impressions/cash for you.

In my next post, I'll dig into some specific ways you can generate buzz that brings in business. (If you want to see a larger version of the infographic, just click on it and you can download one.)



So what do you say -- are you ready to put in some sweat equity and maybe a little cash to get your customers buzzing about you?

~ Drew McLellan, MMG's Top Dog

How do you know what to deliver if you never take the order?

Drew McLellan is the owner of McLellan Marketing Group

In general, we assume too much. In marketing we assume WAY TOO much. I was reminded of this truth when I was reading the new study done by Pivot about the social landscape and how it is evolving.

Here's part of their intro: "Each year, the Pivot team studies the evolving social landscape. For our 2012 -2013 "State of Social Marketing" report, we surveyed social marketers and digital strategists who represent agencies and brands. What we learned is that the fundamental drivers for social media have radically transformed."

They go on to explore all the ways people's use and perceptions of social media has shifted over the past year. But the two questions/graphs that really struck me were these:

The first question -- do you know who is accessing your social media content/connecting with you there?

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 12.17.11 AM

Amazingly -- 38% of these professionals said no, they don't.  That begs the question...why.  Well, here's why.


Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 12.17.35 AM

The reason they don't know who they're talking to is because they aren't even talking to them enough to find out why they're there.  

Why? (I'm sure you're asking yourself that as you read this)

I think there are a few reasons.

We are still using social media as a one way communication tool: Rather than recognizing that social is a dialogue, most marketers are still treating it like a monologue. Since we think we're supposed to do all the talking, we don't bother finding out who we're talking to or what they need.

We're afraid to ask: This isn't just a problem in social media - it's true in general. You've heard the expression "don't ask a question if you don't want to hear the answer." Well, unfortunately, marketers, business owners and leaders have taken that to heart. They're so afraid of the feedback they might get, they shut down the opportunity.

We don't actually believe it matters: Of the three, this is the most dangerous. It means you're just going through the motions but you don't  believe social media can actually impact your business. If you are just going through the motions -- stop. All you're going to do is damage your brand and alienate your customers. It's better to stop doing it than do it badly or without sincerity.

While this study was focused on social marketing -- the insight is broader. Without understanding who you're talking to and what matters to them -- you'll never connect with your customers or prospects.

 ~ Drew McLellan, Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

Raise your stinking gate!


Drew McLellan is the owner of McLellan Marketing Group

It's 9:50 am. I'm in the mall, standing at a store's entrance, peering in through the gate that locks the store for the night. The employee is inside, chatting on the phone and sipping a soda. The marketing message I got by being kept waiting until exactly 10 a.m.?

My business was not all that important to her.

While I was pacing and making mental note to never visit this store again, it occurred to me that many of us do the same thing to our clients/customers. Now, you might not have a gate that keeps clients from entering your front door, but think about other "barriers" that might be in the way.

You can advertise "customer friendly" all you want, but if they stumble over obstacles when they come to buy, your clients will quickly get the "your business is not important to me" message.

Here are some of the places we might be slamming the gate down on our own customers:

Hours of operation. Are they convenient for you or for your customer?
Access. How well does your e-mail, website, phone system etc. work?  If a client is in a jam -- do they know how to get a hold of you this very second?
Promptness in returning calls. A client phone call is an order/sale waiting for confirmation.
Clarity in pricing and products/services. Do your customers know what you sell and how much it will cost? Does it actually cost them that much or are your invoices a little surprise?
Willingness to listen. When your client has an issue with you or your product, do you attempt to make adjustments or changes that demonstrate that you listened? Or do they get "reasons" why it has to be that way?

Want to really check? Call a couple clients that you've lost. Have a frank conversation. My bet is that somehow they could not get past a gate. Maybe it's a gate you don't even see. 

~ Drew, MMG's Top Dog

What's your rubber duck?

DuckiowabizYesterday I read an interesting article in USA Today about how boutique hotels are trying to differentiate themselves and create "an experience" for their guests. Being able to call down to the front desk for a fish or having a Bose iPod player in the room is old news.

Now, you might find themed rubber ducks in your mini bar. There's a DC hotel that even offers electronic cigarettes. And if you're ever in Denver, check out the Sky Hotel in Aspen. They offer mini oxygen tanks in case you need a little boost.

Not all of the examples in the article were whimsical. In Chicago at the Hard Rock Hotel, you can request the nursing mom package (fridge, breast pump, extra bottles, etc.) be sent to your room. Worried you'll have a wardrobe malfunction like Janet Jackson did a few years ago? No worries if you're staying at one of the Morgan Hotels. They have an emergency kit that includes double-sided tape to prevent any accidental malfunctions.

While all of these examples sound a little off the beaten path -- that's sort of the point. A little something extra to create some buzz or even to get you to choose one hotel over the other. It's a good reminder to all of us that our consumers are hungry for more and that more doesn't have to be a big deal. Sometimes something small can be a big deal.

And a big deal means that in today's wired world -- their duck or wardrobe malfunction kit will get plenty of attention on Facebook, Instagram, Vine or Twitter.

That sort of buzz can't be bought. It can only be inspired by something out of the ordinary. 

Stan Phelps wrote about this concept in his book, What's Your Purple Goldfish? How to Win Customers and Influence Word of Mouth. Stan's premise is that compannies who do something a little extra get noticed. His book is living proof -- example after example of organizations that inspire word of mouth, the best marketing you can possibly earn.

Marketing is about being so remarkable that people can't help but talk about you. That if you absolutely delight someone - they will not only come back but they'll bring friends. They become your sales force. 

So -- what do you do for your customers that would get them talking? What's your rubber duck?

~ Drew McLellan, Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group

LinkedIn gets into the game

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LinkedIn has always been social media's red headed stepchild.  Few people use it well and for most of its users -- it's an electronic rolodex.

LinkedIn just announced the launch of their new LinkedIn Contacts.  Their teaser copy says:

Introducing the new LinkedIn Contacts. A smarter way to stay in touch.

All your contacts in one place. LinkedIn Contacts brings together all your address books, emails, and calendars, and keeps them up to date in one place.

Never miss an opportunity to say hello. Get alerted on job changes and birthdays in your network, a perfect opportunity to say hello.

Take it on your mobile device. Stay connected on the go. LinkedIn Contacts is available on iPhone, so you can stay in touch with your contacts wherever you are.

This may be a way to add that "real time touch" that we always talk about in marketing and sales plans.  You can connect and react to any news or updates your contacts post to their account right when they make the change.  It's also a great way to track when a prospect makes a key personnel change that might be a game changer for you.

LinkedIn is rolling this out on a limited basis.  To get on the waiting list (I don't know how long the wait is -- they just announced this last week) click here

Maybe this will be the trick to make LinkedIn the social media superstar for business leaders. Today, it's underutilized and hopefully this will change how users interact with it because I think it can be a very useful utility tool, if you learn how to mine the data it holds.

~ Drew McLellan


Buzz/going viral does not always equal sales

One of the things I hear all the time is "wouldn't it be great if our video went viral?" To which I reply -- "maybe, maybe not."

Here's the reality of viral videos. Sometimes they absolutely drive sales. Look at what Old Spice did with the "the man your man could smell like" series. Not only did it score over 45 million views, it literally revolutionized their brand and reversed their sales decline.

But that's the exception, not the rule. Just because a video takes off on YouTube or Facebook, doesn't mean it's good for business.

Take this recent Kmart spot called "Ship my pants." The spot was created to promote free shipping from Kmart's website. But they wanted us to actually pay attention -- so they pushed the creative envelope by counting on the fact that there's a 12 year old stuck in all of us who loves sophmoric humor.

Watch and see what you think:



This video already has over 5 million views. I'm betting that's more than all the other Kmart vidoes combined. So they scored on the "going viral" part.  

But, I'm pretty confident in my guess that they will not see a spike in online sales, despite the free shipping offer and increased awareness. In fact, in some ways I think the spot will hurt their efforts. The spot is SO noticeable -- you sort of lose the message. The humor is so strong (and some would argue, so tasteless) that it eclipses the marketing message.

Using humor is always tricky (if it doesn't sell, unless you're a professional comedian, it didn't work) but using this kind of over the top humor is even more risky.

Video is a powerful marketing tool. But don't lose sight of the fact that your goal is to have the right people see it and be inspired to take the next step you want them to take. In some cases, that might mean the 20 right people seeing it.

If you or your agency are shooting for viral -- be sure that's the right target to be aiming at.

~ Drew
Top Dog at McLellan Marketing Group


Don't bite the hand that feeds you, Mr. Wolfdog

Old Spice, a cologne from our grandfather's era that is sold in grocery stores was the media and marketing darling a couple years ago with the Old Spice Man -- the man your man could smell like.

It made actor Isaiah Mustafa a household he ran bare chested through scenario after scenario. Women swooned and men ran to their local grocery or drug store to pick up a bottle of the suddenly cool cologne.

I have to admit, as a marketing guy, I love watching someone rejuvinate a tired, old brand. So i was cheering for Old Spice and looking forward to seeing how they would spin/twist the concept.

 Sadly -- they've now launched Mr. Wolfdog.  Yes...Mr. Wolfdog.




I get that they're trying to be funny. But really -- marketing and a great viral campaign transformed them to cool in 2010 and now, in this new effort, they're basically calling the general public a fool for falling for it.

Not that Mr. Wolfman hasn't been putting in a lot of effort. He's been a flurry of activity all over the web. As noted in Adweek -- "He's posted YouTube videos; made a Pinterest page, and an album of inspirational business music; hosted Google+ Hangouts with his Twitter followers; posted a toll-free number (866-695-2407) to help those who need to look busy at work; played Call of Duty: Black Ops II on Xbox Live; made animated GIFs; and whipped up websites like In short, he's done everything (and much more) that a marketing director should do in social media—while inherently poking fun at how hollow and rote and mindless it all is."

 Is it funny? Yes. Will it got viral? Maybe. Both interesting questions but not the right question. The right question is:

Will it sell more Old Spice?

What made the old campaign so noteable is that it not only entertained us but it changed our opinion about a weary brand and breathed new meaning into it for millions of men who would have never considered wearing the time-tested cologne before The Old Spice man made it sexy to do so.

Don't ever lose sight of the fact that marketing's purpose is to generate sales, either directly or indirectly. Anything short of that is just entertainment. And I fear Mr. Wolfdog is just that. 

~ Drew McLellan

How to build a Facebook page that’s sticky

Facebook-logo6With hundreds of millions of people on Facebook, it’s no wonder that businesses are flocking there to create a fan page for their organization. But what should that page contain? How should you use it to connect with your customers?

Here are 5 tips for creating a Facebook page that people won’t ignore.

Connected: Be sure you use your Facebook page as a launching point for learning more about your product or service. Link it to your website, a testimonials page or a third-party site that sells your product.

Be the resource: Know your audience well enough to anticipate what else they might want to know. If you sell business training, link to other HR and employee related sites or tools. Think beyond what you specifically sell and build a more well rounded resource center.

Let them talk: Don’t make the mistake of treating your Facebook page like a one way broadcast tool. One of the best elements of Facebook is that you can actually talk to your customers and prospects. Don’t turn off their ability to comment on your page.

Let the games begin: No matter how old we are chronologically, we like to play games. One great way to get Facebook page fans or to get them to keep coming back is to create contests and games that hook your audience and keep them coming back for more. Or, have a regular contest –like a weekly trivia game.

Serve with a smile: Use your Facebook page as your customer service portal. Let customers ask questions, post problems or give you feedback about your product or service.

Facebook is a very powerful tool. But just jumping on board and slapping up a page without a strategy will leave you and your page getting chilled from a lack of attention.


~ Drew

Don't plan the funeral yet - marketing is not dead!

CasketflowersAs social media and all things digital/mobile become more mainstream, I've been seeing a rash of articles declaring that traditional marketing is dead. And this isn't from some hack with 12 blog readers.  We're talking  Forbes, Harvard Business Review and many other reputable publications have announced the passing of marketing.  

Here's what HBR had to say, in part:

Traditional marketing — including advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications — is dead. Many people in traditional marketing roles and organizations may not realize they're operating within a dead paradigm. But they are. The evidence is clear.

First, buyers are no longer paying much attention. Several studies have confirmed that in the "buyer's decision journey," traditional marketing communications just aren't relevant. Buyers are checking out product and service information in their own way, often through the Internet, and often from sources outside the firm such as word-of-mouth or customer reviews.

Second, CEOs have lost all patience. In a devastating 2011 study of 600 CEOs and decision makers by the London-based Fournaise Marketing Group, 73% of them said that CMOs lack business credibility and the ability to generate sufficient business growth, 72% are tired of being asked for money without explaining how it will generate increased business, and 77% have had it with all the talk about brand equity that can't be linked to actual firm equity or any other recognized financial metric.

A few things to note:

  1. It's ironic that publications that exist because of traditional advertising revenues are making a big deal out of this.
  2. Didn't we say the same thing about radio when the TV came on the scene?
  3. Aren't we painting marketing with a pretty wide brush?

Is marketing changing?  You bet.  Should it?  You bet.  But that hardly means it is dead.  It means it's evolving.

It's suggested that most consumers (both B2C and B2B) do about 60-70% of their shopping online -- BEFORE they ever contact the company or visit the store.  So is having a strong search strategy important?  Of course.

As smart phones become ubiquitious, can we ignore being ready for the mobile invasion in terms of our web presence, payment options etc?  Not if we want to stay in business.

But that doesn't mean marketing is dead.  Marketing's job is the same as it always has been.  Marketing's purpose is make sure your product, service or company gets on the short list.

Most people consider three options before making a purchase.  Whether it's a car, a toothpaste or a new accountant -- most of us have the capacity to study and consider up to three choices.

Marketing's purpose is to make sure that when your consumer is ready to start their consideration -- you're on the list of three.  If your marketing is really strong, it might trim that list down to two.  And if you're Apple or Harley -- your marketing and branding efforts may mean you're the only one on the list.  If they can't have you, they don't want anything.

Today -- with consumers doing more of their shopping on their own -- marketing, if anything, is even more important.  

What consumers are telling us is that they want our marketing to be less intrusive, more helpful and more accessible -- when and where they want it.  So that's the evolution we're seeing.  

But have no fear -- marketing is just as vital and valuable as it's ever been.

-Drew McLellan


Hunt down your brand advocates

Who doesn't love those customers who rave about us?  Every business -- big or small -- has fans. And those fans generate word of mouth buzz that is marketing gold.  Do you know who is most likely to be your brand advocate?  

Check out this infographic from BzzAgent to see if you can recognize your best prospects for recruiting and retaining those people who will shout your praises.




Your marketing resolution for 2013

2013BlocksI know, I know -- you're going to work out for 2 hours every day, quit smoking, volunteer every weekend and bring about world peace.

Tis the season for New Year's resolutions. They shouldn't just be about your personal life and they should be a bit more realistic than we tend to make them. 

As you think about what resolutions you might possibly make about your business for 2013 -- what if I told you that you could get everything you want from your customers?  Sounds pretty awesome, doesn't it?

It's actually not as difficult as it sounds.  I've often said that I wish marketing were more like rocket science because then I could sell the secrets for billions of dollars.  But the truth is -- marketing is pretty straight forward.  Here's the recipe for getting everything you want for your business in 2013.

Offer something of value for a fair price -- marketing can't solve anything if what you sell stinks.  Be awesome or shut down until you can be.

Have a plan -- it's better to do a few things well, than a ton of things every so often or half-baked

Be consistent -- marketing should happen every day, no matter how busy you are

Invest the most in your employees and current customers -- they've already bought and will keep buying if you make sure they know they're special.

Know what your customers actually want/need and do everything you can to get them there -- as Zig Ziglar used to say, "You can have everything in life that you want if you just help other people get what they want."

Stay the course -- don't let what your competition is doing pull you away from your own plan.

Be human -- we choose to do business with people and companies that we know, like and trust.  The more of your genuine self you extend to the marketplace, the quicker we can get to know, like and trust you. We can't get there through corporate mumbo jumbo.

That's it.  99% of businesses out there won't follow that simple formula.  Which is great for you -- because if you actually do, you'll be miles ahead.  Put the steps above into action and I promise -- 2013 will be a year to remember!

~ Drew


You need to go APE!

Screen Shot 2012-12-14 at 12.45.54 AMOne of the most popular marketing tactics today is to really demonstrate in a tangible way that you are in fact an expert in your field.  By showing us, rather than telling us, that you really know your stuff -- you allow us to come to that conclusion all by ourselves, which makes it much stickier.

Some people are demoing their expertise through a blog or podcast. Others are guest lecturing or speaking at conferences.  But perhaps the most daunting and most coveted version of this marketing tactic is -- authoring a book.

As if actually writing the dang thing isn't intimidating enough, then you have to find someone who wants to rep it, be your publisher and then there's the marketing of the book.  No wonder most people say they want to (or are in the middle of one) write a book, but so few do.

I'm pretty sure that's why Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch wrote their new book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book

APE is literally a step-by step, oops, watch out for that land mine guide on how to write, publish and sell your own book. Authors Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch have written a tell all book that walks you through each step of the process. There's not a lick of theory or "I suppose" in this book. It is a nuts and bolts procedural that goes into incredible detail -- offering tons of resources, options and tools.

There are 29 chapters and 22 of those chapters start with the words How to. That pretty much says it all. From how to actually write to book to how to market your book -- it's all there.

The only people who won't be thrilled to see/read this book are CEOs of traditional publishing houses. If that's not you -- get a copy today and get your book out there tomorrow!

And let your expertise begin to show through!


~ Drew 

Don't let December pass you by

SnowmanIt's officially here. The holiday season. It's an odd 30 days. On the one hand, you're busy wrapping up the year. On the other, your head and heart are thinking family, shopping, spiked egg nog, snowflakes and the company party.

It's easy to get so distracted by the holidays that in a blink -- it's January 2nd and the last 30 days was just a blur of less than productive efforts.

Don't let December get the best of you. No matter how busy the last month of the year is your for business, you can get some big marketing projects both started and finished before the big ball drops in Time Square.

I wrote a post about the 5 Marketing To Dos to get done before 2013 and I want to elaborate on one of them here.

The 3rd item on that To Do list was:

Call it quits: Look back over the past 12-24 months. What’s the one marketing tactic that you have really dedicated yourself to but it just hasn’t caught on fire. This has to be something that you feel you really implemented well, thoroughly and can’t imagine what you could have done better. If you can say that and it’s not delivering results — it’s time to let it go. Make December 2012 the last time you invest in it.

It's so easy to keep doing something. Especially if you think it should work but it isn't yet. Or you've been doing it long enough that it's just habit. But that doesn't mean it's a good use of your resources. 

December is a great time to really be honest with yourself and your team. Be brutal as you go through your 2012 marketing efforts and prune those efforts that haven't panned out. But here's the criteria you should use to decide if it's time to shuttle the effort.

  1. You've been doing it for at least 12 months
  2. You're confident that you've done it well (best practices and all that)
  3. There is no change in your business, industry trend etc. that suggests this tactic would be significantly more successful in 2013
  4. It's not tied to other tactics that are working (you're not pulling the proverbial thread that unravels the sweater)

I hope you'll check out the 5 To Dos post and tackle all 5. But if you can only make time for one -- it's time to call it quits.

~ Drew


Marketing = purposeful story telling

No one is drawn to boring marketing. That seems pretty easy to wrap our arms around. But what makes for interesting marketing that consumers (B2B and B2C) would choose to listen to and act upon?

Everyone from Forbes to Seth Godin has been telling us so often that they've created a buzzword status for the idea of storytelling. And you'll get no argument from me. We need to tell stories to:

  • Capture interest
  • Communicate our expertise and offerings
  • Create a sense of "they could help me" confidence
  • Move someone to act

The trick is understanding what kinds of stories to tell (hint: they should be all about you!), how to tell them and where to tell them. 

The first step is to appreciate the value of story telling.  Check out this infographic on the power of stories. (click it to see it full-sized)




In my next blog post -- we'll take a look at how and where to tell stories.  So stay tuned!


~ Drew

Are you building your "friend of mine" awareness?

Screen shot 2012-10-14 at 1.25.23 PMLast week, I was a speaker at the BOLO conference, which is a conference that focuses on helping agencies wrap their heads and hearts around all things digital.

It was a fascinating few days and one of the perks of being a speaker is that I got to listen to all of the other speakers.

One of the most thought-provoking was my friend Jay Baer, from Convince and Convert. Jay's presentation was sort of a mini preview of the book he's in the middle of writing on the power of  a phrase he coined -- Youtility.

If you've attended any of the MMG social media workshops or talks we've given over the last couple years -- you will recognize a common theme in Jay's thinking. We could not agree more!

Jay's core point was that as our personal and professional lives intertwine through social networks and our on and offline connections -- word of mouth becomes the new currency for buying market share. Jay suggested that we need to all have a strategy in place to move from top of mind awareness to what he calls "friend of mine" awareness.

Jay shared some great facts/stats that showed how "friend of mine awareness" is built on these truths:

  • Our personal and professional lives are now woven together
  • We are more distrustful of marketing spin than ever before
  • We have lots of tools/tricks for tuning out advertising if we want to
  • We now access 10.4 pieces of information before we make a buying decision
  • We talk to a real person as a last resort (60% of a B2B buying decision is made by the time a sales rep is contacted)
  • We act on the word of our "friends," be they people we've met or people we're just connected to online

I think it's time for you to look at your marketing plan. Which tactics help you connect to and share information (useful info… not sales info) with potential buyers?

If you can't rattle off a pretty good list, it sounds like it is time to revisit that marketing plan and start building in elements that will take you from top of mind to friend of mine status.


~ Drew

How social are you?

As social media continues to evolve our communications styles, expectations and channels -- businesses scramble to sort out how and where they should be active. There's a misperception that social media is the playground for companies that sell direct to consumers (B2C) but not businesses that target other businesses (B2B). 

So wrong. Many B2B companies are enjoying incredible success as they leverage social media and content marketing as a part of their media mix.  This infographic developed by InsideView spells out the specific channels that (as of today) are enjoying the  most B2B activity.

Part of what B2B companies need to realize is that it's not just about brand awareness or name recognition.  When used well, social is driving lead generation and sales.

Best of all -- social escalates the sales cycle and you can close the deal faster. Check out this infographic and then tell us -- where are your social efforts in relation?



~ Drew

When is bad good?

Listerine-badAs you are looking at your product or service and identifying those elements that make it unique (you are doing that, right?) remember that sometimes what makes it unique is not an inherently good thing.

Which isn't a bad thing.


Take original flavored Listerine. One of the things that made it completely unique was its disgusting taste. Instead of explaining it away or ignoring it - they took the bad and made it good. It tasted bad because it was powerful enough to kill the germs. (check out this TV spot from the 70s with Judd Hirsch)

In fact -- they built an entire advertising campaign around how awful it tastes.

Look at your product or service a bit differently. What's bad about it? How can you use that attribute to your advantage?


~ Drew

Central Iowa -- don't miss Jason Falls!

Falls-speaking-webAll the big names are performing in Des Moines these days. Bob Dylan, "Book of Mormon," Def Leppard, Alan Jackson...

And Jason Falls. Of these... the one that will actually make you smarter, more money and get you out of the office is Jason.

Jason has written a couple of books (No Bull$%#^ Social Media and The Rebel's Guide to Email Marketing) and created one of the most popular websites devoted to digital marketing, Social Media Explorer.

Jason's going to be here in Des Moines next Thursday (August 30th from 1-5pm) and you won't want to miss him. (Register by clicking here)

During two 90 minute sessions led by Jason, attendees will learn how to use social media strategically, identify specific actionable goals, apply business discipline and proven best practices, stop fearing risks and start mitigating them, measure performance, and get results.

Not only will you get to meet Jason, hear his smarts... but you'll also be networking with Central Iowa's best and brightest.

So hurry up and register. Just like his book title says, Jason shoots straight and there will be no bull. You'll learn a lot, laugh a fair amount and leave with a To Do list that will help your business prosper.

 Full disclosure: Jason is a friend of mine. I don't get any money if you attend the event and Jason didn't ask me to write this. I just don't want you to miss out. 

~ Drew

Who is the average QR code user? You might be surprised!

Screen shot 2012-08-11 at 11.48.26 PMIn the second quarter of 2012, there were more than 16 million mobile barcodes scanned according to a new report from Scanbuy.

Among mobile barcode scanners, exactly half were aged 35 or older in Q2, representing a 22% increase from 41% share of scanners in Q1 and a 28% increase from 39% in Q4 2011. While an almost equal number (26%) of barcode scanners were aged 25-34 in Q2, this represents a big drop from 35% in Q1.

All the older age groups (35-44, 45-54 and 55+) showed an increase.

When it comes to gender, the people scanning the codes are still predominantly male. In Q2 it was 69% and in Q1 it was 68%. According to survey results released in February 2012 by BrandSpark International, in association with Better Homes and Gardens, although men and women report equal awareness of QR codes (77%), men who are aware of them are 75% more likely than women to have used one (28% vs. 16%) to access product information.

QR codes continue to grow in popularity and they might be perfect for your next effort.  Consider using one if you want to:

Enhance the user's experience: Many tech savvy museums, tourist locations, art galleries and other tours use QR codes to add audio commentary and video enhancements to their displays.

Digital notebook: Your customers are used to using their phone to record data they want to remember.  Why not let them trigger an email or reminder with a quick scan.

Let them grab some extra perks: Whether it's a free music download or some other digital asset, a QR code is an easy way to deliver some extras to your best or most frequent customers.

Provide real time data: Wait times at bus stops or other constantly changing data can be easily communicated through a quick QR scan.

But which are the most effective? According to the data from ScanLife’s “Mobile Barcode Trend Report Q2 2012,″ the top 5 marketer campaigns that generated the most scans were: contest; loyalty program; social media; app download; and video. 

No matter why you use a QR code, be sure the destination is optimized for mobile devices.  There's nothing worse than scanning a code only to be taken to a desktop site that doesn't present itself well on your smart phone.


~ Drew 

About the Data: The data in the Scanbuy report was pulled from the ScanLife Reporting Platform. It represents traffic from both 2D (QR) Codes and UPC barcodes. The 2D Codes scanned may have been generated on the ScanLife Platform or from 3rd party generators. The 2D barcode scanning traffic may come from either the ScanLife app or 3rd party apps.


Your brand should help you say "no" more often

Buttonsred_whiteImagine being able to cherry pick only the best clients. It would be like sifting through a box of options and selecting the exact right fit. You get to by-pass the almost right choices and the "no way" offerings -- all in pursuit of the perfect fit.

That's what branding does for your company. You get to walk away from business. The wrong kinds of business. The wrong kinds of clients. The wrong kind of growth.

When your brand is focused and strong, you are boldly saying exactly what you're about and by default...what you are not about.

It's the most powerful and valuable aspect of branding, but it's also why most companies choose a superficial brand -- they're afraid of leaving money on the table. They don't have enough confidence to let the "almost good fit" prospects go.

As a business owner, I get keeping your eye on the bottom line and it's every business' responsibility to be profitable. But the way to maximize those profits is to stay in your sweet spot. Customers who don't align with your brand may bring you a short term gain but in the long run, they'll cost you every time.

If you tie up your resources, energy, staff and systems to trying to please someone that you ultimately cannot delight -- you don't have those assets to offer the exact right fit customers when they come along.

On the flip side, if you say no to the wrong fit customers -- pretty soon the right fit customers will begin to tell others about you and you'll just keep attracting more and more of your very best customers.

But you need to be willing to say no to the wrong customers, to make room for the right ones.

Are you brave enough to say no?

Handcuffed by perfection?

Bigstock-Handcuffs-409305Lack of consumer knowledge. Inadequate budget. Sales team isn't ready.

There are lots of reasons that marketing gets stalled. But one of the most prevelant and dangerous reasons is perfection paralysis.

You've probably seen it -- the business owner or marketing decisionmaker can’t pull the trigger when it comes to marketing tactics. 

Something about the website, brochure or direct mail piece, etc. is a little off. "It’s just not quite right," they’ll say with a rueful smile. And so the team tries again — revision after revision.

What was that sound?  It was handcuff slamming shut. There's no escaping the hunt for perfection. In many cases, the piece never gets completed and marketing dollars slowly swirl down the drain.

In the meantime, their prospects and customers wonder why they're being ignored.

Here's the truth. Pretty darn good trumps perfect every time, if it means you get to market faster (or at all) with your message.

Next time you feel your team (or yourself) begin to stall a project because perfection paralysis is taking hold, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does it clearly communicate our key message? (no more than 2-3)
  2. Does it offer some response opportunity? (website, e-mail, phone number, etc.)
  3. Does it protect and respect our brand promise and look/feel?
  4. Is it error-free? (typos, grammar etc.)

If you can answer yes to all 4 — give yourself 24 hours to tweak it if you want and then get it out the door.

Perfect doesn't exist so stop chasing it.


~ Drew


Sometimes you don't need the words

Bigstock-Grandpa-s-Hands-469721_optI have written before how a headline can make or break an ad

But that's only half of the one-two punch you use to get someone to read your marketing messages.

The visuals (photo, illustration, etc) that you use in your print ad, blog post or other marketing piece will also dramatically impact readership and memorability.  (what story does the photo on the right tell you?)

Here are some do’s and don’t of maximizing your visual's effectiveness.

  • Look for story appeal. The man with the eye patch added mystery to the Hathaway shirt advertising for over 20 years.
  • Be simple. One big picture works better than several smaller ones. Avoid clutter.
  • Show the result. One exception to the one picture rule would be before and after shots. This is a great way to demonstrate product superiority.
  • Don’t be afraid to caption your visual. Readership of captions scores very high. If you think adding a caption will really drive home your message – do it.

Your copy can really get into the nitty gritty of your product or service. But, first you have to entice the reader to your copy with headlines and visuals that grab their attention. Don’t waste good copy by mixing it with boring headlines or common visuals.

Instead, grab ‘em and keep ‘em!

What's the most striking visual you've ever seen on a marketing piece or advertisement?


~ Drew

Why would a mobile user be searching for you?

Picture it -- a potential customer of yours is out and about. Suddenly, something strikes them and they reach for their smart phone and launch their browser, searching for your business.


  • Are they bored and wanting to read your team's bios?  I don't think so.
  • Are they wondering if they can download a PDF of your sales brochure? Nope, not on their phone.
  • Do they want to take your quiz, read your white paper or peruse you client list? No, no and no.

They need information. They want to know something specific. And it's probably specific to them being out and about. They might be looking for your phone number. Or your closest location or if you're even open.

Check out what this infographic is telling us. People are evolving how they access the web.  The desktop is losing ground while the mobile device is gaining.

They're on their phone, looking for you. What do they see?


And they're doing this looking while cruising down the road at 45 mph or faster. So what they really want are big buttons that say Call us or Locations or Fast FAQs. They want to be able to quickly and easily find exactly what they need without having to sift through pages and pages of web copy that works perfectly well on your desktop site but just makes the mobile experience more frustrating,

Have you checked out what your website looks like on a smart phone? You really should.  

You should also look at your Google Analytics to see how many of your web hits are coming from a mobile device and how those those mobile devices are staying connected to your site.

If you don't like the news -- maybe it's time to realize that while responsive and adaptive design is easy on you -- it's hardly easy on your mobile visitor.  

You need a mobile optimized website that is built with the browser in mind. Actually....that's what your potential customer needs.

~ Drew

Credit:  Infographic created by Frederic Gonzalo 

Is the romance gone?

DeadRosesAhh, the wooing. The courtship. The attention. The expressions of heartfelt love. A belated Valentine’s Day post? Nope. Just a reminder of how you behaved as you were chasing that potential client.

You remember -- you thought about them all the time. You sent notes and you went out of your way to express your desire to be with them.

It was full on pitching woo.

Until you caught them. Then the romance was over.  No more flowers, candy, late night calls. Now it’s just business as usual. You call them when you need something. But if you're honest with yourself, sometimes when they call you -- you groan and let them go to voice mail.

If this sounds uncomfortably like you — don’t worry. It will all sort itself out. Because sooner or later -- they're going to be the object of someone else's desire....and because you don't make them feel special anymore, leave you behind.

When you lose that client to the competitor who woos them away, you can always turn on the charm and find a new one. And so on and so on…

Or, here’s a novel idea. Keep the romance alive. If you have great clients -- tell them. Appreciate them. A little woo goes a long way.


~ Drew

Integration is where it's at

MarketingRoundWe all know people who seem to have split personalities. They behave one way at work, one way on Friday nights and another way on Sunday mornings. I find it's difficult to trust people who don't live one, integrated life.

I think we react the same way to brands and companies. Part of what creates a sense of trust for us as consumers is consistent, integrated behavior.

That's one of the reasons we've always advocated for an integrated marketing approach. Your traditional marketing tactics should look and feel like they're coming from the same place as your Facebook page, which should match the way you answer your phones which should align with how you handle customer complaints and random tweets.  

It all needs to be seamless, work together and give me a sense of the holistic organization.

That's why I'm recommending people check out a book that is just hitting the shelves called Marketing in the Round by Goeff Livingston and Gina Dietrich. (click here to buy*)

This book is a must-read for every senior marketing, communications, and PR decision-maker.

It's not about social media. Or new (or old) media. It's media agnostic. No matter what media you use (and you should use several) it's about weaving them together so they are all stronger.

When you integrate all of your efforts (beyond marketing by the way) you get:

  • Meaningful metrics and data
  • Messaging that connects and moves customers and prospects to action
  • Consistency that builds trust and trial
  • Removal of clutter and unnecessary noise

This book is like a playbook. The authors get down to the details and show you how to make it happen. They cover strategy, tactics, research and metrics, and a wide array of media options. 

Read it with a pen and paper at your side so you can jot notes and ideas as you go. You'll be glad you did!


*Affiliate link


The best marketing tactic -- doing what you love

On this Sunday morning as some of you may be:

  • Dreading Monday
  • Scouring the want ads
  • Dreaming of actually opening that business you covet
  • Be whistling as you serve customers you love, doing work you love
  • Or something in between

I'd like to remind all of you that we have choices. There's always another path. But everyone deserves to, as my friend Steve Farber puts it, "do what you love in service of people who love what you do."

Think that's not possible for you?

I challenge you to watch this TED presentation as you sip your morning coffee and then find a way.  


There's nothing more infectious than someone who loves their work and the people they serve. That's authentic marketing at its very core.  

I hope this inspires you to stop dreading Mondays and find work that speaks to your soul as well as your bank account.

~ Drew

Top 20 business blogs

Screen shot 2012-04-14 at 9.44.21 PMBusinesses – small and large – are always on the lookout for new tips and techniques on how to improve their business.  Blogs are an excellent resource for ideas, information and tips. 

If you're looking for a daily dose of smarts -- look no further than this list of top 20 business blogs, put together earlier this year. 

The blogs range from names everyone recognizes like Seth GodinTom PetersGuy Kawasaki and Mark Cuban to some less known but very insightful experts like Steve Roesler

I'm honored that my blog, Drew's Marketing Minute is listed among these brilliant business leaders in the #15 slot.  

Why should you subscribe to these blogs and read them every day?

  • Blogs are always fresh -- unlike a book or even a magazine, you're getting today's thinking
  • Blog posts are usually short and sweet -- a dash of smarts in a couple minutes
  • By reading a mix of blogs -- you get a mix of ideas (there's no one right answer)
  • Reading good writing makes you a better writer (even if it's just email or a memo!)
  • There's a reason why these blogs were selected -- consistent quality, engaging authors and usually -- a very active comments section so you can jump into the conversation

If you'd like to read more about these top blogs -- you can download a PDF (click here) and see which ones are a good fit for you.

Enjoy the good reads!

~ Drew

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Your biggest marketing mistake might be in the office next to you

Hiring isn't easy. And even when you hire well -- sometimes people change.  A good employee can morph into a disaster over time.  (Rarely does it go the other way!)

And yet, we're terrible at recognizing when someone has to go.  The other employees see it before we do. Our customers see it before we do.  But we hang in there...hoping we can fix it. Or we dread the new search so much we delay the inevitable.

I have seen it said that the first time you think that you should fire someone... you should. I don't know if I would go to that extreme but most of us allow a bad apple to sour the whole bunch for way too long.

Our employees are a reflection of not only our company, but our company's values, beliefs and attitude about our customers.  If you're not happy with the message one of your employees is expressing -- maybe it's time to stop waffling and defend your brand -- even if it is from an inside attack.

The only saving grace -- you're not alone. I think most business owners and leaders would say they're too slow to fire.  Check out what that indecisiveness costs us.


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Make a promise worth keeping

Bigstock_street_post_with_promises_ave__17171990Most taglines used by businesses today are a cop out.  They feel good but promise nothing unique.

Creating and using a strong tagline takes real courage.  A tagline that will last for decades is one that makes a bold statement or promise.

So what do you need to consider as you evaluate your own tagline? 

A strong tagline makes someone take pause.  It might be the person it’s directed at like – Just Do It. 

Or it might be the employee who has to keep the promise – when it absolutely positively has to be there overnight.  

A memorable tagline should be a bit daunting.  That’s why it’s impressive.  If BMW has told us their cars were a nice ride, would you have remembered?  But who doesn’t want to drive the ultimate driving machine?  Talk about setting high expectations!

An enduring tagline is tied specifically to the product/service:  Another element of a strong, test of time tagline is that we connect it to the company who owns it.  We don’t remember it just because it’s clever.  We remember who said it.  Take this little quiz. Who told us “you deserve a break today” or promised us “we try harder.”

This is where the generic taglines about “our people” and quality lose their steam.  Who doesn’t believe they provide good quality and that their people are dedicated to their jobs?

A memorable tagline tells a story:  In a single sentence, we got the picture when Timex told us “it takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”  We can only imagine what might happen if forgot the warning “don’t leave home without it.”  

We learn through stories.  We teach lessons through stories.  And we buy and sell around stories.  It’s much easier for us to remember a story than straight facts.  Which is why a story telling tagline sticks.

A powerful tagline points out how the product/service is unique:  Who doesn’t know the unique advantage of an M&M?  They “melt in your mouth, not in your hand,” right?  The Marine’s tagline reminds us that they’re very choosy about who they let into their club.  “The few. The proud. The Marines” lets us know that there’s exclusivity to their brand.  

Everyone wants a strong tagline but most businesses are afraid to make a bold promise.  What happens if it doesn’t get there overnight?  Or if the watch breaks?

It’s narrowly focused concerns like that which lead to ineffective, anyone could say that sorts of taglines like “it’s our people.” 

Good marketers understand that a tagline is not an absolute.  It’s inevitable that you’re going to make a mistake or somehow disappoint a customer. 

But that’s part of the brand promise too.  How do you handle it when you fall short?  Smart companies have a well-defined plan in place for how to handle a situation when they haven’t lived up to their brand promise.  When done well – this “apology” can actually reinforce and amplify your brand promise. 

I’m not advocating messing up on purpose, but when handled well, it can actually serve to strengthen the relationship you have with that customer.

What tagline being used today really makes you stop and take notice?


~ Drew McLellan



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Short is sweet

Bigstock_Still_life_of_short_worn_down__12827918I just completed a 4-part webinar series for the State of Iowa's Tourism Division.  

When they first asked me to do it, we talked a lot about what structure would work best for busy marketing professionals/business owners.

Most webinars are 45-90 minutes long but we decided to try something different.  A 30-minute webinar. 20 minutes of presentation and 10 minutes of questions.  

At first, I was a little worried.  Could I pack enough hearty content into such a short time frame?

Turns out -- the answer is yes.  The short timeframe forced me to really hone in on key points and drive them home quickly.  There wasn't room for any fluff or less than stellar content. I also added a homework element so that they could be working on the content all week, in between webinars.

Based on the feedback from each of the four sessions, the participants loved that they could devote 30-45 minutes (I will admit, all of the question portions went longer than 10 minutes) to professional development and then get right back to work. They also liked that the content was chunked rather than provided all at once.

The chunking and shorter timeframes allowed them to absorb each element before taking on the next one.

I think we can take both lessons -- short is sweet and the power of chunking information and look for other places (your website, blog posts, brochures, sales documents, etc) we can apply them.

Where else might you use these techniques?

~ Drew

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Can I feel your joy?

SWAirlinesLet's face it -- we'd prefer to do business with people who are happy doing the work they do. Whether it's the shoeshine guy who whistles while he works, or the accountant who gets giddy at the idea of saving you some money on your taxes -- people who love their work are more enjoyable to work with.

I was flying home this week after a conference and walked by this Southwest Airlines gate. Who wouldn't want to fly with them?

So ask yourself a few questions to see if you exude that kind of passion for your profession:

  1. Do you love what you do?
  2. Do you love who you do it for?
  3. Do they love what you do? (it's a two way street)
  4. Do you show your clients that you're enjoying your work?
  5. Do they know (how do you know they know?) you're excited to help them?

If you answered no to the first two questions -- you need to do some soul searching. Life is short.

If you answered no to the third question -- maybe it's time to re-think how you are earning new customers.

If you answered no to 4 or 5 -- do something about it. Let them feel your love and enthusiasm. I promise you, it's contagious.

~ Drew

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Do you know how to innovate?

Idea_lightbulbAs our world moves quickly away from the Industrial Age into this Technology/Idea Age -- we're being called upon to build something very different than our parents or grandparents did.

Our generation is being asked to create ideas, technologies, new solutions to age old problems -- all of which require us to be innovative.

What does that actually mean?  It means coming up with something new, being creative, coming at problems in a fresh way.  In business it means finding better ways to be valuable to your customers' lives.

A lot of people believe that they're not creative or they can't do that sort of work.  I think that's rubbish.  Everyone has it in them to find new answers.  Or even to ask new questions that lead to new answers.

How do you do it?  I might suggest you read a book I just finished called Innovate Like Edison by Sarah Miller Caldicott. (click here to check out the book*)

In this book, Caldicott identified the five competencies of innovation and then tells stories of how Thomas Edison (said to be the world's greatest innovator) and many modern day thinkers/business leaders exemplified these skills.

They are:

  1. Solution-Centered Mindset: Keeping an unwavering focus on finding solutions. 
  2. Kaleidoscopic Thinking: Juggling multiple projects, generate many ideas and then make creative connections or discern patterns 
  3. Full-Spectrum Engagement: Managing and balancing a massive workload with social life, family and other obligations.
  4. Master Mind Collaboration: Multiplying individual brain power by bringing the right people together.
  5. Super-Value Creation: Targeting all creations to an existing market and provide value to potential customers.

Before you poo poo this as something you don't have to worry about -- consider this recent quote from Seth Godin.

“For 80 years, you got a job, you did what you were told and you retired. People are raised on this idea that if they pay their taxes and do what they’re told, there’s some kind of safety net, or pension plan that’s waiting for them. But the days when people were able to get above average pay for average work are over.

If you’re the average person out there doing average work, there’s going to be someone else out there doing the exact same thing as you, but cheaper. Now that the industrial economy is over, you should forget about doing things just because it’s assigned to you, or “never mind the race to the top, you’ll be racing to the bottom.”

Whether you own the business, push a broom at the business or both -- the world has changed and is demanding that we keep pushing to the top or get out of their way -- because they're going to get there with or without us.

So... looks like it's our time to decide.  Innovate or Irrelevant.

- Drew McLellan

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Learn about marketing lagniappe

PurplegoldfishThose of you who've been in Des Moines for awhile are probably familiar with The Lagniappe, a store located in Valley Junction that sells art, jewelry, gifts and in the last few years, has added the rooftop wine bar.

If you've bought anything there you know that they always toss a little gift or something extra into your bag at the check out.  That's lagniappe.  

The word came into the rich Creole dialect mixture of New Orleans and there acquired a French spelling. Today, it denotes a little bonus that a friendly shopkeeper might add to a purchase. By extension, it may mean "an extra or unexpected gift or benefit."

So what is marketing lagniappe?  That's the question author Stan Phelps posed when he started looking for 1,001 stories of businesses that went above and beyond and did a little something extra for their customers.

The result of his two year search is the just launched book What's Your Purple Goldfish?  As you might expect from an author who has spent 24+ months studying a business model where you give a little -- Stan has made it possible for you to get the book for free. (see below)

This book is more than just a collection of stories.  It is a playbook for your business.  I guarantee you, among the many examples -- you will find plenty to riff off of for your business.  

At MMG we talk a lot about the power of word of mouth.  There's just nothing more influential than having someone you know and trust endorse a product, service or person.  But...people seem to think that just magically happens.  Well, it does not.  You have to be remarkable enough to generate that buzz -- and that doesn't happen by accident.  

This book will help you teach you about the spirit of marketing lagniappe -- and how to bring it to life for your customers.

To get your FREE PDF of the book. Download and read the book here on Scribd. If you enjoy it, Stan invites you to share it with others freely.

If you'd rather have an ebook version (click here to buy) or the paperback (click here to buy) you can do that too.
Either way -- you'll be glad you did.  I promise.
P.S.  I was delighted when Stan asked me to write the forward for this book.  If you'd like to see what I said -- click here.

- Drew McLellan

Your team is your best marketing tool

Bigstock_Teamwork_Connection_529643If you want a powerful, profitable company — create a powerful team.  If you want to create love affairs with your customers — create a passionate team.  If you want to leavea legacy — create a committed team.

Your team.  Nothing reflects on a business owner/leader more than the team they build around them.

So in this world of disposable everything — how do you, with genuine intention, bring that mythical team to life?

Let them have a voice:  There are few things more frustrating than having no control over your environment.  Whether it's how to handle summer hours, what charities your company will support or how a customer service policy should be amended — ask them.  Ask them and listen.

At MMG, 90% of the company decisions are made collectively.  I toss the problem/opportunity on the table and we talk about it.  When we think we've covered all the bases, we find consensus and move forward.  About 10% of the time, it's a decision I feel I have to ultimately make — but I want the team's input first.  So I ask.  And listen. 

Don't be afraid to use the "L" word: My friend Steve Farber teaches us in his brilliant book Radical Leap that the word and the emotion love belong in business.  That there's nothing wrong with loving your team, your clients and your work. In fact, I'd worry if you don't.

Make it mean something:  I don't care what you do — it has a higher purpose.  Jim Collins calls it a big, hairy audacious goal. A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.  If you don't have one….your team needs you to create one.

Celebrate the big and little wins: This doesn't have to be "send the sales force to Vegas" sort of celebrations although there's nothing wrong with those either.  It can be as simple as gathering everyone together for a quick high five.  At MMG, we have a drum that when someone has big news (new client, big project successfully completed etc.) — we bang the drum and everyone comes to the conference room to hear what's up.  It's about taking the moment.  (And we're not always good at it either, so cut yourself some slack…but make it part of your culture!)

Thank them in surprising ways: Again — this doesn't have to be a grand gesture.  Part of the fun of it is the surprise element.  One of the goofier ones that I've done is this simple.  Go buy gift cards for various places (iTunes, restaurants, your local grocery store etc.).  Get enough so you have one for each person on your team.  Then go buy the same number of Pringle's cans of chips.  On the bottom of each Pringle's can — write a number 1- how many ever you bought.   Spread the gift cards all over the conference room table and put all the Pringle's cans in the middle of the table, so no one can read the numbers.

Call in your team and tell them (with love) how proud you are of them or congratulate them on some client accomplishment or whatever.  But…set the mood and tell them why you're doing this.  Then, let each person randomly pick a Pringle's can.  Whoever got the #1 can gets to pick among the gift cards first, etc.

It will take you 10 minutes, but they'll remember it for much longer than that.

Bottom line — building a rock solid team doesn't happen by accident.  It is borne from love, gratitude and sharing a vision that matters.  The good news is — it costs very little and the rewards for you, your team and your clients — is huge!


~ Drew


What will 2012 bring?

In December you can count on snow, nostalgic looks back over the year and the inevitable predictions for the future.  One of the more interesting trends that seems to be garnering quite a bit of chatter is the notion of screen time and how touch screens are going mainstream.

Check out this video by Corning on how we're going to interact differently with glass.  Some of this may seem pretty far out there...but it's right around the corner.



Did you notice how many different ways there were to communicate in this "new" world?  And how many of those could be commandeered for marketing messages?  Pretty soon we'll be using them to order at restaurants, customize merchandise and interact with billboards.  You'll even be able to watch live sports while you grocery shop. (check it out here)

What does all of this mean to the average business owner?  It means that technology is continuing to change consumers' expectations and experiences.  And you need to start asking yourself these sorts of questions if you don't want to be left behind:

  1. How can I leverage interactive screens/technology to serve my clients better?
  2. Can we gain efficiencies by replacing human operated systems/processed with interactive programming?
  3. How could I capture some of the screen real estate my customers look at every day by offering something of unique value?
  4. Are there elements of my clients' online experiences that I could bring into my/their physical space?

While some of this still feels a little Jetson-esque (if you're under 30, Google it), it's actually right around the corner.  And there's market advantage to be had by those who are smart enough to jump on this moving train.

~ Drew

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