People are full of surprises

I was sitting in my client’s office enthusiastically pitching my Oldies station.  Tom was a car dealer and if I was going to get the sale, I had to be enthusiastic, focused, creative and brief.  He would always greet me warmly but gruffly – usually saying “Not Gonna Buy any Radio today,” as we sat down and started chatting. Like many other days, he wound up being wrong.

I had written him a jingle a year or so earlier and would take him commercial ideas that would fit with the musical image we had created.  As I was presenting that day, I could see he had flipped over my one page pitch-sheet and was frantically doodling…making long, sweeping pen strokes and occasionally looking at me – all while I was telling him how great WKLR was and how many cars we could sell for him.  I think he was still listening; mainly because he DID wind up spending at least  $3,500 in ads that day.  And, that was a nice sale for a two week schedule in July 1991 – 25 years ago this month.

I came across this – and, the two-week schedule for “1991 Model Year Clearance” on the flip side – as I was cleaning out some old files this weekend.  It’s on WKLR letterhead dated July 8, 1991.

"Drawn as Quickly as Mike does a commercial."
“Drawn as Quickly as Mike does a commercial.”

So,  I came away with both a sale and a pretty good sketch of myself.  Tom Catterson was a great guy.  I remember him for being good to his employees at Eastgate Chrysler – and anonymously good to the community.  Even when he wasn’t an active client, he was always a gentleman to me in an industry with more than its fair share of petty jerks.

In addition to all his other traits, I also learned that day that he was a pretty good impromptu sketch artist as well. Tom died from cancer in 1999.  July, actually.  While I attended his visitation, I never had the opportunity to tell his daughters how much I thought of him…or show them this sketch and tell them how special it was to me.

How, to this day, this sketch makes me smile and fondly remember their dad.

New TV Ads for Great Client

I am a huge proponent of video as a tool in marketing businesses.  Video helps to better communicate the unique values of those businesses in terms of what they have to offer consumers.  Not only do SHOWCASE VIDEOS have inherent communication value , I always recommend amassing durable video assets for clients because of the utility they offer for future application.

Case in point: high production costs had always been perceived to be an objection to a particular client when it came to using TV ads to promote their business.  While they believe heavily in marketing their business with video when it comes to their website and internet marketing , good TV-ads seemed cost prohibitive in the whole scheme of things and it  limited their interest in broadcast advertising.

Our approach at Brand-MD was to re-purpose as many video assets as possible jump-start our creative direction and minimize the amount of new video footage required to create new TV ads.  All of the “on-location” video elements in these TV spots were gleaned from existing longer-form Showcase Videos and sales presentation materials.

New TV Ads for Great Client

Accumulating Marketing Assets

We rarely create a new asset without taking into account which assets can be utilized and re-purposed; it saves production costs – and, it better amplifies the existing theme or elements – building increased repetition and familiarity.

You will note – new graphics and price points tie into changing monthly promotional themes.  On screen graphics help to better emphasize points not covered in the voiceovers – audio narration is changed monthly for a nominal fee.

A big trend we like and are starting to see almost everywhere: aerial drone footage.  It shows the “big picture” and helps massive businesses LOOK as big as they actually are.  We suggest spending smartly in this area – the better the provider the longer usable shelf life this video asset will have.

Free Coffee. Free Cash.

Look around any Starbucks, Paradise Bakery/Café and even some remodeled McDonald’s and it doesn’t take long to spot the entrepreneur or the budding business consultancy owner. Guilty as charged. An associate once said to me “I know the coffee is expensive – but, it’s whole lot cheaper than paying office rent somewhere.”

Lots of small businesses must agree.  This is the new small-business paradigm and apparently some B2B marketers have become very savvy to it. Case in point: Lake City Bank not only bought my coffee this morning at the North Meridian Paradise – but, the barista behind the counter handed me a free sample: an actual dollar bill with promo message attached.

Free Coffee Free MoneyHe actually did a great job communicating with me with a :10-:15 second greeting that was sincere and felt spontaneous – although I am sure he was reciting it for the 300th time. “Today is your lucky day. Lake City Bank is treating you to coffee this morning and I have a free sample for you as well courtesy of Lake City Bank,” he said.

Having deftly delivered his message, he handed me my cup, a flyer with business cards attached and what looked like an amazingly accurate facsimile of a US One Dollar bill with a “coupon” attached.  It was an actual freshly pressed dollar. He assured me the money was real and mine to keep – or, I can return to the bank for an incentive aimed specifically at small businesses – like me.

Free Coffee.  Free Cash.

It was a simple and affordable impression that probably cost the bank $3-4 for a very TARGETED introduction.  Free money and free coffee in a target-rich business environment will likely be an effective promotional strategy. While I have seen their signs and have a vague idea of who they are, I am now more aware of their business and even feel a little indebted to them as well.

It reminded of key questions I should be continually asking for my clients:

  • Where do their best customers spend their time?
  • How do we speak to them and relate to them “where they live”?
  • What are unconventional ways in which we can connect with them?
  • How do we break thru the clutter and make a unique and lasting impression?

Thanks for the coffee and thanks for the free money. And, thanks for reminding me what a nice, simple  promotional effort looks like. The whole exchange reminds me of how important is to create a relationship and possibly even make friends before you ask someone to be a customer.

Marketing your business with Video

One of the hottest trends we have experienced recently in internet and website marketing is the incredibly productive growth of Video. Marketing your business with Video is no longer a niche activity for businesses and consumers – – online video has gone mainstream in a big way.

Marketing your business with Video - Video Marketing.Marketing via video is currently transcending devices – desktop, tablet, mobile – and, giving businesses the benefit of better brand recall and enhanced likability.

I am a firm believer that not all impressions are equal;  video impressions can count for more than words and images alone. The pool of data is hard to dispute:

  • 89 million people in the United States will watch 1.2 billion online videos today. (Comscore)
  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month spending more than 4 billion hours watching videos (YouTube)
  • Online Video users are expected to double to 1.5 billion in 2016. (Cisco)
  • 52 Percent of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in online purchase decisions (Invodo)
  • Globally, online video traffic will account for 55 percent of all consumer internet traffic by 2016. (Cisco)

In the final analysis of consumer behavior, people decide to do business with people they know, like and trust.  Video enhances that process and allows potential consumers to make value judgments based upon the content and style of your on-line videos. Videos can dramatically increase both likability and recognition.

What Kind of Videos should you develop and use?

We think videos that address your marketing needs fall into three broad categories:

  1. SHOWCASE VIDEOS. This is a longer form video that tells a brand story. These are “brochure” videos and have a long shelf life.
  2. WORK HORSE VIDEOS. These can take the form of customer testimonials, customer training and FAQ’s, how-to’s, best practices. These focus on single aspects of a larger picture. These are great videos for Social Sharing – and, should be a permanent asset on your website due to their helpful and educating content.
  3. PROMOTIONAL and SOCIAL. These have limited shelf life and are designed for posting to social media. They are great for promoting events or limited time situations. They are meant to be easily shared socially and disseminated among fans and interested parties.

No matter what kind of video you might consider for your business,  video content will be a tool for your longer-term content strategy.  They help to create a library of your expertise and will establish you and your company as topic experts in your field.   They are a great assets to aid in on-line search as well.

Remembering Fred Gallico. Follow the Sun.

In true “guy” fashion – I could go 4 months without talking to Fred and we picked up where we left off. When John Seneff called last Thursday morning, I couldn’t process what he was saying.  Fred?  So quickly?

How? Why? It makes no sense.

I counted him as one of my closer friends. I am discovering he made many people feel that way…

Fred and Bart
Fred and Bart

Our friendship started in earnest when management paired us as roommates on the infamous WFMS Bahamas Sales Cruise of early 2001. I discovered I was in the presence of greatness when it came to wry wit and sharp, fast and intelligent come-backs. I remember him trying some line on one of the women we met – and, she said “I bet you say that to all the women on this cruise.” Without hesitating he sincerely looked her right in the eye and said, “There are other women on this ship? I hadn’t noticed”. Vintage Fred.

What does it say about our friendship that we worked with each other at THREE DIFFERENT Radio Companies? I was usually asked to leave. Fred never wore out his welcome anywhere because he was a good team member….a good man to have around. He didn’t divide staffs or argue about accounts or fixate on petty things. He built relationships with people and tried to make things better. Tried to help many around him.

Big or small – he was there for me. Nobody to get me to the airport? Fred did it. I had eye surgery once and nobody was available to drive me home. Fred was there. We need a guy for one of Denise’s’ friends. Call Fred. Holiday party at the house. A gathering before going to see the Meatball Band…friends would remark afterward…..”I talked to your friend, Fred….I liked that Fred…..funny…interesting… he’s a good guy.”

When it was just the two of us, we talked about the things we had in common…Radio, women, divorces, our kids – and, almost always music and photography. I understood those last two – but, could not hold a candle to Fred’s innate talent and his work ethic at wanting to improve his skills.

Fred worked hard on the things he wanted to be good at. He was always studying photography techniques and ideas…was a student of lighting and how it influenced good photos. He would watch online videos about lighting, ask questions in on-line forums and correspond with experts. He experimented – he wanted to be good at it and was willing to work.

He worked hard on music, too. So much so that he taught guitar at one point in his life. Years ago, when I went to see him perform, I was blown away by how good he was. He took himself lightly. No hint of ego. He made it look easy – but, I know he worked hard to become the talent he was in music.

One night we delved deeply into the subject of music over dinner. (I had something like a blue cheese burger with bacon at TG Alibi’s– and, he had a salad and only one beer because he was going to run later!) The topic involved the Beatles. We agreed on not only the lyrical genius of Lennon and McCartney – but, their compositional genius as well. Fred thought that “I’ll Follow the Sun” was an example of truly great composition. It was simple but complex and innovative…with a gentle guitar solo. It was a strong piece of writing, especially when compared to their early one, four, five progressions. (The rockers are with me!)

Part of the genius we identified: Not only do the lyrics of the refrain mourn the change in the relationship -but, the supporting chord structure is in synch with that lyrical transition. It shifts from major key, happy and confident – to minor feel, sad and ominous with a need for resolution. …then, back to major again:

“And now the time has come, and so, my love I must go
And Though I lose a friend, in the end you will know. Oh….
One Day you’ll find that I have gone
But, tomorrow may rain so, I’ll follow the sun”

I swear we talked about this. … but, not the part about losing a friend. I try to think of our friendship in those happier, major chords. As I look ahead, the future is tough to embrace with the minor chords I feel at this moment. It is difficult to “follow the sun”

People say that time heals the hurt you feel when you lose someone. Maybe, but only partially.  Things get better and the pace of our lives resume – but, things are never quite “the same”. I will want to call him and pick up where we left off. That part of our lives has changed forever. There will always be a hole in our lives to contend with. It is a void shaped a lot like Fred.

You will see Fred’s face in your mind or hear his voice in your head and you will smile. You hear a guitar riff or see an awesome photograph…there’s Fred. We search for comfort knowing we are better people for having spent time with him and richer to have shared in both his passions and his fears. Although we will miss him greatly, we are better and happier humans for having known him.

LinkedIN Company Pages. Why Not!

Ideas on the Value of LinkedIN Company Pages

A client asked the other day to explain the value of LinkedIN Company pages.  I was so enthralled by the words I wrote,  I decided it was a decent blog post.
Are LinkedIN Company Pages right for you?Some sources claim LinkedIN has well over 200 million worldwide members.   Other research sources claim the United States alone has nearly 85 million of those users (November 2013) and that 27% of the entire adult population is actively using the business-networking platform.

LinkedIn allows a company to join and create LinkedIN Company Pages. These profiles consist of a company summary including a business overview, available jobs, employees who work at the company and even testimonials from customers and clients about products and services offered.

Having a LinkedIn company profile offers an organization additional exposure at no cost – in the areas of:

  • Marketing.   Listing of relevant company information including size, mission statement and specialties are all open to public users of LinkedIN.  A list of employees’ LinkedIN profiles can be included if each employee has an individual LinkedIN profile published.  This can provide potential customers the opportunity to determine if they are already connected to any of your employees – for reference or informational purposes.
  • Sourcing.  Having a company profile gives people the opportunity to learn more about your key products and unique services.  This has marketing benefits from a search perspective.  Users can utilize searching functions to identify potential sources of services – and find BDA without necessarily knowing you by name.
  • Partnerships.  Having a company page allows people to follow your business and provide testimonials about products, services and people.
  • Search Engine Optimization.  Having a LinkedIN company page has the potential to push your company name higher in the search engine rankings – this according to  LinkedIN is considered to have strong “authority” with Google and the other major search engines.  Company profiles should also link to key blog posts – further strengthening SEO connectivity.
  • Recruitment.  Many companies choose LinkedIN as a primary source on employee recruitment.  By definition, the medium is able to put messages in front of “like-minded-people” who either are prime prospects – or, can refer the opening to prime prospects within their network of connections.

Never underestimate the number of times each day that potential customers “check-you-out” to see if they know someone…who knows someone….who knows something about your business.  Besides, what company couldn’t stand a little more help in ALL of the above areas of your marketing?

Turning up the Brand Volume

It is crucial to get noticed at trade shows and selling events. There are a ton of innovative and creative ways to make lasting impressions in competitive selling situations. We suggest Turning up the Brand Volume.  Here’s some of what we have been up to.

Turning up the Brand Volume

Sales displays, event banner and flags, video production and brand and directional signage.  If you want more information – hit me with an email.

They weren’t interested?

Back at one point in my life when I was a sales manager, it was standard departmental  practice for sales reps to fill out a daily call sheet  – highlighting and prioritizing their client contacts and providing brief descriptions of the call.  I had a rep who would consistently write “not interested” in the portion of the form that asked for follow-up and the potential of the prospect-call.

I brought to his attention that “not interested” was becoming the norm on his call sheet – and, I asked him (jokingly, I thought) – “Have you ever considered that they are not interest-ED…because you are not interest-ING?”

He left the next month to be a camera operator at the local TV station.

Above all on Social Media – – BE INTERESTING!


Relevant Social Content: More Important Than Ever

In Google’s most recent Penguin update, their weighing priorities place a whole lot less emphasis on links.  Google now seems to believe that if you promote content with social media it is more indicative of relevant content and less likely to be faked.  Apparently, these social links are thought to be harder to fake than other links.

In his recent article entitled “The Death of SEO: The Rise of  Social, PR, and Real Content”, author Ken Krogue summarized many of the changes and made a point that really caught my attention:

  • The bottom line is that all external SEO efforts are counterfeit other than one: Writing, designing, recording, or videoing real and relevant content that benefits those who search.”

How many times have we heard that Content IS King?  He posits that “Real Content” is truly the foundation of strong SEO as the target for search success continues to evolve.

I am continually reminding clients of the need to produce content for their sites…Social media, specials, blogs, how-to’s, videos, thought pieces….and, the conversation always ends up here –

“I know we need to produce content – but, what do we write about?”

In his article, Krogue listed the following approach for creating “Real” content.  I love this checklist so much; I may have this tattooed on my forearm.


1) Research important questions.
2) List good / bad examples.
3) Passionately tell a story.
4) Highlight recent trends.
5) Survey best practices.
6) Compile proven tips.
7) Point out a problem.
8) Recognize who.
9) List what.
10) Warn when.
11) Show where.
12) Debate why.
13) Demonstrate how.
14) State the so what?

With a business to run, it is a difficult task for many of my clients, – but, content creation is a service we gladly tier into our monthly agreements.  We create and publish the content and then refine and re-purpose it across several social platforms.  It is a vital and necessary component of today’s successful SEO and will make a huge difference in a site’s connectivity, relevance and ranking.

Link here to the 2-part article.

My business stinks. I’m Going to Sue.

Did you notice this in the news the other day? It had to happen. Freshly minted – but, currently unemployed attorneys are suing their law schools for misleading advertising. They are wondering – “Where are the jobs we were promised?”

Assuming the role of the victim is an all-too-common form of blame-storming in today’s American culture. I imagine most of these lawyers have monster loans to repay. While I empathize, it chafes me that these “best and brightest” want to blame the “misleading advertising” of their chosen law school as THE reason their career has flat-lined.

Did these novice barristers have a post-graduation business plan? Any concrete marketing objectives? Contingency plans when big firms failed to hire them? I am guessing, not. The big job and the big money would certainly follow the degree…right?

This reminds me of the “build it and they will come” mindset. We often encounter this type of thinking when elaborate or expensive business websites are constructed – and, no plans are created to actually help consumers find them.

To be fair, I have always found it impossible to tell an attorney anything. Even about a topic on which they are clueless. I remember a time about 11-12 years ago when, as an aggressive radio sales rep, I posited that attorneys would be a very lucrative business category for me to target. I did my research, made lists, wrote compelling letters and followed up with phone calls to office managers and senior partners. Nada.

One partner, clearly smarter than me, found the topic totally distasteful; they were “above” such lowly tactics as advertising to build a client base. “We would never consider advertising,” and I was dismissed.

Is it irony or progress that a business associate recently told me this particular firm had invested nearly $100k in video, audio and website production – and, spent more than that annually in broadcast media? For an industry group full of arrogant know-it-alls, I have to hand it to that firm. Things do change. You have to adapt.

To those attorneys doing the suing – and any other business experiencing a business trajectory that is heading down the crap-hole –

• Do you have an intelligible website?
• Is it a relevant source of information for seekers?
• Have you invested some resources in promoting your brand?
• What have you done to get your site FOUND by the major search engines?

THESE are today’s basics for marketing any business. Are you doing them?

And, if not, consider this. Is there someone you can SUE so you don’t have to take responsibility for the condition of your business?