Monthly Archives: January 2010

Where Does Superman Change Clothes These Days?

Recently Forbes published an article listing the companies that will continue shutting down operations in 2010.  The list has some well known brands: Blockbuster, Starbucks, Walden Books, Ritz Camera and Zales to name a few.  And, while all of these companies share in their financial crisis – only some will see the light of day again as disposable incomes peek out of the darkness of the recession.

People will buy coffee again.  Men will purchase jewelry again for their wives, girlfriends and mothers. 

Other industries have faced their ‘music’ so to speak as Internet enhancing technology proliferates.  Fundamental changes have been occurring for some time – no surprises.  The music industry with plummeting CD sales and rising piracy issues had to get clever and quick to save itself – and is still struggling with the paradigm shift.  And, who would ever think of buying a car without being armed with manufacturing costs, dealer mark-up data and blue book value of that trade-in? 

The playing field has changed – yet, again. What won’t we do anymore? 

We won’t drive to a physical location and browse the aisles in search of the latest release only to find it ‘taken’.  Not when we can download, immediately, at no extra cost, from the likes of NetFlix.

We won’t accept anything less than ‘killer-category’ inventory and bargain pricing for our written word – physical or E.  And, if we’re going to visit a bookstore it has more to do with the social opportunities – complete with coffee and live music.

We won’t print out hundreds and hundreds of 4×5’s and spend countless hours placing them in albums that take up valuable space and never get looked at.  Not when endless slide shows can play dust-free with minimal foot print.

So while Forbes’ list places the majority of the blame on the economic climate culprit – and, there’s no question that it is a contributing factor – the reality is that time has passed by the likes of the Blockbusters, Walden Books and Ritz Cameras of the world.  We no more need them than we need a public phone booth (although this has proven tricky for Superman) or a cigarette lighter at a concert. 

And while we’re no longer allowed those annoying phone busy signals to let the world know we’re unavailable, I still hope you have a little time to spend on the MarketingSmack: www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com or visit us at www.summitstrategypartners.com.

Go Ask Lisa.

While I want to say I’m above it all, not enticed by the opportunities so abundantly provided to us by entertainers and politicians, I am not.  Today’s blog was inspired from a phone call I had last week with a dear childhood friend while on my way to a networking event.  She was actually delivering a message from her mother “You need to blog about your Lisa Druck story.” 

Who is Lisa Druck and why is she someone I should blog about?

John Edward’s dalliance, Rielle Hunter or Lisa as we fellow elementary school classmates called her, was in my fourth grade class at Pine Crest Preparatory in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  She was super cool, wore make-up and didn’t succumb to the traditional white blouse under the forest green jumper uniform, so we all knew she wore a bra because we could sneak peak it from the side.  I coveted her brand – I wanted to be her.

I remember distinctly that for our big fourth grade book report assignment, Lisa read and discussed with poise and a sophisticated flair “Go Ask Alice” – a far cry from my “Harriet the Spy”. Her report clearly showcased a ‘naughty’ book that fascinated me, so I requested that my mom find, check-out and bring me a copy of it from the high school library, since any efforts to locate it in my lower school library were futile.

My mom, to whom English is a second language, dutifully sought out the book and upon check-out was questioned by her counterpart librarian as to who was going to read the book.  Needless to say, I never got my pudgy, fourth-grader paws on it.  It didn’t stop there.

“You MAY NOT be friends with Lisa Druck” – even in a heavy Spanish-laden accent, the message was crystal clear.

Can a nine year old develop a personal brand or did circumstances create it for her?  Did Lisa turn Rielle just continue to show up in the way that aligned with how she was perceived?

Everyone and every company has a brand; in some cases – and I bet it happens more often than not – that brand isn’t strategically constructed and managed.  The problem is that brands are enduring; even the bad ones.  Take Microsoft for instance; they’re well known for being stodgy and not innovative.  I doubt they like that.  I know they try hard to get us to believe something else.  Is that possible?  Can you re-invent a brand? 

With enough money, talent and perseverance you can.  Look at Target’s rise from K-Mart-type discount store status in the late 90’s and Chrysler’s recent logo re-fresh and “My Name is Ram” campaign to re-introduce the brand to truck lovers. But, it takes money and diligence.

And, while for some name changes – either company or personal – are attempted often in the hopes of brand resurrection, all bets are off if you don’t strategically develop and consistently maintain it.

MarketingSmack by any other name is still Jack’s blog: www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com or visit us at www.summitstrategypartners.com.

Fish in a Barrel

I think it’s safe to say that in today’s environment almost everyone is frantically shucking oysters in search of that pearl – me included.  In that vein I attended the Triangle Business Advisors’ Round Table this past Friday.  I took note of this event on LinkedIn via one of my connections – an individual who happens to also be a business owner.  There were several professionals attending that I did not know and the topic – “Defining Your Target Market” interested me. In the world of ‘too many ways to spend your time’ I figured this one gave me extra bang for the buck – fresh meat and the potential to learn something, maybe.  Oh, and it was buck-less.

Trifecta!

The experience was well worth the investment.  While I didn’t necessarily gain academically from the discussion on target market, I did experience a brilliant implementation of pond stocking.  The discussion took place in the offices of one of the attendees – who rented or donated the crowded conference room – not sure which. 

When Bill Davis declared that his target market was limited to a five mile radius of his office space it was all I could do not to guffaw loudly and retort – “Don’t you mean a five foot radius?”  Whether we drove 5 or 50 miles that morning to attend the round table didn’t matter.  We were sitting on his home turf, literally feet away from his solution to our pain. 

Open Season.

Now the question is does he have the right bait? 

Bill has his version of the multi-billion dollar Subway $5 Foot-long campaign and it resonates with the hungry, self-selected, crowd.  Bill, and I know only after a five minute conversation with him that it was no accident, cleverly filled his conference room with HIS TARGET MARKET – individual consultants or owners of small business ALL looking to survive in the short-term and thrive…..eventually. 

I have been reminded recently by my readers that we who put a stake in the ground when we brand ourselves are not brave – but and I paraphrase ‘stupid’.  We just don’t know better – we don’t know or won’t admit that less than 20% of us will see the five year mark.  Here we were – a room full of ‘the stupids’ ready to hear Bill’s promise of 100 Days to Abundance(For $1 Day’)

While you can’t share it with a Coke and conversation over lunch it’s a pretty juicy worm ‘more product for less dollar’ value proposition.  One that is clearly ‘catching on’ because there were several of his clients present at the round table.  Not to be too cynical – but they would serve him better by staying out of the water – or he will need to dig out a bigger pond. 

Hook your latest MarketingSmack snack on: www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com or visit us at www.summitstrategypartners.com.

Caveat Emptor: I have not participated in Bill’s program and cannot attest to the content, quality or results.

The Coconut Telegraph

“Put it on the coconut telegraph
All the celebration and the stress
Baby put it on the coconut telegraph
In twenty-five words or less”- Jimmy Buffet

In today’s world we get a minimum of 140 characters which on average is about 23 words or less.  And, maybe if there was only one conduit we’d be alright but the reality is that we are lousy with vehicles by which to celebrate and to stress. 

Up until recently, my MarketingSmack has been living a non-celebrated existence – every now and again germinating a comment.   I have been diligently writing the Smack for a year now – searching for ways to entertain, provoke thought, provide insight and promote ME.  Somewhere in the last month or so I hit a chord with my readers and the conversation took on a life of its own.  My readership doubled and comments where flying all over the place. 

And, I do mean ALL OVER THE PLACE….LinkedIn Groups, FaceBook, MarketingSmack, Twitter, my inbox…….    

Fantastic, right? 

With this new, what I hope to be true, ‘tipping point’ comes a whole new set of problems. 

While I enjoyed being notified every time a comment was made through the various vehicles that were hosting the discussion, some of my readers sent me ‘venting’ frustrated emails or voicemails because they could NOT enjoy the heated debate.  They read there was one going on – but the MarketingSmack fell short in meeting their expectations. 

The comments were happening but not ending up on my MarketingSmack site.  I didn’t see this coming.  Now I find myself wondering just how unforgivable is my social media faux pas.

On the one hand, it’s remarkable to actually snag a tiny piece of mindshare, generate a buzz – to get people talking about you/your ideas, or your products/services.  But, how critical is it that the conversations take place or end up in the same place?  And, if it is – how do you make that happen? 

Interestingly enough the adage seek and ye shall find had me stumble across Andrew Girdwood’s blog today Free your blog comments from SEO and improve your SEO”   He details nicely three competing hosted web services; ECHO, Disqus and Intense Debate.  I think Andrew does a great job of explaining the three – pros and cons.  I now find myself in the throes of choosing my preferred version of the Coconut Telegraph – where all those conversations – even the ones that aren’t so flattering – can find refuge.

MarketingSmack can be found on: www.marketingsmack.wordpress.com or visit us at www.summitstrategypartners.com.