Archives: Marketing

I like Blackwings…

I like Blackwing pencils. They write very smoothly. They can’t roll off a table. The pencils have their own slogan, “Half the pressure, twice the speed.” You can even replace the eraser. All of that is great.

The reason I really like them is the story behind the company. No, I’m not going to tell you the story. You’ll have to go here to find out about it.

Including stories in your writing and public speaking makes a big difference. Stories make things interesting and sell.

Stories make a difference…even with pencils.

A Tale of Two Webinars

In the past few days, I sat through two photo related webinars. They were very different.

The first was an hour long advertisement. None of the information gained can be used without their products. According to the online info, about 8 people (including me) were listening to the webinar. I’d guess few bought the product that was being sold.

The second was an hour long collection of immediately useful information. If I were a young photographer I would have learned a lot about photography in a very short time. It provided practical information that could be used immediately. At the end of the hour, they did suggest taking their online course that seemed to be equally useful for a young photographer. I would have signed up for it immediately. Incidentally, according to the online info, more than 600 people were listening to the webinar. I’m sure that many signed on for the course.

The moral…sell less and provide more free…useful…information.

Marketing Advice from Lucy, Ralph, and George

The Web’s evolution as a medium of communications reminds me of how another communications medium started out too…television. Some of the evolution that took place almost 60 years ago may be applicable to the Web today. Three of the legends of early television may have relevant help for us. Here are some Web tips from Lucy, Ralph and George.

Early television experimented with formats. In the beginning, only one camera was used. Later on two, and finally three became the standard. If you look at early episodes of I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners and Burns and Allen, you’ll see how much could be done with simple camera setups. Perhaps Web designers, who think that using the latest plug-ins is effective, might learn a little from those old techniques.

Lucy, Ralph and George (Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, and George Burns, respectively) also might serve as models for what they said. They all used comedy. Perhaps more Web sites should include some humor. Another aspect of their comedy was that they didn’t use, or apparently need, profanity. Good clean fun was what they were able to achieve.

The story lines on each show were also simple. There were usually only the regulars who appeared…only four per show. They kept the story short (half-hour segments) and simple. Folks could understand the plot, and it would be over within the attention span of most viewers.

Another good point for Web creators…simple and short makes sense.

Another aspect of the old time television shows was that they were in black and white. As photographers like Ansel Adams would prove, black and white works. Colors often divert attention away from the content that you are trying to achieve on the Web. Dazzling sites may only be remembered for the glitz, not the message.

When creating a Web site it may be a good idea to remember these communications pioneers. Their programs are still being viewed.

Although it may appear that I’m a bit old fashioned in my taste (which I usually am), it’s also good to remember that some old-fashioned concepts are equally valid today. Learning from the past can save a lot of time, effort and even money.

Unlikely Ways to Enhance Your Social Media

Enhancing your social media is an ongoing task. Adaptation is the key word for using any help you may come upon. The trick is to look at something that has nothing to do with your own situation and apply some useful quality to yourself.

Here are five suggestions…

1. Watch television…with the sound turned off.

After watching television without the sound you will really “see” how television is made. You will notice that each camera shot only stays on the screen for three to eight seconds. Images shift very frequently. That’s why websites, Facebook pages, Tweets, etc., to be competitive, need the ability to catch and hold the attention of the viewer.

2. Watch professional wrestling.

I know it’s fake. I also know that it appeals to the raunchy side of life. However, it isn’t what you think it is…at least not anymore.

When I was younger (a hundred years ago) my father and I would watch wrestling and actually see wrestling. Two men (usually) would go into combat and one would win. Now, the wrestling part actually takes up a relatively small segment of the time. It’s more like a soap opera. There are intertwining stories of conflict between
factions and individuals. In other words…they are able to get viewers back to see the “next” episode.

Does your Web site have elements built into it that will get viewers
back to your site? Do your Twitter followers actually look for your next tweet? Do your Instagram followers comment on your posts?

3. Listen to Edward Bear.

It’s not often we hear someone suggest that you follow a “bear with a very little brain” but, that’s exactly what I’m suggesting that you do. Edward Bear, the “real” name of Winnie the Pooh, came to life almost 100 years ago. Disney is still making a lot of money from him today.

Sometimes it pays to look back at the old ways and come up with new products or services. Originally, Pooh came to life in a series of books. Now, he’s the subject of cartoons, books (I love the one called “The Pooh Book of Quotations”), and much more.

4. Fighting May Help.

Would you believe that there’s a married couple who actually gets paid to fight…with swords? Yep, there’s a site that you can turn to at to find out about Mike Sakuta and his wife Nicole Harsch, who are professional sword fighters.

They have choreographed theatrical fighting scenes and appear at festivals. What does this have to do with social media…everything! Sometimes your unusual interest may spill over to a real business opportunity. In addition to the sword fighting, they also offer swords for sale. Interesting niche!

5. Visit a Dog Show.

My wife and I have been interested in show dogs for many years. One of the qualities I like best about the sport is the way dogs are judged. Several dogs go into the ring at once and the judge is supposed to evaluate them with the ideal dog (for a given breed) in mind. That’s very difficult to do. Some judges look for faults.
Others look at good qualities. Some days you win and some days you go home very unhappy.

You should, however, learn from each experience. If you know what qualities a certain judge (or your best customer) is looking for, you know next time whether it pays to enter under a particular judge. In social media, it’s fine to experiment and then alter what you have done. What you think is the best thing to do may not be. Let the market…your viewers…have some input. They may teach you a little about making a better site.

That’s five different places to look at the world…a little bit differently. There are a zillion of them out there. Look!


Ben Franklin’s Views of the Web and … Today’s Business

Although Ben Franklin lived a few years before the Web started, many of his observations can be applied to the Internet today. Here is an ”interview” with Franklin, using his own words.

Joel: Mr. Franklin, how can we help those who don’t seem to want to work hard and follow common sense when it comes to starting a Web business?
Ben: They that will not be counseled, cannot be helped. If you do not hear reason she will rap you on the knuckles.

Joel: Can one read a book and succeed in business?
Ben: Read much, but not many books.

Joel: Should a person mortgage their house if they think that they have a great business idea and go for it?
Ben: If you can’t pay for a thing, don’t buy it. If you can’t get paid for it, don’t sell it.

Joel: What about the speed that things are changing now, if that bad?
Ben: When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.

Joel: How do you know when you have a good idea in business?
Ben: If passion drives you, let reason hold the rein.

Joel: How much does luck have to play in business success?
Ben: Diligence is the mother of good luck.

Joel: What about those who are deceptive in business?
Ben: Tricks and treachery are the practice of fools, that don’t have
brains enough to be honest.

Joel: Should one go with the latest software, gimmick, or advice?
Ben: Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.

Joel: What about business failure? Many fear it.
Ben: The things which hurt, instruct.

Joel: How important is it to be rich?
Ben: Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.

Much of what Franklin said still applies to us today, on and off the Web.

Marketing, PR, and Advertising all start with a white sheet…

Imagine living in an apartment and you create your own product. You know that everyone should buy it. You call up your Mom and tell her. She’s so proud. The problem is that no one comes to your apartment to buy it. Why? No one knows about it.

So you get a great idea. You paint a big sign, on a white sheet, that announces your product. You hang the sheet outside your windows so it can be seen on the street. Two guys knock on the door asking to see your product. A few more come in the next day.

By the third day, they tell some of their friends. You get more customers.

Before you know it, you’ve got a hit.

Print ads, TV time, social media, mailings and stuff like that work too. The more folks who know about you and your product the better. If only you and your Mom know about it, you will not sell a thing.

It all starts with a white sheet.