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September 30, 2010

The Macro Appeal of microMARKETING

As a social media marketer with Powered, Greg Verdino recommends "micromarketing" strategies to clients. In his book, microMARKETING, Greg shares with all of us his thinking behind why marketers need to shift our actions from mass to micro in order to realize the benefits of "tapping into the power of the few to reach to the many" through using social media.

To help promote his book, Greg is "tapping into the power of the few to reach to the many" by having 20 or so bloggers post chapter-by-chapter reviews. (More details here.) I'm reviewing chapter 9, From the One Big Thing to the Right Small Things.


To illustrate this point, Greg tells us the Cinderella story of Lauren Luke, a self-taught make-up artist.

In 2007, Lauren worked as a taxi dispatcher by day and as an eBay entrepreneur by night selling makeup brushes. To promote her brushes, Lauren started posting make-up tutorials on YouTube. Her most viewed tutorial shows how to get the smoky eye look made popular by Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" video. That one video tutorial has nearly 4-million views today and has forever changed Lauren's life.

Soon after posting the Leona Lewis smoky eye tutorial video, Lauren caught the attention of a marketing company who pitched the idea of starting a By Lauren Luke cosmetic product line. In 2009, Sephora, a big-time national cosmetics store chain, began selling the By Lauren Luke cosmetics line.

A Cinderella story indeed... but let's look at this from a different angle.

Thanks to social media, Lauren Luke was able to go from small-time to big-time. And thanks to social media, big-time companies can regain their small and meaningful connections with customers. As I've said before...

Social media helps small companies look bigger and helps big companies get smaller. Meaning, a small company can have a big presence online with customers through using social media. Conversely, a big company can get ‘smaller’ because social media connects companies to customers on a very personal level.” -- JOHN MOORE

In the pages of microMARKETING, Greg Verdino identifies "seven shifts" happening in marketing because of social media. He shares examples how small companies, like By Lauren Luke, are using smartly using these "seven shifts" brought on by social media to look bigger.

Interestingly, these "seven shifts" Verdino has identified can also be used by big companies to get smaller by being more personal with customers.

Verdino shows how Coca-Cola gets smaller in customers' eyes/minds through social media using its Facebook fan page. The Ford Fiesta Movement is highlighted as a way to develop micro relationships with bloggers to get macro awareness. Verdino also shows how Best Buy gets smaller by providing one-to-one customer service on Twitter through the Best Buy Twelpforce team.

No matter the size of your company, for it to grow bigger you must start getting smaller in how you connect with current and future customers. That's the lesson learned from chapter 9 of Greg Verdino's microMARKETING book. And that's the challenge businesses have today in order to succeed tomorrow.

DISCLOSURE: I'm an avid business book reader and because I blog frequently about business books, publishers will send me free copies. That explained, I purchased my copy of microMARKETING for this review.

September 29, 2010

Presentation Wisdom Workshop (Oct. 5)

Interested in improving your presentation skills?

If so, consider attending the "Tips from the Pros" Workshop from the Austin Speakers Network on Tuesday, Oct. 5. At this workshop, I'll be sharing presentation wisdom I've learned by studying comedians and dabbling in improv comedy.

Here's a short video preview...


PRESENTATION WISDOM: Insights from Comics & Improvisers
Tuesday, October 5th
Austin, TX - Norris Conference Center


Newbie presenters and polished presenters have a lot to learn from comics and improvisers.

Presenters, like comics, must share a unique point-of-view. Presenters must also share their unique point-of-view in a smart way, just as comedians and improvisers must do. Good presenters and good comedians utilize the power of timing and pauses in their delivery. The very best presenters, comedians, and improvisers go the extra mile by managing to give the illusion of their on-stage performance being a dialogue and not a monologue. In this workshop, you'll learn these presentation techniques and more.

Here's another reason to attend... Andy Crouch, Austin-based improv teacher/performer, will lead attendees through improv games sure to improve your next presentation.

Expect to learn, laugh, and lunch with local professional speakers and anyone else aspiring to deliver better presentations. See ya there.

September 20, 2010

Statistics are like a Bikini

Alan Murray has written a brilliant primer and an insightful reminder on what it takes to be a great manager. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO MANAGEMENT is a must-read for anyone in business.

Murray shares "lasting lessons from the best leadership minds of our time" by synthesizing, into bite-size chunks, business wisdom from Peter Drucker, Warren Bennis, Clayton Christenson, Jim Collins, and many others. (My "dog-ear score" for this book is off the charts.)

I absolutely love the quote about statistics he shares from Aaron Levenstein, former Baruch College business professor. Brilliant, just brilliant.

"Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is interesting. But what they hide is vital." -- Aaron Levenstein

September 15, 2010

Brand Autopsy Horrible Logo

THE OFFER was too irresistible to ignore. Spend $5 and receive a "logo that is guaranteed to suck." I did it. And received a horribly sucky logo.


I'm not the only one who spent some scratch to get a sketchy logo. My friends at JESS3 also got the horrible logo treatment.

You should spend $5 for a horrible logo. Be one of the cool kids and do it. Besides, the money goes to a cause ... it's used as beer money.

September 14, 2010

Gatorade Doesn't Get It


In today's Wall Street Journal we learn, Gatorade has four full-time staffers monitoring "social-media posts 24 hours a day ... hoping what they see and learn will help the company more effectively promote its new G-Series of drinks. Whenever someone uses Twitter to say they're drinking a Gatorade or mentions the brand on Facebook or in other social media, it pops up on a screen in Mission Control."

Mission Control?

Gatorade, we have a problem ... social media can't be controlled. If your MISSION is to CONTROL conversations people are having about Gatorade in social media, you will fail. #justsayin

The Most Talked about Brands of 2010

Originally posted on the Keller Fay blog (Sept. 7).

We’re back to work after a fun-filled Labor Day weekend. Let’s continue the fun by taking a light-hearted look at the Most Talked-About Brands in 2010 as measured by Keller Fay’s TalkTrack(R) study.

The list of the 15 most talked-about brands in America was compiled from 36,000 consumer conversations conducted between June 2009 and June 2010.

Watch this short SlideShare presentation and learn which brands made the list and which ones didn’t. Some of the brands on the list might surprise you.

September 11, 2010

Best Quote on Strategy vs. Execution

In business, what’s more important … Strategy or Execution?

Books have been written about it.

Articles have sounded off on it.

Practitioners have pontificated about it.

But Morris Chang, CEO of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, answers it in a mere 10 words.

Without strategy, execution is aimless. Without execution, strategy is useless.” — Morris Chang

September 07, 2010

Lesson Eleven | Movements Move People to Believe

Last week I wrote about the BRAINS ON FIRE book. As I mentioned, throughout the book we learn of ten lessons Brains on Fire follows to ignite and fan the flames of customer evangelism.

What I failed to mention was Lesson Eleven exists. This lesson isn't in this marketing book. It is, however, in our book of marketing lessons learned. Lesson Eleven was intentionally left blank so that we could add our experiences to the mix.

And I've done just that by sharing my Lesson Eleven on how to ignite powerful, sustainable, word of mouth movements.


"Any brand can ignite a movement with its customers, so long as the brand can move people to believe in the company, to believe in a better way, and to believe in themselves." -- John Moore

August 30, 2010



My friendship with the marketing agency Brains on Fire began in March of 2005. That’s when I heard Geno Church, word-of-mouth practitioner from Brains on Fire, share the Rage Against the Haze case study. Instead of a multi-million advertising campaign to convince teens in South Carolina to stop smoking, Geno showed how building a grassroots marketing movement was able to make a significant difference in reducing teenage smoking rates in the state.

From there, Brains on Fire built another grassroots marketing movement for Fiskars, the makers of the well-known but not necessarily talkable orange handled scissors. This movement was and still is led by thousands of scrapbookers known as The Fiskateers.

I’ve been fortunate to work directly with Brains on Fire and each time we work together, my fondness grows deeper for what they do — build marketing movements.

Writing in their just-published book, BRAINS ON FIRE: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements, we learn exactly how they define a marketing movement.

“No, we’re not going to pull out the dictionary. We’re just going to let you know that—for the purposes of what’s ahead—we have developed our own working definition of what a movement is: A movement elevates and empowers people to unite a community around a common cause, passion, brand, or organization.”

“So let’s take it a step further, since we’re talking about sustainable movements here: A sustainable move happens when customers and employees share their passion for a business or cause and become a self-perpetuating force for excitement, ideas, communication, and growth.

Throughout the book, we learn of ten lessons Brains on Fire follows to ignite and fan the flames of customer evangelism. It’s a worthy read for any marketer, especially marketers rooted in the evolutionist marketing mindset.

Robbin Phillips, the courageous leader of Brains on Fire as well as a co-author of the book, answered a few of my questions about the book and her company's approach to igniting marketing movements.

In the book you talk about the “quiet leaders” of movements. Why is this and where can a marketer find, among its brand fans, these silent leaders.

ROBBIN PHILLIPS [RP]: “First of all, let me back up and say this out loud: Movements need inspirational leaders. If no one is expected to lead, no one will.

With the rise of social media, companies and organizations all too often seem to get focused on finding and reaching out to the “influencers.” We don’t buy it. Many times, those folks are driven by ego and a desire to create more influence. They are not necessarily motivated by the desire to move a passion or a cause forward."


"Quiet leaders leave ego by the wayside. Diversity of leadership is important - it creates a quilt of inspiration. You need some folks who can make some noise and comfortably stand on the rooftops and shout. But the quiet leaders are important because often times they are the do-ers.

They also elevate those around them instead of always elevating themselves. And when you elevate others they never forget it. They stay engaged. They are loyal and often happy to return the gesture."

You write, “One of the secret sauces we’ve discovered igniting movements is that barrier of entry is vital. Yes, we want to keep people out of the movement; in fact, it’s a key to success, growth and sustainability.” Explain what you mean.
RP: “The barrier of entry notion gets a lot of push back from traditional marketers. But it is just so logical. A barrier of entry calls us to know what we don’t know.

Think back to the number of online communities you’ve signed up for. You go there, create a user name and password, click around a bit and never return. Often you can’t even remember your user name or your password. We call it password amnesia. If you’ve done any kind of social networking you’ve probably experienced it.

On the other hand, If you want to join the Fiskateers, one of the movements we highlight in the book, you have to be wiling to read the bio of a lead and connect with one of them personally. They usually ask you a question about your interest. We lose 50% of folks right there. Which is great."


"That’s why large numbers don’t impress us. We’d rather go for engagement and participation. Jay Gillespie of VP of Brand Marketing at Fiskars says it well, ‘For me it’s not about the numbers, it’s about growing even deeper relationships.’”

Outside of the work Brains on Fire has done with its clients, share a marketing “movement” that someone else has ignited that you wish Brains on Fire had been a part of.

RP: “I picked up INC. magazine the other day while traveling. And I stumbled on an interview with Leslie Blodgett, the CEO of Bare Escentuals. I got so excited, I wanted to call her on the spot. She understands the passion conversation (Lesson #1). It’s not about product, the makeup. Women just want to feel pretty.

She also understand that movements live both offline and online (Lesson #8). When her products were first being sold they were different and often women had questions. She didn’t have time to answer everyone online and she began to notice that other women were answering for her. She embraced them and started to hold training events and sharing knowledge (Lesson #5) at her salons. That led to cruises or “giant slumber parties” as she calls them. Her success validated some very important lessons we have learned.

She also cherishes her love letters. And says, ‘I read these letters before I go to sleep at night. They remind me of what we do. It's powerful. I don't want to be a business. I want to be a community.’"


"So that is just one example I’m recently happy to have found. I also hope this book introduces us to even more successful movements and new lessons learned. We have a Lesson 11 in the book and genuinely hope that others will help us write the rest of the story. And that the learning will go on and on and on.”


August 25, 2010

Gary Hamel on Business Failure


The single biggest reason companies fail is they overinvest in what is, as opposed to what might be.” -- Gary Hamel

August 24, 2010

Your "Hall Pass" to Haul Videos

I recently became hip ... hip to haul videos. Perhaps, you’ve already been hipped to haul videos. If not, consider this your haul pass to becoming hip to haul videos.

NPR did a story on it. So did Marketplace. Newspapers have written about it. And I’m fascinated by it.

What is it and why am I so fascinated by it?


Haul videos are simply online video recordings where people, generally teenage girls, talk about their recent purchases. For example, Juicystar07 has posted about 200 haul videos and has nearly 24-million views for her videos sharing commentary on products she’s purchased from retailers including Forever 21 and Ulta.

With viewership numbers like that coupled with priceless third-party endorsements, you can clearly understand why retailers are excited by this marketing trend.

JCPenney, in a recent back-to-school promotion, jumped on the haul video brandwagon by providing gift card to six girls to do a video show and tell of their shopping haul from JCPenney. So as not to run afoul of FTC guidelines on endorsements and to help keep online word of mouth credible, the six girls disclose upfront they were given free gift cards from JCPenney. (Watch Annie’s JCPenney haul video, she discloses immediately the freebies she was given.)

This is all fascinating.

However, I can’t let teenage girls have all the fun with this. I want in on the haul video action. Really I do...

August 23, 2010

Going Deeper into Word of Mouth Marketing


Long-time Brand Autopsy readers know I’m a believer and practitioner of word of mouth marketing — written lots of about it and have worked in it with the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. [Disclosure: I’m still doing some work consulting/presentation work with WOMMA.]

Recently I began working on a project with The Keller Fay Group.

For those deep into word of mouth, you should know Keller Fay. Since 2006, they have been tracking marketing-related conversations Americans are having both offline (person-to-person and face-to-face) as well as online (email, social media, and texting). I’ve quoted many of their research findings on this blog and in countless presentations.

What’s fabulous now is I’m going to have access to previously private TalkTrack® study statistics on word of mouth marketing. In essence, Keller Fay has given me the keys to unlock their data archives of research findings and share the information with you.

With keys in hand, I’ll be serving as Keller Fay’s TalkTrack Conversationalist by sharing interesting stats and providing marketing insights into the implications of Keller Fay’s findings. You’ll be able to read these short articles on the Keller Fay blog, WOM MATTERS.

An early TalkTrack® Abstract posting from me shares Four WOM Stats Every Marketer Must Know. A snippet is below ... the complete article is here.

50% of all consumer conversations about brands refer to a company’s marketing activities

That’s a significant number for marketers to consider. Even more significant is that Keller Fay data reveals traditional advertising (radio/TV/outdoor/print) drives 22% of word of mouth conversations where brand names are mentioned. The remainder of brand-driven conversations are sparked by in-store marketing signage, promotional campaigns, online/social media activity, and direct mail/email.

When designing marketing activities to spark word of mouth, a few basic questions must be asked (and answered). Is the marketing activity interesting? Is it entertaining? Will the planned marketing activity earn opinions from customers? If marketers design and deliver truly interesting and entertaining marketing activities, opinions will be earned and conversation from customers will be sparked.

The challenge then becomes do marketers have confidence that more positive opinions will be earned than negative ones. >> READ MORE

August 18, 2010

Listening Spurs Talking

According to Advertising Research Foundation president Bob Barocci, The single biggest opportunity in the history of consumer marketing lays dormant.” The opportunity Bob speaks of is LISTENING. And for those you deep into social media you understand the benefits of listening and how listening spurs talking from customers.

In an updated version of his book, 501 Killer Marketing Tactics to Increase Sales..., Tom Feltenstein plays off the listening angle and frames word of mouth in a way I haven’t heard before...

“The best way to word of mouth commitment from your customers is by opening your mouth. Talk to your customers, and listen to what they have to say. When they give you advice, try not to dismiss it out of hand. Instead, hear it, digest it, and take away everything that makes sense.”

Before customers spread word of mouth about a business, a business must first open its mouth (and ears) and talk (plus listen) to its customers. Love it.

August 16, 2010

Unsuck Your Business Jargon

In 2005 a brilliant book, WHY BUSINESS PEOPLE SPEAK LIKE IDIOTS, skewered the overuse and reliance of business jargon. The gist of the book says...

“Jargon is not just about using big word to make small points. Sometimes it’s about using big words to make no point at all. For example, business idiots have figured about that when they don’t have a real strategy, they can just string together a bunch of nonsense and make one up.”

“One of the reasons business people use fifty-cent words to make a five-cent point is that they think using plain language makes them look less intelligent. That’s why we say things like ‘Initiate a project action plan’ rather than ‘Let’s get started.’ We fear that straightforward language might make us look dumb.”

To assist jargon-using business idiots in escaping vagary and verbosity for clarity and crispness is Unsuck It. It’s a crowdsourced app that offers everyday words to replace vapid business lexicon.

Try it. Contribute to it. And by all means ... USE IT!!!


Kudos to Humungo for the heads-up.

August 03, 2010

TOUGH LOVE | Outside Influences

All Things Considered recently interviewed Howard Schultz, ceo of Starbucks. Howard talked about the tough decisions Starbucks had to make during the past two years of operating a growth business during the recession. One quote from Howard sticks out as interesting...


It’s interesting because in my TOUGH LOVE screenplay, the fictional ceo of Galaxy Coffee, David Pearl, was influenced by the outside world.

Tim Slayer is the antagonist in TOUGH LOVE. Tim portrays a brash, fast-talking investment fun manager turned bombastic host of BEAT STREET, the most watched financial show on the Business News Channel. Tim has a personal vendetta against Galaxy Coffee and he uses that bitter aggression to talk smack on-air about Galaxy.

There’s a scene early in the screenplay where David Pearl, after returning as Galaxy ceo, appears on Tim Slayer’s BEAT STREET show. Tim grills David. Tim plays the hardest of hardball by reading aloud to his audience a leaked internal memo where David lists to his executive team all the wrong decisions Galaxy has made to damage the company.

We pick up the action with Tim questioning how David can believe “... the fundamentals of the Galaxy Coffee are as sound as they have ever been.”


Throughout the TOUGH LOVE story we learn of more outside influences that impact the decision-making Galaxy Coffee takes to climb out from the depths of brand despair.


July 29, 2010

Advocacy | Advertising

At the Brains on Fire F.I.R.E. Sessions 2010, Steve Knox (ceo at P&G’s Tremor) delivered a thought-provoking presentation on “Understanding the Science of Advocacy.”

Yes, Steve dropped some science on how disrupting schemas sparks conversations. He also dropped some knowledge on the power of consumer advocacy and how it differs from advertising...


July 27, 2010

Remembering Glenna Moore

It was three years ago when my Mother passed away. Thankfully I have so many vivid memories to keep her spirit alive within me. I also have this video to play to remember my Mother, Glenna Moore...

July 15, 2010

TOUGH LOVE | The Recipe for a Strong Brand

One of the more interesting scenes in the TOUGH LOVE screenplay is when Vivian Kane, Denny Williams, and John Coffey spend an afternoon talking with Galaxy Coffee customers and employees.

For Vivian, the company cheerleader who thinks Galaxy can do wrong, hearing first-hand opinions of disillusioned customers and front-line employees changed how she views Galaxy Coffee.

While enjoying beers and conversation at the Tophill Pub, Vivian and Denny start talking about the practice of branding. Vivian’s approach to building a brand is unique and steeped deep in the Galaxy Coffee culture.

Being strategies_pg77


July 13, 2010

TOUGH LOVE | No Business is Perfect

Vivian Kane is a principal character in the TOUGH LOVE screenplay. She has worked in the Galaxy Coffee marketing department for over a decade and the Galaxy Coffee company culture runs through her veins. She’s a company cheerleader all the way.

There’s a scene in TOUGH LOVE where Vivian chides a former employee, Denny Williams, for criticizing the actions of Galaxy Coffee. Denny responds back that no business is perfect and the reason he is giving the company “tough love” is because he still loves the company.

The idea of “no business is perfect” is a theme we’ve discussed before on the Brand Autopsy blog. It’s also discussed in the Marketer’s Notes section at the end of the TOUGH LOVE screenplay. Here’s a snippet from the business lessons section of the script:

#13 | Marketer's Notes -- "No business is perfect."

Let’s face it, no business is perfect. NONE. Business is a game of progress, not perfection. No business will be perfect. It's an impossibly unattainable goal. But while that goal is unattainable, the most endearing and enduring businesses seem to always aspire to reach perfection. They always make progressive steps to improve their business and how their business connects with people. Sure, they will stumble along the way. But the true measure of a company is how it recovers and forges ahead making progress along the way to overcome its mistakes.

source: Business Lesson #13 from TOUGH LOVE

July 12, 2010

You know you have a great marketing idea when...

In SAVE THE CAT! STRIKES BACK, Blake Snyder, accomplished screenwriter, shares “seven warnings signs” a writer has a great idea for a screenplay. It’s a good list and with a little massaging, Blake’s list also works for marketers. Here's my twist on Blake's list:

You know you have a great marketing idea when...

#1. You love talking about the idea with anyone, anywhere.

#2. You have no fear someone will steal your idea.

#3. You feel giddy knowing others view you as a smart marketer.

#4. You know the more you work on the idea, the better it gets.

#5. You poke at potential flaws in the idea, knowing it’s an opportunity to make the idea stronger.

#6. You have researched the idea and know no one has done it like you plan to do it.

#7. You know the idea is tactically doable and strategically reliable.

July 08, 2010

In Between Aspiration and Action


Seth Godin writes a lot about Resistance in LINCHPIN, but he refers to it as one’s “lizard brain” creating fear which prevents us from actualizing our aspirations.

Steven Pressfield first defined/articulated what Resistance is and how it acts as a self-sabotaging power in THE WAR OF ART. (We’ve talked a lot about this must-read book before on the Brand Autopsy blog in 2005 and 2008.)

This past Sunday at Gateway Church, Ted Beasley gave Pressfield’s concept of Resistance new light.

In the WAR OF ART, Pressfield writes. “Most of us live two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.”

In his Sunday message Ted Beasley quoted from Romans 7:18-20 ... “I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.”

[As a point of reference, Ted Beasley is a teacher at the very entrepreneurial-minded Acton School of Business and serves as an executive coach. He has business chops. He also has spiritual chops, having served as a full-time pastor in the past at Gateway.]

Ted outlined three ways Resistance gets in between our aspirations and actions.

First is Homeostasis, the unseen but always felt force that keeps us under the gravitational pull of not doing anything different.

Perfectionism is the second way Resistance resides within us. By setting our expectations so high that it demands perfect design and perfect delivery, we crater and quit at the moment we fail to be perfect.

The third way Resistance lives is through the Flesh. When self-gratification (ego, lust, revenge, or something else) rises within us, the self-sabotaging power of Resistance erects a barrier between our aspirations and actions.

Ted’s talk on Resistance is worth watching and learning from. Watch below or click here to view the video. Enjoy.

July 06, 2010

TOUGH LOVE | Harvard Business Review connection

I recently read the Howard Schultz interview in the July/August issue of the Harvard Business Review. The interview details the drive, decline, and resurrection of Starbucks. It’s an informative read that touches upon many business themes dramatized in my TOUGH LOVE screenplay about “Galaxy Coffee.”

Interesting quotes from Howard Schultz and TOUGH LOVE correlations include:

“Being the CEO of a public company over the past couple of years has been difficult. And lonely.” — Howard Schultz

David Pearl, the fictitious CEO of Galaxy Coffee, experienced the same difficult feelings of loneliness as he fought to reverse the decline of Galaxy. To help overcome those feelings of loneliness and self-doubt, David, during a few pivotal scenes, recites a saying his father instilled in him as a child, “Get up. Head up. Never give up.”

“The issues of social media, digital media, and getting smart about the rules of engagement emerged as a tremendous weakness for the company.” — Howard Schultz

Similar to Starbucks, Galaxy Coffee wasn’t smart about social media. Internal memos and videos were leaked and used by detractors to belittle the company. On numerous occasions, a Galaxy Coffee Public Relations Executive failed to properly coach David Pearl on the new rules of engagement when talking to the media about the company. The result was Galaxy’s reputation suffered greatly and the company was positioned as being out-of-touch.

“Everything we did more or less worked. And that produced a level of hubris that caused us to overlook what was coming.” — Howard Schultz

Galaxy suffered the same fate of egotism and neglect. The company never knew losing and when the losses started to mount, Galaxy didn’t know how to react. Worse yet, because of hubris, Galaxy didn’t realize how disconnected the company had become with its customers and employees. Ultimately, egotism led to the decline of Galaxy Coffee. (What exactly happens to Galaxy Coffee? Gotta read the TOUGH LOVE screenplay to find out.)

“The marketplace was saying, ‘Starbucks needs to undo all these company-owned stores and franchise the system.’ That would have given us a war chest and significantly increased return on capital. It’s a good argument economically. It’s a good argument for shareholder value.” — Howard Schultz

This is exactly the argument made by activist investor Conner Langley as he amassed Galaxy stock in hopes of gaining a position on the Galaxy Board of Directors. The “Langley Plan” called for turning 1,500 Galaxy locations into franchised stores. In the end, Galaxy’s Board of Directors decided not to pursue the “Langley Plan.” Instead, Galaxy went in a different direction, which increased shareholder value much more substantially and quickly. (I can’t reveal the specific direction Galaxy chose because that would spoil the TOUGH LOVE story for you.)

July 01, 2010

Tasty Quote from G.K. Chesterton

I riffled though CONSUMED: Rethinking Business in the Era of Mindful Spending today. Would have read it, but couldn’t get into enough so I riffled through it. As the title/sub-title suggest, this book identifies issues and the consumer/business sentiment with overconsumption.

Even though I riffled through the book, this tasty quote from British philosopher G.K. Chesterton made a lasting impression with me. Perhaps it’ll linger with you too...


[NOTE: I received a free copy of CONSUMED to review from the publisher.]

June 30, 2010

TOUGH LOVE | “Hiring Somebodies”

In the TOUGH LOVE business book screenplay, there’s a scene where two former Galaxy Coffee marketers, Denny Williams and John Coffey, make an observation about the importance of front-line employees. Their observation came after visiting various Galaxy Coffee locations and noticing how some locations were energetic and others were lifeless.

Turns out the quality of the employee is the difference-maker between an energetic store and a lifeless one. It can also make the difference between a loyal customer and an infrequent customer.

Here’s what Denny and John said in the TOUGH LOVE script...


NOTE: In writing this scene, I was inspired by the following quotes...

“HR should be every company's ‘killer app.’ What could possibly be more important than who gets hired, developed, promoted, or moved out the door?”Jack Welch [source]

“I have yet to find a company that earned high levels of customer loyalty without first earning high levels of employee loyalty.”Frederick Reichheld [source]

“Anybody can pour a cup of coffee, rent out cars, sell pairs of jeans. Except, of course, they can’t. The [businesses] that are the best at these things take ‘anybodies’ off the street and make them their own ‘somebodies.’”Alex Frankel [source]

June 29, 2010

TOUGH LOVE | questions and answers

Over on the 800ceoread blog, Jon Mueller posted a Q&A with me about TOUGH LOVE. His questions help to connect the dots between the drama of the screenplay and the details illuminated within the storyline on starting/running an entrepreneurial venture.

Below is a snippet of the interview and for the entire interview, click here.

JON MUELLER: There is also an entrepreneurial side to the screenplay. What is the main lesson for the entrepreneurially minded you hoped to communicate through the characters?

JOHN MOORE: At Starbucks I knew a lot of smart and die-hard company loyal people like “Vivian Kane.” Vivian is a main character in TOUGH LOVE, she’s a classic company cheerleader—probably to a fault. She suppressed her entrepreneurial aspirations to take the easy way and stay at a company she secretly is losing faith in. The lesson being… gain experience and confidence at some company and then scratch your entrepreneurial itch, if you have one.

JON MUELLER: Because of the format, readers get a sense of the personal perspective of the characters. Talk a bit about one example of personal success that’s revealed in the story.

JOHN MOORE: An important storyline revolves around David Pearl, Galaxy Coffee’s charismatic CEO. Many years ago, David scratched his entrepreneurial itch to leave a string of sales jobs to eventually become the driving force behind Galaxy Coffee. The public image of David is one of confidence and competitiveness. However, the private image of David reveals his lack of self-confidence. David masks his insecurity by being revengeful and overly competitive. He will go out of his way to prove doubters wrong, even if it costs him dearly.

By the end of the story David’s life is turned upside down. What he thought was right, turned out wrong. He ends up learning, the hard way, life rewarding and business saving advice. David becomes a better man and a better businessman from all the trials he faces in leading Galaxy Coffee through its growing pains.


June 28, 2010

Pathetic Starbucks Promo Poster

In my TOUGH LOVE ebook, it’s not hard to figure out that “Galaxy Coffee” is Starbucks Coffee. So when the screenplay depicts the drive, drama, and decline of Galaxy, it’s really business commentary on the goings-on with Starbucks.

There’s a scene in TOUGH LOVE where the Galaxy CEO, David Pearl, criticizes his executive team for all their shortsighted and “off-brand” marketing ideas to kick-start sales. In his badgering, David implores the executives to “never communicate like a fast food company.”

If David Pearl were the CEO of Starbucks Coffee and not of the fictitious Galaxy Coffee, this pathetic Starbucks promo poster would rankle him.


This promo poster for mini donuts has no soul ... no emotion ... no style ... no creativity. And, it has no business being inside a Starbucks.

A soulless generic poster fits inside a run down gas station or perhaps a mom and pop Gyro shop, but not inside a Starbucks. That's my TOUGH LOVE for today.

June 27, 2010

SUCCESS MADE SIMPLE | in less than 300 words

The following continues my irregular postings of business book summaries. I’m striving to keep these summaries to less than 300 words. Sometimes its doable, other times not. This summary is closer to 400 words. Enjoy

SUCCESS MADE SIMPLE | summarized in nearly 300 words

The failure rate of new Amish businesses is astoundingly low. According to a recent study, less than 5% of Amish businesses fail within their first five years. That’s astounding considering 50% of small businesses fail within their first five years.

Why do Amish businesses succeed while others fail?

In SUCCESS MADE SIMPLE: An Inside Look at Why Amish Businesses Thrive, Eric Wesner explains why. However, the answers are surprisingly unsurprising.

The Amish, as a way of background, are deeply religious and live a traditional lifestyle that avoids most modern technology. Their daily life focuses on family, faith, integrity, and simplicity. Those same virtues also guide the daily business practices of the Amish, here’s how:

Amish Vision Puts the Why Before the How
Growth and financial success are not why Amish businesses exist. Instead, sustaining a growing family and supporting their church community are the reasons why the Amish start businesses. According to Wesner, “… the WHY springs drive and ambition. The WHY checks a person who is in danger of overstepping limits or sacrificing integrity. And fulfilling the WHY is what brings real joy and contentment in the long run.

Maintain a Learner’s Attitude
The Amish businessman is always seeking knowledge. Their learner’s attitude begins early in their business life. The Amish gain hands-on experience in their chosen trade before they start their own business. From there, the Amish will seek out mentor relationships with respected community business leaders to continue their business education. The successful Amish entrepreneur views every learning opportunity, including learning from competitors and customers, as vital sources of business knowledge.

Follow Time-Honored Principles
Hard work. Providing quality goods at a fair price. Treating employees and customers with respect and dignity. Those are the basic principles that guide the daily business practices of the Amish. These principles may not be trendy today but they have stood the test of time and when practiced, these principles, as exemplified by the Amish, will guide a business to lasting success.

Slowly but Surely
Fast growth isn’t in the vocabulary of the Amish businessman. Growing slowly but surely is how the Amish approach business growth. Maintaining quality before growth is of upmost importance according to Amish businessman Dennis Miller, “I’m always looking to grow, and I’m always looking to … get into new specialty markets. But your employees have to be trained … and it’s real easy to overcommit, and then your quality starts lacking.

Eric Wesner details more principles guiding the successful Amish businessman in SUCCESS MADE SIMPLE. However, do not expect anything overly complicated because, as Wesner puts it, “the lessons of the Amish are simple [but] simple does not mean easy.


[NOTE: I often receive free copies of biz books from publishers and publicists. However, I spent my money for my copy of SUCCESS MADE SIMPLE.]

June 23, 2010

TOUGH LOVE | a Business Book screenplay


My new business book is now published. It’s an ebook called, TOUGH LOVE: Scripting the Drive, Drama, and Decline of Galaxy Coffee.

Wait. It’s not really a book and its more than an ebook. TOUGH LOVE is actually a screenplay masquerading as a business book.

TOUGH LOVE reads just like a Hollywood screenplay with standard script format, seven main characters, and two plot lines that tell the story of how a rags-to-riches entrepreneur finds success building a company (Galaxy Coffee) to be bigger only to realize, the hard way, that smaller is better. Inserted throughout the TOUGH LOVE script are breakout business lessons and thought-provoking business advice geared towards entrepreneurs and small business owners.

It’s available as a .pdf download from ChangeThis ... click below to purchase.


You can learn more at; including a synopsis, character sketches, and an informative Q&A.

June 05, 2010

A Good Bad Profit

Sometimes I drop the following slide into presentations to illustrate the business need to not nickel and dime customers. It’s a smart line from Frederick Reichheld’s THE ULTIMATE QUESTION...


I always thought those “Cash Advance” businesses were built upon earning bad profits. That is, charging people super-high interest rates for a cash advance to tide them over until their next paycheck.

Businessweek recently ran an excerpt from BROKE, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc.—How the Working Poor Became Big Business by Gary Rivlin. In the excerpt, we learn “Cash Advance” businesses actually profit from a good profit and not a bad profit. That's because these places charge around 20% interest for a short-term quick loan.

How can charging 20% interest be a good profit?

When you consider the average fee for a bounced check is nearly $30 (and rising), the 20% interest rate from a “Cash Advance” place can be cheaper, especially with loans under $150, for people needing quick cash until their next payday. (Go ahead. Do the math. You'll see the obvious advantage.)

While its disheartening to know the "Cash Advance" business is a cash cow, its fascinating to learn they profit from a good bad profit.

May 26, 2010

Introducing... TOUGH LOVE

I’ve written a new business book called, TOUGH LOVE: Scripting the Drive, Drama, and Decline of Galaxy Coffee.

Wait, that’s not correct.

TOUGH LOVE is actually a screenplay masquerading as a business book. Inserted throughout the TOUGH LOVE script are breakout business lessons and thought-provoking business advice geared towards entrepreneurs and small business owners.

It’s being published by ChangeThis as an ebook. *** PURCHASE DETAILS HERE ***

You can learn more at; including a synopsis, character sketches, and an informative Q&A.

To get a better idea of flow and content in TOUGH LOVE, read the script snippet below.

I hope you enjoy the oddball idea of a business book written as a screenplay.

May 17, 2010

What is a Talkable Brand?

This is an interesting presentation from WOMMA. (Yes, I do work with them.)

It's a collection of word of mouth marketers and their different views on what makes a brand talkable. Smart stuff. Enjoy...

May 15, 2010

SBC = Seattle’s Brand Confusion

Seattle’s Best Coffee (SBC) was purchased by Starbucks Coffee seven years ago. Starbucks hasn’t done much with it except to ink distribution deals with Borders and few fast food companies.

On May 12, SBC launched a “brand reinvention” project. A new logo was revealed, a Facebook page was launched, and a very confusing tagline was unleashed, “The next big thing from Starbucks, isn’t Starbucks.”

Paul Williams, former long-time Starbucks marketer, shares his smart take on the confusing brand reinvention of Seattle’s Best Coffee. Give it a read.

And give this beyond confusing video a look. It’s on YouTube and the description only helps to amplify confusion...

Wait? Does SBC seriously think they can replace Starbucks as the universal symbol for great coffee?

There are so many more confusing elements... just watch the video and read Paul’s post on what went wrong and what should have gone right.

May 01, 2010

Speaking to Students at Tec de Monterrey

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking to students in the Master in Innovation and Technological Entrepreneurship department of Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico).

Students enrolled in this one-year intensive program are given the knowledge, the guidance, and the motivation to start their own business. It’s a very interesting program with ambitious goals that extend beyond creating new businesses to changing the innovation culture in Mexico.

In my talk with the students, I shared some “Espresso Shots of Business Wisdom” and passed along some “Tribal Knowledge” from my marketing experiences at both Starbucks Market and Whole Foods Market.

Check out the Tec de Monterrey blog for a nice summary.


April 21, 2010

DIFFERENT | Youngme Moon

Todd Sattersten clued me in on a book about differentiation from Youngme Moon, a Harvard Business School professor. Yes, the business book landscape is littered with oodles of books on differentiation but Youngme's book is ... different.

You'll notice early on in "DIFFERENT: Escaping the Competitive Herd" that Youngme's writing style is more casual teaching than charismatic pontificating or hardcore drill-downs. It's an enjoyable read with approachable and actionable lessons.

For a preview of the book, watch this well-produced trailer...

April 19, 2010

The Physics of Word of Mouth Marketing

PROMO Magazine recently published an article I wrote about the natural laws that govern word of mouth marketing. To understand these natural laws, we need to revisit basic physics.

In school we learned about Isaac Newton’s three natural laws of motion. These laws explain how and why objects move. These laws can also explain how and why word of mouth marketing can move brands from being unknown to well known.

Law of Inertia
Newton’s first law of motion tells us an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion. This law of inertia applies directly to word of mouth marketing because conversation at rest tends to stay at rest while conversation in action tends to stay in action. If a company does nothing to encourage people to talk, no one will talk.

Law of Acceleration
With Newton’s first law, we learned a force is required to spark momentum. Newton’s second law, the law of acceleration, explains how much force is required to spark movement. The larger an object is, the more force needed to move the object. Conversely, the smaller the object, the less force needed to move the object.

The correlation to word of mouth marketing is simple. The larger a brand is, the more marketing muscle needed to generate conversations about the brand. On the other hand, the smaller the brand, the less marketing muscle needed to spark conversations about the brand.

The Law of Reaction
Newton’s third law of motion tells us for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. There is a parallel natural law that governs word of mouth marketing as it relates to delivering great customer service. This marketing law states: for every action by a customer, there should be a genuine and appropriate reaction from a business. These appropriate reactions take the form of a response, a rescue attempt, or a relaying of information from a company to an individual customer.


For a deeper dive into how physics principles correlate to marketing, read David Bowman's informative series of posts.

April 16, 2010

Someone. Somewhere.

Georges Doriot is known for being one of the first venture capitalists in America. He was also a Harvard Business School professor and part of his legacy is this chewy quote, certain to motivate any entrepreneur...

"Someone, somewhere, is making a product that will make your product obsolete." ––Georges Doriot

April 15, 2010

Emulate Drug Dealers (part 2)


The other day we looked at the advice from the founders of 37signals who write in their book, REWORK, “Emulate drug dealers. Make your product so good, so addictive, so 'can't miss’ that giving customers a small, free taste makes them come back with cash in hand.”

We also shared some more business wisdom from drug dealers on surpassing customer expectations, wholesale buying strategies, and selecting profitable customers.

If this idea of emulating drug dealers has you intrigued, reacquaint yourself with a vintage Brand Autopsy post sharing business lessons learned from the movie about a Harlem drug lord from the early 1970s, AMERICAN GANGTSER.


American Gangster synopsis:
Following the death of his employer and mentor, Bumpy Johnson, Frank Lucas establishes himself as the number one importer of heroin in the Harlem district of Manhattan. He does so by buying heroin directly from the source in South East Asia and he comes up with a unique way of importing the drugs into the United States. As a result, his product is superior to what is currently available on the street and his prices are lower. His alliance with the New York Mafia ensures his position. It is also the story of a dedicated and honest policeman, Richie Roberts, who heads up a joint narcotics task force with the Federal government. Based on a true story. [SOURCE]


Mentors Matter

Launching New Products
Brand Dilution
Leadership Qualities
The Loudest is the Weakest
Winners Can Quit

April 13, 2010

Emulate Drug Dealers


In the book REWORK, the authors, Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson (co-founders of 37signals) recommend emulating drug dealers by offering free samples to customers. Drug dealers, as Jason and David point out, know by giving away free samples of a “product so good” and “so addictive,” customers will “come back with cash in hand.”

Businesses, according to the authors, shouldn’t “be afraid to give a little away for free” so long as they are confident in the products/services they sell. As cited in the book, ice cream shops confidently give away free samples knowing it will most likely result in a sale. Car dealers do the same by allowing potential buyers to test drive a car before buying it.

Why stop at emulating drug dealers by only giving away free samples?

Businesses have a lot more to learn from the business practices of drug dealers. From procurement of product to acquiring customers to satisfying customers, the parallels between a well-run drug dealing operation and a successful business run thick.

This is territory we’ve covered on the Brand Autopsy blog. In early 2004, we ran a 7-part series on “Street Corner Selling” which shared drug dealing business lessons from Bruce Jacobs' book, DEALING CRACK.

The lessons have held up well. Read for yourself...

Street Corner Selling Curriculum:

Lesson #1: Customer Acquisition
Don’t Act Desperate

Lesson #2: Ten Minute Rule
Surpassing Customer Expectations
Lesson #3: Procurement
Wholesale Buying Strategies
Lesson #4: Merchandising
Maximizing Sales Through Bundling
Lesson #5: Angel Customers and Demon Customers
Selecting Profitable Customers
Lesson #6: Developing Enthusiastically Satisfied Customers (pt. 1)
Generating Customer Referrals
Lesson #7: Developing Enthusiastically Satisfied Customers (pt. 2)
Making it Easier for Customers to Buy

April 10, 2010

A Crowdsourced Barbie Doll

Mattel, the makers of Barbie dolls used crowdsourcing to decide which career the next Barbie doll should have. Mattel promoted its online crowdsourcing contest on Facebook, Twitter, and with some regional advertising. The voting choices were: Architect, Anchorwoman, Computer Engineer, Environmentalist, and Surgeon. Over 600,000 votes were cast and the winner was...


Or was it?

Since the voting was open to anyone anywhere, non-Barbie loving fans were able to cast their ballot. Young girls, who are Barbie loving fans, voted overwhelmingly for Anchorwoman Barbie. Other non-Barbie loving fans voted for Computer Engineer Barbie.

The Barbie community voted for the Anchorwoman doll and a well-orchestrated crowd of engineers voted for Computer Engineer Barbie.

To Mattel’s credit, they are following the direction of the crowd and releasing a Computer Engineer Barbie. Mattel is also giving its real community of fans what they want by producing an Anchorwoman Barbie doll.

What if Mattel hadn’t used crowdsourcing but rather, "communitysourcing" to decide what career Barbie should have next? Communitysourcing could have saved Mattel from spending unnecessary time and money addressing the matter.

Perhaps Tom Myerman is onto something when he talks about rethinking crowdsourcing in favor of communitysourcing.

April 07, 2010

re: Digital Discounts (Foursquare & Gowalla)

With Foursquare, Gowalla, and other “geo-location apps” becoming the new must-do marketing tool, I hope more businesses follow the lead of an Austin-area Starbucks.

A simple handwritten sign acknowledging the loyalty of a frequent customer is all the marketing needed to earn a gleeful shout-out and a simple photo on Twitter.



It’s so easy for businesses to turn checking-in with Foursquare and Gowalla into a digital discount program, but is it meaningful?

Isn’t it more meaningful, as a customer, to be recognized in a special way from your favorite business than it is to receive a special discount?

As a customer loyal enough to become “mayor” of a business, does that customer need a “Buy 9 Get 1 Free” discount to remain loyal? I hope not. If so, then that “loyal” customer isn’t so loyal.

A simple acknowledgment, as shown above, can go a long way to fortifying a profitable relationship between a frequent customer and a business.

April 05, 2010

GreenBox is Marketing Done Right

In Purple Cow, Seth Godin wrote about the virtue of baking remarkability into how a business does business. According to Seth, “marketing done right” is when “the marketer changes the product, not the ads.”

The Purple Cow concept states it’s ultimately more meaningful (and less expensive) to bring a remarkably innovative product to market than it is to spend the advertising money necessary to successfully market a boring product.

GreenBox understands the Purple Cow concept. They developed an innovative pizza box that sells itself. This pizza box is not just reusable and recyclable ... it’s also remarkable. The GreenBox breaks down into four serving plates and into a nifty container for leftovers.

Have a look at marketing done right...


MERLOT MONDAY | April 19 | Austin

NOTE: My company is a WOMMA Member and I work with WOMMA.


The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) is coming to Austin. On Monday, April 19, WOMMA and the Council of Public Relations Firms (CPRF) will host a MERLOT MONDAY event for marketers involved with new school social media and old school word of mouth marketing.

At the MERLOT MONDAY event, you’ll sip some wine, chat with Austin-area marketers, and learn marketing insights from Jake McKee (Ant’s Eye View), Aaron DeLucia (Porter Novelli), and Liz Arreaga (Mercury Mambo).

In-between the wine sipping and networking, we’ll break into a casual panel discussion about how best to use “social media” and “marketing media” to create a more talkable brand.

Jake will focus more on the importance of enabling/fostering community voices to make a brand more talkable. Aaron will emphasize the need to think about the entire communication cycle from pre-to-wave-to-post in order to increase the longevity of a marketing program designed to get/keep customers talking. And, Liz will discuss how shopper marketing not only makes a brand talkable but also links to driving sales.

You’ll walk away from this event more confident in your knowledge of how to integrate social media and word of mouth programming into a company’s overall marketing mix. You’ll also learn what it takes to unify various media channels to work together to create a talkable brand.

Come join us. The event starts at 5:30 and the super cool HQ of Mercury Mambo on 1107 S. 8th Street (across the street from the HighBall and right behind Gibson Bar -- MAP).


March 29, 2010

SWITCH | Post2Post Book Tour

On the Post2Post Book Tour we’re talking about SWITCH: How to Change When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath.

The Heath Brothers are more than authors; they are teachers. In MADE TO STICK they taught us how “Simple Unexpected Concrete Credentialed Emotional Stories” stand a better chance of sticking with people than do ideas presented in some willy-nilly, off-the-cuff way.

With SWITCH, they teach us how to unstuck ourselves from ritualistic behaviors. The lessons on how to make change happen not only apply to businesses, but also to causes and personal needs. As with MADE TO STICK, the Heaths tell stories to express their thinking. It’s a style that works.

You’ll read lots of astute observations about SWITCH on the Post2Post Book Tour . You can also learn more about the book concepts from an excerpt than ran in Fast Company.

I’ve asked my buddy, Sir Wilton Norman Chamberlain III, to do a dramatic reading from SWITCH for an episode of Marketing Masterpiece Theatre. Wilt doesn’t disappoint. (Or maybe he does, depending on your frame of mind and appetite for inaneness.) Enjoy...

March 24, 2010

Thought Starters from Tom Fishburne


By day, Tom Fishburne is a managing director with Method. By night, Tom is a cartoonist appealing to the “improbable audience of brand managers.” By way of SXSWi, I attended Tom’s session on Innovation Lessons from Cartooning. Excellent session with lots of chewy takeaways, including:

Deliberate Exclusivity
“It’s more meaningful to be provocative to a few than to be broadly boring to many.”

Innovation as Instigators
“Innovation when done right can spark conversations.”
“Truly innovative ideas require innovative business models.”
“How you share your innovative ideas is more important than the ideas themselves.”

New Ideas
“Unfortunately, most businesses are equipped with more ‘cutting tools’ than ‘growing tools’ and too many meaningful ideas never see the light of day.”

Recessionary Times
“Recessions are litmus tests for worthwhile brands. If your brand isn’t worthwhile, it won’t last.”

All quotes from TOM FISHBURNE.

March 22, 2010

THE LITTLE BIG THINGS | money quotes

It’s with much appreciation that I share money quotes from Tom Peters’ newest book, THE LITTLE BIG THINGS: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence.

Keep in mind this isn’t all-new material from Tom. This book contains polished versions of smart blog posts from Don’t let that sway you from not buying and reading this collection of business wisdom. This book is chock-full of actionable and motivational business advice. (Plus it’s housed within the easy-to-riffle-through pages of a bound book. No pesky clicking necessary to go from webpage to webpage.)

In many ways, LITTLE BIG THINGS is similar to Tom’s previous book, Re-Imagine. (Long-time Brand Autopsy readers may recall my rants about Re-Imagine... #1 Rant, #2 Rant, #3 Rant, and #4 Rant.) Biggest difference is how LITTLE BIG THINGS is indexed with over 25 sections addressing topics like Excellence, Leadership, Attitude, Change, etc. Re-Imagine was lacking an index to help make the book more readable.

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to showcase Tom Peters money quotes on PowerPoint using the manic design style that is synonymous with Tom Peters. (Go here and download some Peters PowerPoint to see what I mean. Seriously. Do it.)

Enough setup ... let’s get to the LITTLE BIG THINGS money quotes...

[NOTE: I often receive free copies of biz books from publishers and publicists. I received a free copy of LITTLE BIG THINGS from the Tom Peters Company.]

March 13, 2010

ADVICE | Getting Paid to Speak

In their one-hour core conversation at SXSWi about breaking into the paid speaking business, Nick Morgan and Tim Sanders gave attendees priceless advice. (Had I heard this advice back in 2005, it would have saved me from learning those lessons the hard way — that is by doing it and at times, failing by doing it.)

Nick is a speaking coach for executives and consultant-types. His first book, “GIVE YOUR SPEECH, CHANGE THE WORLD” is a must-read for anyone who delivers presentations. Tim Sanders is coached by Nick and has carved out a lucrative career as an author and speaker. These two guys were both being sincerely helpful by sharing their no holds barred advice.

The first piece of advice from Nick & Tim is get a book published. Yep. A published book that’s found in Barnes & Noble nationwide is the ante for getting into the paid speaking game. (That’s how I started. I even used the book they recommended to write a book proposal.)

Second piece of advice is get a quality speaking demo produced, edited, and shared online. Part of a conference meeting planner's job is to eliminate risk when hiring a speaker. As in a meeting planner must feel confident and comfortable a paid speaker will deliver the goods. An easy way for them to get confident and comfortable is to see video of you on stage delivering a presentation. (My demo reel isn't slick, but it does help to show a meeting planner the substance of my presentations and my style.)

Third piece of advice is exude enthusiasm, passion, and charisma when delivering presentations. The difference between a travel-fees only speaker and a well-compensated speaker comes down to style. It’s a given that both of these speakers will have smart content. However, the ones who get well-compensated understand they must not only share knowledge, they must also inspire attendees to act upon the knowledge they just heard.

Nick and Tim shared lots more advice on breaking into the paid speaking business beyond what I shared. Samantha Bell gives a detailed summary of their SXSWi session. Read it, it’s worth your time. You can also read the tweets from the #blogmoney hashtag.

March 09, 2010

Crisis as a Turning Point

In my readings far outside the business world, I read this yesterday:

Crisis is a word that is often mistaken to mean tragedy or threat. A truer understanding is that crisis means a turning point.

Nice. While not written for business, the implications for businesses are real and aplenty.

Dominos faced a crisis with the realization their pizza lacked zest. They responded and changed course by changing their pizza recipe.

Toyota is facing yet another crisis associated with quality issues. Clearly, Toyota is at a major turning point. Fingers are being pointed that Toyota must change the course of its company culture to emerge from this mess a stronger and healthier business.

Remember, a crisis isn’t a distraction. It’s an opportunity. An opportunity to question business practices and an opportunity to make decisions so that a company can become beloved again.

March 02, 2010

FASCINATE | in less than 300 words

We continue with another business book summary in under 300 words by summing up FASCINATE: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation by Sally Hogshead.

Sally injects lots of personality in her writing, which makes FASCINATE a fun read. She also injects lot of smart thinking about attributes brands must have to make emotional connections with customers.

For this short summary, we're going with just the facts. Enjoy.

FASCINATE | summarized in less than 300 words

The challenge for brands is to fascinate (or fail).

According to a study from Kelton Research, “... people want to be fascinated, and they want to be fascinating.” For marketers this means brands have the opportunity to “help consumers feel more fascinating in their own lives” and to create products/services that fascinate people.
The strongest brands ignite fascination for customers and from customers by triggering some or all of these seven powerful triggers: LUST ... MYSTIQUE ... ALARM ... PRESTIGE ... POWER ... VICE ... and, TRUST.

1 | LUST: a craving for pleasure.
>> Think being the first in your social circles to own an iPad.

2 | MYSTIQUE: a sparking of curiosity.
>> Think of the storied myth that Red Bull energy drink is made with secretions from a bull’s testicles.

3 | ALARM: an act of impulse no matter the consequences.
>> Think succumbing to the irresistible infomercial offer that is too good to be true... 6 Second Abs perhaps.

4 | PRESTIGE: an achievement earning high-status and respect.
>> Think becoming mayor of the hippest coffee joint in town on foursquare.

5 | POWER: an ability to gain domination and control.
>> Think using Proactiv to dominate and control acne issues.

6 | VICE: a tempting of guilty and sometimes sultry pleasures.
>> Think living an aspirational life by reading exploits of celebrities in US Weekly.

7 | TRUST: a comforting feeling of authenticity and reliability for the greater good.
>> Think TOMS shoes “one for one” core purpose.


[NOTE: I often receive free copies of biz books from publishers and publicists. I received a free copy of FASCINATE from a book publicist.]

March 01, 2010

Idil Cakim on Influencer Marketing

NOTES: I am a member of WOMMA and serve as WOMMA’s “WOM Enthusiast.” Portions of this post were originally posted on the All Things WOM blog.

The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) recently published a MEASUREMENT & METRICS GUIDEBOOK sharing practical insights into quantifying offline and online word of mouth. WOMMA Members have access to a free download of the paper. A bound version of the Guidebook is available for everyone.

Idil Cakim, VP of Interactive Media at GolinHarris, authored an article, “The Influence Factor,” detailing how brands can engage, monitor, and measure influencer marketing programs.

Idil recently appeared on a WOMMA Brands Council Jam Session webinar and shared her views on what constitutes offline and online influence, how to find influencers, and some do’s and don’ts of Influencer Marketing. The following SlideShare presentation includes snippets from this recent webinar.


This short Q&A with Idil Cakim will give you more perspective on designing and delivering Influencer Marketing programs.

1. What constitutes influence offline and online?
Idil Cakim (IC): “The fundamentals of offline and online influence are the same: perceived knowledge of the influencer, credibility and hence trust. In the offline world, we have more access to visual, cultural and social clues that help us assess the influence factor. Meanwhile online, we have more third-party resources and published statements that can help us assess a given source's influence and authority. Whether online or offline, influencers are experts who know how to spread their messages either through peer-to-peer conversations, organized activities or publications.”

2. Any pitfalls to Influencer Marketing?
(IC): “The most common pitfall is sharing an idea or a product with too few influencers and expecting to move the needle. An influencer is bound to take the message further than the average person. However brands may need to engage hundreds of influencers at a time to have quantitative results that show the impact of their efforts.

Another point for consideration is that not all influencers are equal. Brands and organizations first need to determine what constitutes influence in their respective fields and research thoroughly when identifying their own set of influencers.

Lastly, thinking in terms of campaigns with limited times for outreach undercuts the value brands/organizations can derive from influencer relations. Spot outreach is fine, but there needs to be ongoing communication between the brand and its influencers, just like any healthy relationship.”

3. What are three steps a brand should take to design a better influencer marketing program?
(IC): First, determine your own influencer criteria and make sure you can recruit enough influencers who can create noticeable change.

Second, as you design your program, think of your communication goals and clarify what will determine success. Is it only increase in awareness or change in some type of behavior? Make sure that your program is designed to reach these goals.

Third, plan for ongoing engagement. Sustain authentic communications and continuously offer value to your influencers through news, information, first-to-try types of offers.” [SOURCE]

February 15, 2010

THE BUSINESS TREE | in less than 300 words

I love business analogies. Connecting familiar, yet very different, concepts helps to bring about greater understanding to complicated topics. For example, I compare my marketing services of “Second Opinions” to that of a doctor. I’ve also compared the growth problems Starbucks is having to that of a garden needing weeding and pruning before it can achieve healthy growth again.

A credit union I know uses an interesting analogy to describe how they prep for future growth of opening new branches by saying, “Before we put up branches, we put down roots.” In other words, they lay down a foundation of community involvement long before they build a new branch of their credit union.

Interestingly, at the time I heard that branches/roots line, I was reading THE BUSINESS TREE written by Hank Moore. In this book, Hank makes the analogy of growing a business to growing a tree.

It’s a smart perspective and perfect for inclusion in my on-going series of business book summaries in less than 300 words.


THE BUSINESS TREE | summarized in less than 300 words

A business is like a tree. The roots of a “business tree” symbolize the strategic focus and future direction the organization is designed to grow. The trunk stands for the entire body of knowledge a business possesses. Branches stand for each department within a business. Twigs represent outside suppliers. And leaves on each branch symbolize employees.

With proper nourishment, the “business tree” will achieve healthy growth by growing steadily, optimally, and profitably. With neglect, the “business tree” will never reach its potential and eventually die.

To “weather the forces of change” that naturally occur in the marketplace, the healthiest “business trees” have a management culture that takes the time “to understand how the company has grown” and analyzes “the relationship of each branch, twig, and leaf to the others.”

Healthy, nourished, and growing business trees always:

1. Give customers products/services they cannot get elsewhere

2. Offer products/services at reasonable prices

3. Have leaders whose can-do spirit seeps throughout the total organization

4. Create an employee culture based upon trust and empowerment

5. Respond to the always-shifting winds in the marketplace

6. Foster collaboration and knowledge-sharing between all departments

7. Realize success is not an entitlement, but rather the by-product of smart and ethical growth strategies

Just like all healthy trees grow, all healthy businesses will grow. Proper nourishment is the key and companies that “plan to grow and grow by the plan” will build strong roots with a dense trunk, creating a regenerative and expanding system of branches, twigs, and leaves.


[NOTE: I often receive free copies of biz books from publishers and publicists. However, I spent my money for my copy of THE BUSINESS TREE.]