Thursday, March 28, 2013

Are You Entitled?

PR maven Peter Shankman recently penned an excellent article that issues a stern warning to people who feel entitled. Although it was aimed at college students who will soon be seeking their first "career" job, Peter's five points apply equally to those of us who are charging head first through life. Take a few minutes to read "Entitlement: Your Biggest Flaw"  ( and see if any of the warning signs apply to you.

Friday, February 8, 2013

"I now pronounce you man and Dodge."

Interesting new twist to automotive marketing from Dodge.

The Chrysler division is trying to promote their new Dodge Dart (which is really just an old Alfa Romeo) as a smart, hip and cool car for the twenty-something crowd. As part of the effort, they have hit upon a unique solution to the barrier of ownership that many young people have - money.

Instead of touting low finance rates or steep discounts, Dodge is telling their target audience that they can actually get other people to buy a new Dart for them! How awesome is that!

Dodge has set up a website ( that mimics a wedding registry. Wannabe Dart owners simply ask family and friends to log on and "buy" certain parts of the vehicle, like wheels, seats or the engine. Accumulate enough gift givers and you can reduce the retail price of the vehicle. It is a new, personal form of crowdsourcing.

While I sincerely doubt I would contribute to somebody else's new car (at least not while I am still making monthly payments on my own salt-encrusted Jeep), I must give the folks at Dodge credit for creative thinking.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Business Lesson from Jack Reacher

I am a big fan of the Jack Reacher series of novels written by Lee Child. The title character is a hulking ex-Military Policeman who resolves problems with a combination of intimidation and clever observation. So when the announcement was made that a Jack Reacher motion picture was in the works, I was excited. But when it was announced that Tom Cruise would play the lead role, I began to fret.

How could the 5'7" Cruise possibly portray the menacing 6'5", 240 lb. Reacher?  I worried that Hollywood was about to ruin another excellent book.

My fears were unfounded. Cruise pulls off the character flawlessly. As the books' author, Lee Child, commented, Jack Reacher's power does not come only from his large size, but from the presence he creates with his wits, intellect and aggressiveness. Despite his small stature, Cruise captured the essence of Jack Reacher.

There is a business lesson here. Size does not always matter.

How many of us have made business decisions based on the "safety" of a company's size?  It could be choosing a home contractor because they have more trucks, a law firm because they have more partners, or a "big box" retailer because they are, well, bigger.

But bigger is not necessarily better. A smaller business that approaches their work with intelligence, passion and energy can often provide a much better product, service or experience. In many instances, smaller companies are more nimble and responsive.

I resolve not to judge a business by its size, but to assess the potential benefits and advantages the company can offer by being smart, creative and focused.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cold Reception for KitchenAid Tweet

In case you have been too busy to notice all the furor, a Tweet went out during the Presidential debate from the #KitchenAid corporate Twitter account that was quite disrespectful to President Obama's deceased grandmother. (You can read more about it here.)

While every citizen is entitled to voice his or her opinion about politics and politicians, it is inconceivable that a business would allow such a message to be released via a corporate communications channel. There is no question about whether or not a political message might offend a customer or potential customer - it is certain to offend somebody.  All the apologies and backtracking in the world will not make this problem go away anytime soon for KitchenAid.

What can a business learn from KitchenAid's pain?

  • Stay away from politics - national, local or global - in your social media engagements. You can't win enough friends to offset those you will lose.
  • Filter everything. 
  • Filter it again. 
  • Don't put control of your social media in the hands of some young hotshot who may understand the technology but does not have a clue about the message.
  • Have a strict, written social media policy.
  • Develop a core message about the corporation, your products and services that serves as the basis for all messaging, including advertising, public relations and social media. This helps avoid the problem of someone trying to be "hip and cool" only to see it blow up in your face.

Time will probably heal the burns KitchenAid has suffered as a result of their damaging Tweet.  It is up to the rest of us to benefit from their mistake to help us avoid making our own.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Avoiding "Nontent"

In an article for, copywriter Barry Feldman chides marketers who refuse to take risks with the information they publish. He points a warning finger at those who follow all the rules and are afraid to stand out from the crowd for fear of offending someone.  He calls this "nontent."

Is "nontent" what you are publishing to represent your company or cause? Are you focused on filling every web page with keywords surrounded by bland text. Are you taking the time to publish killer copy, or settling for filler copy?

Feldman also writes, ""When you turn some people off, you turn some people on."  You can't please everyone, so you might as well attempt to capture the attention of those who are attuned to something different and a little out of the ordinary.

Our motto here at Scribendi addresses this same issue:  If you want people to be interested, be interesting. That applies to your products or services, your own personality, and the public personality of your business that is seen and perceived in your marketing.

Do something different. Develop a "voice" for your business that is fresh, exciting and different. Don't allow yourself to fall into the rut of expectations to become just another option among many. Be the expert and share your knowledge. Set a tone that sets you apart. By any means necessary avoid wasting your money and your audience's time by publishing "nontent."

Monday, September 10, 2012

Are You a "Back In" Parker?

As I was finishing up my early morning working at a local high school track today the teachers were starting to arrive for the school day. A significant majority of the teachers drove into the parking lot and took the time to back into a parking spot. It was pretty clear that they were  preparing to make a quick exit at the end of the day.

What kind of message does this send to students? Administrators?  Are teachers so stressed that they need to escape as quickly as possible? What about students who need to stay late for help with subjects in which they are struggling?  Perhaps the teachers intent on "working to contract" and not willing to give one minute more than required.

How many of us have the same attitude? It is simple to just put in the time and get through the day, checking out when the clock says it is OK to exit. But that might not be what is best for an employer, or a career, or your customers.

Check your own "parking" routine. Do you arrive at work in the morning and start counting the hours until lunchtime? Do you spend the afternoon thinking about your commute home? Do you think Mondays are simply awful because they are too far away from Friday?

This sort of "get it done and over with" attitude can even affect the boss. Certainly we are all more stressed and piled high with work. Studies show that American productivity is at an all time high. But that does not excuse work that is rushed, shoddy or just good enough to get by.

Let's face it:  none of us will ever again have plenty of time to accomplish our work. Which makes it all the more important that we focus on doing the best job we can, no matter how small or large the task. No more backing in.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Marketing Decathlon

With the 2012 Olympic Games underway in London, I am eagerly looking forward to the track & field competition. I am especially anticipating the decathlon, the ten-event, two-day competition to determine “the world’s greatest athlete.”  I competed in the decathlon in my younger (and faster) days, so I understand the focus, talent and dedication each decathlete must have to succeed.

Because the decathlon is scored on points based on an athlete’s performance, you can actually win the overall event without winning a single one of the ten component events. To succeed you don’t have to be the very best at any one thing, but you need to be very good at all things in order to accumulate the maximum number of points.

The same can be said for marketing. There are so many channels of communications available today that a marketing professional must become proficient in a wide variety of “events.” You don’t need to be the world’s greatest writer, or graphic designer, or publicist. But you must be very good at these tasks and more.

Here is my list if events in the “marketing decathlon”:

1.     Strategic Marketing Planning
2.     Website Development
3.     Social Media
4.     Advertising – traditional and electronic
5.     E-mail Marketing
6.     Direct Marketing
7.     Public Relations
8.     Blogging
9.     Event Marketing
10.  Graphic Design

These individual “events” are all important components of a well-balanced marketing program. A marketer may be called on to perform in any or all of these disciplines for a client, and often must tackle the full range in the course of a single day!

Does your company’s marketing plan incorporate all ten marketing decathlon events? If not, identify the holes in the program and work to create a plan that is complete so that you can compete for the gold.