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Be Remarkable: Read Purple Cow

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Lately I have been more into books on CD for a couple of reasons. One, I like to continually learn new things. And two, listening to a CD in your car is much easier than trying to set aside the time to read when I get home from work. The last book I listened to was Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable by Seth Godin. It’s a quick read/listen but really gets you to think about different ways to do things.

Godin opens by telling a story of driving through the French countryside. While driving he see’s cows roaming mile after beautiful mile. But after a little while he grew very tired of looking at basically the same cows and landscape. Then he points out, if he were to see a purple cow, that would be remarkable. Being different and standing out from the herd of other ‘cows’ in your market is something a lot of us are trying to achieve.

pc1Godin points out that you don’t need to market to everyone – something that many companies try to do. In fact, no brand can be all things to all people. He says to focus the product and the marketing on are what he calls the ‘Sneezers.’ Sneezers are the first adopters that jump on board with a product early. Focusing on them and getting them what they need should be of the utmost importance. The Sneezers will then greatly help market the product for you through word-of-mouth and the like. However, for the Sneezers to latch on to your product and for it to do well, it must be remarkable.

Otaku. You may have never heard the word before. Godin describes it as “…a Japanese word that describes something that’s more than a hobby but a little less than an obsession.” Some may have a food otaku. It is what makes you drive to Corktown in Detroit for barbecue at Slow’s when there are over 110 other barbecue joints closer. Otaku is what makes you drive to Toledo for a hot dog from Tony Packo’s when you could just pick up one walking out of Home Depot. Everyone has an Otaku for something. Otaku makes you strive for the remarkable.

The largest takeaway I took from this book is that if it’s not remarkable it’s not worth doing. What would be the point of doing something just mediocre? Why do you think something that everybody else is doing would also work for you? It may work for a time but it won’t increase sales much, nor will it differentiate yourself from the competition. Find your Otaku. And as we all know, there are always new competitors trying to steal a portion of your market share. Being different is the best thing we can do. Incremental differences don’t count.

The end of the book sums its up best with Godin’s 4 main takeaways:

  1. Don’t be boring. Don’t blend in, stand out. This book is about being remarkable. Do it.
  2. Safe is risky. Playing it safe can be a recipe for disaster.  As mentioned, focus on the Sneezers and not the population. To get a product off the ground you must focus all of your efforts on the people who will use your product first. They will push along the ideas to the masses.  If you don’t get the attention of the Sneezers you’ve lost your investment.
  3. Design rules now. Design of a product should come before marketing. Let the designers have almost free reign. For the product to be remarkable, the design must be kept close and not diluted. The product needs to be unique to be remarkable.
  4. Very good is bad. Very good is not enough to be great. If you are very good you’ve missed the mark. We are shooting for excellence. Make it remarkable, not just very good.

To me this little book was a nice change of pace. Although I gave you a summary already, I highly recommend reading the book yourself. As I was going through it I found myself not only paying close attention to the ideas that Godin presents but also getting lost in my own thoughts. I think that is something that can’t be recreated unless you read it yourself. After all, who doesn’t want to be remarkable?

Kaizen for Your Goals, Part 1: Fashion Matters for Men at Work

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Kaizen is about continuous improvement. Japanese automakers used this process to improve processes and most notably to steal market share from American automakers. Now I have created a series entitle Kaizen for Your Goals. It’s about continually improving yourself to make your goals a reality quicker and more effectively. Small steps now = big results later. Part 1 starts now.

Fashion Matters for Men at Work

You are what you wear. It may sound like I’m judging a book by its cover but that is what the majority of people do. People inherently make judgments right away about what and who you are all about. I say “you” because you ARE judged daily. Here’s a story to get you thinking.

suitA Tailored Suit v. Cowboy Boots

A graphic designer friend of mine came to me last week and said “I felt so awkward on the elevator today.” He went on to explain that the owner of the company, let’s call him Tom, got on the elevator with him and the two of them took it the 7 floors down to street level. Tom was wearing an impeccably tailored suit, had finely polished Italian leather shows, and a fine timepiece. My friend happened to be going to a ball game after work and decided to wear jeans, a t-shirt, and cowboy boots to work that day.  You can imagine his embarrassment. It was rare that he would run into Tom, let alone have solid time with just him in the elevator. You see, as much as we think it will save time to just wear “going out” clothes to work, it can be a very costly mistake for your future.

Look Better = Get Rewarded

When you look better, you feel more confident. When you feel more confident, you perform better. When you perform better, you get noticed. When you get noticed, you get rewarded.

I pride myself on how I dress. I started wearing ties to work because nobody else in my office was doing it anymore. Slowly more male co-workers started wearing more ties. To me I think of everyday as an interview. I always want to perform at the top of my skill level because you never know what may be presented to you in the moment. Dressing well increases your confidence. And don’t think people don’t notice. I was once sitting in a meeting and the Vice President called me out by saying, “Don always dresses well. He is a fine representation of the company.” Always dressing well assisted my efforts to shape the marketing the organization. I felt confident in what I was wearing and they, in turn, felt confident in me. Taking from the Vice President’s words, what you wear represents your company. I wouldn’t expect a clerk at my favorite surf shop in Hawaii to wear a suit. So dress for the environment but if you question it, it’s better to dress up than down.

It’s all in the Details

You don’t need to wear a tie or a dress to get noticed at work. What you should consider is to add details. Why do you think tie bars have become so popular among males again? Females have lots of options for accessories but males have let this slip over the years. Metro-sexual is a term that people have come up with for guys that actually care how they look. I don’t think it’s the correct term because it’s all part of being a gentleman. Focus on life’s details and pick up a copy of How to be a Gentlemen. I picked it up at Brooks Brothers over the summer and I highly recommend it. One or two nice details in your style makes a $10 shirt look like a thousand bucks. I am not a style expert by any sense of the term but I do suggest you find what suits your style and make it work, at work. How to be a Gentlemen doesn’t just focus on style but the total package. In the end, these details matter and its all part of the incremental approach to better yourself.

You ARE judged daily, as I said before. Think of each day like its your first day on the job. Read that last sentence again. And, the next time you think that you don’t need to do your hair or take the extra few minutes to press your shirt, think again. Everything matters down to the detail. Nobody is perfect but there is always something one can do to better his/herself. This is Kaizen for your goals – continuous improvement.

Do you have the drive to continually take small steps to make the most of your potential?

Rethink Your Press Releases Now

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Throw all of your standard cookie cutter press release ideas out. Nobody wants to read the same press release time and again. Would you? They’ll notice and just stop paying attention. Over the years I have read a large number of press releases that simply don’t cut it. Because of that, here are 5 tips to help take your press release to the next level.

  1. Include a quote. Quotes from high-ranking individuals, especially a respected third-party outside your organization, can really elevate your press release from good to great. It’s important because it brings a more personal connection to the reader, it increases visibility in search, and its helps complete your story.  news
  2. Story is important, so make it newsworthy. You need to know why someone would want to read it before you write it. What makes this press release worth writing? Give it a thought. Then, craft the press release to focus on one big takeaway for the reader. In today’s world, there are countless press releases coming out each day but only a few of them are ever actually read. Every story will be different so this is why the cookie cutter approach doesn’t work. Get them hooked, focus on the brand, and leave them wanting more.
  3. Avoid overused words and phrases such as “world class.” You can evoke the feelings of being world class and cutting edge without having to say it. These words are something people have come to expect when reading or writing press releases. Needless to say, it doesn’t help you stand out. If you think you have no other option, try writing the same sentence 3 or 4 different ways without using the overused word in question. If that doesn’t work you’re focusing too hard on one sentence. It’s time to go back to my second point and think about the whole story again.
  4. Use keywords appropriately. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a powerful thing. The quote will definitely help your SEO efforts, especially if your quote if from someone respected in your field. But, when I say used keywords appropriately I mean it. Not everyone reading your press release will be within your industry. With this in mind, make it understandable to the average person. Sometimes PR writers get too stuck on fitting in all of the industry jargon that they lose readership. It’s still okay to fit in your keywords, just make sure it makes sense to your neighbor, your boss, and your spouse.
  5. Lastly, the first sentence makes the biggest difference. It’s like making a first impression. Start strong and let the reader know why they should read more. In the first sentence of this post I told you to throw out your normal ideas of a press release. Whether you liked hearing that or not it intrigued you to read more. Here’s a fine example. In a recent press release out of General Motors titled Tonawanda Turns the Page, their first sentence says, “Four million, one hundred and forty-nine thousand.” Now I want to read more. Its a big number and it’s a far from average way to start a press release. They go on to talk about engine production with the lowest warranty costs in all of GM. This could have been just another stale article but the first sentence captures you from the start. Set up your press release for greatness and make your first impression count.

What other ways have you found to take your press release to the next level?

Detroit Tigers’ Marketing is Focused on Personalization

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The American Marketing Association (AMA) of Detroit held an event last Thursday on September 13, 2012 entitled “Marketing the Detroit Tigers.” Naturally it was a sell out. The presentation was led by Ron Wade, Director of Marketing for the Detroit Tigers. After an extensive tour of the clubhouse, dugout and press box we all gathered in the Champions Club at Comerica Park for the presentation.  Wade is a very dynamic speaker and with something as interesting as the Detroit Tigers he kept us all yearning for more.DetroitTigersLogo

The session started off watching the most recent “Who’s Your Tiger?” TV advertising spots. Then he spoke to us about the new Who’s you Tiger campaign for the 2013 season, and I must say, it’s clever. What struck me right away was that no matter how good their marketing is and no matter how much they do they are judged on ticket sales alone. It’s a good thing the Tigers are 2 games out of first place right now for their sake.

Ron and his team are the keepers of the brand. “The ‘Who’s Your Tiger?’ campaign personalizes the fan experience,” said Wade.  The campaign started in 2005 and continued for 3 years strong. After that the campaign took at 2 year break but the fans didn’t realize it was even gone. They would still come to the park with signs saying who their Tiger was. When asked why the campaign stopped Wade explained that when 2008 hit the recession was in full force and they really wanted to focus on heritage. And while the heritage campaigns were a nice sentiment, “Who’s Your Tiger?” came back in full force in 2010. Now, this campaign shows no signs of slowing down and neither does their partner ad agency in Troy, SMZ Advertising.

Traditional campaigns aren’t where this stops. They personalize social media far beyond what others would consider. These days people are watching the game on two screens, TV and via smart phone. To capitalize on that the Detroit Tigers use a variety of social networks including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For the sake of length I’ll just focus on Twitter.

On Twitter they have 4 main twitter handles for 4 different reasons. The main one is @Tigers. Then, since nearly 40% of Tiger’s players’ first language is Spanish they have developed the twitter handle @TigresdeDetroit. On top of that, their Spanish social media is handled in-house. Now, say you’re at a game relaxing and enjoying the day and you want to hear a certain song. You can tweet @ComericaParkDJ and they will play your song request throughout the entire park. Cool huh? Not only that but if you have an issue in the park you can also tweet @ComericaParkOps and they will take care of it for you. The Tigers also bring in social media activation by allowing fans to tweet their seat location to them during any game to be bestowed “Fan of the Game.”

The last way that fans can personally connect with the ball club on Twitter is through the players. Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander is among the players that tweet.  Wade admits that “Pitchers have the most downtime to tweet.”

To personalize their contact with the fans even more they are heavily involved in the community. With programs such as the Miracle League Fantasy Camp and Dreams Can Come True programs, the Tigers are very dedicated to making  to a difference in the community.  Wade said that the Tigers don’t publicize these efforts because “it’s just something that should happen.”

No matter what, Wade and his Tigers marketing team want to personalize every aspect of their marketing. What were some key takeaways to help you in your social media personalization? Wade gives us three things to do.

  1. Find your brand ambassadors and give them what they need. These key people can help you more that anyone else. Wade says you must “treat social media like free advertising and don’t oversell.” With the personalization tactics it connect fans directly with the brand. When a fan is connected with the brand they want to stay close with that brand. This is what propels these fans to keep coming back.
  2. Photos. Be social with what fans you do have and keep them connected with photos on Facebook and Instagram.
  3. Look to your competitors. It’s no secret what they are doing. “Sports teams are some of the biggest copycats in marketing,” says Wade.

Ron Wade’s future goal? To own his own minor league baseball team.

Next time you’re at the park you’ll have a lot more to think about. Tweet, Like, Post. Go Tigers!

Welcome to Advertorious

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One day a friend posed the question to me,  why don’t you write a blog? I thought about it for a while and thought, “why not?” I have a lot of insight, am always searching for more information and just generally love advertising. So here I am. I plan to roam through my thoughts of  all things related to advertising, marketing, and public relations throughout Detroit and beyond, such as:

  • Advice and helpful hints
  • Industry insight
  • Recaps of industry events that I have been to
  • Observations
  • Book reviews
  • And more!

You see, advertising intrigues me because it has the power to make or break a great brand. Audrey Hepburn said it best when she said “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” Advertising makes many things possible and that why I love being a part of it.

A little background on me

I am a no nonsense kind of guy. I like things clean and simple. Self-motivation is one of the keys to my success thus far. I lead all marketing and communications efforts at MMS Holdings Inc., a pharmaceutical service organization based in Canton, Michigan. Due to the nature of my position, I am very knowledgeable about a wide variety of areas. I still have a long road to hoe in my career ahead but I look forward to the journey. I have my Master’s of Business Administration with a Marketing Management certificate from Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan. Outside of work I play saxophone and sing in a oldies rock ‘n’ roll cover band. I am a 2nd degree black belt and instructor at Schollenberger’s Tang Soo Do Korean Karate Academy. And, I have a lovely wife named Jess.

Thank you for reading my blog. I look forward to continuing the conversation.