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Monthly Archives: December 2008

Our New Home

We’ve made the move to WordPress and our new look will be appearing here soon.  Thanks for stopping by!

By |December 27th, 2008|misc|2 Comments

Some Holiday Cheer from OCbizblog


We are spending the rest of the week with our families. If you are in the area, head on down to Balboa Island for their annual Christmas lights display. Happy Holidays to you and yours.

By |December 24th, 2008|misc|Comments Off on Some Holiday Cheer from OCbizblog

Small Business Marketing Without a Budget


I had lunch with a small business owner yesterday.

Looking for a recession-proof niche?

This is about as close as you’re going to get.

e7sports provides online management systems for youth sports groups. Youth sports is pretty inelastic. The demand doesn’t fluctuate too much with the economy.

They’ve been at it for six years and are hitting their stride, projecting 75% growth over the next two years

We talked about his marketing strategy.

He said, “You know how we market? Our product works and we answer the phone.”

My kind of guy.

Marketing isn’t just advertising. It isn’t just being creative. It isn’t simply saying you’re the best.

It’s living and breathing it every day by working on your internals – your brand strategy, your tactics, your culture.

Having a great product, answering the phone and genuinely caring about customer service (see Zappos) is both cost effective and smart.

We see a lot of waste.

We know of one business in Orange County that two years ago did a million a year in revenue and spent $10,000 per month on print and cable TV. They tracked none of it.

Ouch.

It raises a classic marketing debate.

Which is better?

A great product and mediocre marketing or great marketing and a mediocre product…

It is getting more and more difficult to have the latter. Nike and Budweiser and anyone in the entertainment business beware. There are a lot of conversations going on out there and a lot of individuals with clout that can rave about a great product or slam a bad one.

You are a small business. You only have so much time, money and resources. Start with first things first. Have a great product. Answer the phone. If you haven’t been focusing on that, now is the time.

By |December 22nd, 2008|marketing|Comments Off on Small Business Marketing Without a Budget

User Guide to the Yellow Pages

A friend of mine has a nice little embroidery and screen printing business here in Orange County. Yesterday, as we stood in the parking lot after dropping our daughters off at school, he told me about a conversation with a Yellow Pages rep he had the day before.

The rep quoted him a rate for a full page ad and my friend politely declined, stating the none to obvious fact that almost half of his business was coming from online sources and the rest through word of mouth and referrals. The rep persisted and after the third “no” he dropped his quoted rate by 60%.

Nice.

Now that the Yellow Pages has gone Tom Cruise crazy by telling small business owners that they’ve been ripping them off, it makes sense to help them find more practical uses for their product.

Here are a few ideas.

1. Use the book as a primer to teach your children the history of advertising. See kids? This is what ads looked like when your grandmother was a little girl!

2. Bring it to the gym and offer $100 to the biggest lughead who can tear it in half. It used to be hard, it may not be anymore.

3. Booster seat for the toddler.
And it’s mobile. Throw it in the car and use it for the next family outing.

4. Hidden weapon in case of home invasion robbery.
Getting hit on the side of the head with pages and pages of pest control and plumber ads can do some damage.

5. Archive it. The traditional use. Let it sit at the bottom of some drawer or cabinet or closet until the next one comes along.

As a small business owner, you rely on your local customers. The internet allows you to reach them more cheaply and more effectively than any other paid medium. Take advantage of Google, Local.com and Yelp.

Your future customers are all there. Are you?

By |December 19th, 2008|marketing|6 Comments

Why Dentists Fear Facebook

Sit back.

Relax.

This won’t hurt a bit…

Behold the probing tools that make dentists nervous:

MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp. And whatever other social media business you can think of.

Like a lot of small business owners, dentists used to just advertise in local papers and magazines, do a direct mail piece now and then and watch their practice grow.

But the game has changed.

The old ways aren’t working.

It’s the death of Adus Interruptus.

Time for a little self-examination. Here are several reasons why your typical dentist is slow to embrace a social media marketing approach to his practice:

He doesn’t listen.
He is old school in his approach. Top down. He’s a genius. I’m an idiot. Let’s talk a little bit. Let me be part of the process. I’ll tell you what I think and you tell me if I’m making sense. Pull me, don’t push me.

He doesn’t connect with me.
I’m not talking about being my buddy. Just do something to remind me that you’re a human being. Stop sending me the tired postcard two weeks out and the day-before phone call. Try doing something different that takes you out of the pile of people who just want my money.

He doesn’t care what other people think. Someone told me they had a bad experience. Is that true? No? Well, why did they post it to their Facebook page? Why did they Twitter about it? Why are you so poorly reviewed on Yelp? In the past, it was easier to hide poor execution, shady practices and shoddy performance. Not anymore.

He tries to upsell me all the time.
I’m not in junior high anymore so let’s just skip the retainer, ok pal? It’s invisible? Yeah, ok, it’s invisible. And I know you paid a pretty penny for that flatscreen image of the inside of my mouth that makes it look like a napalmed village but those fillings still work.

He has no empathy.
Do you realize what you’re suggesting is not only going to cost me a boatload of both time and money put also pain and stress? Can I tell you the 138 other things I’d rather do than come back for that?

No humor, no mirth, no glee.
Goes back to being human. C’mon buddy. Lighten up. It’s teeth!

Social media marketing is simple and painless. There is nothing to fear. Just get out of your own way and start connecting with people. Do it online and offline. Build some trust. It’s the social currency of the future.

iLounge Therefore I Am


Starting a new business does not mean you have to start something entirely new.

Case in point: iLounge.com

A few months back I spoke with iLounge founder Dennis LLoyd, whose company is based here in Irvine. On the phone, he came across as friendly and relaxed. He is also a pretty smart guy.

Dennis didn’t set out to reinvent the wheel.

In 2001, in the days after Apple released their first generation iPod, he simply built a site devoted to it. Since then, it has become the leading source of iPod information, assistance, news, and discussion. The site is updated daily with news, reviews, articles, previews, and tutorials.

It generates over 15 million page view per month.

There has been a lot of banter in the marketing world lately about “ecosystems” and working inside one or on the outside. Whether what you do contributes to the ecosystem, harms it or simply has no impact.

iLounge decided to work within the iPod ecosystem. They did not set out to create their own. They built something around an existing product.

Pretty smart.

Not new.

But smart.

By |December 15th, 2008|orange county|Comments Off on iLounge Therefore I Am