The One-Minute Marketing Makeover

There can be big gains from small tweaks to your marketing plan.

Marketing the Easy Way

If you are looking for a way to make your marketing more effective, read this.

10 Most Common Marketing Mistakes We See

1. The business name doesn’t communicate anything about what the company does.
2. The business is not marketing to the right people (the ones that would buy from them).
3. The business models what they do after their competitors, instead of finding their own unique voice.
4. The business puts too much information in their marketing (that no one will read).
5. The business has wrong information in their marketing materials.
6. The employees can’t explain what they do in a clear, concise, compelling manner.
7. The logo is not professional looking or there is no clear-cut standard as to how it is used (blue on some materials and green on others).
8. The marketing materials do not look like they come from the same company (mish-mash of looks) and there is no clear message or call to action.
9. The website is not effectively capturing leads.
10. There is no marketing plan or if there is one, it is not followed.

Is it possible you are making some of these very common mistakes, too?

There is an easy fix. The One-Minute Marketing Makeover template is a great way to start.  Of course, to get the best ROI, we recommend a full marketing audit (see other templates on or time with a Marketing Specialist to work with you to create a blueprint for your marketing.

Marketing Audits

There are two types of marketing plan audits.  The first is the comprehensive which should occur at least one a year and then there are the One-Minute Marketing “mini” audits which should happen at minimum every quarter.

We developed the “mini” audit for clients that were looking for a simple way to check the effectiveness of their marketing plans and budgets.  The “mini” marketing audit is stripped down to the bare essentials and the goal is to create a task list which can be done quickly and easily and yield results right away.

How does it work?  Just like 1-2-3:
1.    You answer 10 questions in about a minute.
2.    The questions guide you in creating a Mini Marketing Audit Answers and Task List
3.    You put your list to work.  Hand it to everyone on your team.

In many cases you could implement your plan in a day to a week, depending on the complexity and availability of the resources you need.  The “mini” audit approach is effective since a small amount of work often has tremendous results and help sell through the bigger, more complex ideas like new product launches, re-doing a website, etc, down the road.

For more information about a Marketing Audit for your business, give me a call at 888-215-0820 or use the Contact Us link on this site.

10 Tips to being Successful in Social Media

Social media is so new and ever changing it is hard to find one definitive definition for it.  My definition is an uncensored conversation in as few words as possible, in as little time as possible, to as many people as possible on a worldwide stage.  That includes blogs, wikis, social-networking sites and other online communities, and virtual worlds.  According to the top social networking sites in the U.S. are (in ranking order): Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Craigslist, Blogger, Photobucket, Flickr, LinkedIn, Tagged, Ning, Twitter, and Yelp.

Here’s ten tips to using social media effectively:

1. Keep content current. Do updates frequently to stay credible and to keep people coming back for more.  Mix up what you post.  Keep the content helpful, fun, and informative.

2. Pick and choose the best for you. You do not have to be all places.  Pick the networks that are right for you.  Determine your demographics first.  Then target the networks that fulfill your objectives and where you will have the most impact.  Remember to be engaging!

3. Just do it. Try out a social site personally first.  Watch for about 30 days to get a feel for how people interact.  Once you get a good handle on how it works, and then create a company profile page.

4. Embrace conversation. Don’t just feed information about your business.  Remember, this is an opportunity to talk, interact and create advocates from your customers.

5. A picture speaks louder than words. Content is important but don’t forget the visuals such as photos and videos.

6. Be friendly. Create advocates.  After you join a network, make sure to connect with other businesses like yours, industry people, and major brands that partner with you and others in the industry.  The more people you connect with, the more they can spread your messages.

7. Give people a reason to participate.   Social networking is an incredible outlet for grass roots marketing within this high tech culture.  Create reasons for people to talk back, enter a contest, or simply participate  in a discussion.

8. Resist the temptation to sell, sell, sell. When people are invited to participate in online communities, they expect resorts to listen and consider their ideas.  They don’t want to feel like they’re simply a captive audience for advertising.  If they do, they’re likely to leave and not come back.

9. Jump on the bandwagon now, and remain in the conversation for the long haul. The sooner you act, the more leeway you will have with experimentation.  You’ll also be a significant step ahead of your competitors (unless they get there before you).

10. Oh the humanity. Get creative and try to let the conversation flow freely. The more accessible you are to your customers than your competitors, the more likely it is that you’re going to be a part of your customers’ lives.  So, as a brand, this is your opportunity to humanize your company and be part of your customers’ life experiences and their personal networks, from which they draw so much. You can be part of a positive association in the good times. And, in the bad, you may have the support of your friends and followers when you need it.

Dog Recovers after Skiing Accident, $2k Surgery Needed

March 23, 2009, Columbus, OH: Dare devil dog or irresponsible owners?  You be the judge.rossi

Sunday afternoon, a thirteen year old Pekingese canine was found dazed and hurt shortly after launching off a jump.  Rumor has it that the incident happened in Ohio after all ski resorts had closed for the winter.

According to inside sources the dog’s name is Rossi and he suffered ruptured tendons in his left rear foot.  At his age surgery may be his only option if he ever wants to walk again.  Jumping for this canine may also become a thing of the past.

Shortly after this story went public, debate started whether or not the owners whose names have not been released yet were irresponsible for letting the dog do something he enjoyed no matter the risk.  Surgery is scheduled for sometime at the end of March.  In the meanwhile, Rossi is walking in a splint and getting plenty of bed rest.

A website was created to help share the story and sell t-shirts to help raise money for the surgery.  Proceeds from product sales at will go towards the surgery and recovery.  Any additional funds received will be set aside for other dogs in need.

I got my Personal QR Code!

Ever since I saw the Ralph Lauren mobile campaign last summer that they launched for the U.S. Open, I have been excited about the possibilities of QR (Quick Response) codes for clients.

What are those?

QR code: (Quick response) it is a 2d bar code like you would see on any regular products.  This code allows cell phone users to be directed to a specific website where you can purchase or receive more info.


This example is for

It launched in the summer of 2008.  All the marketing for the event-posters, print ads, cards, shirts, etc had QR codes so that people could just “point and click (using a camera phone and internet access + QR reader).

How It Works

-open mobile application downloaded to your cellphone

-hover over code to snap picture

-Click to go to the site & browse info, read, watch videos, or buy something.

Cool note-using this technology you would be able to place a QR code on a t-shirt where people could scan and link directly to your myspace page.  So, that’s why I decided to try it out first with a personal code.  Here’s mine:

Samantha Rufo QR code
Samantha Rufo QR code

The Basics

Ok, if you want to see how this works, follow these instructions.  Note, you do need a camera enabled phone to do this and have a Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile or AT& T carrier.

From your cell phone (easiest way to do this)
1. On your cell phone go to the mobile site
2. The correct software will download to your cell phone.
3. After it is installed (about 60 seconds) open the program and aim the phone’s camera shutter at the QR code.  It will take you to my website.

From the web
1. Go here
2. Follow directions for getting the correct cellphone application download.
Once the application is downloaded to your PC, send it to your phone using Bluetooth, infrared or USB. Open the program on your cell phone to snap the QR code and see the magic.

Watch for some new and exciting case studies as we start implementing and getting feedback from some new mobile campaigns using QR codes.

Marketing Mishaps-Not Funny Then, Funny Now

In today’s post I am going to borrow a concept I saw recently for “Not Funny Then, Funny Now” to describe some of the marketing related incidents that come to mind over the years.  If any of these trigger your own memories, please share below.

Not Funny Then…While working as the Marketing Director at Mad River Mountain Ski Area, a guest showed his dislike for a company no refund policy by lunging over the counter to try to attack me.  Police were called…Funny now.

Not Funny Then…Back in 1996 fighting to get the ok for a $2,000 web budget to create a company website (in the travel industry).  The “powers-to-be” felt the web was a passing fad and the budget allowance “irresponsible spending”…Funny Now.

Not funny then…Having to pull a brochure off a printer’s press because of one sentence that said “a skiing event for those with a lust for life”.  At the last minute, lust was considered too risque for the “powers -to-be” and had to be replaced by “love” for life.  By waiting to the last minute to change this, it costs us days of delay and thousands of dollars…Funny Now.

Not funny then…After a takeover of the organization I worked for, we were asked to put together a document explaining what we did, projects we’ve worked on and recommendations for moving forward.  I spent 2 weeks putting together a detailed portfolio book (and copies).  When my meeting time came to meet with the new CEO, he shook my hand, said “Oh, you are the Marketing Director, the necessary evil”.  Proceeded to flip thru the carefully prepared portfolio and hand it back to me.  When I told him it was his copy, he said, “that’s ok, I really have no where to put it”.  Got up and left after about 5 minutes…Funny Now (Developed a great relationship with the CEO and worked there for years afterward).

Twitter Tools Review

With the explosion of the popularity of Twitter, comes new tools and websites promising everything from helping you to make money to simplifying your life.  So, the biggest question on my mind, is “just because it is free, is it really is worth using”?

I went with a simple grading system:
-is it easy to start using
-will it save me time
-does it really do something unique and useful

If the product got a yes to all three questions above, they get listed in the “Hot” Column, if not, well, then they are “Not”.

Hot Not
Find, follow and interact with businesses, apps and services on Twitter.
TwitPay is a simple way to send payments via Twitter.
Why: Easy to follow business listing directory Why: Doesn’t seem very secure and only works with Amazon payments.
TwitPic lets you share photos on Twitter. You can post pictures to TwitPic from your phone, the TwitPic home page or your Twitter account.
Send private Twitter messages to specific groups of friends.
Why: Simple to use and a great way to easily tie-in to your Twitter account. Why: Need to create a new account for each group.  Seems like I could do that directly thru Twitter too.
Mr. Tweet
A personal networking assistant for Twitter, helping you identify relevant followers, recommending you to other users and regularly computing your Twitter usage statistics.
mr tweet
Twitter Alerts
Keep track of conversations that mention you, your products, your company and anything else, via hourly email updates.
Why: Finding people you really want to follow can be difficult, so this kind of help is appreciated and a time saver. Why: After setting up the account, I realized it uses Twitter Search.  So, why not just use Twitter Search?
With TwitWall, you can embed your favorite videos and widgets and upload your photos, MP3 music, podcasts, you name it.
StrawPoll is the coolest way to follow the opinions of people on Twitter. With this app, you can create your own poll.
Why: Adds some 3d to the otherwise plain Twitter profile page.  Was up and running in minutes. Why: I like the concept but had a hard time figuring out how it works and how to track results.
Unfollow Tweeps who have not posted tweets recently.
Twitter Friends Network Browser
Browse through your Twitter friends, your friends’ friends, your friends’ friends’ friends.
Twitter Friends
Why: It seems the way to the best ratings on Twitter is to have more people follow you than you follow others.  So, using this tool might help increase your ratings. Why: Although it looks cool, I couldn’t get it to do anything but get more confusing.
Twitter Grader
Twitter Grader measures the power of your Twitter profile. How high do you rank?
Twitter Grader
Twittertise allows you to advertise on Twitter and track the success of your branded communications with customers.
Why: Since I am competitive I like this.  Nice way to see how your postings compare to other similar profiles. Why: Seems like what they offer–post a special or coupon–could also be done directly into your profile.
Enter your twitter username to see a tag cloud from the ‘bios’ of your twitter flock.
Twitterless tells you who stops following you and graphs your follower history over time, displaying the info in a variety of useful views.
Why: Looks cool and is functional too. Why: Love the idea but I think the developers got overwhelmed with response.  Didn’t seem to be working.
Just Tweet It
Just Tweet It makes it easier for tweeters to find other tweeters with similar interests.
Have a “Not” you would like to add?
Contact me.
Why: Another cool directory that’s not just for business.
Twitter Search
Search Twitter is an excellent search engine that allows you to find out what’s happening in the world beyond your personal timeline.
Twitter Search
Have a “Not” you would like to add?
Contact me.
Why: THE way to search for comments, people, hashtags, and more on Twitter.
Most of the features available on the Twitter website are accessible through twhirl, with usability enhancements.Twirl
Have a “Not” you would like to add?
Contact me.
Why: When following comments and posts gets too hard to follow thru the web, this is a great next step.  Also has tools to shorten URL’s, add pics, and more.
TweetDeck aims to improve the existing functionality of Twitter by taking the abundance of Twitter feeds and breaking it down into more manageable bite-sized pieces
Have a “Not” you would like to add?
Contact me.
Why: Are you a serious Twit?  Than this software is for you.  Makes managing large numbers of followers possible.
Twitalyzer is a tool that calculates your influence based on your signal-to-noise ratio, generosity, velocity and clout, and it also allows you to calculate a score for any other Twitter user you want to keep tabs on. Since it displays increases and decreases to your influence over time, it is also a way to test the positive or negative impact of new Twitter strategies
Have a “Not” you would like to add?
Contact me.
Why: There’s not much analytics yet for Twitter, but this is about the best you’ll find at the moment.

As a side note, there is one thing that does concern me.  Almost all the related Twitter websites that offer these tools want you to give them your username and password in order to use their services.  That seems like a big problem waiting to happen.

Please let me know if you agree or disagree with my reviews.  Have a few to add?  Just let me know.

Skittles the Un-Website

Ok, for the last month or so I have heard people talking about “what Skittles did” and the huge controversy.  I just figured it was more of the usual website hype.  Until this morning.  Now I understand what the hoopla (who says those words anymore?) is about.

In a nutshell, if you also have not followed the Skittles talk, they replaced their regular website that had content, product information, and the usual company fluff, with a portal atmosphere that brings in many of the big social networks.  That’s right, they got rid of their website and are using YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and other network spaces instead.  WOW.

They have essentially said, “you our customer know how you want to interact with us, so we are handing you the keyboard” (my quote not theirs).  I personally think this is brilliant.  Skittles is going where their customers are.  They are truly “giving power to the people”.  They have however gotten quite a bit of criticism from marketers and business people.  One blog post I read called the move “crazy“.

According to Skittles, their goal was to “consolidate access to all social media around the brand.”  I applaud them.  They are a bit ahead of their time.  What they did is what I consider a stab at web 3.0.  What’s that?  It’s where businesses and brands will be able to harness and make the current social media landscape usable and personal.  Friendster and are just a few examples of organizations already trying to do this.

Good or bad, there’s a few things we can learn from this:

1. The first one there owns the game. Skittles will get the most publicity and launch excitement because they tried it first.  Others that follow will have a hard time getting the coverage that Skittles did.  Since they did it first, they also get to create the rules and build the business model.

2. Integrated branding. Skittles is focusing their time on creating their company profiles across the social media channels online and their traditional marketing offline.  They are approaching new media with new thinking.  They are creating an entire brand experience from each part and funneling everything back to their website URL.

3. Optimization. Talk about high ROI.  Skittles will be able to gain higher visibility and link-ability on the web faster and easier than any website before it.  How?  They are letting their customers do it for them.

4. Mistakes happen. Is the Skittles new concept perfect?  No, of course not.  By trying to legally protect themselves with a dialog box asking your age before you can visit the site they seem to be turning off site visitors.  But, this is how they and those that follow behind them will learn.

So, as I wrap up this post for the day,I am left thinking, who else would this concept work for?