Category Archives: Rant

Things that make we want to say, “Oh come on!”

Can’t Wait until November 7th

You know its bad when a marketer and Political Science major (college) – me- is completely fed up with the election. I can not wait until Wednesday. It’s not even noon and I’ve had three political calls, one person at the door and 6 mailers from political parties. I can’t even watch TV, because almost every commercial is political in nature. The only reason I’m not getting emails or social media messages is because I’ve either spammed them or blocked them.

Keep in mind, I love marketing.  I live and breathe it.  But, we (U.S. businesses) have standards.  We have opt-out lists, we remove people from call lists, we stop mailing people if they request it.  Our goal is to inspire and motivate consumers to do something-buy, sign up, attend, etc.  All of these things do not seem to apply for political advertising.  How did we let that happen?

Honestly, whatever side you may be on, after what’s gone on over the last year, can you really say you are proud of our current electoral process? Obama has spent $347 million dollars in advertising, 85% of it on negative ads. Romney has spent $386 million dollars on ads, 91% of them negative. For those counting, that’s $733 million dollars. Plus, the Super PAC’s, which estimates say put this over a billion dollars. Gone, poof, up in smoke, since that money mostly went for air time on TV, radio, and web. Not one job created. No sales tax paid. Sometimes its hard to imagine how much money that is. Here’s some other things that much money could buy:

1) Instagram

2) The entire New York Times, says Reuters’ Jack Shafer

3) 800 of AOL’s Microsoft’s patents

4) The cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease

5) 68 Lebron Jameses , 40 Kobe Bryants, and 83 Albert Pujolses

6) 25.6 million containers of Luxury Ramen Noodles

7) 60,900 Ten Ounce Gold Bar Door Stops

8) 1,562 Castawayesque 20 Acre Polynesian Islands

9) A 50% stake in the Los Angeles Dodgers

10) 125 million partridges in a pear tree

Is Facebook advertising prejudiced against agencies?

Recently Facebook starting a new campaign to encourage small businesses to get more fans on their page with “$50 in Free Advertising from Facebook Small Business Boost”.  Emails were sent out and if you registered in the program, and were accepted, you could receive the $50.  To redeem, they stated, “Click on “Claim Your $50 now to redeem your free $50. After you’ve created an ad, we’ll automatically apply it to your account”.  Sounds easy enough, right?

Well, not for everyone.  Although some of our clients were accepted into the program, when we tried to apply the promotion to their ad costs, we were declined.  Why?  Because it was another admin on the page they were targeting.  So, although its the same business, same page, they are discriminating the admins.  Not cool!

Here’s a look into how Facebook deals with this kind of issue.  Phone calls, nope.  Just an email that they can easily dismiss.  What really makes me mad, is the only reason many of our clients are advertising on Facebook, is because of our recommendations and management.

Step 1. Use the “Contact Us” form to contact the Facebook Global Marketing Solutions Team.

Subject: Facebook Ads & Sponsored Stories: Help and Tips

What types of questions related to your Ads or Sponsored Stories can we help you with?: Costs and Payment Please select one: I have a question not listed above Please describe your question or issue with as much detail as possible: We manage ads for various clients. Recently you sent out emails for $50 credits. Our clients have taken you up on this and are asking us to apply the credit to their invoices. However, it looks like it only took the first $50 credit for the page. We have created new ads for these other pages, and are just looking to apply their credit:  and Your help is appreciated.

Step 2. Receive an email directing us to a different form:

From: []

Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 4:05 PM
Subject: Re: Facebook Ads & Sponsored Stories: Help and Tips

Hi Sam,

Thanks for reaching out to us regarding your client’s coupon situation. In order to provide you the best support possible, please submit your information at your earliest convenience through the form below:

We appreciate your patience in taking this extra step. After submitting this form, a Facebook Payments Specialist will respond shortly. You will hear from us within 24 hours during the business week but may experience a longer wait over the weekend.

Thank you again for your time!


Ashley, Facebook Ads Specialist, Facebook

Step 3. Complete the form and wait for a response.

Step 4. Here’s the response:

From: []

Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 6:09 PM
Subject: Re: Advertising Coupon Inquiry – I am unable to add a coupon to my account

Hi Sam,

Thank you for your email.

The recent $50 credit is for a program called the Small Business Boost. The goal of this promotion is to encourage small business owners to use Facebook Ads for their business. In keeping with this goal, only one page per user is eligible to enter the promotion.

Unfortunately we are not able to activate multiple coupons for the same promotion on one advertising account. If your clients each received coupons via email for their individual registration, they are encouraged to activate these coupons on their own accounts. We apologize for any confusion or inconvenience.

Thanks for contacting Facebook,

Cameron, Payment Operations, Facebook

Step 5: When I am out of options, the only thing left is to go public. So, we notified the clients and emailed back Cameron.  I actually don’t expect a response.  Facebook is too big and although they say they want to help small businesses, I guess it must be OTHER small businesses.

Something else I found interesting.  For the first time in two years of advertising on Facebook, this morning, one of our ads was “Disapproved” (although its been running for months without an issue).  Coincidence or a slap on the hand for trying to talk back to Facebook?

From: nxtConcepts Support

Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 9:09 AM

To: ‘The Facebook Team’

Cc: ‘client 1 and client 2

Subject: RE: Advertising Coupon Inquiry – I am unable to add a coupon to my account

Hello Cameron,

First, thanks for responding. Second, you wrote, ” The goal of this promotion is to encourage small business owners to use Facebook Ads for their business”, that’s exactly what we are doing. These are seasonal businesses that are planning on stopping advertising. This incentive gives them one other reason to continue.

Third, where does it state explicitly that a certain login must only use the promotion? As far as I can see and tell, it has to do with the page itself. That’s exactly what we are trying to do.

I am copying these clients to make sure they are aware that it is YOUR policy and YOUR not honoring the promotion that is the issue. We have worked with Facebook for quite a while, and although we do not have clients that you consider “prime” with ads over $100,000 a month, we believe every advertiser and campaign is important. We just wish you did too.

I’ll make sure that every one of my over 11,000 Twitter followers and Facebook friends and fans are aware of this too.

Samantha Rufo

President, nxtConcepts

Have you had a similar issue?  I’d love to hear about it.

Comment Policy – play nice and no spam

It started simply enough…nice spam.  A few comments here, a few positive reviews there, then all of a sudden–lots of useless and seemingly spam links to sites I would never want to promote on my blog.  So, as of this first Monday in the New Year, I am announcing my personal war against comment spam.

Here’s just a few ways to get your comments removed from my blog:

  • Your name is a bunch of keywords that do not tell me who you are but what  you are pushing.
  • Comments that simply say “nice site” are not going to last long and may get your IP address banned.
  • Links in the body of the comment.
  • Signing off with a link.

How to post comments:

  • write something acceptable-whether you agree with me or not.
  • I have a comment form please use it to ask me questions unrelated to my post.
  • Please stay on topic.
  • Submitting lots of good comments over a period of time (not all at once) is a good way to get my attention and have me want to link to you.

Once again, thanks for reading and your support (for those that are actually reading and not spam bots).

There Is No Excuse for a Legitimate Company to Spam

Somehow, a few years ago, the health club I used to frequent called Scioto Reserve Golf and Fitness, Powell, OH got my email address.  Most likely from the application form.

Now, I never gave them permission to email me anything other than membership info.  However, one day I started getting “What’s New” and “Special Offers” and other marketing/promotional emails.  Sometimes multiple emails in the same day.  All from different email addresses.  Sometimes, not even Scioto Reserve domain addresses.  The emails were poorly designed and highlighted events and things I had no interest in.

Here’s two examples:

Note-this email was almost 44 inches long!

Sample Spam email 1
Click to enlarge
Sample Spam Email 2
Click to enlarge

Since I was a paying customer, I didn’t mind getting a few emails from them once in awhile.  But, not multiple emails every week.  Especially when I didn’t ask for them to begin with.  And, it seemed that my address was being passed around the Club.  After a few months of this, I had enough.  I started emailing each email sender a request to remove me from their list, since there was no way to do it in the actual emails (first strike against them).  Many of the emails were returned that the sending email was not a valid email (second strike)!

Finally (at least I thought at the time), I had enough and called the club manager.  At this point, I also cancelled my membership.  I figured if this is how they handled their business practices, what short-cuts were they taking with the rest of the club?  The Club Manager said she would make sure the emails were stopped.  Were they?  Of course not.

Instead, I got more emails.  Including from other health clubs in there management group (third strike).  That was the last straw.  It was time to take it up a notch.  I went ahead and contacted the spam lists and the website administrator.  Results?  Nothing.  Emails kept coming.

Eventually, I get an email from the Head Golf Pro at Scioto Reserve, Chris Casto.  My “remove me now” email actually got through!  He said he’ take care of it.  After he intercedes, most of the emails stop.  There were a few stragglers, but I sent them on to him and he gets them stopped.  Until…today.

Today another email arrived.  This time from the club’s management company.  “Great”, I think, “it’s starting all over again”.

Here’s what I received:

From: Kinsale Golf And Fitness Club []
Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 4:50 PM
To: Rufo Samantha
Subject: Kinsale Golf/Social Test Drive
Just a Reminder:  You have not signed up for your Kinsale Test Drive!!
What is this?This is a way for you to Join as a Golf or Social Member with NO Initiation at Kinsale Golf and Fitness Club.  
This is a Fantastic Opportunity that must be acted on NOW before time runs out.Your Test Drive would start as soon as you 
want but you have to get it started before September 1, 2009 to qualify.  Your Test Drive would last for 10 months and you 
would have all the benefits of your Golf or Social membership during your Test Drive.There is only ONE Risk to you.....the 
risk you will miss this opportunity if you don't act NOW.
Call Membership Services at 740-881-6500 for all the details today

Since I can’t get any satisfaction from this organization, I at least wanted to pass on the experience and provide a few take-aways for other businesses currently doing or contemplating email marketing:

1. Let ‘em go.

Once a customer has decided to leave, ask if there’s anything you can do to keep them, if not, let them go.  Begging, pleading, and discounting might work, but not for long.  Once the relationship sours, learn from it and do your best to make sure not to do the same things to your other customers.

2. Act like a business.

Email marketing may have been new 15 years ago, but it is not anymore.  That means if you are going to do it as a business, make it worthwhile and follow the rules.  No excuses!

-First, use correct list management with ways for people to subscribe and unsubscribe immediately.

-Second, only send to people that have given you permission to send to them.

-Third, use your business domain to send emails.  Not Hotmail, AOL, or Gmail.

-Fourth, only send an email if you have something to say.

-Fifth, watch how often you send emails.  More than one email in a day is too much.  And, more than 2 emails in a week will probably make people mad.

3. Get it together.

If marketing has one message and sales another, don’t send two emails in one day to the same address.  Combine the message, schedule different times, or segment the lists.  Just because people may be in different departments is no excuse not to get it together when it comes to marketing.

4. Get professional help.

If you are not sure how to effectively manage an email marketing program, get professional help.  Not only will professional help you increase your open and click-thru rates but we can decrease the number of unhappy unsubscribers.

Marketing is about ideas

Michael Mendenhall, CMO of Hewlett-Packard, sees there’s an evolution going on in marketing. He talks about how his organization looks at brand building, “Many companies continue to look at marketing in conventional ways — from a mass-market point of view. Branding today is not about the media; it’s about the idea. You need to dismiss the conventional way of thinking and start with an understanding of the value of each communication channel and how — or whether — it will ‘engage’ people. The idea should be the organizing principle, and it should inform everything you do to help consumers grasp your brand promise in whatever channel you’re reaching them: the television, the blogs, the banner ads or the word of mouth.”

Mr. Mendenhall makes a critical point, without a good grasp of who your customers are and what appeals to them about your product and/or service you will never be able to generate the ideas that will make your brand successful/profitable.  Why is it then that few companies want to devote the resources for the research and time to create the ideas?  Is it that they are clinging to the “old way of marketing”?  Much like the drowning man clings to the sinking ship?

Jump on my marketing bandwagon

Marketing is critical! Anyone that doesn’t believe it should look at the reduction in ski resorts over the last ten years. I fully believe that many of the resorts that are now gone were due to either cutting their marketing or not moving with the times to use new marketing channels.

I know of two cases where the marketing department’s were eliminated and within just a few years, the resorts’ had lost more than half of their business. Clear Fork, OH (now gone) and Snow Valley, CA (still struggling to regain the level of visits they had in the 80’s).

I fully believe it is the CEO’s job to find ways to cut expenses. Marketing is seen as an expense most times instead of an investment. That’s too bad. Because, the CEO’s that support marketing tend to run successful companies. I once had a Ski Resort CEO say to me that he saw marketing as critical as snow machines. He must know something, since he’s with Peak Resorts (which is still one of the more solid ski companies right now).

I also fully believe that it is the marketers job to fight for marketing. Yes, we hear “no” constantly. That’s the nature of what we do. It’s what happens after we hear the word “no” that makes the difference.

In case you haven’t noticed, I have a marketing bandwagon. I have carted it around with me for the last 13 years I have worked in the ski industry. In good times and bad it is where I go to find the fight needed sometimes to keep marketing relevant and forefront in resort management’s decisions.

Why not jump on?

Give me a break

I am going to borrow from John Stossel’s news reports called “Give Me a Break” today.

As a writer, my goal is to reach and engage as many people as possible.  It also means constantly having to come up with something new and exciting to write about.  It also means that I’ve seen my original content “borrowed” many times whether I want it to or not.

Whether it was articles I’ve written, marketing programs I created, and/or even proposal ideas that another company took as their own; anything and everything is up for grabs in an Internet based world.  The way I see it, you can either take the reprinting of content as a compliment or copyright.  I choose compliment.  In part because I have no idea where to draw the line and prefer not to waste my time fighting with people when I could be winning them over instead.  It seems I might be in the minority.

Where’s the line?

Why do news websites get to report and print pictures and it is ok but if blogger sites do the same thing, they are considered thieves?

What is considered a “legitimate” news site?  Is it the number of articles on the site, the writers, or something else?

Do articles or content have a shelf life?

Can writers forget or rescind their permission?

So, how does this relate to my “Give Me A Break” theme?  Well, today I got a call from a magazine that said we had re-printed an article from one of their writer’s without permission.  First, we always get permission from writers.  Second, we always give attribution.  Third, this particular article was over 10 years old and buried on our website in a “dead articles” area. (i.e. no one except the writer even knew it existed there anymore).

What may have inadvertently brought this article back to life is our new website software.  The software is very in-tuned to search engines and we are now getting higher than ever page rankings.  So, much so, that I think we might have started to get higher rankings from this article than the author.  That’s what I believe got them to call us.  Funny thing, after re-reading the article (it’s been so long since we have seen it) we realized it did not belong on our website.  It was out of date, a bit “dark” in theme, and in the time on our website had garnered a whopping 33 readers.

So, we removed it.  Is this justice served or much ado about nothing?


Marketing in a virtual world

It seems like today marketers need to be a cross between creative geniuses, writers, and tech geeks to be able to survive in our digital age.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the age we now live in.  It’s like  the “wild west” for marketers.  We get to go to unknown places (mobile marketing, twitter, social networks, search engines) and carve out our own niche.

As a creative person, I’m never thrilled when I must work in a confined space.  I like to stretch my right brain.  I like to try new things.  I like to succeed.  That is easy to do when few road maps exist for business models in cyberspace.

Here’s my five ways to be successful in a virtual world:

1. Be open to learn. Although the thought of learning yet another new program or having to remember one more login can seem daunting, it is important to be open to trying new things.  As marketers we know that people get bored or loose interest quickly, so it is critical to look forward and not back.  Here’s a trick I learned, that seems to work well with men, women, young and old.  When learning some new technology, work in three’s.  Learn three things that are critical for use.  Once you know those three things inside and out, learn three more.  Keep going until you feel comfortable or have found all the things you feel are useful to your goals and objectives for using the software/technology.

2. Watch and learn. Some people can jump right in.  Some need some time to get used to the temperature of the water.  I believe is is human nature to learn by watching others.  So, if you decide to set up a new account in a social network, watch what others are doing at least 30 days.  Then, start to post comments, build your network, or whatever it is you want to do.  By then you should have a good feel for how it works and how you want to participate.

3. Be consistent. If you are going to do something, do it right.  Many people start blogs, few people keep them more than a few months.  Why?  It takes work and commitment.  Rome was not built overnight, and neither are great marketing campaigns.

4. Socialize. The great thing about the virtual world on the web is that you can connect with your peers both locally and half way across the world.  In no other time could you build a social network of business contacts that spans the globe as easy as you can today.  By socializing on the web you can expand your thinking and even build better marketing programs with the help of your new networks.  All you need to do is ask.

5. Don’t mess it up for the rest of us. Email was a wonderful tool until spammers took over.  The social networks allow us to connect in new and wonderful ways, unless hackers steal our accounts.  My only wish is that people would just use the cool tools for what they were meant to do.

Your thoughts?  Have any points to add?

Comment syndication

Although most people talk about RSS and blog syndication, it usually has to do with the content.  Rarely, do you read about syndicating the comments.  Someone is missing the boat.

If you’ve ever posted a comment to a blog, you would get the importance to being able to add that specific topic to your blog reader.  That way you could keep up on the conversation without ever having to remember to visit the site again (something you have to admit we rarely do).  Unfortunately, few blogs seem to know of or promote “comment RSS”.

“Comment RSS” was one of my reasons to move from the free blogger framework to the current blog surroundings.  If you notice over on the top right corner, you get the option of adding the regular site content RSS feed to your reader or the comment feed.  It’s not only an added perk for readers but for the blog maintainer (like me).  I can see and respond to comments immediately or kill blog spam in the same span of time.

As blogging grows, I believe you will see more and more of these features.  Why? Blogging is all about networking and communication.  It’s also about simplicity and saving time.  Something that Comment RSS seems to thrive on.

Does anyone backup blogs?

So, I wonder, how does one back up a Google blog? Anyone with any ideas? A quick search on the web and I found this response from Blogger: “Blogger does not have an export or download function. However, you can create a single file with all your posts which you may publish and then copy to your own computer for use as desired.” Only 10 “easy” steps (not) and you can have something that resembles War & Peace on one page right on your desktop. Oh, well. The trials and tribulations of being an early adopter…]]>

A recent post made me think more about moving and losing blogs. Which then led me to the thought, “does anyone think to back-up their blog?”

I have to say I’m guilty of not backing up this blog. I guess it’s because Google doesn’t offer it and I can’t say backing things up is on the forefront of my mind. Funny though, everything else I deal with is backed up regularly. My internal network, my other websites, even other blogs. I guess this is one of the things we all must take into consideration when we do something that’s “free”.

So, I wonder, how does one back up a Google blog? Anyone with any ideas?

A quick search on the web and I found this response from Blogger:

“Blogger does not have an export or download function. However, you can create a single file with all your posts which you may publish and then copy to your own computer for use as desired.” Only 10 “easy” steps (not) and you can have something that resembles War & Peace on one page right on your desktop.

Oh, well. The trials and tribulations of being an early adopter…