Friday, March 29, 2013

The Power of LinkedIn

Are you using the power of LinkedIn to promote your professional career or your business? LinkedIn has the highest lead generation potential of any of the social media platforms.
According to research conducted by HubSpot, the MIT based inbound marketing company, LinkedIn is 277% better than Facebook or Twitter for lead generation. So, are you’re not using LinkedIn, what are you waiting for?
Not all industries are fully bought-in to the power of LinkedIn. But frankly, I can’t think of a single industry where ignoring LinkedIn is a smart idea. Whether you’re looking for a job, looking for a promotion, or looking to increase your business, LinkedIn is one of the best resources around. And for networking, there’s really no better tool for professionals than a well-prepared LinkedIn profile.
You really can’t afford miss the potential of LinkedIn. If nothing else, make sure to complete your profile and create your vanity URL (that’s the internet address rather than using the useless string of numbers and letters you get as a default). Getting the most out of LinkedIn means tweaking your profile to include your keywords, joining and participating in groups, and getting recommendations and endorsements. If you aren’t doing these basic things, you’re leaving money on the table, so to speak.
If you're on LinkedIn, connect with me. Tell me you saw my blog. You can find me here:

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Crunching Numbers vs. Analytics

We talk a lot about ‘analytics’ in digital media. In fact, that’s one of the really cool things about the digital age, we can measure, track, and analyze every single visitor that comes to our site or receives our email pushes.
Ad4! Interactive was launched as the interactive web division of Ad4! primarily to take advantage of the KISS Metrics analytics package as an integrated feature in our web offerings. And while there’s more to it than just metrics, the metrics drive the SEO, the design features and certainly the copy and graphics. So what are we doing with all this data?
I’m afraid in most cases, we’re crunching numbers for the sake of crunching numbers. Especially here in North Alabama where we have more Ph.D’s per capita than any place in the U.S., it’s only natural that we would crunch the numbers way past their prime.
Analyzing the metrics to draw the proper conclusion is like most parts of social media. It seems easy on the surface, but it’s really difficult once you dig into the details. Looking at your analytics to see how many people visited your site, what keyword was most effective in getting them there, or what page had the highest bounce rate is easy. How do you use this information to make your site better and more importantly, to create better engagement with your customers?
It’s the phycology of the behavior that’s really interesting. Knowing how many people behaved in a certain way is one thing, knowing how to get people to behave in a certain way, is quite a different story. This is what separates effective campaigns from wasted money. 

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Great Stories Sell

We’ve had a little fun with Super Bowl ads this week. All the water cooler talk has been “Did you like the Clydesdale?”

While no ad will ever please every viewer, I think there are at least 5 things we can take away from this year’s crop of Super Bowl ads.

1. Puppies and Clydesdales still pull at our heart-strings.

2. Even though we pull for the underdog, a sloppy wet kiss with sound affects is just too much information, even if the nerd IS kissing a supermodel.

3. Goats, should be limited to 3 bags of Dorito’s a day.

4. Old people getting tatts and having midnight munchies is pretty funny. And

5. Telling an authentic American story will win us over every time.

While there’s a little post-game blow back from Black’s and Latino’s for their lack of inclusion in the imagery, you have to admit, if your demographic is middle-aged white men, Paul Harvey reading his essay “So God Made A Farmer” captured the resilience and determination of the American spirit. Dodge tried to pull the same rabbit out of a hat twice with the Oprah voice-over. But there’s just no connection between American Heroes and Oprah. She spent her glory years telling soccer moms what to read and how to think. And middle-aged soccer mom’s aren’t Jeep’s demographic. 

But Ram was careful not to sell trucks. In fact, you barely knew it was a vehicle ad until the end. What they did, was remind us a lost heritage. For 2 whole minutes, we relived the values of the Greatest Generation. And in a time of high unemployment, fiscal instability, and disintegrating families, Paul Harvey selling us Americana to the tune of Yankee Doodle, was pure genius. 

If you need help telling your story, contact me at 256-425-8787 or

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Is your brand working for you?

Is your brand working for you? Business owners are generally reluctant to change or update their brand, and rightfully so.

But is your brand a good reflection of your company vision? Maybe the better question is do you know what your company stands for? Can your articulate your values? If you can’t answer any of these questions easily, or you have no idea what we’re even talking about, then the answer is probably less important than the question. 

In order for a symbol to represent your vision and values, you have to be able to articulate your brand promise. And here’s the important part, you have to operate your company according to that vision and treat your customers, vendors, and employees according to those values. If you don’t do that, then no flowery logo or fancy-sounding tag line will convince the market that you are a great company. 

It’s not about having the best product or the lowest price. It’s about treating your customers like you really appreciate their business. It’s about treating your vendors like partners. And it’s about treating your employees with dignity and respect. If you can do these things, you create an environment where employees will clamor to work, and where vendors line up to help you create value for your customers. And, instead of widgets at 5 cents less than your competition, you can start selling magic. 

If you need some help getting your brand in order, give me a call at 256-425-8787 or email me at

Friday, February 1, 2013

Smart Web

Are you smarter than your website? If you are, then it’s time to get a new website. The digital age continues to usher in capabilities for small businesses that previously never existed. I’ve spoken several times about the 3 Pillars of Digital Promotion. The interactive pillar is maybe the most important, because the tools not only track every single visitor, they also help you test campaigns for design and copy, and help engage customers for brand promotion. The bottom line is these interactive web applications drive more traffic to your site and convert that traffic into sales.

What’s different about A4! Interactive’s Smart Web is that these tools that previously had to be bought or licensed individually and then programmed into your site, are now all built in. You get some of the industry’s best tools for search engine optimization, visitor analytics, and customer engagement already neatly integrated into the package for optimal performance. You don’t have to worry about inserting code into your site or whether Andriod will talk to Apple. Rich has already taken care of all those concerns and put a pretty face on it that’s easy to use.

 If you’d like Smart Web for business, call me at 256-425-8787 or email me at . Rich, Felica, or I would love to talk about using Ad4! Interactive’s Smart Web to improve your bottom line.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The New Marketing Order

The role of video in the digital marketing age is undeniable: if you don’t have video, you’re missing a huge piece of your potential audience. In 2013, video has become arguably the most important of the three pillars of digital promotion: social, interactive, and video. 

Each of the 3 Pillars becomes more complicated not just to implement, but to get a return on investment that’s measureable in objective terms. Big agencies and big business alike are trying to create metrics that cater to the ‘C’ suites and give analysts something to hang their hats on. 

However, the joke is on all of us. Our collective chains are being pulled by a tiny group of math geeks and programming nerds who sit in dark rooms in Silicon Valley with their pale skin laughing their you know what’s off at us flailing away trying to understand Panda #23 and why a ‘tall’ Starbucks is really a small. 

But here’s the thing, if you’ve understood marketing from way back, you’re in trouble. We’re in this gray trend area where some of the old marketing strategies still work, but they’re being replaced by new ways, which haven’t completely taken over. Only time will tell how long this gray area will last. Then it will be Johnny B. Goode meets Marty McFly time. And if you haven’t traded your VHS tapes for streaming movies from a chrome Apple, you’ll probably find yourself out of business.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Success Consciousness

We talk about making plans and setting goals frequently here on my blog. That’s all very important for achieving success.

For many entrepreneurs, the real key to their success is not making a plan or hiring good people. They’ve already made a great plan. It’s not hiring good people, they’ve got highly motivated people with exceptional skills. The real key to success is mastering their own minds.

It’s easy for entrepreneurs to get caught up in the creation zone. People are throwing great ideas at you all day long. We love to build new products, new teams, new organizations. So, you have to have a system in place to allow you to quickly evaluate new ideas and determine their value in relation to the current project you’re building. Sometimes these ideas have to be put on the back burner, or filed away for another time.

It’s really easy to get caught up in the Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. That’s where we spend our days chasing shiny objects down rabbit holes. Someone sends you an email or gives you a call about an interesting idea and next thing you know you’ve spent four hours researching and evaluating an idea that has nothing to do with what you had planned to spend your day doing. You’ve wasted all your high-level energy doing what amounts to non-productive work.

It’s not that you can’t consider new opportunities. If your organization is going to grow and thrive, you have to consider new ideas and learn new things.

However, I think the real key to success is having a success consciousness with a singularity of focus. We create a success consciousness by having a team of positive people who have the same values as us, and who will constantly support each other and encourage each other to do exceptional work. We hold a singularity of focus by having a plan that we work every day. We have higher aspirations that cause us to continually reach for those things just beyond our grasp. You don’t accomplish great things by reaching for things in front of your nose. Everyone can do that. You achieve greatness by continually trying to work a little harder and to reach a little farther.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013


We kicked off our first week of Ad4! Radio: Communication That Counts last week. We’re going to talk a lot about BRAND on the show. It’s the foundation of your company’s reputation and how the world views you.

If you don’t know how to market your company, brand is a great place to start. If you think you know how, but aren’t sure about your brand, perhaps you should take a step back.

Your brand represents your promise to your customers and your market.

What are your customers saying about your brand? …about your promises?  Think they aren’t talking about your brand? Yelp! is filled with bad reviews of restaurants that don’t know Yelp! exists. And Twitter is filled with bad reviews of local businesses that don’t think social media is important to their business.

You see, it doesn’t matter if you’re Joe’s Car Wash or Bank of America; your customers are talking about you. That talk will affect your brand. Left alone, that talk may become your brand.

If you’re not sure what to do about all this talk, then join us each Thursday on Ad4! Radio. We’ll explain how our secret sauce works. We’ll have some guests who can bring special expertise to small businesses marketing and we’ll highlight some cool stuff our clients are doing.

We’d love to hear your feedback and your questions. Email me at If you have a question that’s of interest to a wide audience, we’ll even talk about it on the show.

WTKI Huntsville 1450 AM / 94.9 FM
WEKI Decatur 1490 AM / 94.7 FM
Listen Live

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Join Me On The Radio...Tomorrow!

The Ad4! Radio Show begins. .  . tomorrow at 8:00 AM CST. Why not join us tomorrow from 8 - 9 AM on WTKI 92.9 FM/1450 AM Huntsville, WEKI 1490 AM - 94.7 FM Decatur, or listen live at  We'll talk all things small business marketing. We'll introduce the who team tomorrow and give an overview of some of our in-house specialties. Then, next week on January 10th, Lori King-Taylor will be my guest and we'll talk visioning success. We have a great lineup of local experts on marketing, web, social media, video, SEO and lots of other good stuff lined up. 

We hope you'll join us. If you have a question that you'd like us to address on the show, send me an email at

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

‘Debt Peonage’ for Small Business Owners

A recent article in the Huntsville Times by Paul Huggins discussed ‘lending’ practices for small businesses during the depression. The banks weren’t interested in making loans to small businesses, so small businesses (farmers) had to depend on trade creditors (equipment & feed and seed dealers) to get them through cash crunches. UAHuntsville associate professor Dr. Stephen Waring referred to the loans a “debt peonage.” This is where everything the farmer owned was pledged to the lending merchant as collateral for the trade account. Debt Peonage is the practice of holding persons in servitude or partial slavery to work off a debt, in this case. Secret store prices lead to the small business being cheated by hidden fees and high finance rates.

Sound familiar? It should, we’re going through a similar time today. Most banks will not grant loans to small and start-up businesses. For them to even consider making such a loan, they require the business owner to pledge all his personal assets as collateral for the loan.
The article example was a very extreme case where the farmer ‘financed’ $5.57 in feed and seed product and had to pledge his entire farm as collateral. That’s pretty extreme.

The debt pricing practices today are more reasonable than in the 1930s; consumers are protected by laws that prevent lenders from gouging them with hidden fees and exorbitant rates. However, the things that haven’t changed are the use of trade credit to finance small business working capital and the pledging of all assets, even for a small loan. Most banks require the business owner to pledge all their personal assets to secure a small business loan. This practice can cause a small business owner real financial hardship, especially if they need to purchase a new vehicle, home, finance a college education for a kid or have a medical emergency. I’m not suggesting that we have a debt peonage situation today, just a lack of good financing options for small and start-up businesses. I’ve written and spoken about this for several years.

Entrepreneurs need to think about their financial situation very carefully before getting in a position where they have to make the best of only bad choices in financing their business. Cash flow issues are probably the single biggest ‘cause’ of small business failure. I use quotes around cause because the real cause is operator error. You, as the owner should have taken steps to prevent the condition or should have planned for this in advance. As my friend and mentor, Michael Gerber told me, these are the things small business owners should know before they start a business. Amen, Michael.

Do you have a story of a bad financial situation that you survived or need help getting out of a bad situation? Let me hear from you.

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