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 chris@ad4group.com. 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 www.wtkiradio.com

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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 www.wtkiradio.com.  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 Chris@ad4group.com.

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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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