Author Archives: thebrandedblogger

About thebrandedblogger

Marketer, writer with a short attention span

Trade Show Time…Again!

Here we go again – ready to hit the road for another trade show; probably my last major one of the year. As always, we will get to the convention center thinking that we have crossed all our “T’s” and dotted every “I”, but alas something will go wrong…it always does!

I love the atmosphere at the shows, the over-the-top booths, sideshows and bustling sales people eager to make a mark. There is so much energy, hype, marketing power, etc. Being a marketing geek, I feel I’m in my element.  However, the planning, the preparation, the standing up for 10-12 hours at a time and the travel all take a toll on me. Even more so lately.

I’m heading down Sunday for Orlando and Solar Power International 2012 (booth 3586 if you’re in the neighborhood), and I can assure you that while in the midst of the frenzy, while dining late with co-workers and customers and especially when we’ve torn down and are basking in the achievements of the week…I’ll feel fine!


Social Marketing….not what you expect!

Hello all,

Well today’s rant is about social media and all the marketing hype, energy, time and money (yes, money….it’s not free) being spent on it. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a huge fan of connecting with customers, prospects, investors and employees, but I’m not ready to bet  the entire farm on SM….even as 2013 budget season approaches.

Why, you ask, does a marketing person question social media in the middle of the frenzy?  Here’s why.  We (my firm) have not employed any type of social media to our marketing mix and what was the result??? We’ve doubled in size during the most turbulent economic time since the 30’s. How did we accomplish this?  Product, Service, PERSONAL Relationships…that’s it.

First, if your product or service sucks….you will fail. Hands down, consumers are savvy enough to not get taken twice; and most not even once. I don’t care how many Twitter followers you have, how many Facebook likes or how high your Penguin (Google) analytic rankings; if your product stinks, so will your sales.

Next, if you rely on interactive means to communicate solely with customers, you really only have a virtual relationship at best. Maybe we’re unique in the B2B world selling expensive power systems, but I cannot sell one product without at least one (usually many) face to face interactions. I wouldn’t purchase a mission-critical component for my company without thoroughly knowing who I’m buying from. I am, and all of our sales persons are, on planes…a lot!

Finally, if you can’t back what you sell…that’s right – you fail. Again, customers want to know you have their back. If a unit of mine needs service, I send a technician right away. Not a video of how to troubleshoot your own system…a real, live person trained for the job. Sensitive? Yes, one system can produce over 250,000 amps of current. That’s enough to burn through the steel supports of the Empire State Building in less than a second. Imagine what that does to a human body. You really want your facility manager poking around in there??

The rub – So much attention is focused on connecting virtually with people that I feel that the biggest “P” (product) is being short-changed. I see 1000 articles on social media to every one about product alpha or beta testing, voice of the customer or innovation discovery. SM has a place, even in my upcoming marketing year. I’m just not ready to rely on it totally; it will be used as a tool, not the crux of my strategy!!


Who put the Hurst in Olds?

As some of you know (and even less of you care), I recently purchased an old car. To most it’s just that; a 44-year old Oldsmobile. However, to me and hopefully many others, it is much more than that.

I feel the need to explain what makes this thing such a rarity….

Take yourself back to 1968 if you’re old enough. The muscle car craze was wide open, started by most agreements, John Delorean and his 1964 vision of the Pontiac GTO. I tend to agree, however there were some damn fine hotrods coming out of Detroit prior to that. By 1968 everyone had a performance car or line in their stable domestically. Oldsmobile was no different, they released the 442 shortly after the GTO hit the streets.

Most of these cars were equipped with Hurst performance gear, mostly shifters but other stuff too. George Hurst, was obviously a muscle car fan and every year he had a car built specially for him. They ranged by brand, but by far he preferred the Olds 442. Not just for the “Rocket” V8s under the hood; Olds added handling and some class to the 442….they were considered “Executive Hot Rods”. In 1968 Jack “Doc” Watson took the base 442 (a new body style that year) and added every performance goodie that GM had on the shelf. The first “4” in 442 stood for 400 ci engine (after 1965). Doc, wasn’t satisfied with that, he stuffed the all new Oldsmobile Rocket 455 in George’s car. Also, built up that 455 with the hottest parts in the Olds stable; hot cam, distributor,W-31 carb, forged crank, W-30 heads and Ram Air, and on and on.

The result was probably the most “badass” 442 ever to roll off the line. Soon after George received his car, a friend, John Demmer wanted his own “Hurst/Oldsmobile”, and then Demmer’s son. Doc knew he had a hit on his hands, however GM edict of the day said that these cars could not have engines larger than 400 ci. A problem? Not for long. Olds sent the specially painted Toronado Peruvian Silver 442s to Demmer Engineering, they stuffed Doc Watson’s fire-breathing 455 under the hood, added special black accents and interior trim, as well as Corvette four-piston disc brakes. To top it off the Hurst Dual Gate shifter was added to control the beefed-up TH400 tranny. And that folks, is how the Hurst/Olds was born.

They had only a few months to build the cars and managed to get 515 done before the line had to retool for the 1969 model year. To put that in perspective – days after the announcement of the H/O being offered, Olds had orders for over 5,000. At the time there were over 3,000 Oldsmobile dealers (so only one dealer in six even got a Hurst/Olds to sell). Finally, in 1968 Olds made about 37,000 442s. The 1968 Hurst/Olds was rare beyond belief from day one. Today, the Hurst/Olds club estimates there are only 140 of them left.

After 1969, the Hurst/Olds brand was more a graphics package as the government and insurance companies lowered the boom on performance cars rolling out of Detroit. The 1968 was the first and the most powerful, made to go straight from your dealer to the track…and mine did. I own #511 of 515. It was raced through Humphrey Olds/Cadillac in Rockford, Ill for three years, then spent many years in the family of factory race car driver Wayne Garnhardt.

She now resides at a shop nearby where the body has been taken off the frame to finish the restoration started by the gentleman I bought the car from….Vinny B. in NYC.  We are wrapping up all the mechanicals and putting the body back on the frame so I can redo the interior this winter. It will be a driver for a few years, eventually getting a full re-spray. Even then, she won’t be a trailer queen…these cars were built to be driven. If I break something…I’ll fix it.

There ya go…that’s why I’m so obsessed with this car. I promise to post pics in a few weeks once she’s back home…


Back in the fold…again

I was asked about my blog last night and couldn’t even believe someone had found it. It’s been a while since I “needed” to blog about anything, as the new job doesn’t require any type of social media content…at least not yet.

So, what the hell do I have to say today? I did go into a small rage last night while flipping my new mattress. See, I had rotator cuff surgery five months ago and I’m still a little tender and a lot weak!  Prior, I would have flipped the king size in less than 30 seconds….last night took some skill, strategy and about 73 four-letter words.  I hate being anything less than 100% and right now I’m physically rolling around 40, on a good day.

After the rant, and convining my dog that I wasn’t mad at him (he’s a sensitive little guy) I calmed down and plugged myself back into the pre-season Bengals/Colts game. Not a lot to cheer for, but hey, it’s pre-season. It’s been a crappy year with two surgeries (legs and shoulders). Heck, add knees and toes and I believe I have a song on my hands. I’ll bounce back, just not as high or fast as I’d like.


B2B Woes…

I’m speaking at a local event this week and it has forced me to research my chosen topic, even though I have spent the last 20 years in the industry. B2B marketing is a special animal and anyone that has engaged in it will tell you it’s a much more difficult and complex type of marketing than the more traditional B2C.

I belong to gr0ups and associations that tailor to marketers, but we B2B folks seem to be the ones swept into the corner…that is until we’re needed to land a multi-billion dollar sale! See, B2B marketers typically work with larger product scopes or even project-based sales. These types of sales can take months or years to complete (In that time a consumer product could run its entire life-cycle!) and demand that we “cater” to a variety of targets and decision makers. My contention is that B2B marketers don’t sell a prospect but rather entice those prospects to “commit” to a channel partner or particular rep. Our job as B2B marketers is to position ourselves as the spouse and not this week’s date!

I’m amazed at all the research around B2B that simply reinforces the fact that it is more challenging, without any roadmaps drawn for success. I’ll focus this week on both I think; we need to understand the differences between the two, but we also need to concoct some recipes for achievement!


The Great Re-Depression

I was listening to the radio and heard mention that the recent recession ended in 2009. This is the typical sugar-coated White House version of reality, but it really ticked me off!  I’ll believe the recession is over when unemployment is under 5%, GDP exceeds debt and my house is worth more than it was in early 2006!!  I’m thinkin’ that’s probably 4-5 years away at best!

If you look at it from the typical American’s viewpoint, you can’t help notice that this will be a 10-year minimum crisis. Most middle-class citizens are heavily invested in their homes, and many of us made the mistake of treating them like living, breathing 401ks…investing most of our earnings into the home we live in and banking on the year-over-year returns.

This all got me thinking, and got me pissed at the same time. I’ve been looking for inspiration for a new book and I think I’ve got it. My contention is that the recession is not over, it didn’t start in 2006 and in fact America has been in steady (sometimes steep) decline since JFK was shot on Dealey Plaza. Think about it…we were crowned the world’s super power in 1945-6. Our economy blasted off and remained the global leader until the early 60s. Since then we’ve:

  • Fought and lost the most unpopular war in the last 1000 years
  • Eroded our manufacturing base starting with the Automobile and continuing with the Steel, Consumer Goods and Technology industries.
  • Let our nation’s  infrastructure (once the envy of the world) go to shit. Take a look around at our bridges, roads, power plants, etc. – it’s downright scary!
  • Enacted so many social entitlement programs that we’ve become a nation of takers. Nearly 50% of Americans are on some government assistance program. If you’re bad at math, that means those of us who are not, are supporting ourselves and the at least one other citizen.
  • Finally, we’ve become such politically-correct pussies that when we do notice all the above our first notion isn’t to raise holy Hell until the problem is fixed…no, we concern ourselves with which special-interest group will be offended by our frank words, and how we will protect ourselves in what has become a litigious America.

Yes, I’m pissed and you should be too! When will I start writing?  About 20 minutes ago!


Another New Year…

OK, here we are again at the beginning of another new year. Every 12 months it’s the same for me, I make some resolutions…some are kept; some are not (OK, most are not!). But this year is different! Yes, I hear you pessimists in the background mumbling about the same lame excuse and justification…but really, 2012 is different.

How so? I’m making an entire list of resolutions…here we go!

  1. I will update my blog regularly. I now have a book out there and people may actually want to read periodic ramblings from my demented brain.
  2. I will get back in the gym. Actually, never left of my own accord; surgery last October put me down for a few months.
  3. I will read a book a week. Not all that hard unless my ADHD is kickin’ in.
  4. I will keep my email inbox clean. Nothing pisses me off more than 200 emails left unread in my inbox. But of course my procrastination leads to the overflow…which in turn pisses me off even more!
  5. I will tweet. ’nuff said.
  6. I will live within my budget. Fat chance, but I’m putting it in writing anyway.
  7. I will cleanse my Facebook friends list, and put more thought into who I let in.
  8. I will drive my econobox car more and leave the Earth-destroying SUV in the garage (notice I’m not selling the damn thing…baby steps)
  9. I will read my daily message from a spiritual source. No clever line here…still wary of personal Armageddon.
  10. I will begin another book. It’s long overdue.

So, there we have it, not one but 10 full resolutions. My goal is to stick to as many as possible – how’s that for non-committal?

Have a happy, safe and productive 2012…we’ll see you back here soon!

J


Back in the Fold

OK, it’s been a while since we visited each other here. My excuse – well, I’ve been traveling the world promoting solar power and all its virtues!  My new “day” job has me hopping all over the country and SE Asia and we’re doing some wonderful things.

Now, my background for those who don’t know me personally (and what a shame if you don’t!) is not only marketing, but electronics technology also. Most notably, working within the photovoltaic industry. “Photo – Vol – what” ? I hear you say? It’s not as geeky as it sounds. Photo = light, like what comes from the sun. Voltaic = Volts or electricity. So, sun-generated electricity…see, that wasn’t so hard. We’ve been bringing clean power to villages in Malaysia and some Government installations around the globe. Much more to do and many more places for me to see; but I promise to keep you in the loop!

Anyway, that along with my new book collaboration – The Good Book of Business, has been keeping me quite busy.  I’ll be writing more about the GBOB as the weeks progress and we get closer to publishing the book (very soon, I promise!). OK, out for now…the sun’s shining somewhere!


Me and ADHD

 

I recently heard an adult complaining that their child was diagnosed with ADD and how they thought it was just an excuse for the kid’s laziness and lack of scholastic effort. I’m a walking example that can totally disprove this narrow-minded viewpoint.

Yes, it’s true. I suffer from ADHD (as well as some other things my friends might tell you!). I was diagnosed in the late 90s and from what I’ve learned; it is MUCH more difficult to spot in adults as opposed to children. As an adult, you’ve developed a myriad of compensatory methods to deal with the affliction, so it becomes hidden behind your quirks.

For me, it was trouble focusing, reading, staying on task…the usual stuff. As a kid, I knew nothing about it nor did anyone else, because it wasn’t identified as a real condition until long after I was out of school. No, I was just a hyper kid with poor manners and little or no will-power; or so I was labeled.

I was relieved and upset when I was diagnosed. Relieved because now I had a reason for the struggles as a youngster (and as an adult for that matter). Upset because it took 30-some years to figure it out. ADHD and ADD stem from a chemical “malfunction” in the brain. It has to do with the “gates” that control the amount of chemicals such as noradrenaline and serotonin that are released, and when.

Normal people have cycles of these chemicals that help them “wake up” in the morning and fall asleep in the evening. We do not. What happens is they are released randomly or continuously, so we are never fully awake or asleep. Hence the moodiness, lack of focus and so on. Ever wonder why very young kids with ADD/ADHD have so many temper tantrums? Because temper tantrums release the noradrenaline in their brains, and they will have those tantrums in the mornings to wake them up – self-medicating before they can even spell ADD.

“What’s it like”, I’ve been asked. Well, like this –  

You wake up and look around the room and see the pack of Eclipse on the show about our planet last night on the science channel narrated by Mike Rowe on the new Ford commercials and I’d like to drive a new Mustang GT on the Bonneville Salt Flats I’m sure my friend’s mom drove a ’67 Bonneville that was light blue.

Have trouble making sense of that? Welcome to the world of the ever-changing channel in the ADD brain. It’s not fun.  Think about reading sentences/books like that from first grade to your senior year of college. If someone you know thinks they may have it; check it out. The diagnosis and treatment totally changed my life, afterwards I was able to return to school and earn my degrees. It’s real, it’s not an excuse, it doesn’t make you or them a bad person…it’s simply an affliction.


If it Weren’t for Bad Luck…

 

Have I ever told you the story about my uncle Erving? You know – the one who won the NY lottery back in 1986 only to get hit by a taxi on the way to cash in his winning ticket. Uncle Erving survived but the ticket was dislodged from him during the impact and never located; he died penniless and angry just a few years later.

Or the one about my cousin Derek, when under severe marital stress committed adultery (the only time in his life, mind you) only to contract a severe case of syphilis, lose his mind and spend the rest of his days locked in a state asylum?

Seems my family has a history of falling victim to incredible circumstances. Like my great aunt Heather, who fell for a circus entertainer when she was just 17 years old and ran off from home during the Great Depression. A year after her leaving, Philo her high-school sweetheart, invents the television and becomes rich beyond his wildest dreams. Great Aunt Heather? She was stuck with a hairy strongman until their untimely deaths during a freak train derailment in northern Idaho.

No, my family has not been on the fast-track to fortune or success and has certainly seen its share of heartache and disappointment. I’m not sure about my future, but I can tell you I will be staying in today, avoiding women, the circus and any temptation to hit it rich on a Mega Millions ticket. Oh yeah, did I also mention it is April 1st!  Happy April Fools  🙂