Thursday, February 24, 2011

Interactive, Integrated, blah, blah, blah - What's Your ROI?

I just read an article that was completely a reiteration of a conversation I had with a colleague yesterday. The topic was Buzz words and the misuse of marketing terminology.
Now, buzz words have always been around and some of us have even been paid to create them. Many of us spent hours in our early careers memorizing them so that we’d sound “smart” and “in the know” in conference rooms and during presentations.
However lately, I find myself thinking like Dr. Phil! He has a saying when guests (patients?!) on his show try to make their issue complex. He says something to the effect of, “Well, I’m just an ol’ country boy from Texas,” and then he goes on and describes in very plain English everything he learned in his many years spent earning a PhD. , doing Post Doctorate work and maintaining a practice for many years.
Well, I went to school. In fact I went to a very prestigious one in Southern California and I have worked for some of the largest marketing firms in the country. I have “made rain” for some very big international clients, but when it comes right down to it, I guess, ”I’m just a simple girl from a small town in California and I know BS when I see it and I usually call it out.”
So, I’m calling B.S. on two very incorrect perceptions pervasive in business today. I have a major passion for marketing. And technology has provided wonderful enhancements and time saving techniques to it. However, I am finding that business people have two very misconstrued philosophies about it. One is that they seem to think that marketing is now “free” because everything is just done online. And the other is that “integrated” marketing = online marketing (and online marketing is free). Let me tackle those fallacies one by one.
Online Marketing is “free”…. I kid you not, I have seen budgets from reputable companies and in the line item for Online Marketing it has zero dollars appropriated to the activity. Zero? Really? What about the person who has to develop (think about and decide upon) an online campaign? What about the person who has to design (requires graphics and usually some html coding experience) online collateral? What about the person who has to create (think and then write) a “buzz worthy” blog entry or press release that will catch attention? Then what about list costs (in-house or purchased), keyword costs, CPA, CPM, et al? I could go on but I think you get the point  - Online Marketing IS NOT FREE!
Integrated Marketing….Many articles/blogs (blogs is the buzz word for articles ;) ) that I read and almost every position posting with Integrated Marketing in the title is really talking about Online Marketing.  Online Marketing is an important factor in a well rounded marketing program but it is not the description of an Integrated Marketing approach. People that think that it is have thrown the baby out with the bath water. A good description that was used (an understood) for many years to describe a holistic marketing approach was “Marketing Mix”.  Now, “mix” isn’t as fancy as “integrated”, but people understood it better. What it meant was that your marketing budget (which was not a zero!) was dispensed amongst many marketing activities like, advertising (on/off line) PR (social media marketing), events, direct mail , print, partnerships (now called affiliate marketing), inbound/outbound TM, etc., etc., etc.
I have seen some large and older companies continue to utilize a marketing mix, but many newer online companies seem to think that integration means  hitting all of the online forms of marketing only. It is not.  There is too much noise online for any company to put all of its eggs in one basket. Yes, I’ll admit there is the one in a million that takes off like wildfire, but millions don’t. And, it is sad to see many of the millions fold as they have good ideas, good products and good services, but they don’t have good marketing. Good marketing comes from knowing your target and then developing as many ways as you possibly can to “hit” them with why they must have your widget.
I caution all marketers to take heed as these misconceptions greatly dilute the intelligence, skill, creativity, education and experience required to pull off a successful campaign with a high and measurable ROI. Although, maybe we should just leave it as it is and inflate our ROI since the cost to market is free!?!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ms. Susan Mussard = Determination

This blog was always meant to be about business matters, but a loss has caused me to correlate my professional life with my personal life.
The topic is determination.
One of my recent postings was about a businesswoman on the verge of losing her dream, her last 20 years’ passion and her livelihood. Instead of giving up and walking away, she did some very important things:
1.       She set a resolve to make a change
2.       She took corrective action to affect change
3.       She made personal sacrifice to achieve her goal
4.       She worked VERY HARD and she relied heavily on determination to succeed
In the eve of February 14, 2011 another strong and determined woman with a beautiful soul and an infectious laugh (more like a rolling giggle) passed away in her sleep. Ironically, I had been IMing with her on FB that evening. She said she was having a hard time typing as she was in bed but she would write me an email the next day. I told her that I loved her and I blew her the “online kiss”, MWA. I never received the email the next day as she had passed in her sleep. I’m so glad that I told her that I love her. And, I don’t know what made me IM her on FB that night because I rarely use the feature, but I am so glad that I did.
This wasn’t just ANY woman, she was my sister-in-law Susan Mussard. She was “Aunt Susie” to my daughters. At birth, there were errors on the part of the hospital staff with her mother and it is highly suspected that this is why she was born disabled. The disability was serious. Most parents who have a child like this institutionalize them. Her parents did not. She was treated no differently than any of her other three siblings and she developed a determination that was unstoppable.
Her disability was very visible and very audible and yet, she excelled in K-12 (and yes, she was in a regular public school – not a school for the disabled). She then went on to college and graduated and performed her duties to receive her teaching credential. She suffered through taunts and bullying because of her disability. In college, a man from a country where women are not treated very well, pushed her down a grassy knoll and told her that “people like her were killed at birth because they are a drain on society”. Well, through determination, this courageous woman proved him (and all those who felt similarly but didn’t say it aloud) wrong. She went on to be a teacher. And she didn’t choose teaching children at an accepting age. In my opinion, she chose the worst age of loud mouthed, insecure but show- offy aged children – middle schoolers.
She endured the looks of the students as they entered her classroom on the first day of school. She heard the snide remarks and snickers. And, with determination and the pride to back it up she would give each incoming class the same message. It went something like this:
“I’m fat. I talk funny. I move awkwardly and I walk with difficulty. Yet, I will not be disrespected by any of you in my classroom. So if you feel that you cannot look past my disability and learn from me what I can teach you, then you have my permission to walk out the door now and go to the principal’s office and get  transferred out of my class.”
To the best of my knowledge in over 20 years of teaching, she never had one student leave. She was assigned to teach them English (and I’m certain she would correct my writing as we speak!) but the most important things that she taught them were about self-respect and determination. You see, Susan never let anything hold her back and her determination to succeed and do the thing that she loved won her a State Teacher of the Year Award and so much more.
Some of those same middle schooler  grew up, went to college, got married and lived their own lives. But if any of them heard that Susan was stuck in her apartment because the snow was too deep for her  to get to work, those kids were there to shovel her out. She had every reason to call in “snowed out” --yet off to work she went.
Determination -Self Respect - Respect for Others is what Ms. Susan Mussard lived and taught her students. They, like I, loved her and she will be greatly missed.
In these difficult times of strife and worries, I hope that some of you will recall this posting about a disabled woman with a lot going against her. Yet, she lived her life with determination and although she is gone, we can all learn from her and we can live our own lives with determination to do what we love and when the opportunity presents itself, share this story with others.     

Another Guest Post - Meet More People by Reno Levinson


This is a real treat. Reno is sharing this blog with us as a teaser to his forthcoming book.

I think many small and large businesses have lost the importance of this business tactic.



Meet More People 

Most small businesses derive the majority of their clients from within a 10 mile radius of their location. Even if you're an online business (with very few exceptions) there are prospects just outside your door. Face-to-face networking is the perfect way to build important relationships in a short period of time. You can build rapport and communicate more information in a 20 minute face-to-face contact then you could over a month's worth of emails and social networking with the same person.  The stumbling block with face-to-face networking is that it requires you to physically go someplace and present yourself to one or more people. For many people this is a great effort. Where do I go? Who should I talk to? Is it worth it?

Go to a chamber of commerce meeting, school event, sporting event or any place where people are gathering. If it is a big event don't try to meet everyone, pick out a few people and have a meaningful interaction. One thing I have found about networking is that it is almost always worth it, if you do it well, this typically entails being genuine. Be yourself. Be friendly and be helpful. Ask questions of people you meet and be sure to walk away with an idea of how you might help them. In the course of conversation when you have a chance to speak about your business try to tell a story or share an anecdote about how your product or service helped a client. You might say, "This week one of my clients asked me if I could help him with ... it was perfect because we do that sort of thing all the time." The facts of your business in the context of a story are easier to remember than a series of random facts.

When you conclude your visit, your final words should be, "I'll send you that article; I'll be sure to introduce you to him; or I'll forward that information". If this is your final comment it confirms you were asking questions; looking to be helpful and plan to follow up.  

Be sure to hand a business card to everyone you meet and with whom you have had some social interaction. This reinforces who you are, your name, your business name and your contact information. Never try to sell your product or service at a networking or social event. Certainly tell people what you do but save the sales presentation for another time.

A successful networking event is walking away having met one or more people you know something about who may be a good prospect or resource. They should know something about you, have your contact information, and be in a position to consider your service or recommend you to someone. This done, you have successfully expanded your network.

Reno Lovison has a marketing company specializing in the production of video for the web. He is the author of “Turn Your Business Card Into Business.”

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Guest Post - Make It Rain - by Jim Goff of Reliable Rainmaker


I think you will enjoy this guest post from one of THE BEST and MOST CREATIVE Marketing and PR people I know. Take a peek and reach out to him at 

Always the best, 


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------February, 2011

It's high time for everyone to get in the growth mode. We'll share some information, give you a few updates and introduce you to one of our clients.
If you have any comments or questions, please contact us and we'll get back to you. If you would like to share some information with our readers, or if you have a question about some business issue,please submit your ideas and questions.

Your company's growth is up to you!

You're probably tired of all the talk of recessions, recovery and on and on. To paraphrase the great (and fellow Missourian) Samuel Clemons, also known as Mark Twain, everybody talks about the recession, but what are you doing about it?
This is a call for all businesses to step up and do what we know how -- grow our businesses. It's in our hands, not some bureaucrat in a dusty government office. Not some politician who has never created much less ran a business. It is possible because businesses are growing every day.
Click here to get a few hints to help you grow

The Sassy Traveler - Feature Client

The Sassy Traveler is for you if you travel for business, pleasure or both. You will find the absolute best customer service wrapped around an extensive product line of all kinds of luggage, backpacks, duffels, carry-ons, accessories and business cases including the ones that let you cruise through TSA security without having to place the laptop in the plastic bin.
Friends of Reliable Rainmaker can now get an extra benefit with a 10% discount on all purchases through February. Just enter the code "rainmaker" at checkout.
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Monday, February 7, 2011

My Client Was Honored to Contribute to an Homage to Sargent Shriver

I was asked by the Peace Corps of Gabon, Africa for permission to use one of my client’s songs in a tribute video that they were making as an homage to Sargent Shriver’s life’s work with the Peace Corps. Of course, I gave them the approval and our blessings for a wonderful project.

This may have been shared with you already, but in case it has not, here is the video produced by the Peace Corps in Gabon, Africa which features my client’s song titled, People Like You, a tribute to everyday heroes who really make a difference.

So that you can put a face to the voice, here is the original video of the song as sung and portrayed by the songwriter, Irene Brennick. (

I urge you to find a cause and devote yourself to volunteerism and helping others.  


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Know When to Hold 'Em - Know When to Fold 'Em- Part Deux

One of my previously posted blogs on this topic was about having the courage to know when to close your business. Well, this is about having the courage to take a big (but calculated) risk that your business still has life in it.

A friend and sharp business woman from one of the best schools that I know of, "The School of Hard Knocks," shared this story with me and I wanted to share it with you.

A little background.... this friend and I met in the small town we grew up in. We both went to work very young and both were managing businesses before we graduated from high school. With that, as we both remarked last week during lunch, was the pleasure and luck to both have worked for straight shootin', high expectations, solid foundation business people. Both of our bosses took huge risks by putting their businesses in the hands of very young women. As I recounted to her, "I was sent to LA to Fashion Week with a budget of $10k (this was A LOT of money then) at the age of 15 to buy a store full of junior style clothing for a boutique." Even as I said it all of these years later, it amazes and honors me that the owner had that faith and trust in me to do this. Although, I must say, I did a good job -- so it worked out for both of us ;)

Anyway, this friend now owns a children's boutique in one of the trendiest malls in LA. If any of you have ever been in retail, you know that restaurants and then clothing stores are at the top of the food chain for failing. So she took a big risk 20 years ago when she committed to a lease - an expensive one - and took the plunge. She has had some great years and some so-so years, but this Recession really shook her to her knees.

The numbers just weren't there and the decline happened so fast she couldn't even believe it. At first she thought it was a blip on the radar but then, it continued. And, as always seems to happen in mall management negotiation, they tossed her a grenade. They were moving her into a space 1/2 the size for the same amount of rent she was paying for her current space -- right before the Holiday Season. 

That was it. She was sure she was down for the count so off to the BK attorney she went. Fortunately, she landed a thoughtful attorney with a heart. At the end of the meeting, he asked her a game changing question, "How long can you work for free? I think you might be able to pull out of this if you really want it." She was stunned. She had already thrown in the towel and was ready to let her dream go....but something inside her answered, "Until after the Holiday Season".

She and the attorney then reworked the numbers and came up with a skeletal staff level, a way to purchase product to get through the Season and she jumped in with both feet, working harder than she had worked since her early days in a fast food joint. She kept her best employees and had daily meetings which included a session on positive thinking, soulful selling techniques and the goal of having the best Holiday Season ever.

Guess what? She's still open and it is February 2nd and she did have THE BEST Holiday Season ever and it was followed by THE BEST January she has ever had. (Keep in mind, she is in a space 1/2 the size of her old space, paying the same rent and is working with a bare bones staff.)

She made it! While others died on the vine this last Season, she did better than she had ever done before. Why? Well, I have my theories, but I'd love to hear from you!

Why do you think she brought her business back to life and even exceeded her own expectations? I can’t wait to hear your answers…..

Wishing you the best,
Mary Mussard