Saturday, September 5, 2015

To Whose Wagon Will You Hitch Your Star?

I've heard my fair share of sales pitches over the last nine months.
I've explained our marketing strategy to reps from all types of companies.

I've weighed the pros and cons of their proposed solutions.

And I've selected the best ones.
In making those decisions, it always came down to one question: to whose wagon will I hitch my star?

In other words: On what solution do I have enough faith to stake my reputation and my company's reputation?

If you're a marketing solutions provider, I hope you're trying to answer that last question.

There's never a lack of ideas.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

All Roads Lead to Vertical Integration

As companies mature and look for new ways to increase revenue, they inevitably look toward vertical integration.

Companies with great customer relationships move up and/or down the purchase path to increase revenue. Let's look at three examples of vertical integration in the travel sector: one historic, one current, and one I predict will happen soon.

Historic: Why Airlines Sell Vacation Packages
The majority of people planning to take a trip that includes a flight will start planning their trip by researching flights first. Before most people look into booking accommodations, a rental car, and/or activities, they look into flights.

Many years ago, airlines figured this out and started selling vacation packages. Since customers started planning their trip on an airline's website, the airlines realized they could sell other services while they had customers' attention. (They also make a lot of money by selling hotel rooms.)

That's vertical integration.

Current: Why Google Created Hotel Finder
15 years ago, Google started teaching Internet users that to find what they were looking for online, they should start by searching Google. Plenty of people still use Google, but when it comes to booking travel, some people turn first to sites like Expedia, Orbitz, or

As a result, Google has started providing more than just links as results from hotel-related searches. Google created to keep users coming back to Google to find hotel rooms. Google continues to improve this service and I think it's great (but I'm a little biased).

That's vertical integration.

Next Up: Airbnb
Airbnb is reportedly worth billions of dollars. While Airbnb has plenty of room for growth in its core business of connecting those looking for accommodations with those looking to rent out their accommodations, I think Airbnb will inevitably turn to vertical integration for growth. I see a future in which after booking accommodations on, customers are then offered deals on activities and tours near their rented room.
  • Want a private chef to come cook you dinner while you're on vacation? Add it to your Airbnb reservation.
  • Need an in-room massage? Add it to your Airbnb reservation.
  • Need a pet sitter for the afternoon? Let Airbnb recommend a few for you.
In a home away from home, Airbnb has an opportunity to connect people with the services they're used to or services they never receive at home.

That's vertical integration.

Add This To Your To-Do List
Is your business looking to vertical integration for growth? If not, maybe it's time to start.

There's never a lack of ideas.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Thick Skin

So you want to be a marketer? Then you better develop thick skin because critics are everywhere.

Recently, a restaurant chain with which I'm quite familiar started a new Birthday Club. The premise is very simple: register online with your birthdate and email address and you will receive a voucher for a free piece of chocolate cake on your birthday. Here were two of my favorite responses on Facebook about the Birthday Club:
  • "Pass. If I wanted to donate to the GOP, I'll do it directly. I'm not interested in funding the GOP via your restaurant's deep campaign pockets. Or at all. You keep your cake and I'll keep my conscience."
  • "Takes such little imagination to please people nowadays! Cake will bring me to your restaurant? Please I have integrity."
Add This To Your To-Do List
You can't please everyone, so don't even try. Critics are everywhere and let's be honest — some people are just crazy. Develop thick skin and ignore the haters. Stay positive and keep moving forward.

There's never a lack of ideas.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

You Can’t Say No To Everyone

Two years ago, when I wrote the book on setting marketing priorities, inherent in the book, but not specifically discussed in detail, was the need to ignore a lot of marketing opportunities.

In theory, it's easy to do this. But in practice, it's more complicated — at least, for me.

When I was in college, applying for marketing internships in extremely creative ways but never hearing anything back, I vowed that when I was a marketing professional, I would always reply to everyone who contacted me, even if only to say no. "Saying no is better than saying nothing at all," I thought.

But then I became a professional marketer and realized that's just not possible. There just isn't enough time in the day to respond to every opportunity. From marketing vendor inquiries, donation requests, and people looking to network or land a job, I could easily spend my entire day just saying no.

This is Hard for Me
I struggle with this. I'm a nice guy and I want to pay things forward.

My instinct is to reply to everyone about every opportunity. Some people are good at ignoring opportunities and requests. I am not. It has taken practice.

Sometimes I break down and call or write someone back who is really persistent — just to tell them no. Almost every time, I regret that decision.
  • "I just want to meet you for coffee for 30 minutes. You can spare 30 minutes for a fellow alum, right?"
  • "Our cancer foundation really needs your help. A donation of any size makes a difference." 
Nearly every time I respond to say no, I end up spending even more time explaining why. Nobody wants to hear no.

Add This To Your To-Do List
As a marketer, you need to feel comfortable in ignoring opportunities that aren't critical to your business or your professional development. (Struggling to know what marketing opportunities are the most important? Read my book.)

On the flip side, if you're a person whose job it is to get marketers to say yes (like my job at Google was for four years), you need to make your pitch relevant and impactful.

Much more on that in future posts.

There's never a lack of ideas.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Porta Potties: Hilarious Product Names

I think the most entertaining product names in any one industry belong to the portable toilet industry. Porta potty names are hilarious! Here are eleven real portable toilet companies I found:
See how much I love my readers? I researched porta potties for a long time to find these companies. You're welcome!

Add This To Your To-Do List
Am I right? Are porta potty names the most entertaining? Or is there another industry with even better names? It just goes to show you — sometimes the stinkier the industry, the better you'll stand out with a clever name.

There's never a lack of ideas.

PS If you're in the mood to see some hilarious slogans from septic tank businesses, check out this Reddit.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Happy Sixth Birthday to My Blog

Another year is in the books and I've still been able to blog once in a while. My blog has never been viewed more than in the past year, so thank you for your increasing interest in what I have to say. And now, according to tradition, I'd like to highlight my favorite posts from the last year:
Add This To Your To-Do List
Enjoy my favorite posts!

There's Never a Lack of Ideas

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Stop Calling Them Millennials

The Pew Research Center defines Millennials as Americans born between 1981 and 1997. Two years ago, Time magazine said people born between 1980 or 1981 and 2000 are Millennials. Most other definitions cite similar date ranges.

But I don't think Millennials are defined solely by their age. Sure, date of birth provides some guideposts, but Millennials are better defined by psychographic traits — like confidence, entitlement, tolerance, and narcissism. And one platform has done more to foster these traits than any other: Facebook.

Facebook has shaped the way this generation behaves as consumers and employees. It has influenced this generation's attitudes about privacy and has redefined "friendship."

In my opinion, a "Millennial" is someone who started using Facebook while they were in college, high school, or junior high school. But let's stop calling them Millennials.

We should rename "Millennials" the Facebook Generation.

College students started using Facebook in 2004 and 2005. In 2006, Facebook was opened to everyone at least 13 years old, which is when most junior high and high school students started joining the social network. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who was in high school or college in 2006 who did not use Facebook.

These days, fewer and fewer 13 year olds are even joining Facebook, which, according to my definition, indicates the tail end of the Facebook Generation. Note I also define the generation based on when they started using Facebook. Let's not split hairs: while grandma may have gone back to college when she was 70, I hope you know that's not what I mean.

Like every generational label, there are individual exceptions. But my definition speaks to the generation's more important psychographic traits than does a date range. Facebook did more to enable "Millennials'" attitudes and behaviors than any other single source of influence.

There's never a lack of ideas.

Image source: Wikipedia.