StuMcMullin.com

Analysis of Anything Business

Want to gain Exposure? Do Something for Free.

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I wanted this post to be unique. I wanted it to be one that can potentially help a business or person alike. The concepts, thoughts, ideas, and examples that follow can and should be applied to a business or individual. Over the last few months I’ve had the pleasure of talking with multiple professional marketers and reading their work. A common theme I grasped from their teachings is it is OK to give something away for free. Yes, I said it…free.

David Meerman Scott and Charlie Hoehn both are strong advocates of the e-book and have personally released their own e-books which I recommend you check out. Charlie’s e-book is more geared towards the recent graduate (individual level) or inexperience professional. He recommends performing a service for a company or skilled individual for free. The idea is to gain exposure and experience at the same time. The company getting the free labor really has no risk involved. If lackluster work is served, no revenue is lost because of it. If great work is served, a recommendation or better yet, paid work may ensue. It is a great way to both learn something new but also gain experience. It really can pay major dividends in the long-run.

David’s press is that businesses should offer white-papers or seminars completely free. He also stresses not asking for user credentials such as e-mail addresses of phone numbers to obtain the material. I direct quote from David’s book World Wide Rave is as follows:

“When you make people give an email address to get a whitepaper or watch a video, only a tiny fraction will do so; you will lose the vast majority of your potential audience.”

Don’t let the data mining for people’s addresses get in your way of the ultimate goal, gain exposure.

Ramit Sethi, a personal finance expert, runs his own blog that provides amazing free content. Over the course of a few years and increasing readership, he has slowly gained immense credibility among industry leaders and experts. Because of his credibility, he was able to publish a book, which I recommend, and it’s is doing quite well on the Amazon selling list.

Let the viral marketing (Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn) get a hold of your e-book or work and let it do its magic. Free is in!

Written by smcmullin

July 21, 2009 at 1:02 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Book Review: World Wide Rave by David Meerman Scott

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As many of you have read in my previous posts and tweets, I had the chance to attend this year’s BMA ’09 conference in beautiful Chicago. One of the speakers was David Meerman Scott. David, an author, speaker, and viral marketer, was providing free copies of one of his books. In addition, I was able to talk to him after his speech and obtain his autograph inside the text.

For Stuart! How will you create a World Wide Rave?

For Stuart! How will you create a World Wide Rave?

First off, I will say that David was extremely humble and took the time to genuinely connect with me one-on-one. Not all speakers or “celebrities” will do that, and I really appreciated that aspect. Secondly, I think his presentation was one of the best. He captivated the audience beautifully by providing sound marketing advice through colorful and correlated storied examples. He speaks to over 20,000 people every year and I can truly see why.

In terms of one of his book entitled World Wide Rave, it was a quick and efficient read. He gets his points across very quickly in how a “rave” as he calls it can really propel a company. The Rave is getting people to talk about a company’s product or service through various social media venues.

I have to admit, after his first example of an executive for Universal Orlando Resort telling seven people about a new upcoming Harry Potter ride and getting 350,000,000 people to talk about it , I became extremely skeptical. His example was obviously very real but not applicable for every business, I thought. As I continued reading I realized that his example is applicable for almost anything and it doesn’t even have to be about a business. He outlined how a small junior soccer team grew such a huge fan base that the opposing team was simply blown away on how much support they received. A key point he was trying to make was the world can be your little hometown, literally, or the entire world.

My hometown Janesville, WI even got mention

My hometown Janesville, WI even got mention

I am from Janesville, Wisconsin, and while I was reading I noticed he showcased a small controversy in Janesville over a structure that would be built thereby eraticating a well used dog park. A local resident and user of the dog park created a world (Janesville is the world in this case) wide rave. The resident built a website other locals could remember and a rally ensued. The public outcry was enough to save the dog park. A rave can even be powerful on a local or smaller level.

His book is teaming with literally dozens upon dozens of examples of how social media can be leveraged and how the old traditional ways of marketing products or services aren’t always the best venue. He is pushing for an adaptation and change for the marketing world via social media. He advocates any company (he highlights IBM) that currently utilizes social media to improve results.

I want to be critical as well and as of now, I have only said positive things. I think David could have incorporated some more solid examples of how social media can backfire on a company. It would have been great if he provided some specific examples on what not to do based on what others have done so far.

All in all for a great read that is informative, not boring, and packed full of useful examples, I recommend David’s book. You will learn from page one.

Thanks again David for meeting and talking with me. We will connect again soon.

Written by smcmullin

July 7, 2009 at 11:26 pm

Posted in Book Reviews

The Most Powerful Word at BMA ’09 Chicago. Is your company using it?

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They say that actions speak louder than words, but words still hold their weight in gold at times. Powerful words that have high definition can really fuel a company’s marketing efforts. Out of the many talented, powerful, and successful speakers, one word came above the rest and really drove home with me. It is a word that every organization should talk about in their monthly, weekly, and daily marketing meetings.

Evangelists

Here is the exert definition as seen on Wikipedia:

“…companies develop customers who believe so strongly in a particular product or service that they freely try to convince others to buy and use it. The customers become voluntary advocates, actively spreading the word on behalf of the company.”

What does that mean? In a nut shell, these are your best customers. These are the customers who not love the product or service, they believe in it. They feel so strongly about it they want to convince others to use it. Evangelism marketing is the best marketing out there because ROI is the highest. Are you paying this customer to convince others to try the product or service? No. It is free. World-class marketers such as Andy Sernovitz really push for evangelism.

Evangelism practices also holds you accountable to keep a high standard. Evangelists who are very passionate about your product or service will also expect improvements and advancements. The drive to keep them happy and telling others will propel a company past its competition.

As a company, locate and reach out to your evangelists. Make sure you recognize their good stewardship. They are the company’s little brand ambassadors to the rest of the world. Give them perks to help them keep the evangelism going such as free samples of upcoming offers or exclusive offers nobody else receives. Find out that person is having a tough time? Send him or her a note and show some personality. The successful companies show passion towards their most passionate customers.

Does your company have someone who has referred hundreds of customers? Treat that person like royalty and more special than other customers. A company’s customers are its most important assets.

Evangelism…get talking about it in your upcoming marketing meetings. Start promoting it, now.

Written by smcmullin

June 24, 2009 at 11:14 pm

Posted in Marketing

Five Things I Remember Most From BMA ’09

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In my humble opinion, life is all about people and opportunity. Never take advantage of the people you love but always take advantage of a great opportunity. Recently I had the opportunity to attend this year’s national Business Marketing Association (BMA) conference held in beautiful downtown Chicago. As seen in the About Us section of BMA’s website, the following is the three-part strategic vision BMA strives for:

1. Be the primary repository of the best in business-to-business marketing information and resources.
2. Attract the best practitioners.
3. Promote the best practices in the industry.

My opportunity came when Gary Slack, newly appointed Chairman and Chief Experience Officer, reached out to members about the possibility of running the conference’s social media. Being opportunistic, I jumped and responded immediately. Turns out, it will be an experience I will never forget.

Myself and Kendall Collins | CMO, Salesforce.com

Myself and Kendall Collins | CMO, Salesforce.com

Now that it has been almost a week since the conference, I thought I would test my memory and jot down the five most impressive things I remember from a conference filled with impressive speakers and presenters. For a complete list of speakers and companies that attended click here.

Without further ado, here are the five things I remember most:

1. Youtube is the number two search engine behind Google with 1.5 million queries/day in front of Yahoo!
2. 95% of people confess they would buy green but only 22% of people actually buy green
3. Chicago has a strong bid for the 2016 Olympics. Michael Jordan is a strong ambassador
4. 92% of businesses research online before purchasing a product
5. Over the past 10 years the average selling cycle has increased 22%

As part of the social media team I was performing populating various social media venues including Twitter and Blog posts. This year each speaker was interviewed after his or her presentation and a YouTube station was set up. To see the full list of social media sites populated click here.

I hope to blog more about my experience with a few more posts so please keep reading and providing feedback.

Written by smcmullin

June 17, 2009 at 1:24 am

Posted in Uncategorized

ESPN’s PTI Comes out with New Commercial Tactic

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pardon_the_interruption-show

OK, first and foremost I love sports but rarely get the opportunity to watch TV. I am always active in research, sports, and my computer is my bible therefore ruling out TV. But, I did get to watch PTI (Pardon the Interruption) the other afternoon.

I think the two usual hosts, Mike Wilbon and Tony Cornheiser, do a decent job of associating both sports and comedy in the same segment, so I get accurate information and an occasional chuckle out of my 30 minutes. I don’t think the humor takes away from the content’s credibility.

I noticed something I normally do not see in normal television shows…or at least the ones that are created on the fly. During one of the commercial segments it cut back to the two hosts. They did not address the audience but were simply talking about the same gibberish they were prior to going to commercial. Frankly, it made me think the show was coming back on and could have deterred me from changing the station. I wonder if this little blurb of mid-commercial entertainment is working?

In the TV world, the big pressure for producers is keeping the audience intrigued THROUGHOUT the entire segment. That means trying different tactics to keep the audience attuned and not changing to another channel that doesn’t currently have the core programming on. Another network (I cannot recall right now) will place a ticker at the bottom of the screen notifying the audience when the program will come back on. I believe Hulu does the same thing during its segments. Does this tactic work or does it simply make the audience fixate itself on the ticker and not the advertisement?

I wrote this post in hopes of getting some feedback so please feel free to let me know your thoughts on whether you think this new (is it?) tactic is working for Disney/ESPN. Thank you again for your continued readership!

Stu

Written by smcmullin

May 16, 2009 at 2:54 pm

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General Motors | A Hometown Perspective

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I grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin, home of one of the oldest and largest automotive manufacturing plants in the world. After much talks over the past decade, this once respected plant closed its doors on March 9, 2009. The much criticized and scrutinized General Motors couldn’t keep the plant up and running and got rid of thousands of workers, many of which were my friends.

My first vehicle was a 1984 Chevrolet Cavalier in which my father told many of his closest friends he would turn the keys over to me on my sixteenth birthday. They all thought he was crazy. Making the promise to his soon-to-be wife that a car with 100k+ miles on it and over 10+ years would make it another five years before a crazy teenage kid would take it over raised eye brows. I drove the car for 2+ years before regretfully selling it to another young inexperienced driver. It was a sad day.

I have fond high school memories of delivering pizzas to the GM plant. They were great tippers and for the most part great people. After all, they needed a job just like the rest of America. While some of them only put a nut or bolt on a car hour after hour and car after call, they were still rewarded handsomely and most gave back to the local economy.

My imagery becomes tarnished when I think of bar in the parking lot of the plant itself. Yes, you read that correctly. The bar was not located across the street or around the block…it was in the parking lot. While delivering pizzas I would see handfuls of workers literally running to the bar to slam beers and shots to help them get through the day. How could a quality product be manufactured if the workers were drunk, I thought.

The bar was in the parking lot, but across the street was an 18 and over full nude strip club. Do you think the owner of that strip club ever head the phrase “location, location location”? I think so.

While I do not think the quality of workers or lack of quality of workers was the ultimate demise of that particular plant, it certainly didn’t bode well for my early perception of how a company should be ran. I couldn’t imagine the six sigma Toyota company allowing their workers to snort cocaine on their lunch break and come back to work making vehicles.

As mentioned above, I know many GM workers who have lost their jobs. The statements above do not reflect all workers at GM but certainly the instances mentioned did occur. Not all workers were involved in the sex, drugs, and alcohol while building America’s “finest” vehicles.

In closing, I do not agree with the government saving the company itself. I believe in a free market and think that poorly run companies such as this one should not be allowed to function. I do realize the implications of letting such a large company go down and realize some people’s thoughts regard unemployment, GDP, and the like but stick with my thoughts in having less government intervention. It’s sad to hear the jokes that General Motors is now known as Government Motors.

With all that said, I hope to drive another gem of a car like my 1984 Chevy Cavalier and have it made by General Motors; America’s Car Company.

Written by smcmullin

May 7, 2009 at 12:58 am

Posted in Uncategorized

What is the Future of the Paper Publishing Industry?

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Most of you know I work at a well known publisher, Reader’s Digest. Lately the buzz around the office has been everything digital. Like many publishers (including newspapers) it is concentrating more efforts on improving its digital footprint. That makes me wonder, how long can the paper publishing industry exist as we know it?

Much like the music industry felt early on with music going digital and people finding it for free (a.k.a Napster), publishers around the country are feeling the pain of free articles published online. The challenge is to remain more credible than most every day blogger and somehow drive more page views than every other publisher.

With our population becoming more and more “green”, I can only believe that we will gradually and continually do away with such paper print media. There will always be that select number of people who prefer to have something tangible, but as we continue to evolve I believe that desire will phase out totally.

Amazon, one of my favorite retailers, has since became proactive with the digital publishing scene in acquiring the digital book publisher, Audible.com. Even other services are becoming digital that might otherwise be published via print.

In my home town on Milwaukee, WI (Go Brewers!) the local hospital is publishing live updates of critical patient surgeries on Twitter. The Milwaukee PD is following suit by posting information investigations. I think you all know how I stand on the power of Twitter. You can even get find ESPN and SportCenter on Twitter!

Back to me point earlier in that we should eventually evolve into a digital centric society. I think that as this continues to occur page views and digital advertisement will be the new “advertising sales” at a publisher. Needless to say, it will be a great test for publishers covering any industry to see how they can survive in this increasingly digital age.

Written by smcmullin

April 22, 2009 at 1:44 am

Posted in Marketing

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