Archive for November, 2010|Monthly archive page

Cyber Monday Shopping Tips

In General, Strategy, Trends on November 28, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Re-Posting the following article, featured in New York Daily News:

Dust off your keyboards and wipe off your mouse – it’s Cyber Monday.

A record 106.9 million Americans are expected to shop on the Internet Monday, up from an estimated 96.5 million last year, a survey for said.

The Monday after Thanksgiving is a crucial day for merchants trying to boost their bottom lines. Tactics include one-day and one-hour-only deals, website-wide percentage markdowns and free shipping for even minimal purchases.

“Every single year, Cyber Monday blows us away with how much bigger it is than the year before,” said Fiona Dias of GSI Commerce, which runs more than 100 retailers’ websites.

This year, nearly nine in 10 retailers nationwide are offering special deals to get a piece of the action, according to another survey for, a division of the National Retail Federation. In 2007, seven in 10 retailers offered special promotions.

Tips and resources for Cyber Monday shopping:

  • More than 700 retailers offer deals on this website. Big players like Barnes & Noble and Home Depot offer one-hour-only promotions.
  • Coupons are available from thousands of retailers for additional discounts.
  • A comparison site to find the best prices on products from more than 11,000 merchants.
  • Early bird go-getters that want your business like, and started Sunday.
  • There’s an app for that: Downloads like FatWallet’s Black Friday app are supposed to work on Cyber Monday as well.

The day has been called Cyber Monday since 2005, when Web traffic trackers noticed millions of shoppers hitting online sites at work after Thanksgiving weekend. This year, nearly 90% will do Cyber Monday Santa duty at home, though. And more than 7 million shoppers will use mobile devices for purchases, nearly double the number of 2009.

Rosa Amaya, 46, of Seaford, L.I., plans to do her Cyber Monday shopping after she gets home from work at a state Labor Department office, where she’s a secretary. She’d never shop in the office.

“I wouldn’t want to risk my job,” she said Sunday outside Macy’s Herald Square.

She’ll look for Cyber Monday deals on toys for two nieces and four nephews and video games for her teenage son.

Retailers’ hopes for a lucrative Cyber Monday were bolstered by news of online sales of $648 million on Black Friday – an increase of 9% over last year, according to tracking service comScore.

Jamie Dunbar, a lobbyist visiting New York City from Wilbraham, Mass., shopped city stores over the weekend for relatives other than immediate family.

“It takes more browsing to find what they might want,” said Dunbar, 33, who was outside Macy’s Sunday.

He’ll do Cyber Monday shopping for his parents, sister, wife and their two small kids. He’ll search his wife’s favorite retailers’ sites, like Coach, J. Crew and L.L. Bean, and hit the Toys “R” Us site for his kids.

Dunbar does 60% to 70% of his Christmas buying online, so Cyber Monday is important to him. But he vowed not to get up early for predawn deals.

“The reason I shop online is to avoid ‘Midnight Madness,'” he said. “If I lose a percentage of a deal, I’m not going to lose sleep over it.”

Which websites do you plan on shopping at?  :)


Thankfully Abraham Lincoln Listened

In General, Strategy, Trends on November 21, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Where things originate from always fascinates me.  Whether its social media or a national holiday, digging into the roots gives a new perspective on where we are in the present moment.  For example, with social media, businesses and people in general seem to make it more complicated than it needs to be.  Just go back to the basics of relationships, communication, and sales/marketing…and apply those SAME principles to the NEW CHANNELS of communication.  Aren’t we thankful it’s not rocket science? :)  (This is where I can hear Michelle from the old TV show, Full House, say “DUH”  haha)

Anyway – this got me to thinking about Thanksgiving.  What was the first Thanksgiving holiday like?  Were people praising the same things back then as we are today?  Did people live with an attitude of gratitude more than now?  How happy were Americans back then?  Wait…who’s idea was Thanksgiving?

Well, most might say Abraham Lincoln, since he wrote the proclamation on October 3, 1863 to set apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.”  However, where did the idea come from?

Truth be told, it came from Sarah Josepha Hale, a prominent magazine editor, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival…”

You may have observed that, for some years  past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritative fixation, only to become permanently, an American custom and institution.”

IMAGINE:  What would have happened if Abraham Lincoln & his staff didn’t “LISTEN” to their citizens, such as, Sarah (who obviously represents a ‘real’ voice among her peers.) ….  Don’t you think we (as businesses) should be actively listening to consumers?  We might miss out on a great idea/suggestion or some sort of constructive feedback if we don’t.  If you’re a SBM client, this is already part of your game plan…if not, we’ll discuss those tools again in a later post.

Now back to the Thanksgiving story…here’s the proclamation, written by Abraham Lincoln:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

Pretty interesting and a nice refresher, huh?

Have a Happy Happy Thanksgiving!

Entrepreneurs = GENIUS

In General on November 19, 2010 at 11:45 am

Entrepreneurs = Genius.

That’s the equation lesson for this week… Global Entrepreneurship Week.  Now, before we get started on the reasons why Entrepreneurs are genius, you have to understand why entrepreneurship is important – especially to the United States.

Did you know that Entrepreneurs/Small Businesses drive the U.S. economy by providing jobs for over half the nation’s private workforce?  The Office of Advocacy funded data and research shows that small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all firms, they create more than half of the private non-farm gross domestic product, and they create 60 to 80 percent of the net new jobs.

Pretty phenomenal, huh?  And today is designated as National Entrepreneurship DAY!   Plus, what makes it extra special (and relevant) to Kansas City is that the Kauffman Foundation is the U.S. organization behind the Global Entrepreneurship Week.

The President of the United States and his Administration have sent a strong signal in support of the entrepreneurs who power the national economy. They announced November 19th as National Entrepreneurs’ Day in conjunction with Global Entrepreneurship Week. The effort to claim the day was spearheaded by the Grasshopper Entrepreneur Movement. The Kauffman Foundation is the U.S. organization behind Global Entrepreneurship Week, which runs from Nov. 15 to 21. (

Get this, last week  Fast Company wrote that Kansas City was one of the BEST places for a STARTUP, to boot.

The willingness of entrepreneurs who have been successful to come to the table and help people at the very earliest stages when there is nothing in it for them is also unique. They embrace the idea that helping entrepreneurs is good for everyone in the world really, but certainly in a regional ecosystem, is more pervasive and widely held here than almost any other city on the planet. Part of that is because so many of those entrepreneurs were helped along the way.

Beginning in February, entrepreneurs will descend upon KC’s version of a startup incubator: Kauffman Labs, which is paying entrepreneurs for up to six months while they build out their startups!

Okay…enough on how awesome Kansas City is for entrepreneurs…on to why Entrepreneurs are like Einstein…GENIUS.

(Entrepreneur Magazine)

So, there ya have it.  If you know are an Entrepreneur… Keep up the great work!  And if you know anyone who is, tell them “Happy Entrepreneur Day!”

(Here’s another great article to read about Entrepreneur Week/Day: Hail the Entrepreneurs)



Boolean, what?

In General, Q&A, Strategy on November 10, 2010 at 8:28 am

Over 60% of people go to Google to start their search for information on a product or service.  So, wouldn’t it be helpful to know the tricks to get the precise results you are looking for?  It goes back to that saying “the better the question, the better the answer.”

Well, there’s a thing called Boolean search.  Most of my clients and students look at me like I have 2 heads when I say that word.  Haha!  Anyway, here are the “rules” to help with your search query, which come from the Dumb Little Man blog:

  1. Either/or
    Google normally searches for pages that contain all the words you type in the search box, but if you want pages that have one term or another (or both), use the OR operator — or use the “|” symbol (pipe symbol) to save you a keystroke. [dumb | little | man]
    If you want to search for an exact phrase, use quotes. [“dumb little man”] will only find that exact phrase. [dumb “little man”] will find pages that contain the word dumb and the exact phrase “little man”.
  3. Not
    If you don’t want a term or phrase, use the “-” symbol. [-dumb little man] will return pages that contain “little” and “man” but that don’t contain “dumb”.
  4. Similar terms
    Use the “~” symbol to return similar terms. [~dumb little man -dumb] will get you pages that contain “funny little man” and “stupid little man” but not “dumb little man”.
  5. Wildcard
    The “*” symbol is a wildcard. This is useful if you’re trying to find the lyrics to a song, but can’t remember the exact lyrics. [can’t * me love lyrics] will return the Beatles song you’re looking for. It’s also useful for finding stuff only in certain domains, such as
    educational information: [“dumb little man” research *.edu].
  6. Advanced search
    If you can’t remember any of these operators, you can always use Google’s advanced search.
  7. Definitions
    Use the “define:” operator to get a quick definition. [define:dumb] will give you a whole host of definitions from different sources, with links.
  8. Calculator
    One of the handiest uses of Google, type in a quick calculation in the search box and get an answer. It’s faster than calling up your computer’s calculator in most cases. Use the +, -, *, / symbols and parentheses to do a simple equation.
  9. Numrange
    This little-known feature searches for a range of numbers. For example, [“best books 2002..2007] will return lists of best books for each of the years from 2002 to 2007 (note the two periods between the two numbers).
  10. Site-specific
    Use the “site:” operator to search only within a certain website. [ leo] will search for the term “leo” only within this blog.
  11. Backlinks
    The “link:” operator will find pages that link to a specific URL. You can use this not only for a main URL but even to a specific page. Not all links to an URL are listed, however.
  12. Vertical search
    Instead of searching for a term across all pages on the web, search within a specialized field. Google has a number of specific searches, allowing you to search within blogs, news, books, and much more: 

  13. Movies
    Use the “movie:” operator to search for a movie title along with either a zip code or U.S. city and state to get a list of movie theaters in the area and show times.
  14. Music
    The “music:” operator returns content related to music only.
  15. Unit converter
    Use Google for a quick conversion, from yards to meters for example, or different currency: [12 meters in yards]
  16. Types of numbers
    Google algorithms can recognize patterns in numbers you enter, so you can search for: 

    • Telephone area codes
    • Vehicle ID number (US only)
    • Federal Communications Commission (FCC) equipment numbers (US only)
    • UPC codes
    • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airplane registration number (US only)
    • Patent numbers (US only)
    • Even stock quotes (using the stock symbol) or a weather forecast regarding the next five days
  17. File types
    If you just want to search for .PDF files, or Word documents, or Excel spreadsheets, for example, use the “filetype:” operator.
  18. Location of term
    By default, Google searches for your term throughout a web page. But if you just want it to search certain locations, you can use operators such as “inurl:”, “intitle:”, “intext:”, and “inanchor:”. Those search for a term only within the URL, the title,
    the body text, and the anchor text (the text used to describe a link).
  19. Cached pages
    Looking for a version of a page the Google stores on its own servers? This can help with outdated or update pages. Use the “cached:” operator.
  20. Answer to life, the universe, and everything
    Search for that phrase, in lower case, and Google will give you the answer.

Social Media Case Studies

In Strategy, Trends on November 5, 2010 at 6:30 am

To be successful, we study those who have demonstrated success.  Same principle applies to social media…so here we are, checking out some of the top companies that have proven social media strategies that work.  :-)

The following list of case studies came from a recent edition of’s Big List.

AT&T is partnering with game startup SCVNGR to launch a social game-based reward program with goofy challenges that let users win points for redemption at the carrier’s stores. >> MediaPost

With a heavy use of social media, Groupon’s recent Gap offer proved to be its most successful yet. The campaign utilized Twitter’s “Earlybird Offers” special of the day and Gap’s Facebook “Likers” to relay the offer. >> ClickZ

Using special bracelets that transmit RFID signals, Coca-Cola is integrating Facebook’s “Like” feature in real life. >> AdLand

As a part of Quaker Oats’ new campaign, “Does your breakfast make you amazing?” they’re teaming up with the co-host of NBC’s The Biggest Loser, Bob Harper to engage Facebook fans in a dialogue about their breakfast. >> Brandweek

Carnival Cruise Lines is the first in the cruise industry to launch a Facebook application that allows users to engage their social network in their vacation planning when shopping for cruises. >> MediaPost

NASA is using their blog to feature a contest to choose the playlist for their wake up anthems during their next voyage. >> NASA Blog

The Boston Celtics’ Senior Director of Sales and Marketing Operations, Matt Griffin, discusses the success of the Celtics Facebook application game in growing their e-mail database. >> DMNews

Puma’s new social ad campaign features a 60 second spot and a microsite that blends both Puma-created content and user-generated content. >> Puma

Ford’s unconventional virtual unveiling of the 2011 Ford Explorer on Facebook resulted in a larger increase of customer engagement than other automakers’ top Super Bowl ads. >> MediaPost

Monique Kumpis, Hyundai’s Experiential Marketing Manager, discusses how Hyundai’s “Uncensored” testimonial campaign is rooted in social media. >> ClickZ

What’s your social media success story?

Check out the following Kansas City area businesses:
435 South Magazine
The Studio 56
Gail’s Harley-Davidson
TCOY Wellness
Lockton Companies
American Red Cross – KC
Scooter’s Coffeehouse
Big Brothers Big Sisters
(Launching Soon!)

Marketing Lessons from Halloween

In General on November 1, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Everything you need to know about marketing…you already learned yesterday, on Halloween.

Okay, it might sound a little strange…just “read” me out.

On Saturday night, a few friends and I were chatting about Halloween…and before we knew it, we were all sharing ideas on what would make it fun for the kids….AND adults!  Which then lead to a conversation about Halloween as a kid…and sure enough, we all remember “certain” houses that gave the BEST treats, as well as the LAME ones too.  Oh and the costumes we chose to wear (or were forced to wear), haha!

Anyway…today I was thinking of how marketing fits into Halloween.  Let’s look at the 4 C’s vs. the 4 P’s of Marketing:

  1. Consumer Wants & Needs (vs. Product) – Knowing our audience, it’s safe to say that they want an exciting, tasty treat…and it’s those BIG candy bars that typically get kids excited (or glow sticks, which is a better compromise with parents on “tooth-brush”).
  2. Cost to Satisfy (vs. Price) – Our audience hasn’t earned enough allowance yet to afford much, and some are just learning to walk.  So, free is the cost…just as long as they dressed up and ask for the treat.
  3. Convenience to buy/ask (vs. Place) – A well lit house within the “consumer’s” neighborhood would be ideal.
  4. Communication (vs. Promotion) –  The kids will be your promotion.  Word of mouth starts at a young age, haha…and kids don’t talk…THEY SHOUT!  (Several kids ran from our house shouting “Look!  They gave me the BIG kind!”)

Also – check out these other lessons that can be learned from the holiday:

From Michael Stelzner, Halloween Marketing Lessons :

  • If you want someone knocking on your door, turn on the light.
  • Be prepared to give something away.
  • Engage visitors, and they will love you.

From Paul Williams, of MarketingProfs:

  • When it comes to Haunted Houses, the more attention to detail you put into it, the better and more believable the experience is for guests. The same applies to your business. Pay attention to delivering quality at every customer touchpoint, and the more they’ll believe you’re a great brand.
  • The best scary movies have music to build suspense and fear. What soundtrack plays at your business?
  • If your plan is to scare kids on your front porch, you’ll have much better success if you keep your mask on and stay in character. Same thing applies to front-line employees, while customers are present, they need to stay in character as the “friendly, happy, sweet salesperson.”
  • Being “friendly, happy, and sweet” isn’t enough. Employees need to be genuine. Just like Halloween candy, too much artificial sweet will upset stomachs.
  • Every day is Halloween at your business. Characters of all shapes and sizes (some scary) come to your door looking for treats. If you don’t deliver, the trick is they won’t return.

Social Buzz Media, other highlights:

  • Know your audience, know their taste…and be prepared to deliver the tastiest content that gets raved about (and maybe shared, haha).  Some of my friends’ neighbors turned their front yard into a place for kids to play games, while the adults enjoyed a cider & helped kids toast marshmallows over the fire.
  • Take an interest in your audience & compliment them on their personal branding (attire).
  • Give people an option, but not too many: i.e.  TRICK or TREAT?  LOL

Can you think of any other marketing lessons you learned from Halloween?  :-)