Mentioning bad things isn’t necessarily being negative

Business owners and managers often suffer from a common allergy. When they review copy for a website, blog post, or newsletter and see wording they perceive as negative, they break out in hives. That could be understandable. We’ve long been urged to accentuate the positive and emphasize the good things. Mentioning something that’s negative is … Read more

Using downtime to tidy up your marketing

Every business has its slower moments. When they happen, instead of trying to find ways to kill time, use the opportunity to tidy up your website and other marketing materials and toss out the obsolete trash. That way, they’ll be updated when things get busy again.  I rarely find websites that wouldn’t benefit from a … Read more

Marketing is all about relationships

No matter how much technology a company uses in its marketing, its chances of success or failure are likely to come down to the organization’s ability to build relationships. That’s usually what effective sales and marketing efforts are all about. You want to build some sort of positive relationship with the prospect or customer, so … Read more

Don’t let automation drive your marketing

Technology’s impact on the marketing world has been growing exponentially. Each year sees amazing new platforms that give marketers more power and greater opportunities. However, they also create a dangerous temptation to completely eliminate the human role … and with it, do away with common sense. I’ve written about this in the past, pointing to Staples … Read more


I’m not big on making grandiose statements, but I’m making this one with a tremendous amount of confidence. If you’re involved in marketing, a company you’ve probably never heard of is using technology in a way that’s going to transform your industry. The July/August 2016 issue of Inc. Magazine includes an article about a company … Read more


From an early age, our minds are trained to pursue the single answer that’s best for any situation. Whether it’s a question on a math test, a color choice for our living room, a career path, or a religion, we tend to believe that there is one single choice that rules out all others.

But when it comes to marketing, that’s rarely wise. Business owners will try to identify the marketing or advertising strategy that will be most productive for them. They’ll try radio advertising, and when that doesn’t produce the results they want, they’ll switch to sending direct mail, and when that doesn’t create a jump in sales, they’ll buy cable TV commercials, and when that falls short of their expectations, they’ll try a new online strategy … and it goes on and on.

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You’re just not pleased with the way things are going. Sales seem to be down, despite that new marketing campaign you launched three months ago. And frankly, you’re tired of it. So toss it aside and come up with something new.

Bad idea. And I say that as someone who profits when companies need brand-new marketing approaches, because it usually means that they need a new website, brochures, advertising — all those things they hire people like me to help them create.

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In the old days, marketers were in control. They might not admit it publicly, but many of them privately described their trade as a form of manipulation designed to talk consumers into acting in specific ways. Companies told consumers what products they needed and give consumers instructions about how to buy those products. It was that way for a very long time.

But the arrival of social media changed the playing field considerably. Combined with better-informed consumers, social media moved the power from the marketer to the consumer. It transformed small local conversations among friends to international discussions that can quickly make or break a company’s reputation.

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