Own Your Own Life


For nearly twenty-five years – the majority of my career - I envisioned myself in a role atop a growing and successful company. I knew what to do and how to do it, but the pace and momentum of my career along with the responsibilities of a growing family kept me in corporate leadership roles that were a step away from the top. Despite that success, the itch to build a successful business of my own still needed to be scratched. Yet it never seemed to be the right time.

Then two things happened that added new dimension to my perspective. My wife was diagnosed with cancer and I turned sixty.

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Quick. Nimble. And Responsive.

Where Technology and Marketing Meet. 

Ins & Mktg

If you're an IT professional, you've likely heard this a thousand times from marketing colleagues in your company: "I don't care about the code or how it happens, I just want it to work!" That's usually followed by an enthusiastic shout, "And I want it NOW!" Am I right?

We marketing types are about quick, nimble, and responsive. We care more about why, what, and when than we do about how or how much. Process isn't part of our wiring. But you knew that.

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When it comes to nutrition, Tell it like it is!


Information clarity is about to get real!

I heard about this news from the FDA last week. I like it. Being more real about "serving size" would be the biggest benefit for me. Who eats half a bag of M&M's anyway. Eliminate the math and tell it like it is. The big food brands worry that the truth will slow down consumption, purchase, and profit. But we get healthier! Seems fair to me! What do you think?

Here's a link to a post by MyFitnessPal that shares six reasons for the recommended changes.

Social to the 12th Power

12 bannerThe Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII. In fact, their defense dominated Denver's number one ranked offense so soundly that most of the country called the game a yawner. Not so where I live. In the Northwest, the 12th Man knows how to yell, how to win, and how to celebrate. So how would a hyper-local insurance company find marketing opportunity in an event that is played on a global stage? With focus, passion, technology and social engagement.

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It's Not Okay!

A year or so ago I had the opportunity to to write the forward for a book a cross-country friend of mine was about to publish. His name is Ted Rubin and the book is Return on Relationship. Ted is insightful, experienced, generous, and just plain smart. His view of being socially engaged is refreshing. In this short blog post, he looks at a contrarian view of how social media is used. Enjoy. #RonR (You can follow Ted at @TedRubin on Twitter) 

It’s Not OK… (via http://www.tedrubin.com/)

  It is not ok to just use social channels to just broadcast. It is not ok to simply advertise and call it Social Media. It is not ok to block employees from accessing social media sites while at work. It is not ok to discourage employees from building…


CMO's and COO's - Friends In The C-Suite

Ins & MktgIn a space where customer interaction is increasingly digital and where customers increasingly use key technologies, CMOs and CIOs are working outside their existing comfort zones. It only makes sense for them to do it together.

In my monthly column for Insurance and Marketing, I shared my thoughts about the growing importance for these two members of the C-Suite team to "buddy up!"

You can read the by clicking here!

Thoughts of the ideal agency

advert love

There are five definitions of the word “ideal” in the online dictionary accessed by my browser. Near the top of the list was the definition that I expected: “A standard of perfection or excellence.”

This, I thought, was how agency principals most likely view their firms. But what comes to mind when clients think of the ideal agency? Definition number five was one that we’d probably be drawn to:: “Something that exists only in the imagination: To achieve the ideal is almost hopeless.” It took a few minutes for the grin to leave my face.

I’ve been a brand-based marketer for the last 33 years of my career. There’s seldom been a time, since 1980, when an agency partner wasn’t part of the equation—some more capable and better than others. Here are the standards I seek in the “ideal agency”—the one that may only exist in my imagination!

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It all starts with a story!

Have you ever thought about which conversations get shared? How about the things you talk about and share with your friends and family? Chances are good that the conversations that you remember and share most often are those that involve a story. Why is that the case? With thanks to the good folks at Story Worldwide, let’s look at six reasons for stories that many marketers frequently overlook or seem to take for granted.

Stories 1Experiences leave lasting impressions. They go far deeper than facts, figures or features. And by creating a story-based experience, we cause our audiences to walk away with an impression of our brand that sits deep in their hearts. 

stories 2

Stories reveal what makes your message unique and different. In today’s business environment success generates copycats and innovation is short lived. What can’t be copied is who you are – your unique identity and your story. Where did your brand come from? Why does your business exist? The way you share these stories is what helps to set you apart from the competition.

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The Price of Power - A False Edge

An Opinion

Some of you are aware that I write a bimonthly column for MARKETING - the Northwest publication for marketing and communication professionals. My most recent submission takes a look at the practice that a handful of powerful brands have adopted - leaning on their marketing partners for extended payment terms to gain a competitive edge and increase corporate profits. 

Now that I think about it again, I'll add that the practice being discussed is actually a false edge. The short term advantages it creates comes at an extreme price. These brands, regardless of their size and stature, appear to be blind to the cost of their powerful demands. Instead of gaining a sustainable advantage, overbearing brands often lose the trust and respect of their partners and, most importantly, their customers.

I'd like to invite you to read two perspectives on this behavior - mine, and my partner's in the publication - Digital Kitchen CEO, Bill Fritsch. Please click here to be taken to the full story.

As always, I welcome your insights and feedback very much

Here's to health and kindness

Girl Scout Cookies
Visitors to my blog are aware that I've been focused on at least a couple themes recently. Health and kindness have been on my mind. Both are habits I'm trying to build and reinforce in my daily life. For the most part it's been going pretty well too!

The recent Girl Scout cookie selling season gave me a great opportunity to practice both. As much as I love the sweet taste of Samoas and Thin Mints, I'm still not at the point in my journey where I can allow myself to indulge in the calories that come with them. So what's the kind and healthy thing to do and how could I best support my assistant's Girl Scout daughter when the order sheet came around?
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Ask for compliments and see what happens

Several years ago my wife and I were driving home late in the evening and decided to stop by one of the local fast food chains to get a quick bite to eat. The experience was nothing more nor nothing less than was expected. Very routine and unremarkable. We shouted our order into a speaker box and strained to understand the broken replies from a teenager inside the building one hundred feet ahead. When we arrived along side the first window we offered our payment to the cashier and expected to receive our bag of quickly wrapped food items at the second window. Of course, we would examine the contents to make sure we actually received what we had requested. 

But then the unexpected, and unfortunately unintended, happened. The restaurant made us smile!
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Movers and Shakers

It was the evening of our company's annual sales recognition dinner and the theme of the event was "Movers and Shakers." The top sales producers for the year, their spouses, company executives and special guests filled Seattle's Palace Ballroom to socialize, receive achievement awards, and hear from a handful of the leaders that were present. I was asked to share some thoughts about how the game is changing. This is an excerpt from my remarks. If you'd like to read the full text, please click here.

"Built To Change"

Change Ahead
"Few want to be sold to but everyone loves a great story. Movers and shakers know that we must converse before we convince. Consumers want inspiration and inclusion. We can no longer interrupt, but must instead interact. Brand advocates are listened to more than brand advertising. Asking exclusively about return on investment is the wrong question today. We need be asking about return on involvement, and return on relationship.

Successful brands will be defined and shaped by consumers more than companies. Winning businesses will be built to change in order to be built to last.

In this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, winners will need to do more than spin the wheel or roll the dice. Winners will be those who disrupt the foundations of conventional thinking by the strength of their imagination and vision. Winners will be people with positive, energetic demeanors who initiate change and influence events.
The winners will be the movers and shakers."

Influencers & Advocates, Grow & Defend

There’s a three-phased, seven-step model that I refer to as The Advocacy Engine. When I first considered it, I thought of it as a linear process that enabled brands to move consumers from awareness to advocacy. Today, I think of it more as a cycle of increasing momentum for brands that approach each phase and step with purpose and clarity.

A to A WOMMA Version    a to a phases

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Remarkable Service Leads To Loyalty & Recommendation


There's a business in Bellevue where I've shopped for many years – probably close to twenty by now. A specialty store, Crystallia features fine china, crystal and collectables as headliners in its inventory. Most of my purchases have been made during Christmas seasons and are primarily ornaments and figurines that I enjoy adding to the collections of my children. I'm not one of Crystallia's biggest customers as my purchases seldom total more than a few hundred dollars in any year. Frankly, I wouldn't expect the people at Crystallia  to remember me from year to year - and yet they almost always do. I’m loyal to them as a result.

Wee Forrest Folk

Over the years, Crystallia has relocated from one of the regions most long-standing upscale shopping environments to the intimate second floor of a Main Street office building. Nearly all of their business has converted to online shopping. Each year, shortly after Thanksgiving, I go online and look for the ornaments I’d like to purchase and generate the transaction. To that point the process really couldn’t be less personal. It’s the way they designed it and it works. No problem.

Until something doesn't go as planned. This year the unexpected happened when my order, which I would be shipping with other packages to my daughter’s family in New Mexico, was late to arrive. I called Crystallia and was greeted by a man on the phone whose first words were, “Hello Rod. This is Robert. I’ll bet you're looking for your ornament.”

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Compassion: A Key Ingredient To Marketing's Secret Sauce

Not long ago I was invited to consider the use of compassion in the marketing world. My first thought was that compassion and marketing are words that are aren't often used in the same sentence, let alone as a dimension of strategy. The more I think about it, the more I consider that to be an unfortunate shame.

Compassion model

The way I see it, compassion has become a key ingredient in the secret sauce that enriches the flavor of truly great marketing. Compassion is certainly a key component of great content, and great content has become the currency of valued and lasting relationships. As social engagement has flourished and virtual communities have formed in newly familiar places like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube,and Pinterest, compassion and empathy have become important communication planks in the implementation of social marketing strategy. Marketers are remembering the required fundamentals for making sustainable human connections - selfless, inspiring and compassionate acts that connect brands with consumers. It's an early step in the development of sustainable relationships that begins with brand awareness and matures over time through stages of consideration, selection, renewal, referral, and advocacy.

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Crowdsourcing The Next NW Profile

PEMCO Profiles

In 2007, my team at PEMCO Insurance and I changed the face of marketing in the Pacific Northwest. Not just for an insurance carrier mind you, but for an entire region of brands regardless of category. The “We’re A Lot Like You. A Little Different.” advertising campaign, conceptualize by DNA, Seattle, was based on the insight that our northwest neighbors, very passionate about the corner of the world where we live, weren't nearly as excited about insurance. The idea was to shine a light on the unique, quirky, offbeat characters that make the Northwest special, and clearly establish PEMCO as the local company that is just as unique as the people living here. A company that truly "gets it" because we live, work, learn and play in the same neighborhoods and communities as they do.

In order to show them that we know them in ways that others don't, the PEMCO Northwest Profiles were born. Over 100 types of local characters found in this special region - highly recognizable to those who know the area and culture intimately. The campaign, which was launched in television, radio, print, out-of-home, online and through strategic partnerships, gained popularity and talk about PEMCO and the Northwest Profiles increased and consumer suggestions for new profiles were offered frequently.

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People are talking. Is anyone listening?


There's a powerful message for marketers embedded in the elections taking place this week. The voice of the customer is alive and well.

It's the time in our country when we are reminded that the voice of the public really matters. Our insights, opinions, the things we like, and the things that wear us out come to the surface of conversations and debates. Loyalists and advocates for candidates, causes, initiatives, and groups have raised their voices in family rooms, coffee shops, town hall meetings, and many other face-to-face venues. Social networks are abuzz with status updates, blog entries, and highly efficient tweets that are expressly intended to let our friends, family, and members of the voting public - that we've never even met - know what matters to us and who we're convinced are the best candidates to solve the issues that we consider important. The volume of our communication is at a level like never before. And what we say matters.

Of course, listening matters too.

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Rather illuminating

WOMM Advice From A Broadcast Legend

What advice would a 60-year broadcast-news icon offer that pertains to word of mouth marketing? 

A Small Rather

I recently had the privilege to meet Dan Rather – the 2012 recipient of the Edward R. Murrow Award for Lifetime Achievement presented annually by the Washington State University Murrow College of Communications. It was a rare privilege to see the genuine interest that the longtime CBS news reporter, London correspondent, and network news anchor had in the students that he addressed -both in the classroom and during his keynote address.

As I reflect on his remarks, I can’t help but consider the stark contrast that exists between the education that Rather received and the tools that were available to him with those of aspiring young professionals in the digital age. Rather spoke of the transformation that occurred between the day in 1963 when he broke the news of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Texas and the four days in September of 2011 when he anchored the CBS News coverage of attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

“The digital age has ushered in a new era of speed and accessibility in today’s transfer of information. But meanwhile, a trend of rising confusion in America and a lack of faith in the press has emerged,” Rather said.

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Tips For Agencies From The Client Side

Marketing NW 3

It’s been 18 months since I was invited to write the inaugural Client Commentary column for Marketing Newspaper - the long-standing publication that has served the Puget Sound regions communications industry since 1986. I was asked to provide a few "tips for agencies" from a clients perspective. My first offering came from a list of 25 top of mind topics. Publisher Larry Coffman diplomatically suggested that I might be wise to temper my unbridled enthusiasm and begin with my top five suggestions. In March, two more were published and the September edition will complete what has been pared down to a Letterman-like “Top 10 List.”

As a  reminder, the first seven suggestions for agencies to consider, from a client perspective, included:

1. Loyalty matters.
2. Commit to the journey.
3. The brand is everything.
4. It’s not your money!
5. There’s no such thing as full service.
6. When you sell yourself, deliver yourself.
7. Excuse me, but isn’t that “our” award?

Now let’s finish the list with tips 8, 9, and 10.
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Don't forget the bells and whistles!

Ring out passion, enthusiasm, Eagerness, and Commitment

Bells and WhistlesA weathered bell and tarnished whistle are tied together on a faded and discolored ribbon, and sit on the credenza behind my desk as valuable reminders of what not to forget or take for granted. A client of an agency deserves their best – including the bells and whistles – not just when presentations are made to win the initial business, but throughout the relationship as well. The same is true for consumers who purchase the products and services that are sold in retail businesses and online websites as well. They deserve – and increasingly expect – more than a product in exchange for a price. They’re seeking added value – the surprise and delight – that comes with bells and whistles.

Please read the rest of the story by clicking on this link to my guest column published in the September 11th edition of All Things WOMM.

Routine or Remarkable?

Are your products and services remarkable? Does your messaging tell people why?

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, has been quoted as saying that “Advertising is the price you pay for having an unremarkable product or service.”

For decades, brands and their agencies have looked for magic messages to compensate for the unremarkable; persuasive messages that could be shouted into the unsuspecting ears of the public; messages that differentiate based on what, where and for how much, but seldom by sharing a story of why the brand exists.

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Alumni Edge: Easy come - easy go.

Please Don't Treat Me Like A Dawg... Even For 15%

13 CoinsIn Washington, there are two kinds of people that come to mind when college loyalty and affinity are discussed. You have your Cougs (Go Cougs... 1975) and you have your Dawgs.

It's not hard to tell which is which. One group wears crimson and the other purple. Neither group would ever change places with the other. That's just the way it is.

And that brings me to the point of this post. In order for a business to get an edge with either of these card carrying alumni groups, the business won't need to pick one over the other (although that might be optimal), but the business will have to know who belongs to which group.

Last week, after years of hosting breakfast meetings at Seattle's 13 Coins Restaurant, I was delighted to be able to flash my newly issued WSU Cougar Card in exchange for a 15% discount. I was impressed.Coug and Dawg

Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed for long. When the final bill was presented for my signature, the discount was listed as a "15% Dawg Deal." Something that for any self-respecting Coug is totally unacceptable. One step forward and two steps back.

A lesson learned long ago applies here. "A brilliant strategy that is poorly executed is far worse than a mediocre strategy executed brilliantly."

By the way, the Joe's Special at 13 Coins is outstanding.

Go Cougs!

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

And the winner is...

The first annual Marketing awards program has been completed and the winners were announced last week. The list included campaigns, ads, spots, releases, programs and  events that were created and presented by a veritable who's who of northwest agencies and brands. Hosted by the regions most popular marketing publication, Marketing NW, publisher Larry Coffman has found yet another way to enable high-fiving, toast making , and mantle decorating moments. We all do it... it's part of what defines our success.

And yes... I'm feeling a little proud myself.  "Seeing The Edge - the blog I created in January last year - was voted to be the best submission in the category. (I guess it eventually pays off to be part of a really large family).

I'd like to give a special shout out to Brian Forth and the SiteCrafting team for enabling the vision I defined for my blog and for designing it in such a way that enables me to put my energy into the writing and sharing. Super job!

Winning Personal Blog

Ten Marketing Lessons We Learned From Mom

Love Mom blocks

Yesterday, while thinking about the edge that my mom provided our family, I paused to consider how much she influenced the marketer in me. “Don’t forget to say please and thank you,” she told us, and “always tell the truth” was a value she consistently modeled and expected. Like most mom's, she was a brilliant communications strategist capable of pulling out gems like, "If you don't have something nice to say about someone, don't say anything at all."

Yes, we marketers can learn a lot if we think back to the lessons our mother’s taught us. I invited the marketing professionals among my Facebook friends to consider and share the marketing lessons that their mother may have taught them.

1. Be polite, friendly, and honest.

There was no shortage of reminders about saying please and thank-you when mom was around. She knew the importance and value of well-mannered requests and in showing respectful appreciation. Misleading, omitting, or altering the truth was simply not tolerated. Like consumers today, mom could always tell if we were anything less than forthright.

2. Keep your room clean.

There were a number of wise submissions from marketers whose mothers kept the environment and safety at the top of their list. “Wipe your feet… Clean your room… Wash your hands… Be home before dark…” As in marketing, it was all about respecting the community, being aware of our surroundings, and doing the right thing.

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Who wants a CMO for a BFF?

Insurance & TechnologyAre you and PEMCO's CIO BFF's at work?

That, or a very similar question, was what "Insurance and Technology" reporter Nathan Golia wanted to know when we concluded an unrelated conversation yesterday afternoon. Nathan caught me by a little by surprise, but I understood right away what he was getting at. He was interested in organizational silos and wanted to know whether or not I believed that CIO's and CMO's needed to collaborate more closely in order to win in the marketplace.

As I shared with Nathan, close knit collaboration and cross-functional leadership is more critical today than ever before. Previous eras were primarily fueled by a corporate focus on operational efficiency, financial performance, or product innovation. Today, in the conversation economy, the voice of the customer and the impact of social engagement has made the CMO an important best friend for members of the C-suite to embrace.  Here's the full story.

That's my opinion. What's yours?

Your comments, suggestions, and stories of your personal edge are always welcome in my guest book.

Tip 9 - Advice For Agencies Looking For An Edge - A Client's Perspective


bait and switch: When a fairly attractive woman or man introduces themselves to a group of the opposite sex in order to get their ugly friend in the door." - Urban Dictionary

If you are going to make the pitch, stick around to field the ball.

We all know the drill. The client tells a group of agencies it intends to review capabilities for potential engagement. If chosen, you’ll add that brand to your client list, unleash creativity for the market to admire and enjoy a valued relationship for years to come.

Weeks later, after copious information exchange, your agency is up to speed on the mission, vision, values, business model and unique selling proposition of the brand. It’s time for your pitch. You walk into the client’s conference room with your agency’s founder, owner, partners, president, creative chief and head strategist.

Whether you flew across the country or walked across town, at that very moment the client’s brand is Priority No. 1 in your minds. You say all the right things. Collectively, you’re the best and brightest your office has to offer. You’re experienced, smart and really seem to understand the client’s needs. You know them as a brand, a business and as people. It feels just right.

So, your agency gets the order, the account and the business. The client gets your promise and thinks, “This might be the start of a professional partnership.”

And then it happens. 

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Market Mix 2012

womma - logo - med
Word of mouth is, without question, the most powerful form of marketing. Over 90% of consumers have at least one brand-related face-to-face conversation each and every day. Nearly 80% of us say we trust recommendations from other consumers while more than 75% believe that companies are untruthful in their advertising. Clearly, today’s smart marketers are seeking out ways to stimulate consumer conversations and generate sustainable buzz

On Tuesday, March 20th, I'll have the opportunity to introduce MarketMix attendees to WOMMA – the organization that I discovered in 2007 that  has made a remarkable difference in the success of PEMCO’s rejuvenated brand and campaign.

I'll share the five key principles of effective word of mouth marketing along with the four decisions that every marketer and brand manager can make to fuel the conversation and create engagement for their brands. Are you looking for an edge? Then this is a session you won’t want to miss!  Reserve your seat today.
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Are you asking the right questions?

Geno Church

Do you have a word of mouth notebook for the answers?

A friend and amazingly successful practitioner of word of mouth marketing, Geno Church, is a regular contributor to the Brains On Fire blog. Geno has a wealth of great information to share that frequently causes me to consider ways to improve and inspires me to ask better questions when seeking answers.

For instance, consider this final paragraph from one of Geno's most recent posts. 

The question we’re asked most often after a presentation (and on our blog) is “Where do I start?” The answer to that question can be found in an even bigger question eloquently expressed in a recent blog post by Ed Keller: “Marketers can’t choose a “social strategy” without first understanding the motivations of consumers to share. There’s your answer: “What motivates your customers to share?” I would also add your employees into that equation, too. So let’s do a little WOM project together. Let’s take a week to start digging into what motivates your employees and your customers to share. Dust off that Moleskine, Field Notes or notepad and let’s have some conversation.

I encourage you to read the entire post. The story's a great one and the nuggets of knowledge are plentiful.

Tip 8 - Advice for agencies looking for an edge - A clients perspective


"The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team." - Phil Jackson

Collaboration Looks Good On You

Once you've come to understand and accept tip number five, that there's no such thing as full service, it follows that successful agencies will need to learn to embrace collaboration with the variety of service partners that have been selected by your clients. You won't get a vote on who the partners are, the skills that the client has asked them to bring, or the degree to which each of the partners are engaged. 

To use a familiar metaphor, your client is the chef and your agency is but one of the important ingredients in the stew. In order for the dish to be as savory and satisfying as the chef intends, it will require an number of equally important ingredients and none of them can be allowed to overpower the flavor of the dish. Instead, each ingredient as it is added to the stew must enhance the flavor and bring out the best of the other ingredients that are added to the mix. 

Being willing to collaborate instead of competing is the secret to long term success in the new millennium. Collaboration is a behavior trait that reflects well on those who are willing and able to put their own wants and needs off to the side of their clients. Those who arrogantly or selfishly presume that they are the strongest partner or that they have more of the best ideas will not only be the biggest loser, but will ultimately kill the partnership between the remaining agencies. Consider the following suggestions for successful collaboration:

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Tireless and Talkable Campaigns:

Decisions slide

Four decisions every brand can make to fuel the conversation

In the Northwest, everyone knows the guy who sports a pair of sandals with a pair of wool socks. Around here, there are certain quirks that set the people of this corner of the country apart from other regions.

That’s the sentiment at the center of PEMCO Insurance’s award-winning “We’re A Lot Like You. A Little Different.” advertising campaign, which features more than 70 tongue-in-cheek descriptions of people frequently spotted around the Northwest, including the ever-popular Sandals and Socks Guy.

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Tip 7 - Advice for Agencies Looking For An Edge - A Clients Perspective


bells and whistles - "things that something has or does that are not necessary but that make it more exciting or interesting" - Cambridge Idioms Dictiionary 

7. Don't forget the bells and whistles! A weathered bell and tarnished whistle tied together on what is now a faded and discolored ribbon sit on the credenza behind my desk. They aren’t expensive but they are a tremendously valuable reminder of what not to forget or take for granted. A client deserves your very best – and that includes the bells and whistles – not just on the presentation that you make to win the initial business, but throughout the relationship as well.
Early in my career as the advertising director at Schuck’s Auto Supply, I worked with a Portland based agency that had won our account long before the company hired me. They continued to produce campaign components that were consistent, affordable and in line with expectations that had been established when they were hired. Looking back, I remember that they didn’t seem to invest much in the relationship. They had the account and were in service and delivery mode. Some might say that they delivered the steak, but seldom exposed the sizzle.

A time came when we looked to refresh and relaunch our brand position and marketing campaign. The incumbent agency, along with two or three hand picked challengers, was invited to make presentations. As expected, all were very good. Two were exceptional and separated themselves from the pack. One was the incumbent and the other a smaller firm with everything to gain and nothing to lose. One of the two, while not significantly better than the other, brought an almost magical presence into the room. Their presentation was inspiring, entertaining and just plain fun to witness. There was a feeling of enthusiasm and energy. They delivered the sizzle. They brought the bells and whistles.

In the days that followed, the final decision was in my hands. I wrestled with my feelings about loyalty and commitment, but couldn’t separate the energizing appeal of the challenger. Ultimately, it was the challenger that was selected. It was a great call to make and I never regretted the decision.

Bells and Whistles

The call to the incumbent was more difficult. They were shocked by my decision and the reality that it would not help them to appeal to my boss. When they were ready to listen and asked me why I’d made the choice that I did, I told them that while their concepts were solid and strategy was sound, their energy and passion during our meeting was clearly lacking. I told them that of all the businesses that I worked with I expected a marketing firm to be the best at selling themselves – complete with bells and whistles.

In the next day or two, a package arrived on my desk. It was wrapped in a multi-colored foil that was brightly decorated. Inside, the box was packed with confetti and streamers. And in the center of the box was a ribbon tied to a hand written note. As I pulled the ribbon from the confetti I revealed a collection of bells and whistles. On the note were just a few sentences. “Thank you for the lesson about the importance of bells and whistles. Here’s what we forgot yesterday. We won’t make another presentation without them.”

Tip 6 - Advice for agencies looking for an edge - A clients perspective.


""The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the credit" - George Carlin

Which are you, the caterpillar or the butterfly?

6. Excuse me, but isn’t that “our” award? There’s a time of year when agency principals and senior staff don their tuxes, slip on their gowns, or at least dry clean their blue blazers to go with their newest designer-label jeans. When more than a few of them do it at the same time and place, you know it must be an awards banquet. It’s a night long anticipated, one that determines bragging rights when agencies pitch prospective clients or update collateral and websites.

The next time you attend one of those events, pause and look around the room. Note who’s there. Count how many people work for agencies, public relations firms, or the service providers that so effectively support our craft. Then count again. How many of the brands who paid for the work and bore the risk do you see? I’m betting that client employees will be hugely under-represented. You probably know where I’m going with this. Maybe a little of my disappointment is showing through … and maybe you feel a bit embarrassed.

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Yum Yonanas

The beginning

Where the beginning Should have began...

If you've been following along for the past five months you know that I've been providing weekly updates about my effort and progress toward a healthier life - a life that weighs at least 100 pounds less than I did last summer. So far, after twenty-two weeks I've released 45.5 pounds and at least six inches in my waist. Averaging approximately ten pounds each month keeps a smile on my face. The interest and support of so many friends and family helps me to hold myself accountable.  If you'ld like to look at the journey so far just click on the "Healthy Edge" tab and scan through the weeks that are posted in that section of this blog.

Yonannas on display
Whether you are on a similar journey or not, I want to introduce you to one of the most amazing kitchen appliances that we own. It was a gift from two very close and caring long-term friends last Christmas and it's really getting a workout. It's called "Yonanas."

Our Yonana is like a kitchen wizard that turns the goodness of fruit into the greatness of a soft-serve ice cream like desert or a refreshing sorbet. In less than five minutes it blends frozen fruit, without adding anything else (no sweeteners, no liquids, nothing) into the most satisfying and amazingly delicious treats. We enjoy what our Yonanas makes at least a few times every week.  

Looks good enough to eat... So I did! Yum!
Yonanas Large

Tip 5 - Advice for agencies looking for an edge - A clients perspective


While it might be tempting to take on a client's entire business, there's no way one agency can do everything well. 

Brands marketers have a way of sorting things out. It doesn't take long to see through the full service makeup that agencies put on these days. Many excellent botique firms tend to lose sight of what they are best at in a quest to be bigger... but not better. Too many agencies, in trying to be all things to all marketers, are getting bogged down and doing a disservice to themselves and their clients. 

5. There’s no such thing as full service. Just like major department stores have felt pressure from specialty retailers who line mall corridors between the giant anchor tenants, so have full-service agencies. They feel the pressure from boutique service providers in the marketing world.

Fragmentation and specialization is a reality and it’s a strategic advantage to the client who masters the skill required to hire and manage the boutiques. I’m wary of large firms who hang a “we do it all” banner above their door. I simply don’t believe that a single firm can be the best at everything. For that matter, who can?

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Customer Voice - Our Greatest Marketing Asset

CMR Logo Small

Last week I attended the second annual Content Marketing Retreat in Langley, Washington. During the course of the two day event I interacted with thought leaders, service providers, sole proprietors, non-profits, and representatives of regional business both large and small. Without exception I was impressed by the passion, interest and understanding about the importance that should be placed on the voice of the customer.

I had the opportunity to open the event with keynote remarks that focused on marketing fitness, content excellence, and making meaningful connections. 

Content Marketing - A CMO's View (w/o speakers notes due to PDF upload)

Please read on for a summary of thoughts that I shared during the retreat.

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Tip 4 - Advice For Agencies Looking For An Edge - A Client's Perspective


"We don't nickel and dime customers with extra fees; other airlines do." - Southwest Airlines

4. It's not your money. If you’re wondering why that tension exists between you and your client, it’s probably got something to do with the money that isn’t yours. You know, the money you’re seeking in proposal after proposal that appears as if you think your client has direct access to the U.S. Mint.

Would you really spend that kind of money to market your agency? I didn’t think so. In fact, I’ve not seen you spend much of your own money promoting your agency at all. So surprise us with a proposal that looks like you thought about our money once in awhile. Be a little different and show us what hungry, scrappy, and efficient looks like.

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The New Currency Of Successful Brands

CMR 2012

Analytics and measurement won’t get the job done. Passion makes a huge difference. Content excellence is the critical secret sauce for winning businesses!

Thursday, January 26th, I will have the privilege of providing the opening address to attendees of the second annual Content Marketing Retreat at the Center for New Media in Langley, Washington.

That’s more than a little ironic because I consider myself to be more of a student than a teacher on the topic. In fact, as critical as I know content excellence to be, I continue to assess and shift the thinking that will ultimately be embodied in the content direction and strategy that our company, PEMCO Insurance, embraces. 

Of the things that I am most certain there is one that stands out – one that I’m most passionate about. The voice of the customer will be at the heart of our success and content excellence, regardless of the source, must be embraced, encouraged, and enabled in order to consistently win in the marketplace.

Russell Sparkman, founder of Fusionspark Media and organizer of next weeks retreat, visited my office where we talked about a variety of topics expected to be addressed during the two day event. One that he asked me to give some thought to centers on executive leadership and support for newly emerging strategies. Here are some of the thoughts that I shared.

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Focus on fitness, communication, and connections.

focusFocus is a very good thing!

Earlier this month, as the new year began, I boldly posted an entry to this blog declaring that I would have "No New Resolutions" in 2012.  The reason, simply stated, is that my resolve to accomplish a few specific goals in 2011 needs my continued focus and commitment. To spread myself too thin only deverts my attention from the most important things.

As a PEMCO colleague likes to say "Keep the main thing the main thing."

Within days of my post, Russell Sparkman, the founder of FusionSpark and organizer of the second annual Content Marketing Retreat in Langley, Washington, contacted me with the following question.

"With focus being core to your success, what would you say is the most important area of focus for marketers in the coming year?"

This was my response...

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Tip 3 - Advice for agencies looking for an edge - A clients perspective.







"A brand for a company is like a reputation for a  person.  You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well."  Jeff Bezos

It can be an awkward dance - the one between an agency and a client. Who leads? At what tempo? Is it a waltz, rumba or salza? Through all the mystery and suspense one thing is certain. There is only one prize... and the client decides who they will add to their brand dance card.

3. The brand is everything.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been contacted by an agency that wanted a chance to win a piece of our business but hadn’t taken the time to understand our brand. Agencies often have a tendency to make it all about them—their competencies, their awards and their ideas—even their other clients.

So here’s a tip from someone who’s been on the other side. We don’t care as much as you’d like us to. We’d prefer to hear that you’ve done your homework and have taken time to get familiar with our brand; that you’ve shopped our stores, tried our products, called our service centers and visited with our employees. Stand in the customers’ shoes. Learn something about our history, our values and our promise. If you haven‘t done your homework, you’ll find that we won’t be very good listeners.

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Tip 2 - Advice for agencies looking for an edge - A clients perspective.








"Never stop educating your client" - David Dallaire, Principal, Fennec Consulting

The type of relationship a client has with an agency can take several forms - strategic or tactical, partnership or vendor, long term or temporary. Regardless of the relationships design there are ways that agencies can increase their value to the client. In response to last weeks tip regarding loyalty, David Dallaire wrote, "... an agency should always be bringing new ideas - not just about the client's current business and industry, but some "blue ocean" strategies as well as even more mundane things like the process you use to work together." I couldn't agree more.

After more than thirty years on the client side of the equation I've come up with some tips to offer agency colleagues an edge... as seen from my side of the coin. This is the second installment in the series.

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The Coachable Have An Edge

"Almost all of the top producers that I know are always seeking an edge. They’re always looking for a new idea, a new approach, or a new way to create value for their clients. They want some edge that will allow them to produce even greater results, and they are open to trying new things to get those results." 
                   - S. Anthony Iannarino

Are those with an Edge Coachable?

What kind of people would you expect to be continually looking beyond the obvious to see what others don't? Competitive people? Driven people? Self starters and people with ambition? I suspect many of those who strive to see the edge would be described like that. In addition, I think words like curious, inquisitive, bright, and accomplished are words that could be used.

And what do edge seekers do? Are they executives, sales people, athletes, artists, scientists? Might they be public servants, philanthropists, and volunteers. Or are they simply the cream of the crop. The people who make it to the top in every walk of life?

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Tip 1 - Advice for Agencies Looking For An Edge - A Client's Perspective


"Clients get the advertising that they deserve" - Dan Gross, Principal & Executive Creative Director of DNA, Seattle

I think I've heard Dan say that at least a half-dozen times in the 15-20 years that he and I have been doing business together. And I think he's right. In many ways, the quality of the work produced by an agency is in direct relationship to the quality of the client the work is being done for. Some clients never seem to understand that. Of course, some agencies never seem to get it either.

Earlier this year my friend Larry Coffman, publisher of Marketing NW, suggested that I tap into my 30 years of working with local, regional and national brands (while never working in an agency) to provide some insights from the client side of the relationship.

I stopped creating the my list of suggested insights when I got to 25. It turns out, or so it seems, that I think there’s a lot of advice to share with agencies. Here's the first of several tips that I plan to highlight over the coming days.

1. Loyalty matters. What I’m about to say may not be what you expected. But like the company I work for, PEMCO Insurance, I know I’m a little different in this. I’ve never been a client who milks every good idea from an agency partner and then walks them to the door prior to the next agency review.

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Still Running Strong In The NW

One of the Things that help CMO's have really good days!

Seattle Magazine
For the rest of the story, simply click right here.

Integration is key!

Word of Mouth Marketing: The Buzz about Online and Offline Buzz

talkers c

As social media becomes the focus of attention for marketers, it is essential that we not forget the power and influence of good old fashioned face to face conversations. 

Early in my term as Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Board President, I expressly commissioned an Offline Word of Mouth Task Force, headed by former board member Stuart Sheldon, to advance the awareness and importance of offline conversations in order to bring emphasis to this critical area for our membership. 

At last week’s WOMMA Summit, the task force convened a conversation to discuss the importance and relevance of offline word of mouth marketing. In addition to Sheldon, who is the Co-President of Escalate, members of the task force and panel included Brad Fay, COO of Keller Fay Group, Chris Laird, CEO of Tremor, and Idil Cakim, VP of NM Incite.

Among the topics discussed was: "What is offline WOM? How is it similar to or different from online WOM?" 

As a preamble to the conversation, Laird, in a November 15th Forbes article titled, “Why Digital Still Can’t Beat Word of Mouth In Sharing Brand Messages,” shared his perspective on that question. He cited survey results from Keller Fay’s recent work and spoke to the dramatic difference in online and offline influence. One excerpt from the story is as follows…

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Someone was listening!

Rod Card - Prolango

Relationships matter!

Last night I had the opportunity to speak to a large group of people attending the ProLango Career Mixer in Seattle.  It was a great networking style event with people from a variety of careers engaged in conversations on topics that were as varied as the people in the room. One thing that most everyone had in common was an understanding that relationships matter and that it is important to build your personal and professional networks before you need them. The power of our network is directly related to the energy we put into it.  Last night there was a lot of energy being shared.

Someone was listening!
As I closed my remarks I shared my thoughts about the power of a handwritten card. I believe that this simple and "old school" tool, used appropriately, can help differentiate the writer from the pack of similarly skilled individuals. It's memorable.

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Can you hear me now?

Listening quote

Last week two experiences came together from opposite ends of the spectrum. 

The first, as a customer, was frustrating and disappointing. I found myself struggling to communicate with a popular national brand who simply wasn't listening or responding.  

The second, as an executive, was positive, enjoyable, and engaging. 

In that situation I was engaging with 75 marketing professionals...Ppeople who wanted to become more effective at creating conversation worthy buzz for their brands or for those of their clients.

I'll share the story of the brand when the "case study" is ultimately closed. In the meantime, I'd like to share the presentation with you.

As marketers, just like as people, we can look beyond our minimum responsibilities and make decisions that will make a difference. That is an opportunity to create a positive edge.  

There are things we can decide to do... To listen. To be affected. To respond. To Engage.

What will you decide? Will you see the edge?

Your comments, suggestions, and stories of your personal edge are always welcome in my guest book.

And she told two friends...

Heather (med)And so on. And so on...
In the early eighties a challenger brand of organic shampoo products hired a little known actress, Heather Locklear, to demonstrate the power of word of mouth in the success of an emerging talkable brand. In the memorable commercial, Heather demonstrated how remarkably effective and important the voice of the customer can be. It was as simple as two friends telling two friends... over and over and over again.

Thirty years later the tools are more sophisticated, the techniques have evolved, and the customer has more influence than ever before. Word of mouth marketing is no longer optional. It is essential and smart companies are baking it into the daily operations of their organizations.

WOMMA, the pioneering association for brands and agencies, is bringing the story to Seattle. It's a chance for marketers to participate in a face to face knowledge forum where brands and practioners openly share and discuss their social marketing successes, learnings, and best practices.

For more information and links to the agenda and registration, just click here.  (And you'll be able to see what Heather Locklear looked like in that old commercial too)

Get Inspired

Inspire Med

Have you ever heard of a BHAG

It's an acronym for an organizations Big Hairy Audacious Goal - A concept first introduced by authors Jim Collins and Terry Porras in their 1996 article entitled Building Your Company's Vision

Today I had the opportunity to visit with "Get Inspired" podcast hosts, Terry Barber and Carol Chapman about the BHAG that PEMCO Insurance has set out to accomplish - "To never have to advertise for a lead again".

Our discussion touched on several topics including the importance of inspired story telling, standing in the customers shoes and and combining those factors in a way that compels consumers to become brand advocates. 

We discussed the importance that guidance, collaboration, and learning from experience of others can play in the life of a brand and in the lives of individuals.  Examples included the important role that WOMMA plays in guiding and enabling talkable brands; multiple perspectives on fatherhood; and the amazing influence of a mentor and a specific moment in time.  

I hope you enjoy the conversation.  To hear it, simply go here.

Your comments, suggestions, and stories of your personal edge are always welcome in my guest book.

WOMMA: President's Mid-Year Update

WOMMA LogoHalftime Report
It doesn't seem possible that my term as Board President of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association is already half over. Wasn't it just last month that we were establishing our strategic direction and work plan for the year? 

No... that took place in January. Now I find myself heading into the second half and feeling very proud of the progress our organization has made.  And the best is yet to come!

If you are a WOMMA member, I hope that the variety of products, services, and events being provided have met and exceeded your value expectations.  If you aren't yet a member of WOMMA, I encourage you to visit our website and discover the many resources that are available to you.

The following is an open letter to the membership and friends of WOMMA that recaps some of the key accomplishments of the second quarter.

Customer Service... The New Marketing

Woman listening - med

Are you listening?

Awareness of word of mouth marketing and the importance that consumer driven communication is playing in the business community continues to increase at an astonishing rate.

Increasingly, conversations are taking place about identifying talkers, loyalists, and advocates. The momentum and movement has found its way out of the experimental idea centers of marketing departments and is showing up in corporate board rooms, vision statements, and strategic planning discussions. 

Listening to the customer is in style again. And this time, the consumer has the power and the tools to make a very real difference.

For more on this topic please advance to The WOMMA Edge, right here.

Business Intelligence TV - June '11

Only win by losing!

BITVHow do you sell a product that people don't understand, don't want to buy and when they do buy, they don't want to use it? And how do would you engage your customers in a way that creates loyalty and advocacy? While this sounds like a very tough sell, the company where I am the C.M.O., PEMCO Insurance, has been recognized as one that does it very well.

I was recently invited to discusses the journey with Bruno Aziza on Microsoft's Business Intelligence TV. We talked about a few of the ways that companies like PEMCO employ social media tools for relationship management and customer engagement. 

To see the video and learn more, just follow the "read more" link below.

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Tale of the Tweets

Rod Speaking Engagement

What will they say about what you said?

Last week I had the opportunity to make a short presentation at the Social Media 301 Conference, presented by Fresh Consulting on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington.  The speakers chosen for this event were outstanding and the buzz from attendees seemed to appreciate the higher level of content that was emphasized. I continue to position myself as a student among thought leaders in this rapidly evolving space, and once again I had several moments of inspiration that I expect will give our company an edge as we continue to mature our efforts in social media and engagement.

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Likeable takes more than the push of a button

Like Tee Shirt med

If you had a like button, how often would it get pushed?

Have you considered what it really means to be truly likeable? What draws you to those that you like? Is it the way they look, what they say, how they interact with you? Is a persons likeability earned or is it simply a matter of convenience? Are you quick to like the people who are there to help you... or does developing a like for someone require longer term and more meaningful relationships than that?

These are questions that on the surface appear to be all about interrelationships between people - but look again. Have you noticed the growing number of brands that are inviting, encouraging, even propositioning you to "like" them?  You can't go far without a "like" button being nearby in our digital world.
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Better late than never


Online Marketing Summit - February 7-11, 2011

In the world of social media and word of mouth marketing a lot can happen in a short amont of time. Companies come and go. Products succeed and fail. The numbers that measure the growth and adoption of social networks can skyrocket in that amount of time. And they have.

Last February I attended the Online Marketing Summit as part of a group of panelists representing the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. While there, I had the privilege of sitting down to talk with the OMC CEO, Aaron Kahlow, whose organization owns and operates the summit event.  Three months later a digital copy of the conversation arrived in my email. I'd almost forgotten the discussion. The good news is that the themes of our conversation are still relevant - even after three months.  For more on the OMS event, please follow this link to the post that I made in February. 


Hour Glass / Stop Watch MedHow we use our time

There are a few things that are the same for all of us. We must breath to live. Because we live, we will all die. And in between there are the same number of hours, minutes, and seconds in a day for everyone. What is different is how we choose to use that time.

A few years ago I chose to dedicate some of the hours in my day to become a student of word of mouth marketing. One thing led to another, and I offered more of my time to serve as a WOMMA board member - the trade association that is leading the way in the word of mouth space.

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Lets Get Ethical


The rules of the game have changed.

No longer is consumer behavior driven exclusively by traditional marketing and advertising, or by the influences of mass-media opinion-leaders.

Today those consumers are making decisions after hearing the opinions of peers, friends and even strangers. Most often, those new, powerful lay-influencers make their opinions known online, completely outside the influence of traditional public relations.

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Lowering the bar

Insurance Man - Med

Selling protection... And I don't mean condoms!

Just about the time you come to grips with the fact that there is a great chance that you're responsible for marketing one of the most unremarkable and uninteresting product categories on the face of the planet, something comes along to make you think twice.

Now don't get me wrong, insurance isn't the only product that people wish they didn't have to buy that I've promoted in my career. There were the do-it-yourself auto parts like carburetors, starters, and alternators. I still smile when I think about the fact that sales of those replacement parts went up when the price went down by putting them on sale. Who stocks up on starters and alternators anyway?

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What gets said matters

Culture, advocates, & word of mouth  

SCS Swag - Med
During the past week I had the opportunity to attend the fourth annual BazaarVoice Social Commerce Summit in Austin, Texas. It was a great even that was exceptionally well hosted and was attended by over 600 practitioners and thought leaders. 

I couldn't help notice the frequency with which featured speakers and attendees spoke with authority about the importance of word of mouth marketing and advocacy as critical success factors in the social commerce space. The message was loud and clear. The consumer is quickly becoming the "brand manager" for your company. What she experiences, shares, and talks about is far more influential than what a brand can say and share about itself.
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Fan Auction Rocks!

AEV Logo MedWhat's a fan or follower worth?

Just when you thought that Facebook fans and Twitter followers had to be earned by building relationships, offering relevant content, and generally being helpful and interesting, the world is being introduced to FanAuction. And it's a CMO's dream.

Ant's Eye View, an industry leading customer engagement consulting firm, after years of development effort announced the launch of a groundbreaking fan arbitrage service this morning. This is one that most people didn't see coming and it's definately going to be a edge to those who use it.

As an Ant's Eye View client, I've had the chance to be part of the "stealth" test period. As amazing as it sounds, FanAuction really works. No longer is listening, responding, or adding value a requirement. Now it's as easy as placing an order and writing a check.  How many fans do you need? Just start bidding.

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The Art Of Storytelling

Imelda - smallListen with Empathy

Over the weekend, a friend that I've never met face-to-face visited this blog and posted an entry in my guest book - "Your Edge" - (I hope you will do the same). Her name is Imelda and I know her as @imeldadulcichPR. She is one of the growing number of amazing people I've met as a result of being a member of a very special Twitter community. Imelda wrote about her edge that comes from empathetic listening and story telling. She brings the art to a new level of appreciation and respect. One that often brings tears to the eyes of the person she is listening to. And then the magic happens. That's when Imelda turns the listening edge into a successful art of memorable storytelling. Stories are so very powerful.

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School Of WOM

WOMMA LogoLove the Keynotes

The School of WOM is a “must attend” event for anyone who is interested in advancing the effectiveness of their social engagement with customers and clients. My favorite parts are the amazing keynote speakers. At last year’s event, I was struck by the brash declarations from keynote speakers like Jeffery Hayzlett when he drilled into Kodak’s four “E’s” of social media:

1) Engage 2) Educate 3) Excite 4) Evangelize…

and the simple brilliance of Jeanne Bliss sharing the five decisions that drive customer loyalty and build businesses. “Customers build businesses, not marketing budgets.”

I’ll be there again this May. Here's my top ten reasons why you should be too.

Hope to meet you there!

Years of Experience

Sometimes The Edge Is Learned.

1-5 numbers - medAfter a person has done something they love for more than 30 years it can be hard for them to see how what they have learned might be considered special. They think of what they have done, and are doing, to be pretty normal. After all, they've been doing it for a long time. It can be hard for them to differentiate the special from the routine.

I found myself to be in a situation like that when I was recently invited to write a guest column for Northwest Marketing - a locally produced and published Seattle area newspaper primarily distributed to agency and brand marketers in the Seattle area.

Media & Engagement - Nouns & Verbs

SM Logos with Twitter Bird -Med

Where You Focus Makes A Difference

There's a lot of talk, interest and even fear associated with "social media" these days. 

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are the big four that most of the conversation gets focused on. And certainly they deserve our attention and consideration. But at the end of they day they are just tools. 

That's right. At it's most base level, social media is a noun, and these popular social networks are tools that we can choose to use to build our businesses, our brands, and our personal and professional networks. Nothing more. Nothing less.
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MarketMix 2011

social logosOpen to new introductions

I am feeling flattered and humble for the number of kind words and notes I've received since part one of a three part conversation was published earlier this month.  The conversation was between Håkan Söderbom, Konsult Partners, and I - primarily as an introductory promotion for MarketMix 2011 in Seattle on March 9th.

Håkan asks great questions and then allowed me to tell a few stories that I tried to connect to his questions.  Sometimes they fit. Sometimes not so much. But either way, Håkan was gracious and patient.

As I now reflect back on our conversation, I am seeing the edge a little more clearly.  The edge was partially in the stories being told, but the less visible edge was in the process by which the conversation came to be.

I had never met Håkan prior to the day he walked into my office to conduct the interview. Our connection was entirely based on the use of social media. That, along with an openess to meet new people and help them accomplish their objectives, may be the edge worth noting. Håkan introduced himself and asked if we could meet in a single tweet.

Are you open to meet new people? Would you have responded to a tweet? Are you missing out on an edge?

Here's the full story.

When Marketing Is Good. . . or Bad

Question Mark

Are your products remarkable?

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, has been quoted for saying that “Advertising is the price you pay for having an unremarkable product or service.”  

My friend Andy Sernovitz, the man referred to as the early leader in the current wave of word of mouth marketing, often presents that message at conferences and seminars. I think his exact words are "Advertising is the price of being boring." These are tough concepts for brand marketers to hear and agree with. But it's true. 

For decades, brands and their agencies have been looking for the magic message that we could shout through a megaphone into the unsuspecting ears of the public - a message so compelling that they would rush to the stores (retail or online) and buy our product.  

Things are different today. The public is onto us. They trust their friends, neighbors, even perfect strangers, more than the voice of the brand - far more than advertising and marketing.  Unless, of course, the marketing is really good. 
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The Fine Print

Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own.  Contact me!

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