Monday, December 3, 2007


It's holiday gift-giving time. Now, you can do the fruitcake thing, the gift basket thing, the popcorn-in-a-tin thing or the gift certificate thing. But you might also want to consider giving a gift that is truly customized and personal.

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Cartoonists have been lampooning politicians and royalty with devastating caricatures for over 300 years. This season you might wish to consider presenting a caricature from yourself. Not to devastate, however, but to tickle...

Caricatures make a great, customized gift for your clients or your favored customers...and certainly families and friends on the personal side. Caricatures of loyal (and long-standing) staff make great gifts as well, showing your appreciation for their dedicated service. Yours truly has done caricatures of individual staff members, framed and mounted on company walls. So it’s not only a unique, fun idea…it’s great for morale.

(If you’re new to this column, Yes, I do caricatures. And I’ve been doing them professionally – apart from my copywriting, conceptual and marketing strategy work – for, sheesh, three decades now.…)

Another popular means by which to utilize caricatures -- and no less a marketing tool than a corporate brochure or flyer -- is a Holiday Greetings card...customized to feature the illustrated likenesses of company officers and selected staff, and sent out to clients with a seasonal message thanking them for their business.

(See art above. If it cannot be opened for whatever reason, go to for a look at that one, and others...)

Naturally, caricatures can be applied to ad specialty items as well -- on coffee mugs, beer decanters, tension sqeeze'em toys, and the like. And regardless of season, caricatures can enliven collateral marketing materials, ad campaigns, publicity packages, PowerPoint presentations and trade shows

If you've run out of ideas as we near the holidays, give a thought to caricatures...the "art" of gift-giving.

And in the meantime, frame the first Tuesday of next month for another masterpiece sampling of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.

Joel Kweskin

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Publish or Perish?

“Publish or perish.” That’s the mantra in post-graduate academia. To be taken seriously as a scholar, one needs to write a paper and have it published in some scholarly publication.

Well, it’s really not all that much different once you get out into the business world of the entrepreneur.

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

I had a nice chat with “sales growth” guru Bob Janet ( about the benefits of having his many articles on sales growth and marketing picked up by various publications representing a potpourri of industries. And how his speaking engagements have increased due to the cachet and presumed expertise – certainly earned in his case – that accompany one’s byline in a commercially or professionally established publication.

Other folks I know who are published – regularly, and that’s key – include Harvey Smith ( periodically in The Charlotte Observer; business trainer and hiring consultant Denise Altman ( in Greater Charlotte Biz; IT marketing “maven” Sally Phillips ( who skirts around the literal definition of “publishing” by appearing, vocally, on Charlotte’s local NPR station, WFAE-90.7 FM, with personal essays and observations; PR pro Patricia Pollack ( with an ongoing column in The Business Journal; and web marketing SEO queen Esther Kane (, who offers her professional musings in a blog, along with her monthly newsletter.

When you write what you know, it translates to readers that you know what you write. That’s a glib way of saying there is a built-in respectability that comes with the distinction of having your words “archived” in a forum presented for public review. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have a degree in journalism, either. (To my knowledge, the only one of the individuals I’ve noted who do have such a degree is…me.)

If you can get your knowledge down in a reasonably syntax-friendly way, you can write for the media. (And if you can’t or prefer not to tempt the grammar gods, there are professionals who can “ghost write” for you. Such as, again…yours truly.)

Getting selected media to accept your musings may not happen the very first time out of the gate, but it is do-able. Especially with said selected media always looking for informative – and entertaining – subjects that will help fill space and provide their subscribers with good, value-added material that reflects well on them.

Joel Kweskin

Alumni Affiliations

I caught an interesting article in The Charlotte Observer about how college alumni – as depicted in this case by a popular Midwestern NCAA athletic division represented by those living and working in the Charlotte area – are keeping the old “ties that bind” by continuing to connect through networking.

Welcome to another edition of “Not Your Usual Marketing Tips” from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

The article discusses how “In the heart of ACC country, a group of transplants has found value in networking with fellow graduates of Big Ten universities.

“Neil Swiacki, 48, made his way to Charlotte 41/2 years ago after stints in Massachusetts, Indiana and Michigan, where he graduated from Michigan State in 1980.

“Now he heads the Big 10 Biznet, a Charlotte networking group. It's for people who've graduated from the 10 Midwestern schools – plus Penn State – and want ways to find new business contacts.

“ ‘There’s a lot of value to locating people with similar backgrounds,’ he said.

“The group is emblematic of the wave of newcomers from Midwestern and Northeastern states. Of the estimated 80,000 people from outside the Carolinas who moved to Mecklenburg and surrounding counties from 2004 to 2005, 10 percent are from the Midwest and 28 percent from the Northeast…U.S. Census data found.

“…Other business groups form around college alumni associations as well as race or ethnicity, regional geography, specific trades or professions, and other special interests. Even a dog fanciers’ group can turn into business networking opportunities for participants…

“Charlotte is still very much about relationship-building – people want to do business with people they know.”

Now I’ll assume that many if not most of you already belong to business networking groups. Chances are they’re the types that generically meet in restaurants or coffee shops and are comprised of disparate businesses. But this Big Ten thing is a great way to expand on the BNI’s of the world and their offshoots.

Maybe you have a favorite pastime or pursuit that can be parlayed into a group of similarly interested individuals. This adds real passion to the business proceedings that those customary networking groups are, by definition, lacking. And you, of course, get to decide whether or not to “lock out” your particular competition.

Check out these types of associations or clubs online or through friends and neighbors. And if there isn’t an organization, for instance, already devoted to fans of the Chicago White Sox, start one – like I did.

(Of course, I’m the only member so far…)

Joel Kweskin

Cool Stuff

My wife and I were in Denver, Col., helping our son furnish his new apartment as he awaited the beginning of grad school at the University of Denver. Craving ice cream one evening, we sauntered into a 1950s retro place called “Gunther Toody’s” (named for a character in the old sitcom “Car 54, Where Are You?”…though I could swear that show didn’t air until the early ‘60s. Anyway, I digress…).

Marketing, as it were, to the nostalgia buffs among us from the get-go, there was one moment in particular that literally turned our heads…

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

When I asked to see the menu for the ice cream desserts, the waitress pointed instead to a curiously familiar item on the table. It was an old, red View Master. Remember those…the binocular-like housing with the circular array of tiny picture slides mounted partially on top? I looked through the viewers and immediately saw – in “3-D” yet! – an inviting thick chocolate shake with Reese’s pieces in it. I flipped the outside lever and another 3-D image came on, of a raspberry-flavored, vanilla-based shake. I delightedly continued to flip the lever for tantalizing pictures of more and more tasty treats…

I mean, how cool was that?

I’d love the opportunity to steal that idea some day and use it for a presentation either for my own marketing communications services, or the products of a “visionary” client.

What have you done lately to make your presentation, your product, your image “cool?” Or, at the least, something memorable, something unique, something for others to talk about?

Hey, I’m game if you are.

Joel Kweskin

Variable Data Printing

Have you ever had VDP?

Don’t worry, it’s not some communicable disease. But what you might catch from it is the contagious notion that your business could see anywhere from twice the normal response to 10-15 times the response, depending on how far you go with it…

What am I talking about?

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

VDP is “printer-speak” for Variable Data Printing. At some time or another, you’ve probably been the recipient of a postcard or pamphlet from a realtor or home improvement service, or similar company, that managed to address you by name. And not just where the address is customarily printed.

According to Wikapedia, the online source for just about anything, “Variable Data Printing…is a form of on-demand printing in which elements such as text, graphics and images may be changed from one printed piece to the next without stopping or slowing down the press, using information from a database or external file.

“For example, a set of personalized letters, each with the same basic layout, can be printed with a different name and address on each letter. Variable Data Printing is used mainly for direct marketing, customer relationship marketing and advertising.”

One printer in town, with whom I’ve done business, has sent out its own marketing direct marketing piece in which it “targeted” me by showing a graphic of a pizza. But not just any pizza. This one had the name “Joel” spelled out in slices of pepperoni!

The same folks sent out another piece inviting me to their plant…with a MapQuest graphic showing the route from MY HOME to their plant! Talk about “target” marketing!

As has been pointed out by these printers and the few others in town who have this kind of technology capability, it “increases revenue, response rates and customer retention.” According to another printer I noted online, the benefits of VDP were clearly measured: Percentage increases in response time was 33.9%, overall revenue/profit was 31.6%, repetitive orders/retention was 47.6%, average size order/value of order was 24.5% and response rates was 36.0%.

There are different levels of personalization. And it is pricier than conventional direct marketing. But regardless of the way a client might go with this, I don’t think I’m overstating the case by saying that with this kind of ROI, this is a 21st century marketing tool to be reckoned with.

As always, yours truly would be happy to explore this option with you in marketing your business or service.

Joel Kweskin


It’s the first Tuesday of the new month, and it’s a promise I make (if only to myself) to get this e-zine out on schedule. Which reminds me of another medium for which a timely “schedule” is even more crucial. If you’re contemplating running an ad campaign, keep in mind the importance of giving it time and frequency to do its thing.

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Once is not enough.

Now, of course, if you’re appearing in some one-time publication as an industry or civic booster, once is all you’ve got. But if you’re thinking of running in a pub that significantly reaches your market, think of it as an ongoing relationship. “Going steady,” if you will.

That’s because it’s frequency that eventually aids the message in burrowing its way into the consciousness of the reader.

Conrad Levinson writes in his Guerrilla Marketing series of books that it actually takes nine (9) times for the ad’s message to run before it sinks in. Generally speaking…

The first time, the prospect pays no attention to the ad.

The second time, it’s still virtually “invisible.”

The third time, there is a flicker of recognition by the prospect.

The fourth time, the prospect acknowledges the ad by viewing the advertiser as “successful.”

The fifth time, the prospect reads the ad copy more intently, with more scrutiny.

The sixth time, the prospect begins to consider purchasing the product.

The seventh time, the consideration to purchase becomes more serious.

The eighth time, the prospect plans the time to actually make the purchase.

The ninth time “is the day you’ve been waiting for…your prospect actually makes a purchase, often with little sales resistance because the time you have taken for the prospect to notice your marketing has earned their trust in you.”

Levinson goes on to say that “experts recommend advertising three times for credibility and seven to nine times for people to buy from you.”

And, naturally, if you need help with conceptualizing as well as constructing and placing that ad campaign…consider the capabilities of yours truly.

Joel Kweskin

Da Vinci Code

I was in the grocery store the other day and noticed something called Da Vinci chianti on display. I had never heard of the product before; guess I’m just not an oenophile. But what made that display truly memorable for me was that the bottles were joined by interspersed copies of The Da Vinci Code.

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

So who hasn’t read or seen The Da Vinci Code by now? Forget what trespasses of faith the storyline may be breaching. The point here is that some company called Da Vinci that bottles chianti stuck its thumb in the marketing pie and pulled out a plum.

(Sorry, we’re not here to address mixed metaphors...)

Since the book has become a cottage industry unto itself, we will assume that it was the chianti that took advantage of the 800-pound gorilla in the pop culture consciousness of consumers and grabbed a bunch of the books to, in turn, call attention to itself.

Not a bad idea. In fact, it’s so not bad (sorry, we’re not here to address weird syntax either…) that I would heartily recommend, if pertinent, that kind of approach to you and your business.

Now, to tie in to a massive pop culture presence as The Da Vinci Code may be fraught with the kind of licensing considerations that would quickly render the idea moot. (Even though I have a sneaking suspicion that the distributors for this product threw caution to the wind and just did a localized, “maverick” thing.)

But there may be any numbers of ways that “plain folks” like you and me can still ”cross-promote” our product or service. It starts with finding an affinity profession to yours – i.e. commercial property managers with commercial movers/furniture/flooring dealers…realtors with interior decorators/landscapers…business coach with payroll services/accountant…or a humble copywriter/creative director with printers/web designers.

But you might even find an existing popular product – a drink, a candy, a movie – that you can put an appropriate “spin” on and leverage as having some relevance to you and your product.

The format might be a joint speaking engagement, or trade show presence, or newsletter, or special event, or announcement at a networking group.

Such affiliation may not exactly inspire a movie. But a dramatic “connection” can go a long way in making you memorable in the eyes of prospects and existing clients.

And remember…as with all these editions, we’re here to help you put any of these ideas into practice.

Joel Kweskin


If a picture’s worth a thousand words, how much is a video worth?

Allan Horowitz is a friend and colleague who runs the video (and film) production company, Blue Planet Creative. Allan and I have collaborated on a few projects and I respect his savvy when it comes to this dynamic marketing tool. In fact, I respect it so much, I’m going to let him do the talking…

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Videos are the “action” way to tell your business’s story. They can appear through all kinds of vehicles: streaming on your website; as an ongoing “loop” on a monitor at a trade show booth; on a screen in a darkened room at a seminar; as a tiny CD/DVD business calling card; as a commercial on TV or in movie theaters.

And, of course depending on the length and production value, a video might not cost much more than its printed cousins, the large, slick brochure or a small catalogue.

“Video is one of the most powerful communication tools available,” says Allan. “This is because video has the power to move people. Through shot composition, lighting, pacing, music and voice, a video presentation can establish an emotional connection with the viewer that no other medium can. It can move people to act. It can inform, educate and inspire. It can spark excitement. Video puts power behind your brand. And having a video to market your business, to communicate with others, to tell your story, shows a high level of commitment that people respect and which gives you built-in credibility.

“Think what a lift it would be for your business to have a video presentation that speaks your language, conveys your information accurately and reflects your organization’s values. It would be a permanent source of pride with ROI to boot!”

So next time you’re thinking of a way to market your business in an expressive, “moving” way…think video.

Joel Kweskin

Shared Frames of Reference

I gave a talk on 10 Ways to Market Yourself Without Using the “Obvious” -- i.e. brochures, ads, commercials. One of the ways I suggested was by connecting with clients and colleagues via “news they can use.” That is, stuff of interest to them culled from various media sources. It’s a way to show you care by sharing information, to show you’re thinking of that person, to build relationships.

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Here’s a case in point. My sister e-mailed to me an online video interview with Buffalo Bob Smith. (If you have to ask who that is, chances are you’re too young to remember…)

Well, after I saw the interview with Howdy Doody’s “best buddy,” I found myself wrapped in the sanctum sanctorum of nostalgia. I had to immediately forward the interview to around 30 or so fellow Baby Boomers.

Ten of them responded in some fashion or another. (Not a bad “direct mail” response, by the way – around 30 per cent!)

Gene Fitzpatrick, Senior Mortgage Consultant with American Home Mortgage and a networking colleague was one of those who responded. And in a most wistful way:

“My younger brother, Tom, and I were on the show, probably in 1953 to 1955.

“Tom was asked by Buffalo Bob, ‘If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?’
Tom replied, ‘I would keep half and give the other half to the poor people.’ No lie. We still talk about it when we get together.

“We really had some great times growing up in Jamaica (Queens, NY). We always looked forward to the annual Holiday show put on by the Gertz Department store. They had this club for the kids called the Gertz PIE club. I don’t remember what the PIE stood for, but it didn’t have to do with food.

“A few weeks before Christmas, Gertz rented out a movie theater on Jamaica Avenue and it was first come, first served. The doors opened at 9 AM or so. Tom and I always got there early so we could sit in the front row. We had a better chance of getting selected to pick someone’s name out of a box. If we were selected, we would receive a nice gift just for making the pick. The prizes would range from a model car kit to various toys and even a bike. Tom won a bike one time. In between the prizes, they played movies and had entertainment. It was all free to PIE club members. We went until we were 13 or so.

“Thanks for the memories.”

You’re welcome, Gene.

Staying top of mind with your colleagues, clients, prospects, whomever, doesn’t take much effort, really. A little video interview to a selected group of individuals can do the trick. And if it doesn’t translate into any monetary rewards right away, well, that’s okay.

Think of how much richer we are just for having shared the anecdote.

Joel Kweskin

Incidentally, here’s the video interview with Buffalo Bob Smith, of “Howdy Doody” fame:

A Numbers Game

In the business world, as we’ve been told a million times, it’s a numbers game. That usually means one thing to most of us, but I’d like to suggest that it perhaps take on an added meaning for you as you move forward with your marketing.

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

The Charlotte Observer ran a fascinating article on (consumer) magazines that use numbers in their headlines to help sell that particular issue.

Harper’s Bazaar talks up “783 New Ideas to Flatter You,” Glamour magazine has “500 Spring Looks For All Shapes & Sizes,” Field & Stream magazine offers “19 Ways to Get Out Alive (Survival Skills).”

As one industry insider says, “It’s all voodoo.”

But as Cole Porter lyricized long before, “Do do that voodoo that you do so well.”

In other words, numbers – in all their mathematical mystery – have a hold on us because it somehow speaks to our sense of logic and specificity and preciseness and definitiveness.

“Bigger is better,” quotes the Observer. And “odd numbers seem more believable than even numbers…The odd number speaks to authenticity. If it’s odd, it can’t be made up or shouldn’t have been made up.”

“You’re alerting readers that you have the expertise, you’ve honed down the massive amount of information out there, especially with the Internet, and you won’t waste their time,” another expert observes.

So if it works for magazines, how about your own promoting efforts – say, through your brochures, your press releases, your website, your direct mail, your 30-second “elevator” speech? I don’t know about you, but I’ve represented 42 different industries through 23 various capabilities as I have spent 11 years as principal of JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Try incorporating significant statistics, facts, figures, records into your story…perhaps as they relate to case studies where you can show the measure – literally – of your capabilities in helping a client. They lend credence to your message, and cachet to your business.

Numbers…it all adds up.

Joel Kweskin

Monday, November 26, 2007

Getting to the Point

Since I am occasionally chided for being too wordy in my NYUM Tips, I’m trying to be more mindful of that particular proclivity. (Though obviously not enough, you see, to resist alliterative turns of phrase.)

Welcome to a hopefully not too verbose edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

But the point to be brief and concise is, generally, well advised.

As marketing guru Robert Middleton points out:

“Since all marketing is about communication, the faster you can get your message across, the better results you'll typically get...

”Some places you can use the short message technique:

”1. On the home page of your web site. People want to be able to glance at this one page, read a few words and know what you're about. You need to go beyond a few bullet points, but you don't need several long paragraphs outlining every single thing your business offers.

”2. In an email that points to more detailed information on a web page. In tests I've done, a message that was only 84 words got 50% more click-throughs than a message that was 284 words.

”3. In an Audio Logo. A concise statement in ten words or less saying who you work with and the problems you address will almost always generate more interest than a long-winded description of what you do, who you do it for and how you're different.

”4. In a phone message left on voice mail. Saying your name, company name and your phone number will generally get more return calls that a big recorded sales spiel that often convinces your prospect that they definitely don't need your services.

”5. In an answer to the question: ‘Tell me more about your services,’ it's better to tell a little and then ask a question than it is to give an itemized list of every service you offer.”

…And so I think I’ll end it right here, before I’m accused of doing what I said I wasn’t going to do.

Joel Kweskin

Keyword Research

Esther Kane is a long-time friend, colleague and principal behind Eckweb Designs, Inc. (, offering website design, website maintenance and website marketing services. So she’s got some authoritative say on pretty much all things website. Her “mantra” though is not so much on graphic approach as it is on the verbal. More function than form, if you will. So I posed the question, just what is this Keyword Research thing, anyway?

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Esther’s take on the subject:

"Keyword Research is the art of finding keyword phrases that are relevant to a subject matter. These keyword phrases must possess two qualifications. One, the keyword phrase must be popular. Two, the keyword phrase must have little Internet competition.

"Let’s take a family attorney who provides a variety of services. One of which is estate planning.”In my research, I found the phrase "difference between wills living trusts". My research revealed that this phrase is estimated to be typed in 57 times per day and Google showed only 2 websites competing for this phrase. Easily, a page could be created answering the question, "What is the difference between wills and living trusts?" This page could be added to the website and of course, bring in the additional traffic and potential clients.

"Even if you've already got a website, wouldn't it be great to know what Internet users are already searching for and then reworking your site to meet those searches? Instead of the usual, 'about us' and 'our services,' etc., wouldn't it be better for your bottom line if you could address the needs of the Internet customers?

"The reality is, business websites are great…IF they bring in business. If your website brings in business, wouldn't customers and prospects keep coming back to you for updated data? I think so. Well, I know so!

"Here are some other examples for you (based on actual clients)...

"If you're creating a website for a massage therapist - make sure to use the phrase:"prenatal pregnancy massage therapy." Estimate count is 174 times per day with only 6 sites in competition!

"If you're creating a website for a Christian school - make sure to use the phrase:"Christian art courses." Estimate count is 97 times per day with only 3 sites in competition!

"If you're creating a website for a South Florida realtor - make sure to use the phrase: 'luxury South Florida residences." Estimate count is 123 times per day with only 13 sites in competition!'

"Get the idea? People are already searching for ‘stuff’ on the Internet. The best way to draw people to your site for any specific "stuff" is to write about that "stuff" on your website.”

Thanks, Esther. Feel free to contact her for assistance on Keyword Research, her website address noted back at the top.

Joel Kweskin


Everything these days, it seems, is digital. Your computer, your wristwatch, your camera, your radio, your cell phone, the guy in the next car using the cell phone… Well, maybe not. The point here, though, is that when you want to print marketing materials in quantity, there is a cost efficient difference between printing the traditional “offset” way, and printing “digital.”

Welcome to another edition Of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

So you want to print a brochure. Or maybe one of those oversized post cards. Which way to go?

Let’s first go to the experts: PageWorks, an online commercial printer, explains that “Offset printing uses plates and inks to put an image onto paper. The ‘make ready’ (preparation) process of offset varies, but often requires 20-30 minutes to burn the plates, as well as time to mount, register the plates, and bring the output "up to color." It often takes an hour or more to print a single page. Once up and running, however, the economies and speed of offset printing for (projects) over 750 pages typically will be better than digital processes.

“Digital Printing uses a different technology altogether. It images typically with very fine toner. The time it takes to image the first page is usually well under a minute. This technology makes short runs, or runs from 1 to about 750 impressions less expensive, as well as quicker to produce than offset printing.”

The Penn State University website devoted to these matters points out that “quantity is currently the most important factor in choosing the best printing method. Digital printing generally has a fixed per-unit price. Whether you are printing one or 1,000 copies, you will generally pay close to the same price for each individual publication.

“Offset printing, however, is charged on a sliding scale -- the more you print, the less each publication will cost. Significant time is required to set up offset presses with plates, ink, and registration, so the first few copies are very expensive. But after the presses are set up and running, the price per publication for large quantities becomes much less expensive than digital.

“The point where offset printing becomes more economical than digital printing is not always clear. When printing only a few copies or when you want to print on demand, choose digital. When printing several thousand copies, offset is clearly the best choice. However, when quantities reach 1,000 copies, it is best to have your printer estimate both printing methods.”

Generally speaking, too, 4-color application is less expensive than it used to be. Talk to your printer about your options. Or…talk to yours truly. We’ll do a job on your printed marketing piece you can be proud of.

Joel Kweskin

Straight Talk

“What does Love mean?”
This question was posed to a group of 4-to-8 year-olds. You may have seen this – it was one of those feel-good mass emails we all get every now and then. Not to be crass, but what I took from the answers was something with a more marketing-related application to it.

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.
As the accompanying commentary pointed out, ”The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined.” They are also real. And as pure a “sound bite” as you can come up with.

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love."-- Rebecca, age 8

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth."-- Billy, age 4

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other."-- Karl, age 5

Here’s what I like about these quotes. They get to the point while painting a very evocative image. Rather than getting bogged down in business-speak or techno-speak, a story is told simply, with emotion and color.

"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs."-- Chrissy, age 6

"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired."-- Terri, age 4

"Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK." -- Danny, age 7

You don’t have to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning author to write with such élan. (Obviously, when you consider the age of these writers.) All you have to do is think in terms of telling your story in a simple, straightforward way…and allow your own enthusiasm to come through. After all, wasn’t it enthusiasm for your business that brought you to where you are today?

"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that."-- Emily, age 8

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen." -- Bobby, age 7

"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday." -- Noelle - age 7

Of course, if you’d rather have someone help you write effective, engaging copy for an ad, brochure or commercial you’re looking to produce, I know a professional who’d be happy to lend you a hand… ;)

(If not, there’s always my six-year-old niece…)

Joel Kweskin

…Just for the heck of it, here are two more entries from that e-mail:

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you." -- Karen, age 7

Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four-year-old child whose next-door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife.

Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, "Nothing, I just helped him cry."

Value Added

A recent article appeared in the newspaper regarding a U.S. Appeals Court ruling on whether Certs was a breath mint…or a candy mint. The ruling would determine whether the product was subject to customs duties imposed on food imports.

We’ll let you know the answer at the end of this, another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

But in the meantime, it got me to thinking. Are you one thing…or another? Or both? Or, more..? Does it suffice that you market yourself as “only” a CPA? Or can you be a CPA and a business consultant at the same time (as my colleague, Donna Bordeaux does)? Is it enough to provide commercial real estate services alone…or might an additional marketplace be served by providing commercial financing as well (as another colleague, Warren Shinn does)? What if you’re a marketing/advertising guy…but provide publicity/media news stories for clients also (hmmm, I wonder who does that)?

It’s all about value added. If you can be more of a one-stop shop for customers, isn’t that better for them? And doesn’t that make you more valuable as well? Obviously, you can’t be everything to everybody. But it may require very little of you to dangle another sign from the shingle you’ve put up primarily. Especially if it’s a pertinent, relative, relatable capability that’s easy enough for you to add on.

Prospects with whom I first meet ask how I go about ‘delivering” for them. As indicated earlier, I may tell them I can develop advertising or collateral materials. But if they really want to add to the mix, why not work up some product or service story ideas I can write and pitch to the media as well? Many consultants only concentrate on advertising. Or only publicity or PR. I let them know I can help them with both.

Some business coaches or consultants might recommend you stay “grounded” on one fundamental aspect of what you do, so as to not lose focus or dilute your talents or capabilities. There’s probably no right or wrong here; I just feel the more you can do for your client – again, within reason and so it makes sense – the more you become indispensable to them.

You can be a breath mint AND a candy mint.

As for the official ruling on Certs…”it’s a breath mint, and therefore not subject to customs duties imposed on food imports, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled,” as reported by Bloomberg News.

One other thing I can do – provide as a public service this trivial bit of information. If you’ve been missing an Oldies radio station ever since Magic 96 changed formats, there’s one I recently discovered. (Though it probably helps to be in the southern part of Charlotte, for the best “signal.”)

WRBK-90.3 FM is an obscure station out of Richburg, South Carolina, down around the I-77 corridor south of Rock Hill. But if you can pick it up, it’s a real breath of fresh air. Its content is from 1955-1978, and there are amazingly few commercials – all of which are local to that area of the state. So it’s almost like listening to satellite radio. And, just as significantly, among the songs you hear are going to be a good smattering of ones, I assure you, you either don’t know…or haven’t heard in decades!

I just think it’s cool. But, then again, I’m an old Baby Boomer…

Joel Kweskin

How to Build a Brochure

It seems that one of the first things a business does when setting itself up, aside from developing a logo and business cards, is create a brochure. That certainly is the most common project I am asked to develop for clients…even AFTER their businesses have been established.

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

So you say you’ve already done a brochure, eh? Okay. Did you first make sure that all or most of the elements listed below have found a place therein? I was surfing the web recently and came across a site called As they describe themselves, “we're the one place on the Web where you'll find passionate people with practical advice and solutions for almost any problem. Whatever your needs, the answer is...”

Well, here is a Checklist of materials that they suggest should go into “building” a brochure. And I concur. These points may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many of them are neglected (you included?):

*Name of Location, Business or Organization.
*Phone Number.
*Fax Number.
*Email Address.
*Web Page Address.
*Headline that creates curiosity, states a major benefit, or otherwise entices the reader to open and read your brochure.
*Headline that states the name of the Product, Project, or Described Process.
*Short, easy to read blocks of text.
*Lists, charts.
*Key Benefits (2-3).
*Instructions, steps, parts (for a procedure, to assemble a product, etc.)
*Biography (of business owner, key members of organization, officers, etc.).
*Mission Statement.
*Graphic Image(s) (including purely decorative elements).
*Photographs of product, place, people.
*Diagram, flow chart.
*Call to Action (What you want the reader to do: call, visit, fill out a form, etc.)

Of course, now that you know what to put into your new, or even revamped, brochure, you also know whom to call to help you put it all together…

Joel Kweskin

What's Your Color?

A couple of years ago I was on a train from Madrid to Barcelona, reading the international edition of Time magazine when I came across an ad for Malaysia Airlines.

(Have I impressed you with the sly, sophisticated manner in which I’ve introduced such a cultured, cosmopolitan anecdote? Hah! My wife and I were in Spain visiting our daughter, studying abroad in Barcelona...)

The ad discussed color. More precisely, “Mood Lighting.” It went on to say “Over 200 variable shades of color and light. To help your body sleep through time zones and awaken you to sunrise. The T700 Cabin illumination system is just one part of the completely redesigned cabins on board Malaysia Airlines.”

Anyway, there is a point to all this. It got me thinking about color in general, and its psychological effect in persuasive advertising and collateral materials.

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Colors definitely have an impact on our senses. Colors imply different intentions, eliciting different moods and responses…going so far as to influence product sales.

According to one website on the topic, “the colors you use for an advertisement are more important than the actual wording of the ad. The reason for this is that the colors (and graphics) capture the consumers’ attention, then causes them to read your ad… (says) ‘Psychologists have suggested that color impression can account for 60% of the acceptance or rejection of that product or service.’”

BPS Outdoor Advertising (billboards) looks at the appeal of individual colors on its website:
“Red symbolizes action, warmth, power, aggression, excitement, drama, fire, blood, passion, love, danger, anger, and heat. It is a highly visible color that will always attract attention. Red is also a good color for automobiles sales, pet shops, pasta shops, pizzerias, and restaurants. However, the color red is not recommended for medical companies because it signals bad health, blood, and emergencies.
“Orange is a vibrant and fun color. It improves mental clarity, promotes warmth and happiness. Orange also increases oxygen's flow to the brain. Contentment, fruitfulness, and wholesomeness are qualities that are also associated with orange. The color orange can help an expensive product seem more reasonably priced. Orange is an appetite stimulant. It is a good color choice for vitamin shops, Mexican restaurants, dance clubs, and products that target Latin and French audiences.

“Yellow is a perfect color for sunny, happy, bright, cheerful, playful, easygoing, and optimistic advertisements. It’s ideal for florists, candy shops, toy stores, amusement parks, and discount stores. Yellow is the first color the eye processes. It is also the most visible color to the human eye. This is why it grabs attention faster than any other color.
“Green symbolizes life, nature, environment, youth, money, renewal, hope, and power. It is a color that soothes people, reduces pain, and makes us feel safe. Since green traffic lights have conditioned us to go forward or to enter places, it makes us feel welcomed. Yellow-green is not a wise color for food advertisements because it is an appetite depressant. Light green calms people. That is why most walls in jails, schools, waiting rooms, and hospitals are light green. Green is a great color for financial advisors, banks, and accountants because it signals money. It is also good for outdoor products because it gives consumers a natural outdoor feeling. The color green can be used for green houses, vegetable stands, landscaping, and farmers because it signals life.”

According to the website Color Wheel Pro, “Blue is the color of the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven. Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body. It slows human metabolism and produces a calming effect. Blue is strongly associated with tranquility and calmness. In heraldry, blue is used to symbolize piety and sincerity. You can use blue to promote products and services related to cleanliness (water purification filters, cleaning liquids, vodka), air and sky (airlines, airports, air conditioners), water and sea (sea voyages, mineral water). As opposed to emotionally warm colors like red, orange, and yellow; blue is linked to consciousness and intellect. Use blue to suggest precision when promoting high-tech products. Blue is a masculine color; highly accepted among males. Dark blue is associated with depth, expertise, and stability; it is a preferred color for corporate America. Avoid using blue when promoting food and cooking, because blue suppresses appetite.

“Purple combines the stability of blue and the energy of red. Purple is associated with royalty. It symbolizes power, nobility, luxury, and ambition. It conveys wealth and extravagance. Purple is associated with wisdom, dignity, independence, creativity, mystery, and magic. According to surveys, almost 75 percent of pre-adolescent children prefer purple to all other colors. Purple is a very rare color in nature; some people consider it to be artificial. Light purple is a good choice for a feminine design. You can use bright purple when promoting children's products.
“White is associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity, and virginity. It is considered to be the color of perfection. White means safety, purity, and cleanliness. As opposed to black, white usually has a positive connotation. White can represent a successful beginning. In heraldry, white depicts faith and purity. In advertising, white is associated with coolness and cleanliness because it's the color of snow. You can use white to suggest simplicity in high-tech products. White is an appropriate color for charitable organizations; angels are usually imagined wearing white clothes. White is associated with hospitals, doctors, and sterility, so you can use white to suggest safety when promoting medical products. White is often associated with low weight, low-fat food, and dairy products.
“Black is associated with power, elegance, formality, death, evil, and mystery. Black is a mysterious color associated with fear and the unknown (black holes). It usually has a negative connotation (blacklist, black humor, 'black death'). However, Black denotes strength and authority; it is considered to be a very formal, elegant, and prestigious color (black tie, black Mercedes). In heraldry, black is the symbol of grief. Black gives the feeling of perspective and depth, but a black background diminishes readability. Black contrasts well with bright colors. Combined with red or orange – other very powerful colors – black gives a very aggressive color scheme.”
So, then…what “hues” and “tones” make up YOUR advertising and marketing pieces?
And are they appropriate to your product or service?

Joel Kweskin

Standing Out

My wife and I were in New York a couple of years ago and among the things we saw (in addition to family, old friends, old neighborhoods and a new play) was “The Gates,” the art “happening” in Central Park that paraded 7,000-plus archways with saffron/orange textile hanging from their beams back to back to back along the Park’s pathways. I can’t recall seeing the City so mobbed with curiosity-seekers. It was like Christmas week. But here we were eight weeks later, in the middle of an otherwise non-descript winter.

Yet this was something, even for New York, that was certainly “descript.” Something that stood out amidst all that the Apple customarily has going for it.

It made me wonder…what do we do to “stand out.” What can we do?

Welcome to another edition of “Not Your Usual Marketing Tips” from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

And since I asked the question…I’m going to let someone else answer it.

Robert Middleton is a marketing consultant and electronic-medium guru out of the San Francisco bay area who has an e-Zine that I subscribe to. Good stuff, enlightening stuff, inspiring stuff. Here are his thoughts, for example, on “The Secret to Standing Out.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------One of the things I don't talk about enough is how you package the actual service you are marketing and selling to your clients. You may be selling consulting, coaching, training or design services, but that's really not what you're selling.And although I emphasize that the best way to talk about your services initially is in terms of what is missing or not working through a problem-oriented Audio Logo (companies frustrated by high turnover or individuals struggling to achieve their dreams), this is not what you're ultimately selling either.

What sells best is a concrete, specific promise of improving your prospects' current condition and a service offering that doesn't sound like everything else currently available.Let's look at a few scenarios.When asked what you do and you answer with a problem-oriented Audio Logo (as above), your desired response is, "How do you do that?" And your answer is the key to marketing success. Here are some possible responses. Remember, all responses are offering the same thing. But you're going to get very different results depending on how you articulate your response.

1. We work with manufacturing companies to increase their profits by hiring and retaining the best people. 2. We work with manufacturing companies to increase profits by a minimum of 24% by hiring and retaining the best people.3. We work with manufacturing companies to increase profits by a minimum of 24% through our unique approach called Optimal Resource Utilization.

Number 1 is a very generic response. Increasing profits is too general, and hiring and retaining the best people sounds like something they know about already.

Number 2 is better because you're being specific about profit improvement.

But 3 is the best because not only are you specific about increasing profits, you apply an approach unknown to your prospects that makes it sound unlike anything else out there.And believe me, not many Independent Professionals are doing this. Their promises are generic and their approaches sound like what everyone else is doing.

The point is simple. If you offer a service that promises a specific, desirable result and you make what you are offering intriguing and different from what everyone else is offering, you will get more attention, interest, response, and action from your prospects.The difference can be dramatic.

To capsulize:

*Don't be shy about making promises about results. If it's true, it's not boasting. The trick is to talk about results in a way that is low-key but impressive at the same time.

* What is everyone else promising? Don't promise that or you'll get confused with them. Your promise needs to sound not only valuable and credible but unlike anyone else's promise.

* Both your promise and the name of your service need to get to "the heart of the matter" for the prospect. That is, they need to hit the right nerve and stimulate an immediate desire to know more.

* Don't go over the top with your promise or your service name. They will stimulate skepticism and mistrust. Good marketing is very attention-getting and motivating but it does not insult your intelligence.


Sounds good to me.

You know what else stands out? The fabulous fish and “appetizing” we had at Barney Greengrass on the Upper West Side. But that’s another story…

Joel Kweskin

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Leaving No Stone Unturned

Apropos of nothing, this cute little fable came my way and I thought you’d enjoy…

Many years ago in a small European village, a merchant had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to a moneylender. The moneylender fancied the merchant's beautiful daughter so he proposed a bargain. He said he would forgo the merchant' debt if he could marry the merchant's daughter. The merchant and his daughter were horrified by the proposal. The cunning moneylender suggested that they let Providence decide the matter.

The moneylender told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty bag. The girl would then have to pick one pebble from the bag. If she picked the black pebble, she would become the moneylender's wife and her father's debt would be forgiven. If she picked the white pebble she need not marry him and her father's debt would still be forgiven. But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.

The moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles from the ground. But the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick her pebble from the bag.

What would you have done if you were the girl? If you had to advise her, what would you have told her? Careful analysis would produce three possibilities:

1. The girl should refuse to take a pebble.

2. The girl should show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the moneylender as a cheat.

3. The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order to save her father from his debt and imprisonment.

Take a moment to ponder over the story. The girl's dilemma cannot be solved with traditional logical thinking.

Here’s what she did: She put her hand into the bag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles.

"Oh, how clumsy of me," she said. "But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked."

Since the remaining pebble is black, it must be assumed that she had picked the white one. And since the moneylender dared not admit his dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an extremely advantageous one.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Most complex problems do have a solution; sometimes we just have to think about them in a different way.

Joel Kweskin


“If your audience could derive one main, focused (important word!) thought out of this piece, what would it be?”

That was Number 10 in my list of 10 questions we discussed last time -- from my Creative Strategy Form you should be answering before acting on creating a marketing piece. It’s even more important to consider the word “focus” when specifically creating an ad.

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Unless you’re doing a catalogue with umpteen septillion items to sell, your best bet is to focus on one main service or product. Not that you shouldn’t mention that you have more than one commodity to offer, but in the short space – not to mention time – in which your audience is flipping pages, your ad has to get at the crux of what you do. Simply and quickly.

Even if you’re a Sears or a Target or Wal-Mart, you’ll note that their ads don’t show everything they sell. Instead they may talk about price (Wal-Mart), youthful/hip approach (Target) or a particular appliance (Sears).

Again, it’s a matter of space and time. How much attention can you reasonably expect your reader to give you? Put yourself in their shoes (or eyeglasses).

I attended a seminar once where an ad guru brought a couple of props to the podium. One was a small square platform with neat rows of sharp points sticking up. The other was a similar square platform, but with one sharp point sticking up (the old fashioned kind of retail receipts “holder”).

He took a single sheet of paper and tried impaling it first through the rows of points. Though it created minor little “impressions,” the sheet would not cut through; it remained on top of the sharp points. When he took the same sheet and forced it over the single sharp point, however, guess what happened?

The single, “focused message” broke through, while the “many-messaged” sheet hardly made a dent.

And now you get the…you-know-what.

Joel Kweskin

Creative Strategy Form

So you say you want a brochure? Or an ad? Or a radio spot?

Okay, but…have you filled out your “Creative Strategy Form” first?

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

It’s not just a matter of looking at a blank piece of paper – or screen – and saying to yourself, okay, I want a new brochure and here’s how it will look: I’ll put a picture here, put the logo there, and just write down whatever comes into my head and place it all on the inside…

Not that that may not have a chance to succeed vis-à-vis what your competitors have floating out there in the marketplace. But the better chance is when initial thought and discipline goes into the recipe, you’ll be cooking up something far more flavorful and nutritional…if nutrition be a metaphor here for substance and a meaningful message.

Here’s what I prescribe to my clients before we embark on the vehicle itself – whether it’s a brochure, ad, radio/TV spot, billboard, even to an extent a logo design. They need to fill out a single sheet of paper, a questionnaire I call the “Creative Strategy Form.”

Here’s what it asks:

* How would you describe your product/service?

* What/who is your target audience?

* What are your business’s (cosmetic) features – are you bigger, smaller, prettier, older, younger, in the city, in the suburbs, etc.?

* What are the benefits to your clients (as opposed to “features,” what are the elements to your product/service that can actually help them)?

* Who is your competition?

* What do they have that you don’t?

* What do YOU have that THEY don’t?

* Do you have a “call to action,” such as a coupon, a giveaway, a website?

* Do you have samples of marketing materials done by your competitors – or even in another industry – that you like, or particularly impresses you?

* If your audience could derive one main, focused (important word!) thought out of this piece, what would it be?

And there you have it. If you can answer these questions…or even if you can’t, and it prompts you to think further about how to “explain” your business…you’ll be that much more ahead of the game when it comes to developing your message, your theme, even your artwork that puts a graphic “face” on the materials.

And it certainly takes the guessing game out of how to fill that blank piece of paper, or screen.

Joel Kweskin

It's the Keywords, Stupid

This is a “long-y,” but I think it’ll be worth your while…

How many of you out there have a website?

Ah, but how many of you know how to UTILIZE the website?

That is, how many of you have a website, have it registered with a search engine, and are taking full advantage of key words within your site to help drive potential Internet readers – and prospective clients – to it?

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

And let me be the first to concede that I may not be doing all that’s appropriate to reach a conclusively assertive answer to the last question I posed. That’s because I’m fairly new to the game myself. Notwithstanding three decades of experience in “marketing communications,” it has been derived mostly from traditional print and broadcasting means.

I have two websites:, which features my background in advertising, collateral and publicity; and that, as the name suggests, highlights my capabilities as a professional caricaturist and illustrator.

Yet I am mindful that I probably need to re-address the text in each of these sites so that they are worded in such a way – in such SPECIFIC ways – that they not only adequately describe what I do, but the words themselves act as “bait” to bring those “fishing” for my services to my “watering hole” -- er, um -- site.

Esther Kane is a long-time friend and principal behind Eckweb Designs, Inc. (, offering website design, website maintenance and website marketing services. So she’s got some authoritative say on what’s called “Search Engine Optimization (SEO).” Enough so that I’m going to get out of the way and let her do the talking here:

“SEO…is the process of increasing the amount of visitors to a web site by ranking high in the search results of a search engine. The higher a web site ranks in the results of a search, the greater the chance that that site will be visited by a user. It is common practice for Internet users to not click through pages and pages of search results, so where a site ranks in a search is essential for directing more traffic toward the site. ”SEO helps to ensure that a site is accessible to a search engine and improves the chances that the site will be found by the search engine.

“1) You can't just plug a keyword phrase into your website and expect search engines to rank you for that phrase or even expect viewers to stay at your website just because your phrase brought them there. The keyword phrase you place on your website must be relevant to your service and or product and you must provide information (valid information) concerning that service or product.”

2) The density of keywords on website pages is important. Therefore, you can't just place a chosen keyword phrase on a page once. That page must reflect the "theme" of that keyword phrase. For example: let's say you chose a keyword phrase such as "mortgage calculator". You have a real estate site and you would like to provide your clients with a mortgage calculator. This keyword phrase provides a particular service. Therefore, it would be best to place this on its own page. By doing this, you also create a link to it on your navigation menu which adds links to that page. What I'm trying to say is that you can't just plug the phrase into a website page and expect that phrase to be considered important to the search engines. It isn't, not in comparison to other websites and their promotion of Mortgage Calculator.”

3) Relevance, relevance, relevance. This is a very important factor! The keyword phrase you choose MUST be relevant to your product or service. For example…it can be argued that you can put a sentence on your website (saying) something like "As seen in Google." Well, the problem is that even though your website may be seen in Google, the truth is that when an Internet searcher types in "Google" they're not looking for your product or service, they are looking for the search engine Google. BUT, if you wanted to provide your own website clients with the option of using the Google search engine directly from your website, then yes, by all means, you can. That's a service you are providing your clients, and if by chance, the service you provide to your clients happens to be something that other Internet users are searching, then by all means, it's valid!

4) Single word keywords - because of the general nature of a single word keyword such as "health," it is almost impossible to obtain high rankings for a single word keyword (unless it's a specific brand name) and also, it brings in a general traffic population versus a targeted audience. Any ethical search engine optimization company will advise you that marketing for a single word keyword on websites is simply not feasible.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ya got all that?

It’s not just the graphics, folks. It’s the words.

Joel Kweskin

Vacation Ideas

My good buddy Jeff Klein loves to collect brochures from his family vacations around the country. I mean, this guy’s stash could fill practically every slot in a motel’s display rack. He does it because they provide pictorial memories of the good times traveled.

I’d do it because it represents great ideas for marketing to and for my clients.

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Since my business is fundamentally steeped in the written word and visual representation, I’m always drawn to commercials, ads, billboards…and brochures.

So when I vacation by visiting some historical or famously natural site, then stay over at a neighboring motel, I too look for the brochures. But I look for them – and at them – because many times they have some appealing elements that I can perhaps apply to the needs of my clients. (In fact, I’ve got one in mind right now to promote yours truly…)

Maybe it’s the layout of the piece. The number of panels or its unusual configuration. How it folds. Is it a horizontal narrative, or does it read vertically. Maybe it’s the fonts used. Maybe it’s a witty or otherwise compelling turn of phrase in the copy. Maybe it’s the unusual treatment of the photos, or it’s the use of illustration or cartoons. Maybe there’s a uniquely designed map as the centerpiece. Maybe a customized die cut gives it a “personality” found nowhere else.

I was at an art gallery in Charleston not long ago, and I picked up a brochure that had the most extraordinary layout folds I had ever seen. It was just a stunning, unusual looking piece, its look transcending the contents within it (notwithstanding that it represented the obvious, creative field of different artists and their works).

Now although I’m writing this as it relates to my ongoing personal research, let me suggest that you consider the “hidden treasure” you may yourself discover when you travel this summer. Is there some cool-looking pamphlet or brochure you may come across that can inspire you to emulate it for your own promotional needs?

Frankly, whether you elect to work with me or someone else on your marketing materials, it’s always welcomed when you’ve done a little research on your own and show your marketing guy/girl, “I think this is pretty neat; can we do something like it?”

And, without compromising any copyright laws, chances are we can.

On another, though not entirely dissimilar note, my local travels recently took me past a house of worship, where the universal message on the outside “marquee” gave me pause…and a smile:

“What’s Missing From Ch_ _ch?”

“U R”

Hey, I told you I’m drawn to the clever turn of phrase…

Joel Kweskin

Words That Count

According to Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert Siegel in “The Story of English” (Penguin 1992), “The statistics of English are astonishing. Of all the world’s languages (which now number over 2,700), it is arguably the richest in vocabulary. The compendious Oxford English Dictionary lists about 500,000 words; and a further half million technical and scientific terms remain uncatalogued.”

Author David Wilton adds, in “Wilton’s Word and Phrase Origins,” that “about 200,000 words are in common use today. An educated person has a vocabulary of about 20,000 words and uses about 2,000 in a week's conversation.”

So, with all the wonderful words available to us, why in the name of “multi-tasking” do we continue to use cliché after cliché to describe the “extras” that we bring to our professional capabilities?

Welcome to another addition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Recently, I did a demonstration before my business referral group of how I develop a print ad. To help determine the eventual concept, I interviewed a volunteer “client” by asking him different questions about his business. Sure enough, when asked what differentiates him from his competition, he proudly intoned “Service.” Oh really, I asked. What else? “We care about the customer.” Hmmmm, you don’t say... “And we’re experienced,” he added.

I’m going to take a wild stab at this, but I’ll just bet that isn’t the first time those words have been used to excite and entice a potential customer.

Look, we’re all guilty of falling back on the familiar – in this case, words that have been used ten thousand times before. But the more serious consequence of using these hackneyed phrases is that they simply lose their meaning after a while.

If you say about your business that you provide “ great service,” that you really and truly “care” about your customer, and that no one can match your “experience,” I’ll counter that every time with “SO WHAT?” Every business can, in one facet or another, make that claim! You may BE different from your competition…but you’re not SAYING anything different. (Put it this way -- if text for your brochure, ad or 30-second oral commercial is worded in such generalities that ANYBODY else can put their name at the end of it, it’s time to consider rewriting the piece.)

So how can you sound different? Sound different! Keep a thesaurus next to your computer. Illustrate examples of your “service.” Use case studies that back up how you “care.” Quote testimonials where others have benefited from your “experience.”

You’ll come across as uniquely differentiated, more accomplished and with a better chance of getting your points across.

Now…the flip side of word usage is determining which ones are better equipped than others to be truly persuasive.

Motivational guru Paul Huff notes that the Psychology Department at Yale University has identified 12 words of “extraordinary persuasive power.” They are, in no particular order:

You, Money, Discovery, Easy, Guarantee, Save, Results, New, Proven, Help, Love and, of course, Free.

These words apparently have the subliminal influence to help sell a marketing message. It’s a no-brainer, for example, that when we combine “You” with “Free,” we’re bound to get eyebrows raised and glazed-over eyes to suddenly refocus.

When Gloria Estefan sings of her lament in trying to tell her lover how she feels “but the words get in the way,” we all know how that feels. But we can’t afford, literally, to let that happen when it’s time to sell our products and services.

Whether it’s developing your printed or electronic marketing materials…speaking at a seminar…or simply doing your 30-second spiel at a networking get-together…choose your words well, and wisely. And make them words that count.

Joel Kweskin

E-Zine Education

They say every pot has its cover.

(Who are “they”? Why, the people who perpetuate clichés, that’s who.)

The point I wish to make, though, is that there is probably an online industry newsletter – or e-zine (Electronic magaZINE) – out there for every individual of his or her respective industry who’s reading MY e-zine right now. That is, a weekly or monthly or quarterly (short) compendium of useful, educational or inspiring articles to remind yourself just how great it is to be in your business, doing what you’re doing.

I’m not asking What E-Zine Are You Writing? I’m asking What E-Zine Are You Reading?!

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

I send out this e-zine of mine with what I hope is informative, as well as entertaining stuff, to get you to think of different ways to market and promote your business. With universal ideas that, for the most part, transcend your particular industry, to appeal to most if not all of your prospects.

But I am not so naïve as to think that I can address your industry armed solely with my finite knowledge of marketing and advertising. That’s where your industry comes in. To supplement a mailing such as mine, with information coming to you from experts in your “line of work.”

For example, I subscribe to three or four different e-zines that deal with MY line of work – advertising, publicity, consulting – that are written by experts in those fields. I sometimes glean what, appropriately, I can…and then filter through my own experience and expertise into dispensing advice from the mantle of JDK Marketing Communications Management.

What are you subscribed to…that focuses on your industry, perhaps gives you further tips on marketing or selling…educates you on the latest trends and developments…perhaps even lists networking or self-promoting opportunities…that comes to you generally free (!) and conveniently across the electronic sound and air waves, through your computer and on to your screen for astonishing ease of display and information gathering (whew)?

Google, for one, has lists and lists of website sources for free e-zines and even hard copy newsletters that service your industry. All you have to do is type in “(Blank) Industry Newsletters,” visit the site(s) and sign up for one. Or two or three, or more. Reading these publications can be like attending free seminars.

To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, Oh the Things You’ll Learn…

Joel Kweskin

Affinity Groups Marketing

I came across an ad in the sports section of the paper recently that isn’t going to win any awards for aesthetics. But for sheer “targeted” marketing, it may end up doing just fine for its advertiser all the same.

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Set against the intensely up-close photo backdrop of a football, the headline reads: PITTSBURGH FANS, WE SPEAK YOUR LANGUAGE!

The columns of copy are split in two with the one on the left a short, alphabetically listed glossary of Pittsburgh (the city) jargon: “Arn” = Iron, as in Iron City; “Gumbans” = rubber bands; “Jumbo” = bologna, and “Kennywood’s Open” = (female readers, close your eyes…) Your fly is unzipped!

So what’s the point of this ad? Well, as it goes on to say in the second column, “Give the agent from da ‘burg a chance to quote your insurance needs.” Yep, it’s from a local representative from one of the nationally known insurance carriers. The guy even goes on to encourage folks to “Stop by for your complimentary ‘Terrible Towel’” that rabid “Stillers” fans enjoy waving at the games.

Mr. Insurance guy knows there are a lot of transplants in Charlotte, many of whom are from the “Arn City.” So, presumably in addition to his more conventional and universal advertising message to everyone else, he’s targeting his “own.” Or, maybe he’s only targeting his own. On a limited budget, nothing wrong with that, either.

Is that something you might consider – target “affinity” groups for your product/service with whom you share some kind of affinity, be it cultural, religious, avocational, whatever? With material specifically “constructed” to fit that marketplace. It’s an old saw that folks like buying from folks they like. But folks might REALLY like buying from folks who share the same interests, the same passions. And what they really like tends to compel them to buy again from that same source.

In the meantime, see you the first Tuesday of next month for another helmet-ful of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Joel Kweskin

Networking...a Different Way

I’ve been reassessing the roles we play in our networking groups and what we can bring to the table to make these confabs more rewarding…especially for ourselves. And I was reminded of a column that ran in this space a couple of years ago:

Sally Ann Phillips and Todd Paris have the right idea. Sally is the self-described Marketing Maven with Mariner, an IT firm; Todd is a Registered Representative with AXA Advisors, a financial services company. Both these colleague/friends are in business networking groups to which I belong. Independent of each other, however, they came up with a common approach to maximizing their opportunities to gather referrals.

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Rather than – as we all do – orally declare in general terms that their “best customer” is such and such a size, and has sales of X-amount, Sally and Todd respectively produce a sheet of paper to the group. On that sheet (Sally and Todd prepare their own in their own format) they ask for specifics – “Here’s a list of 20 companies in town,” they might ask. “Can you give me the name of ANYONE working at ANY of these places? And I don’t care if they’re the custodian. As long as I can talk to them, and in turn they can lead me to the decision-maker that I need to see…”

Sally and Todd are betting that, if you’re presented with a list of named companies in town, there’s a good chance you know somebody doing something at one of those companies. And if you can supply them with that name, implying that you know that person, well, that’s better than an absolute cold call, isn’t it?

Try it the next time you go to one of your networking groups. Prepare a printed list, not just of industries but also of specific companies, organizations, etc. that you’d like to “get into.” Place a line next to each company with room for a contact name. Any contact name. And push everyone in your group to think hard (it may not be such hard thinking, after all) to fill it out and hand it back to you…no later than the conclusion of your meeting.

Voila! Instant referrals.

That’s better than waiting for those in your group, after they’ve heard your 30-second weekly spiel, to get back to you “later,” isn’t it?

Joel Kweskin

Keeping It Fresh

Recently, while on vacation at the beach, we bought some “quickie” food items. One of which was a new product by Oreos. Or should I say, yet another new product by Oreo. This one is called “Cakesters” and, like the name implies, it is less hard “cookie” and more soft “cake,” still with the ubiquitous cream spread in the middle.

I was then reminded of a column I wrote in this space a couple of years ago, worth repeating here (while snacking on one of those Cakesters…):

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

I was in the grocery store the other day and noticed the Oreo cookies. Only it wasn’t “just” Oreo cookies.

Sure, there were the “original” Oreo cookies that we all know and love. But, in separate packaging, there was also: Oreo Double-Stuf; Reduced Fat Oreo; Mint n’ Crème Oreo; Mini Oreo; Chocolate Crème Oreo -- whew, let me catch my breath here -- Golden Oreo Original; Fudge Covered Oreo; Fudge Mint Covered Oreo; Golden Oreo Chocolate Crème; Oreo Thin Crisps; and, not to be outdone, Double Delight Oreo Peanut Butter & Chocolate.

Now why would arguably this nation’s most popular cookie product come up with 12 different variations on an otherwise successful approach?

Because they want to either answer demand, or anticipate demand. Because they don’t want to get into a marketplace rut. Because they want to “keep things fresh.” Because they want to challenge themselves. Because they want to stay ahead of the cookie curve. Because with each new product introduction, they become top of mind. Again.

Or, maybe because they just want to stay (way) ahead of Hydrox, the “other” sandwich cookie…which, interestingly enough, was the FIRST “sandwich cookie with a cream filling” to be introduced to a sweet-toothed American public. Yet look what Oreo did to put Hydrox virtually out of our collective conscience.

The parallel to be drawn here presumes to ask the question, what are you doing to “diversify” yourself? Nothing wrong with staying just as you are. “Stick with whomever brought you to the dance,” goes the old saying. But in these volatile times of strong and plentiful competition for what we do for a living, it may behoove us to reach into the old tool box, metaphorically speaking, and see what else we can do to add to our equipment as we build upon our own “product.”

(For example, among the newer “products” at JDK Marketing Communications Management is) a service to help adoption parents create profiles on themselves. This is to help promote their eligibility as parents-to-be to the original birth mother in order for her to decide which family she would select to ultimately parent her child. It’s a fascinating, and touching, process that few people outside of adoption circles know about. I certainly didn’t until recently when a friend of mine in the industry was thoughtful enough to “clue me in.” (Helene Nathanson heads) a home study agency, created to help North Carolina families with pre- and post-adoption requirements:

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And now it’s another way for JDK Marketing Communications to keep our fingers in an ever-growing pie. Or another cookie variation, if you will.

Joel Kweskin

The 12 Basic Ad Formats

I’ve got some juicy projects I’m working on, and I want to give them my full, focused attention. So I’m going to make this short and sweet. And perhaps even more fun than educational.

Welcome to this edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Thanks to graphic designer and colleague Tim Faragher for bringing this fascinating subject to my attention…

We all watch commercials. Did you know, according to author Seth Stevenson on, that there are but 12 basic ad formats?


1. The Demo
2. Show the Problem
3. Symbolize the Problem
4. Symbolize the Benefit
5. The Comparison
6. The Exemplary Story
7. The Benefit Causes Story
8. The Testimonial
9. Ongoing Characters and Celebrities
10. Associated User Imagery
11. Unique Personality Property
12. The Parody, or Borrowed Format

Check out this entertaining video to see what he means. Chances are you’ll be nodding along knowingly as you watch.

Joel Kweskin


When was the last time you read “Piedmont Lakes Pilot?” How about “Amps 11?” Or the “Charlotte Hospitality News?” Perhaps you’ve curled up lately with “Apollonaire?”

It might just behoove you to take a closer look at these Charlotte-area magazines (or any metro-area group of pubs, depending on where you reside). Even if you’ve never heard of them before…

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

“Piedmont Lakes Pilot” is for boaters and lakeside dwellers along Lakes Wylie, Norman and other Piedmont-area lakes. “Amps 11” surveys the area music scene in a funky format. “Charlotte Hospitality News” takes a look at the hotel and catering news around town. And “Apollonaire” describes Charlotte’s dining and party scene through the lens of wine aficionados.

Why these publications? Why ANY publications you may not be familiar with? Because, apart from any personal interest you might have in the subject matter, these are opportunities with which to consider advertising your services. To be in a publication where your counterparts…aren’t. And thereby stake a claim in a place where you can target a particular audience. And likely for a lot less than you would have invested to advertise in a larger, more mainstream publication.

Maybe you do websites. Maybe you’re a wine enthusiast, as well. So maybe, while restaurants and their obvious industry brethren are advertising in “Apollonaire,” you can parlay your interests in trying to reach those readers with a service it’s not likely any other website developer thought to take advantage of.

The point is, there are all kinds of publications out there with a targeted reach of audience. Why not target those same folks with your services, even though at first it might seem a stretch. There’s a good chance that you could refine your own target market – at least for the sake of certain publication readers – to zero in on an audience that’s more receptive to you than were you to randomly network among strangers at a cocktail party.

When you consider going into any of these non-mainstream pubs, you’re doing two things: you’re reaching an audience with whom you can point out your shared frames of reference while offering them a service they can quite possibly use, and at the same time locking out your competition…because your competition has probably not even thought to be there!

Joel Kweskin