Monday, December 1, 2008

The Gift of Gifting

‘Tis the season to be giving, whether it’s Christmas or Hanukkah. Talking business gifting here, not charitable donations. Though the latter is something that, thankfully, remains a stalwart of our corporate as well as civic culture, I sometimes wonder if some of us haven’t forsaken the tradition of thanking our clients for their business, with a tangible token of our appreciation.

Welcome to this year’s last installment of Not Your Usual marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

According to Rosanne J. Thomas, Certified Etiquette and Protocol Consultant, “a business gift is a powerful tool, and one not to be overlooked. Study after study shows that a thoughtfully selected and presented gift of high quality and taste can indeed help cement relationships with customers and employees alike.”

I don’t have empirical evidence of this, but I sense that many of my counterparts in the service industry think business gifting is somehow no longer appropriate. Not cool. Of another era, not of these times. Kind of like the three martini lunch. More like something out of TV’s homage to the Madison Avenue era of the ‘60s, “Mad Men.”

Call me old-fashioned – but I’ve always liked the idea. Maybe it’s my Dad’s influence when occasionally he took me as a child on his rounds throughout New York City thanking his own marketing clients. I think it makes a defining statement about yourself and your character. Sort of like a strong handshake. Here’s author Alex Palmer’s take, whose article “A Giving Spirit” is in this past November’s issue of Incentive magazine:

“A study released by the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) at the end of September found that 80 percent of the sales and marketing executives who responded classify themselves as gift givers. The study reflected that relationship building was the most commonly cited reason for givers, with 70 percent giving ‘to thank customers,’ and 66 percent giving ‘to build goodwill.’

…(according to Steve Slagle, president and CEO of PPAI)…’It’s not about price. There are certainly products in this industry that have higher perceived value than others, but often if it’s a thoughtful gift – whether it’s $5 or $10 – it will have impact for the individual.’”

Palmer goes on to quote another expert in the industry who further takes a “green” approach: “’Gifts that are better for the environment (i.e. biodegradable or recyclable items) say a positive thing about the giver.’”

I’ve got a lucky 13 on my list of clients who I especially wish to thank for their “contributions” to my bottom line this past year; I’ve also got my annual New Year’s “chochke” that many of you will be receiving in the next few weeks.

Who will you be thanking this holiday season?

Happy Holidays and see you again the first Tuesday in the New Year for Volume 7(!), Opus 1, of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.

Joel Kweskin

Monday, November 3, 2008

What's your "EQ?"

I enthusiastically assert that I am one of the few people I know who doesn’t dread Sunday night.

That’s because I really enjoy what I do – whether it’s the marketing and advertising hat I wear, or that of the caricature artist (reminder: holiday parties are coming up!), it’s fun to get the old creative juices flowing and keep that right side of the brain percolating.

I get to work with graphic designers, photographers, web developers, printers, media people on occasion (even they have “creative” ideas)…and, for the most part, clients who are willing to try something arresting and engaging.

I mention this – which, frankly has nothing to do with talent but everything to do with attitude and mindset – because every now and then I run across folks who give their 30-second elevator speech at networking groups with a dulled indifference that is disappointing if not downright discouraging.

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

Anyway, “enthusiasm” is something that marketing guru Robert Middleton -- -- seems to find in short supply. And that can have dire consequences for those out there marketing their business. Like, er, um, everyone…

“Look at some of the synonyms for enthusiasm,” he writes in a recent entry from his weekly e-zine (edited for brevity):

“Keenness, ardor, fervor, passion, zeal, zest, gusto, energy, verve, inspiration, excitement, vigor, fire, spirit, avidity, devotion, motivation, commitment, willingness, earnestness. ”

"What can you do to generate (enthusiasm) in a society that's become increasingly skeptical, let alone downright cynical?

“1. Fall in love with good ideas. (I was convinced that the next step in my business) was to offer programs at graduated levels. It took me five months to implement it, but the idea took hold and never let go.

"2. Trust your inner voice. If you feel you can do something, feed that feeling. You feed your enthusiasm by sharing your ideas with like-minded, supportive people who are just as enthusiastic about their ideas.

"3. Act as if. I used to call this ‘fake it until you make it.’ When you exhibit enthusiasm, it's contagious and you can become addicted to it. I can certainly think of worse addictions!

“4. Question your unenthusiastic attitudes. When we're feeling apathetic, bored, disinterested, hesitant, stagnant, or fearful, it's useful to ask, ‘What would I have to believe to feel that way?’ Often it's something like: ‘If I really went for it 100% I might fail,’ or ‘I really don't make a difference anyway.’ Are those thoughts true? Probably not.

"5. Take on a huge project. Think of Kennedy's speech: ‘We choose to go to the moon in this decade, not because it is easy, but because it is hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.’”

Okay, this soap box is getting kind of rickety; I better get off and save it for another time. Such as the first Tuesday of next month, for another enthusiastic shout-out of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Tale of Two Press Releases

I wrote and distributed two different press releases this past month for two different clients. One was for a charitable event, singular in its cause and focus. The other was for a restaurant, touting everything they offered under the sun.

Guess which one got the most play.

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

Now, who knows – especially here in Charlotte, which tends to favor charitable causes – maybe the media has more of a thing for “good works” than work that tastes good. But I have a sneaking suspicion that a single subject (accent on the modifier “single”) resonated more quickly and more succinctly with more media than the multiple items implied in the subject line in the e-mail head of the restaurant story. Special appetizers, Karaoke Night, Happy Hours, family-friendly but singles are welcome…not quite “TMI,” but still “too much information!”

I remember attending a marketing communications seminar where the speaker held two props. One was a square “bed” of small spikes. The other was another small square, but containing only one spike. When the speaker took a sheet of paper and tried to run it through the many spikes, the sheet did little more than crease at the points where they hit.

When he took the same sheet of paper and came down on the single spike, the sheet was impaled clean through.

In the fast-paced world of trying to get your advertising or publicity message through to you’re A.D.D.-like audience, the point is… get to one. And best to get to one point only.

My restaurant client wanted to consolidate his funds and assign only one press release that covered virtually everything they offered at the place. Though I made an effort to dissuade him and save each item for a separate release, I understood and respected his wishes.

Maybe next time.

And maybe next month, first Tuesday, you’ll join me again for another single subject take of “Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.”

Joel Kweskin

From the “Greening with Envy” Dept.: Go into a public lavatory these days, and the faucet is electronic-eye automated, as is the paper towel dispenser. But you have to manually press the soap dispenser…

Monday, September 1, 2008

Teacher's Pet

It’s September. Which means it’s time for the young’uns to go back to school. Which further reminds us that there’s still plenty for us all to learn. About a year and a half ago, I devoted this space to discussing the value of subscribing online to the wizened commentary of some pretty sharp people who know their stuff about marketing.

What held true then holds true today. As much of schoolwork is repetition, to get the points across, here’s that column again.

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

Years ago, when I wrote advertising copy at Royal Insurance, we created an ad for Royal to appear in a trade publication representing the insurance industry for recent college grads looking to break into the field. So I wrote the “twisty” headline: “Now that you’ve got your degree, come get an education.” The idea being that there’s nothing like the “real-world” know-how one can get on the job as opposed to the theory of the class room.

I’m reminded of that line as, thirty years later, I’m still learning stuff…even as I dispense my own pearls of wisdom from this lofty seat of experience.

No doubt many of you subscribe to your own industry-related electronic newsletters, but since this one is devoted to marketing…and, after all, regardless of your industry, you won’t get too far without marketing…I thought I’d share these resources with you.

Alexandria Brown writes all about e-zines – how to write them, how to use them -- from her self-anointed website:

The ClickZ Network “is the largest resource of interactive marketing news, information, commentary, advice, opinion, research, and reference in the world.” Which, for my interest, also deals with e-mail marketing. You can subscribe to their periodic info at:

Who in the Charlotte area hasn’t heard of Jeffrey Gitomer? For advice on how to score “the sale,” subscribe to him at:

Perhaps my own personal favorite is the advice on a multitude of pertinent topics rendered weekly from Robert Middleton, a West Coast marketing guru who can be reached by typing in:

Since I also get involved in publicity for clients, writing and placing press releases, I can still learn a thing or two from Joan Stewart’s

There you have it – not everyone in marketing, but a good enough cross-section to at least keep yours truly “dangerous.” Maybe you too?

In the meantime, see you the first Tuesday of next month with another postage-paid dollop of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.

Joel Kweskin

…And from the You-Wanna-Run-That-By-Me-Again Dept:
I ate at a “Just Fresh” recently. There were plastic flowers on the table.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Massaging the Subject Line

Among the services we provide here at the worldwide headquarters of JDK Marketing Communications Management is the writing of press releases.

To that end, I’m working on a major publicity campaign for my client, Massage Envy, the nation’s leading massage therapy clinic available to the public. Massage Envy is partnering with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to stage “Massage for the Cure” at all 18 of their clinics throughout North Carolina, all day September 15. (More info to come next month, but for now you can go to: )

Of course, sending out press releases these days is usually done through e-mail. Which means catching the attention of the reader – likely the jaundiced eye of the media – with a compelling enough headline in the subject box to get the recipient to open it.

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

Here’s a fascinating take, excerpted here, on the craft of subject headline writing that appeared recently in The New York Times. Joanne Kaufman is the author.

“’P.R. people want to invest time in things that are going to get picked up, so they try to put something to the ‘who cares?’ and ‘so what?’ test,” said Kate Robins, a longtime public relations consultant. 'If you say something is first, most, fastest, tallest — that’s likely to get attention. If you can use the words like ‘money,’ ‘fat,’ ‘cancer’ or ‘sex,’ you’re likely to get some ink in the general audience media.'

“David Seaman, a P.R. stunt planner and the author of a book to be published in October, ‘Dirty Little Secrets of Buzz,’ is a proponent of ‘safe,’ ‘easy’ ‘secret,’ ‘trick’ and ‘breaking’ because they suggest that something is new and fresh, he said.

“The words that attract media attention change with the times. ‘Anything that speaks to long-term health risks is good these days, because there is a belief that there’s a lot of stuff out there harming us, from the cellphone on down,’ Mr. Adamson said. David B. Armon, the president of PR Newswire, a distribution service for public relations professionals, likens writing a news release to writing a headline for the front page of a newspaper: every word has to do heavy lifting.

“’It’s a lot more scientific than it used to be,’ Mr. Armon said, ‘because you’re not just trying to get media pickup, but to get search engine attention.’

“To aid in this endeavor, PR Newswire offers its members a so-called keyword density tool. “It lets you know the words someone would have to type into a search engine for your particular press release to be found, and helps put your release at the top of the search engine,” Mr. Armon said.

“’Green’ and ‘environment’ are huge right now, he said, as is ‘foreclosure.’ ‘We’ve done 412 press releases that incorporate that word so far in ’08, up from 261 last year.’ For the record, Mr. Armon added, the use of the word “toxic’ in news releases is up 5 ‘percent.

“Perhaps because many people in public relations are former journalists, they know what grates on the Fourth Estate. Mr. Gable, who was once the business editor of The San Diego Union, has compiled a list of words that will do a news release no good whatsoever, like ‘solutions,’ ‘leading edge,’ ‘cutting edge,’ ‘state of the art,’ ‘mission critical,’ and ‘turnkey.’

“Ken Sunshine, the head of a P.R. firm in Manhattan, said he thought the media had an institutional bias against ‘hype-y terms’ like ‘world renowned’ and ‘once in a lifetime,’ which he studiously avoids putting in his news releases. ‘But ‘unique’ is fine,’ he said, ‘if something really is unique.’ “

Well, we think we’re unique. So watch for this column again -- in the subject line, of course -- the first Tuesday of next month, for another PR-tinged edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.

Joel Kweskin

Monday, June 30, 2008

Cookin' With Gas

Who knew chochkes would have such cachet?

Ad specialties are apparently – if not bigger and better than ever before – more popular than ever before.

Welcome to the pre-fireworks edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management
According to The Detroit News:

“The Advertising Specialty Institute, the largest media and marketing organization serving the advertising specialty industry, announced…results of its annual advertising specialties sales analysis indicating that industry revenues reached $19.6 billion in 2007 - up 5.4 percent from 2006 and a new record.”

Now check this out:

“Spending on advertising specialties, or promotional products - items and incentives branded with a company logo or marketing message - was 83% greater than radio advertising, 73% greater than Internet display ads and nearly five times larger than outdoor advertising for the same period. Industry increases also outpaced the 2.2% growth rate for the United States GDP.
"In today's climate of increasing economic uncertainty, purchasing decisions for advertising and marketing are being scrutinized closely," said (a company spokesperson). "Advertising specialties are a relatively safe advertising investment and are nearly recession-proof, because they provide a proven high return-on-investment at a low cost and have a lasting impact on target audiences.

"Promotional products offer an opportunity to creatively advertise a company or product," said Carol Constantino, president of Noteworthy Company. "Since the life span of a promotional product extends beyond a conventional ad, savvy marketers recognize value and ultimately extend their advertising dollars to reinforce an ad campaign with the diverse product lines that our industry offers."

Then comes this additional news item from the paper:

“A café…is doing it. So is a (local) hotel, a carmaker, an awning seller and a national golf club company. Even the American Red Cross is getting in on today's hottest giveaway gig -- free gasoline.

“With the price of gas shooting up more than 30 percent in the past year and now stuck above $4 a gallon, businesses are turning to the gas card as a way to get consumers' attention and increase sales. Business owners say they know free gas isn't necessarily the deciding factor for patrons looking to buy their wares or services, but they believe it makes people more inclined to stop and take a look.

"It's pushing our hot button activators," said Dave Regan, an advertising instructor at Michigan State University. "We're still looking for that deal -- for that break -- on gas."
Other types of money-saving promotions, such as discounts and rebates, have lost their luster because their novelty has worn off, he said.

"You've seen it, done it and used it. It's old." Gas cards, on the other hand, "stand out as something new," Regan said.

"On top of that, "people hate to spend their money on gas," said Richard Divine, instructor of marketing and hospitality services at Central Michigan University. "Gas cards may be more effective than saying 'I'm going to give you $4 off.' Businesses are putting a value on the savings they're giving you."

Hmmm…ad specialties humming along, and gas cards helping to “drive” them. A “not your usual marketing tip”…or something that may be more mainstream than we all realize? Either way, something to think about putting in your “tank” the next time you consider ways of promoting your services.

See you again the first Tuesday of next month for another sizzling-hot-for-summer “Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.”

Monday, June 2, 2008


The family leaves for Denver this week to attend my son’s graduation ceremony. Graduation, that is, with a Master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Denver.

Not that this is a vacation, per se, but in part we’ll turn it into one by visiting the sights, maybe even take in the defending National League Champion Colorado Rockies game (though the only thing they seem to be defending this year is last place…)

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

Travel this time of year in general gets me to thinking about summer vacations. Have you scheduled yours yet? If so, you might want to consider some observations from a column I posted on NYUMT four years ago.

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 my clients.

It’s the unofficial beginning of summer – which to most of us, will mean vacations. 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 famous 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…even though it had “:emerged” from a standard (when flat) 8.5” x 11” sheet of paper. It was just a stunning, unusual looking piece practically transcending the contents within it (perhaps not so extraordinary, though, when you realize it represented the creative milieu 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.

See you again the first Tuesday of next month, for another adventurous edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Joel Kweskin

Monday, May 5, 2008

An Old Baseball Adage

It’s baseball season, and after just listening on XM radio (love the XM) to my favorite team go down to their fifth straight defeat (get a hold of yourself, Joel, it's a long season...), I'm reminded of a column I fungo'd out to my readers a few seasons back that's still topical today.

Welcome to the National Pastime edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.
Here's the gist of that previous article:
There was a player around the turn of the century named Wee Willie Keeler. Whenever Willie would step to the plate, the chant would ring out, “Hit’em where they ain’t!” The meaning was simplistically clear: hit the ball where the fielders WEREN’T positioned, to improve the chances for getting a base hit.

What if, metaphorically speaking, you could “hit” your target markets…where your competition “ain’t?”

Most businesses – however small or large – tend to market themselves through the “standard” avenues…the local newspaper, the local weekly, the local regional, radio, TV. And “buckshot” mailings to one’s database of clients, colleagues and friends. Chances are that your industry counterparts are doing mostly that same thing.

Maybe the next time you’re “at bat,” consider going – pardon the pun – farther afield. That is, think about hitting those markets not just among your primary audience but also to the outer periphery of your “spheres of influence.”

A CPA, for instance – whose services are needed by virtually everyone – can make herself the go-to professional with the local remodelers trade association. A chiropractor might want to approach the public library system (think of all that stretching and bending all day long by the staff just to put books away) with clinics exclusively for that organization. A sometime caricature artist might join a wedding and event planners organization to be their unique source of party entertainment. (Hey wait a minute, that's me..!)

This concept goes beyond “target marketing,” though it certainly fits within the category. It’s applying what it is you do to the needs of a market that may not always be that obvious a target.
Maybe there’s a hobby you have, or a weekend passion you love, that can be parlayed into a business opportunity -- by providing your services to fellow aficionados. Do these enthusiasts have associations? Do they have meetings? Do they have means, i.e. literature or promotional materials, by which they communicate with one another…and in which you can contribute an ad or, better yet, an informative article?

Next time you grab that metaphorical bat and stand in the box…you may want to think outside of it every now and then. And hit’em where they ain’t.

See you again the first Tuesday of next month, with another slugging edition of Not Your Usual Marketing tips.

Joel Kweskin

Monday, March 31, 2008

Continuing Ed

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

One of the great things about the Internet is the opportunity for a kind of “continuing ed” in one’s chosen field or industry.

I’ve discussed, in the past, the benefits of subscribing to certain e-zines – “electronic magazines” or newsletters – from those I consider true marketing gurus. They’ve got a lot of knowledge to impart, and some of that knowledge every now and then takes the form of a “tele-seminar” they put on. I listened to one just last week, and there was some great stuff in it (part of its greatness was it was free!)

Alexandria Brown, the self-anointed “Queen of the E-Zine” did a two-night series on the benefits of trotting out an electronic publication – such as what you’re reading right now – for reasons too numerous to mention here. (You can go right to the source, though, to learn more at )

One of the notions she puts forth is that, in the seemingly impersonal world of business, one can communicate through the clutter with a more “personalized” approach. Seasoning your message, now and then, with little dollops of info on yourself, your achievements, even stuff on your family.

So, here goes: “My” movie opens later this week (April 4).

Leatherheads is the new George Clooney screwball comedy that embraces the early days of pro football (1925) as a colorful backdrop to a romantic triangle with co-stars Renee Zelwegger and The Office’s John Krasinski.

“My” movie?? Well, sure…after all, I'm in it. As an extra. Actually, more than an extra. I played the role of Assistant Coach of the Chicago Buffalos, the team Clooney’s Duluth Bulldogs play in the dramatic denouement-revealing game at the end of the film.

So if anyone out there in e-zine land is interested in reading more about my adventures on the film set – taking direction from George, for example – well, I won’t take up any more sacrosanct space in this missive…but you can access it here in a fun website created by another amateur thespian who also took part in the film:

(Then check out the Photo Album section and go to Album 5 and scroll down to see a caricature I did…which was finally presented to our star this past week when he made his whistle stopping tour through Salisbury, NC.)

I’m not sure I know what all this “personal” stuff through my e-zine is supposed to do. But, I suppose if it gets people talking either about me or to me, a little PR in my direction can’t hurt, right?

And if I can assist you, or anyone you know, with promotional needs – self or otherwise – let me strap on my leatherhead and get on it!

In the meantime, let’s huddle again the first Tuesday of next month for another bone crushing edition of “Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.”

Joel Kweskin

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What Is Your USP?

What's your USP?

And, no, it has nothing to do with the US Postal Service.

It’s your “Unique Selling Proposition.” Or substitute the word Proposition with Proposal or Point.

Any way you say it, it’s what those three words say about your business that, theoretically, no one else can say.

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

Simply stated, your USP should – in your marketing materials, position papers, sales letters, perhaps even your slogan – reflect the contention that what you sell is unique, something your competition cannot or chooses not to promote…culminating in the decision by your customer to act by exploring and/or purchasing your product or service.

You may remember USP from Marketing 101. But, since Spring Training has begun this month down in Florida and Arizona, I’m reminded that it’s occasionally a good thing to re-familiarize oneself with the “fundamentals.”

Wikepedia further explains USP as a “marketing concept that was first proposed as a theory to explain a pattern among successful advertising campaigns (of the 1940s and 1950s). It states that such campaigns made unique propositions to the customer and that this convinced them to switch brands.

“The term was invented by Rosser Reeves (an account executive with former independent ad agency giant) Ted Bates & Company. Today the term is used in other fields or just casually to refer to any aspect of an object that differentiates it from similar objects…A number of businesses and corporations currently use USPs as a basis for their marketing campaigns.”

Jay Abraham, with a string of successful books on the “guerilla” ways of marketing, opines that, “Even while you creatively imitate others, remember that it's also important to be different. Distinguish your business or practice from all the rest. Make your enterprise special in the eyes of your customer or client. A USP is that distinct and appealing idea that sets you and your business, or practice, favorably apart from every other generic competitor.” has a little more “tough love” message for you: “There may be very little difference between your product and your competitors’. But if you can't find a way to communicate uniqueness and connect it to a need of your target, you might as well quit fighting your competition and sell out to them.

“There are many different ways to stake out a position. Just remember, your position reflects your unique selling proposition, and it is what makes your offering more valuable to your customers than what's being offered by your competition.”

No doubt by now you may have taken a cold, hard look at what you do for a living and thought. “but my business is really no different than others in this field.”

That’s the challenge. But it’s not unmeet-able. There are things about your business you may not be able to see – the old “forest for the trees” deal. And that’s where it may take a professional marketing firm (ahem!) to help adjust your glasses for you…

And help truly, and memorably, distinguish you vis-à-vis your competition.

If you haven't done so by now, maybe it’s time you worked on your USP...ASAP.

Hope to chat you up again the first Tuesday of next month with another initials-laden serving of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.

Joel Kweskin

Monday, February 4, 2008

The "R" Word

If you, like a good number of your friends, neighbors and – perhaps more importantly – your business associates, subscribe to the notion that our economy is either approaching or already in the throes of a recession, take a deep breath. Maybe we need to change the “R” word to the “O” word.

As in “Opportunity.”

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

I’m no economist, but I have seen The Ways of Things in my thirty-plus years of doing business, both on the corporate and service-provider sides. Think Stock Market. To re-paraphrase Isaac Newton, what goes down…must eventually go back up.

Here are some heartening observations I’ve gleaned lately by fellow marketing pundits.

Charlie Elberson, Wray Ward Laseter VP of Brand Development, notes in his blog:

“Thriving in hard times is especially gratifying (and certainly more attention-getting) because few can do it. Wisdom, courage, smarts – along with an ability to grasp new realities – these are prerequisites to getting through down times on top. Most important is a steely-eyed commitment to a plan.”

Among which are:

“• Increase share of mind. Increasing brand presence during a recession yields disproportionate increases in share of market. Why? You’re buying real estate in buyers’ minds while the competition is withdrawn. Smart.

• Simplify your world. Bet that your competitors will reduce the scale of their programs but not the scope, they’ll do less of everything. Now is a great time to do a few things really, really well.

• Get ready for the Big I (major initiative). Good times, like the bad, have a way of sneaking up on us. Start getting ready now to have a major initiative (or two) all set to go for when things improve.

Down time is a smart time to lay the groundwork for greater success tomorrow. When the sun’ll come out.”

Robert Midddleton, Internet-based marketing coach, in his weekly e-zine opines:

“Certain words trigger certain feelings. We hear the word recession in the media over and over, and each time it triggers a little fear, a little uncertainty. Before you know it, many people are making the recession a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“The economy is experiencing a bout of flu. But like the flu, it will eventually pass with minimal side effects. If you look at it like that, no problem. You take some precautions, but you don't lapse into hopelessness and despair. You can treat this like a wake up call. You, personally, can make a difference for you, your family and business. You can choose what you think and do. You can take creative action.

"Part of this is taking control of your marketing. You can't leave it to chance anymore. Those who practice proven marketing strategies will attract more business than those who don't - especially when times are tight. Don't let yourself be dragged down by talk of a recession. You can use a downturn as an opportunity to sharpen your marketing skills.”

Then again, you can always heed the words of Steve Forbes, publisher of the iconic business magazine that bears his late father’s name. When asked recently in an interview with The Charlotte Observer, are we headed into a recession, he answered:

“No. As a matter of fact, after the first quarter, the economy should surprise people with its strength. The Federal Reserve is still pumping up boatloads of money. The second and third quarters should come in around 2.5 and 3 percent (GDP growth). Next year I think we’re going to have problems, because the Fed can’t keep inflating, but for now the world is not coming to an end.”

There, Grumpy. Are you smiling yet..?

Check this space again the first Tuesday of next month for another boatload of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.

Joel Kweskin

Just Wondering Department: Great game Sunday. But watching all those commercials at $2.7 million a pop, I couldn’t help but think – with much talk during this presidential race period about issues like poverty and outrageous health care costs – wouldn’t just one of those advertisers have made quite a PR statement by telling the public that they planned NOT to advertise on the Super Bowl and instead were taking that money and making a “Super” contribution to an appropriate charity/charities to help those in need..?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Welcome to Not Your Usual Marketing Tips -- your Online Marketing Ideas and Commentary Column Official Sponsor of 2008.

There, I’ve now claimed the first commercial “ownership” of a Year…

It’s the first month, and that begs the question: have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? I mean from a marketing, advertising and promoting standpoint. (I could care less if you’ve vowed to lose weight; trust me, it’ll only come back by this time next year anyway…)

Since offering up this specific column thrice before, it’s worn well as universal and timeless commentary. So, as they say, if it ain’t broke…

There’s a great scene in an old “Seinfeld” episode where Jerry has telephoned in reservations for a car rental. Except that when he arrives to pick up the car, he’s told there are none to be had. The girl at the counter explains that, for whatever bureaucratic reason, his rental was released to someone else. In his customary exasperated manner, Jerry then tries to “educate” her -- that although “it’s your business to MAKE the reservation…you also have to be able to HOLD the reservation..!”

It’s January of a New Year. From a marketing standpoint, presuming you’ve MADE your New Year’s resolutions, are you planning to actually HOLD them?

In no particular order, consider these 12 Resolutions for 2008 – one per month – vowing to proactively engage in at least one of them:

Guerilla Marketing: Think outside the box for ways to promote yourself. There are rules…and sometimes there are no rules.

Networking: Do more, by joining more…networks that is (associations, fraternal organizations, fellow hobbyists, etc.)

Publicity: Toot your own horn through such means as press releases; even if you think you’ve got nothing new to say, there’s a whole world out there that doesn’t know what you’re thinking…but would like to, or perhaps more importantly, needs to.

Positioning: All things being equal…what makes you “more” equal than others?

Seminars: Think you know it all? Well, there’s a good chance you do – to targeted markets with whom you wish to do business and promote yourself.

Newsletters: Share your ideas, broaden your constituency; send out industry-relevant information either as hard copy…or electronically (such as what you’re presently reading).

Trade Shows: Go to them, be in them, mingle within them, write a program article for them...

Event Marketing: Sponsor a cause, have an Open House; it’s good PR by “humanizing” your business.

The Newspaper: What a concept! For ideas, for client contact opportunities, for business references, don’t rely on the 11:00 PM TV news alone. Read the newspaper.

Greeting Cards: It doesn’t have to be Christmas to send them. Stay top of mind year-round, with Valentine’s Day, July 4th, Arbor Day – whatever! – as the “excuse.”

Postcards: Along with greeting cards, postcards are a fast, convenient, economical – and customized – way to let people know about your business (think realtors, financial services professionals, et al…).

Website: If you don’t have a site, get one. If you already have one, concentrate more on the text this time, by focusing on Keywords to help facilitate Search Engine Optimization. (You need to be found…before you’re read.)


That’s enough pontificating for now…

Have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2008. And we’ll see you again the first Tuesday of next month with another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing tips.

Joel Kweskin