February 3, 1945 - The World's First Tweet

We've all heard one account or another around the saying "if I had more time I would have made this message shorter". It is true, less is more, but it sure isn't easy to accomplish. Twitter has forced us to improve our ability to get a key message across in 140 characters (unless you are one of those who writes four tweets for one message).

It got me thinking about the power of less.  I was once presenting at a Board meeting explaining our new two word brand slogan.  The Chairman said he didn't like it, but the President said he thought it was very good, but also very challenging to get a message across in just two words. The Chairman's response..."F*** Y**! Did I get my message across in two words?"  Fair enough.

Back in WWII, messages were dropped from planes as propaganda but also for key information delivery behind enemy lines.  On February 3rd, 1945 when the Americans flew over the Phillipines they dropped messages into the American interment camp that read "Roll out the barrel, your Christmas will be here today or tomorrow." What an important message delivered in so few words. This to me, would have been one of the first tweets. All in well under 140 characters and it was delivered over the airways!  

So, remember the power of less.  It's hard to do but worthy of your effort.  So in conclusion...less is more (no need to say more…).

Posted on April 30, 2014 .

Why Mobile Ranks as the Greatest Invention Since the Wheel

One of my favorite business books is; The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. Written by Thomas Freidman and published in 2005, this book really opened my eyes to how cultures would soon cross-pollinate, how local information could spread internationally and how most importantly, geography could be taken out of any business equation.

To understand what this book represented, I’ll give you a real world example. A friend of mine owned a company called Your Tech Online that was based out of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, servicing North America to help consumers who had recently purchased a PC and who required IT support. Steve was in need of Spanish speaking online specialists.  Where would you find that kind of expertise in Kelowna?  Well, your pool would be pretty limited.  But Steve could easily find someone out of Texas who could appear to be in Kelowna but could effectively work 4,000 miles away and service a whole new Spanish client base. This is the definition of a flat world.

Now, with mobile devices added into the mix, the world becomes flat and small. The fact is basic communications and business decisions are now predominantly made in a mobile environment via the smartphone, softphone, tablet or whatever mobile device the user prefers.

If you have not focused your marketing strategy around a mobile environment, your business will never reach the growth potential or the geographical potential it could.  Without a mobile strategy, if your business doesn’t outright die, it will become so irrelevant that you will never be considered a serious threat.

So how do you take advantage of the mobile world? Well, there are many ways, but to start with you need to make sure you do the following; a) build your website to be mobile enabled, meaning, it is dynamic enough to be read and searched clearly by desktop or mobile device; b) Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) an acronym that never gets old.  If you are mobile and reading information on your mobile device, then you are multi-tasking. This means, to get your message across, you need to keep the message simple and to the point; c) Pictures, you should use as many visual cues as possible. People, by nature are visual; we remember things more when we see them. Don’t forget, visual also speaks in every language.

So don’t go unnoticed and don’t assume that the product or service you are selling will sell itself.  It may today, but that won’t last.  If you don’t want to be business-handicapped in a competitive world, build your marketing plan around mobile first, then adapt it to the fixed desktop world.  You have a better change of differentiating yourself and staying alive and on top.

What other ways do you think businesses could take advantage of mobile marketing?

Posted on March 30, 2014 .

Why Great Products Fail

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One thing I always promised myself after I completed my formal education was to never stop learning.  I still remember the day I went to see the VP of HR at one of the companies I worked at, and asked if there was an education program available for employees because I wanted to take a management course at Harvard.  I still remember the look on her face. It basically spelled c-r-a-z-y.

I haven’t really worried about it since that day because the amount of informal learning that I am doing most days is incredible.  For instance, I once believed in the theory that any great product could sell itself.  Maybe. Maybe one in a hundred, but who would place a bet with those odds? Certainly not any one of your investors.

The fact is product makes up 20% of the success equation.  Street smarts makes up another 20% and the remaining 60% is marketing.  Why is the marketing variable so high? Because the majority of people (those that fall well within the boundaries of the bell curve) actually have very similar likes. 

Let’s test my theory. Is a Starbucks coffee really that much better than say a McDonald’s coffee? Think about it for a minute…if the roles were reversed and McDonald’s opened up cafés with great ambience (fireplace, mild jazz, warm leather couches) and Starbucks was sold only at Wendy’s, would you suddenly see a line form outside Wendy’s.  The answer is simple. No, you certainly would not.

People don’t necessarily buy the best products.  They buy into an idea, a feeling, a trend, a label and a sense of belonging.  And how do you create the right idea, feeling, trend, and label and/or sense of belonging?  You pour thought and creativity into marketing.  If companies spent as much time thinking about the right marketing mix as they do think about a product feature that may not even have been tested in the market, I guarantee you the return on investment would be exponentially higher with money spent on marketing then R&D.

With the advent of social media, marketing is quickly becoming as much as a science as an art.  Pour more time into implementing and executing a strategic marketing plan and you will be amazed at the results.  If you have a McDonalds coffee in your portfolio, watch it quickly become the product/service that people want to be associated with as a result of an outstanding marketing plan and well-executed marketing campaign.

Posted on February 28, 2014 .