Tag Archives: Duct Tape Marketing

Social Media Marketing Earthquake, Content Tsunami

(My latest column in the Eugene Register Guard. Click here for the original. Reposted here with permission)

content marketing tipping pointSocial media marketing earthquake

The social media marketing earthquake is already here. And, in keeping with the forecast theme in this month’s blue chip, here’s a prediction: content marketing tsunami.

The shaking started as social media took off with Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and early blogs. It continued with Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

So-called content marketing emerged. Marketing is getting people to know, like and trust you. Content marketing does that with blogging, online videos and other online content that businesses offer to people for free, through social media. Content marketing is theoretically free to businesses because they don’t pay for space, like they do with traditional advertising. But what isn’t free is the production of content that is interesting, useful, funny or just plain not boring on social media and blogs, as an alternative to advertising.

You can find examples of successful content marketing on the Web. Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends turned a thoughtful blog into a multi-million-dollar information business. John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing turned a book into a multi-million-dollar blog, consultant network, and speaking business. Gary Vaynerchuk of VaynerMedia made a fortune in writing and speaking. They were individual experts, but these businesses grew because people found their content interesting and useful. Readership became relationship, which led to customers.

This earthquake has already changed the business landscape. Marketing stories are more important than ever. Smaller companies with good stories can compete effectively against big brands. Advertising is no longer as simple as value proposition message repeated in media. The bigger budget doesn’t always win.

Content marketing tsunami

And the tsunami? Billions of dollars that have been flowing into big-brand advertising budgets are now going into social media and content marketing. What we’ve seen so far, however, is a trickle compared to what’s coming.

Those big budgets are managed by a generation that grew up with advertising as the key to big-brand marketing. Those people are being dragged, kicking and screaming in many cases, into this new world. They may not like it. It’s not what they grew up with. It’s not what they came to power with. But these are smart people and more of them get it.

For example, Target created a free iPad app, “Made For U College Styler,” that helps college students design their dorm room decor. It gathers information from their social media accounts to guess at style, then suggests items they can buy at Target. They want loyalty so they offer utility. Zappos, originally an innovative online shoe retailer, rode social media to a lucrative sale to Amazon and big-brand success. One of Zappos’ biggest successes was a Pinterest page that posted pictures of free products. Burger King, Snapple, Red Bull, and BMW are offering brand-related content on multiple social media sites.

The big-budget attention is going to create increasing competition in content marketing. The innovators had the field to themselves when it started 10 to 15 years ago. Not so much in the future.

Yet few people understand how evolving social media and content marketing will carry an implicit trade-off­ between short- and long-term success. The kind of tactics that might generate immediate business leads won’t work for the long haul. Long-term success in this new world is about legitimately helping people, offering useful information and being interesting — or at least not boring — to establish long-term relationships with potential customers.

Long-term success will be won by people and businesses that create, curate, and share legitimately good content, not self-serving, thinly disguised infomercial-like content. New technology has leveled the playing field in ways that neutralize advertising budgets and reward real sharing.

It’s going to take work and patience. But here’s the good news: Business owners who stick with it will be rewarded through long-term relationships with customers, which, by the way, is what marketing is all about.

A Marketing Expert’s Must-Read Advice on Living Better

I’m proud to say John Jantsch, the world’s number one expert on small business marketing,  is a friend of mine. I’ve worked with him for years and I’ve learned a lot from him. For example, I still use his definition of marketing (“getting people to know, like, and trust you”) almost daily. 

His wisdom has spread well beyond marketing for a while now. For example, it was John who first suggested to me, several years ago, that regular exercise pays off in productivity time, instead of taking productivity time. 

And I’m glad to see he’s sharing some similarly important concepts, about life as well as business. in his Recover You series on his Small Business Marketing blog. This is must-read material. 

Today’s post is How to Breathe and Why You Must. Here’s a snippet:

Breathing is perhaps the most mindless of all human behaviors and what I’ve discovered is that an intentional practice of mindful breathing is perhaps one of the most powerful tools you can employ.

Earlier this month he posted How to Change Your Thoughts and Why You Must. Here’s a bit from that one: 

Starting today, carve out a 15-minute period and consciously commit to foregoing any thought of judgment. Take a walk on a busy street while you monitor your thoughts and see how actively your mind want to make judgments about everything you see. For some people just keenly witnessing their thoughts for even fifteen minutes is incredibly mind-opening.

Do yourself a favor. Read and follow this series of posts. 

(Image: Taken from John’s post. Photo credit: Mait Jüriado via photopin cc)

10 Tips For Starting a Service Business

You can see the request here on the right, posted to me on Twitter. I decided it’s a good subject for a blog post here, and I went on my own first as a service business and survived that way for 12 years before Palo Alto Software finally established itself as a product company.  So I do have some tips I can share.

  1. Set your goals right and define success well. Service businesses generally take less start-up capital but are also much less likely than product businesses to offer eventual leverage and scalability. There are exceptions, but in most service businesses the assets walk out the door every night. Those businesses are relatively easy to start, relatively easy to survive and prosper with, but also hard to grow beyond small, hard to sell, and hard to attract outside investors.
  2. Look for a business anchor. That’s a former employer and/or a strong client.  For example, I had Apple Computer, a former client, and Creative Strategies, a former employer, both willing to contract my services from the beginning. Apple remained critical to – and loyal to – my business services from the beginning in 1984 until Business Plan Pro changed the business to product-driven in 1994.
  3. Understand your first client is twice as hard to get as your second. And the second is a third harder than the third. Land those first few clients well. Make sure they’re happy. Give them a huge discount to get the relationship going, and expect to keep your rates low for them, but ask them, in return, to not tell strangers what they pay you. Work free if you have to. You need references and testimonials.
  4. Find a focus. Be different from anybody offering similar services to similar clients, in a way they can understand immediately and will share with others. Example: I was a business plan consultant who had a fancy MBA degree, no big deal; but I had also built my first computer, programmed extensively, lived in Latin America, and spoke fluent Spanish. My clients tended to be high-tech companies doing international business.
  5. Use social media and blogging and your website as your main tools for marketing. Create and share content that validates your expertise. Your marketing today is so much easier than it was when I went out on my own; where I had to get through editors and publishers and conference organizers to get my expertise in front of clients (specifically, I wrote magazine articles, and books, and I spoke at COMDEX and the like), you can do it yourself by posting on blogs and Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn. And, soon, RebelMouse. Oh, and that reminds me: Read Duct Tape Marketing, by John Jantsch.
  6. Spend wisely on your logo and look and feel. Look into 99Designs, I’ve seen some sensational work from them. A professional look to your logo and website (or Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn profile, if that’s all you do for a website) is really important. It isn’t a matter of business cards or stationery anymore, but it is how you represent yourself.
  7. Don’t ever spend money you don’t have. You’ll get lots of suggestions for ways you can spend money now to make money later; mail lists, marketing programs, they never stop.
  8. Don’t ever lose a client. Repeat business is vital. Keeping your existing clients is way cheaper and easier than finding new ones. Always go that extra mile, when you have to, to keep your existing clients happy.
  9. Know your numbers. If you don’t know the difference between sales and money in the bank, between profits and cash, learn it. It’s vital. Know your numbers like the back of your hand.
  10. Never compromise integrity. You’re going to succeed or fail based on your reputation. Don’t cut corners with credibility.
  11. (Bonus point) Expect to make mistakes. If you can’t acknowledge and learn from and apologize for your mistakes, then you’re doomed. You will make them. If you think you won’t, keep your day job.
  12. (Second bonus point) Do your own simple, practical business plan. Do it for yourself, not outsiders. Make it just big enough. Keep it fluid and flexible and review it often and revise it frequently. Read The Plan-as-you-go Business Plan, by me. Sign up for www.liveplan.com. [Disclosure: I’m the author of that book (but I’m linking you to where you can read it free) and I own Palo Alto Software, which publishes liveplan, a web app for business planning.]

What Kind of Advertising for a Startup

I revised my timberry.com website a couple of months ago and one of the additions was the ask me page where I offering to answer questions people ask. This question came to me from that page and I think it might be a useful answer for this blog.


I just started a small business in [a US medium-sized town] home improvement contractor. My question too you is what kind of advertising do you prefer when just getting started


First answer, specific to a home improvement contractor: I think you should immediately buy John Jantsch’ book Duct Tape Marketing and read it cover to cover. That’s one of the best ever books on marketing for small business in general, and John uses home improvement contracting for a lot of his examples. It’s as if one of the best minds in marketing had answered your specific question with a brilliant book tailored to you. And that might lead you to his more recent book, the Referral Engine, which will also apply very well to home remodeling.

Second answer, more general, for all small business startups: the question isn’t what kind of advertising, but rather, what kind of marketing strategy. John Jantsch defines marketing as getting people to know, like, and trust you. What works best for you depends entirely on the specifics of you and your business and your target customer. It might be advertising and advertising alone, but I doubt it. I think it’s probably a mix of website marketing, social media, yellow page marketing, and mainly referrals. You need to think first about your business focus, your key target customers, what your message is, and from there, one to best get those key target people to know, like, and trust you.

I did a column a couple of months ago outlining how to do a marketing plan. That might help too.

A Few Good Posts for a Friday

These are some posts I recommended reading this week.

  • My absolute favorite this week was Mark Suster’s 9 Women Can’t Make a Baby in a Month, on TechCrunch. Mark’s Both Sides of the Table is a great blog, by the way. And this is the thought at the heart of that post:

    Over funding often produces bad behavior in early-stage companies. You hire people too fast, you over build your products, you try to force market adoption and you do PR blitzes before your product is really ready for prime time. And having too much money certainly raises board expectations that you will do big things quickly.

  • Inside Facebook explains how to convert your Facebook profile to a business page. Thanks to John Jantsch for pointing this one out. I’m a perfect example, I think; I’ve used Facebook only to support my writing and speaking, so it’s much more of a business page than a personal profile anyhow.
  • TechCrunch features Jonah Paretti, entrepreneur, teacher, and true expert on contagious media (in fact I think he coined that term).
  • I really like Denise O’Berry’s post Google Cracks the Code on What Makes a Good Manager. Here’s the quick summary:
    • Be a good coach
    • Empower your team and don’t micromanage
    • Express interest in team members’ success and personal well being
    • Don’t be a sissy: be productive and results-oriented
    • Be a good communicator and listen to your team
    • Help your employees with career development
    • Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
    • Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team
  • And finally, since today is April 1, otherwise known as April Fool’s Day, this one by my daughter Megan Berry of Klout.com: Measure Your Text Messaging Klout.

What’s In a Name? Lots.

Blog names and titles: do you agree that some are better than others? Lots of blogs have succeeded with titles that are merely descriptive, not remarkable: Seth’s blog, Small Business Technology, Escape from Cubicle Nation, and many others.

Browsing around the other day, I discovered a Jay White who calls his blog “Dumb Little Man.” That’s a great example of a creative title that’s very easy to remember, recognize, and not misspell. It’s at dumblittleman.com of course. I liked him even before I started reading the blog.

I posted last January about Gardening Nude, a good blog with undeniable search engine power. And Jeff Atwood’s Coding Horror, obviously for programmers. Freakonomics, Women 2.0, Duct Tape Marketing, and Lifehack, to mention some more. These aren’t just good blogs, they’re remarkably good names for blogs.

What amazes me is how these blogs with great names beat the chicken and egg problem: a blog isn’t really taken seriously until it has a few hundred posts, but it can’t have the posts first and then figure out the name. With some rare exceptions (Freakonomics, for example, was moved to a different Web address when it moved to the New York Times) the name, including the domain name, has to come first. In some cases (as with Escape from Cubicle Nation, Duct Tape Marketing) it either starts with a book or becomes a book. In any case, my congratulations for doing it right.

This is a good reminder about a lot of names in business: business names, product names, for example: they’re tough to change, once you’ve started; but hard to get a really good one to start.

(Image: tkemot/shutterstock)

Webinar Next Wednesday: Just Start that Business

I like the title: "Just Start," as in start your business, shades of the now famous Nike "Just do it" campaign. Just start.

I’m pleased to be speaking along with John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing, Ken Yancey, CEO of SCORE, and Rich Sloan of StartupNation for this free webinar next wednesday. 

It’s a free webinar, but capacity is limited, so if you’re interested, please click here to register right now.