Building Mom and Pop Websites: 5 Questions to Ask

My friend Jason, who is a web developer, asked the question

Is there any value in “brochure” type web sites?

Not much, I think. Here’s why:

My philosophy is that “Mom and Pops” are better served by following a permission marketing approach with websites.

1. How can I create content people will COME BACK to read?

time-sensitive, changes often, relevant, anticipated

2. If I want to do #1, how do I manage it?

content management system, allocate employee time

3. If I’m creating content, how can I best leverage it?

blog, email newsletter, printed newsletter, op-ed piece

4. Can I send email coupons that customers can abuse without it hurting me?

(because they will take advantage)

5. Can I create offers they will relay to their friends?

forward to a friend link, create value

… I’m it!

Sorry I didn’t have time to make this shorter.

After being tagged by both John Grant and Spike (who both have GREAT blogs – check ‘em out), I’m way late in getting this done. We’re going through some exciting changes at our fledgling agency. Since I merged my consulting practice with Sandy’s agency, I have been very reactive. Getting on top of stuff now (thank goodness) and will probably be blogging a bit more.

John and Spike tagged me to continue a blog meme discussing 5 things you don’t know about me. Here we go.

1. I grew up in a grocery store.

I wasn’t raised by a pack of wolves, I was raised by a 6-pack of Dr. Pepper. Actually, my grandparents owned the local grocery store in Kellyville, OK. The store was sort of a local mercantile. You could go to Staiger’s Grocery and buy food, hardware, automotive parts, plumbing supplies, and even feed for your cattle.

My father was the store manager and my mom was the produce manager. The store was about 3 blocks from school. Sometimes I would walk to school from the grocery store when my dad took me to work in the morning, and I usually walked to the grocery store after school – waiting for my mom to get off work at 5 PM. I spent many hours reading comic books in front of the magazine rack or playing tape-ball in the store warehouse.

2. I began my career as an illustrator.

Maybe it was all those years of reading comic books. I have drawn every since I can remember using a pencil or crayon. I remember being 4 years old, drawing a picture and asking my mom how to spell my name so I could sign my masterpiece.

I won some art show awards in high school. I was elated to take Best of Show my senior year. Mr. Chinoweth, the high school art instructor, was a huge encouragement to me. He’s one of the reasons I stuck with art.

While at Oklahoma State University, I majored in graphic design with an emphasis in illustration (they didn’t have an illustration degree). Carey Hissey was my illustration instructor and my favorite by far.

After graduation, I began illustrating for magazines and book publishers. After a few years, I found the isolation of freelance illustration (and the tiny paychecks) losing it’s luster and began to work for some agencies in Tulsa, OK.

3. I auditioned for The Apprentice.

The Apprentice held auditions in Oklahoma City a few years ago. I felt confident in my creativity and business sense, so I figured it was worth a shot. I felt like I did pretty well.

They do group “auditions” where they give a controversial topic and let everyone debate chaotically. I decided to let both sides be presented, point out both sides’ flaws, and give a third perspective as a solution. Each time, the room became quiet and I seemed to give the final answer.

I was voted project manager by our group in the end. But I never got a call for the next round. I’m guessing I was too diplomatic. “Diplomatic” isn’t good for TV.

4. My solo song has been released.

Actually, it was released 8 years ago. Our church recorded an album as a tribute to the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. My solo is a song called “We Are United.” It’s not bad, but don’t expect to see me on American Idol.

5. Mo’ drama, mo’ drama, mo’ drama.

I’ve been involved in drama since junior high school. Back then, my best friend and I were awarded the “Steven Spielberg” award for creativity in drama.

In high school, I won local and district competitions with a dramatic duet (a scene from The Rainmaker). We went on to state competition with it.

In college, I performed works of Shakespeare as Hamlet and Henry V. I also performed with a drama and music group that ministered to prisons and youth shelters.

I have led drama ministry at our church (Liberty Church in Broken Arrow, OK), but left that role recently. I still write scripts and direct occasionally for dramas at our church.

Of course this experience has helped me as I write TV and radio scripts for Hahn Promotions. A little drama background doesn’t hurt a creative director.

Keeping the meme alive, I will tag Steve, Cord, and Ernie.

The Baton

Staples

I just got this email from Staples today. My wife and I are trying to organize our home office, so I thought I would forward it to her. There’s no “forward to a friend” button. I could forward the email myself, but these HTML emails never look right when I send them.

There was link to a web page version of the email, so I clicked it. I figured I would send her a link to the web page. Here’s the URL:

http://e.staples-deals.com/content.asp?wci=version&wnd=0&status_id=4611513700_73148130

Long URLs like this always seem to break when you send them. No dice.

Viral marketing is a relay race. The most important part of the race is the hand off. Using batons that are hard to hand to the next person isn’t smart.

Neck-Worthy Ideas

In this land of opportunity, how do you decide which ideas are the best to pursue?  Most good ideas require hard work and/or significant money in order to execute with excellence.  This means someone has to stick their neck out (that’s you or me).

When your neck is on the line, risk assessment becomes a lot fuzzier.  Our judgment is clouded by fear and doubt.   A great idea suddenly becomes a huge risk.  Do you dare to bare your neck?

Seth has a great comparison list illustrating two concepts of hard work.  The last one is the kicker.

Having a great idea       |        Sticking your neck out

I pride myself in having great ideas.  But looking back, I’ve rarely stuck my neck out.  Too many fuzzy decisions.

What about you?  Are your ideas neck-worthy or are your decisions fuzzy?

P.S. Thanks for sticking your neck out Seth, and encouraging the rest of us to do the same.

Green Cows

Green Cow

“Our product is superior to the competition. Our advertising shows people how we’re better. Why aren’t people buying our product?”

There could be many reasons, but today I’m going to focus on one possibility: You’re not talking to the green cows. (before you question my sanity, read the rest)

A lot of marketing and advertising focuses on what you get if you buy. Believe it or not, most people don’t care about what they can get. They care about what they’re missing.

And there is a difference.

I could sell $19 DVD players year round, but Best Buy would sell more for $29 in one day (after Thanksgiving) because people don’t want to miss the sales event.

I could create the best drama on television, but people would rather watch American Idol so they don’t miss out on the water cooler talk at work.

The key isn’t just creating greener grass and educating the public on its benefits. The key is getting greener grass closer to the green cows. Those who want what is on the other side of the fence. They don’t have it, but it is attainable with the opening of a gate (purchase, investment of time or effort, entering a contest, etc.).

“How do I get my grass on the other side of the green cow’s fence?” Asking this question may answer the question at the top of this post.