Monthly Archive: November 2010

Tactical Considerations

In partnership with GrowBiz Media, Zoomerang distributed a survey to businesses with less than 1,000 employees.

Here’s a key slide from their report that indicates how small to midsized businesses spent their 2010 marketing budgets.

I’m certainly not surprised to see Website at the head of the pack, closely followed by email marketing. I’m also encouraged to see a continued interest in direct mail and print advertising, and the solid growth of social media marketing.

[via OpenForum]

Doing Business In Portland? You’re Going To Need Friends

Historian and writer Chet Orloff, “one of Oregon’s favorite history teachers,” writing on Powell’s blog, makes some keen observations about the differences between Portland and Seattle. For our purposes here, I’ll limit the observations to how the Emerald City and Rose City differ commercially.

Power in Portland still resides in social and family ties, far more so, I believe, than in Seattle. Fred Paulsell, a former Seattlite and Portlander who has since, alas, passed away, once explained that business development in Portland is personal, while in Seattle it’s strictly business. As always, however, we know that the truth lies somewhere in between.

People move to Portland because they want to move in and belong. It takes some time for an outsider to get accepted here. People move to Seattle to change things. (Don’t they?) As former Seattle deputy Mayor Ed Devine once said, “if you’re not at least deputy mayor six months after arriving here, you might as well move away.” Perfect!

As an outsider who has migrated to Portland twice–first in 1994 and then again in 2008–I have direct experience with how “personal” business and career development can be in Portland. Making one’s way in this city’s professional circles is slow going and that can be terribly off putting to a person with ambition and an impressive record of accomplishment gained elsewhere.

In a city like Seattle or San Francisco people move in and people move out. There’s a healthy circulation. In Portland, when/if you do gain a foothold, chances are you won’t let go any time soon, which is one reason why there are so few job opportunities for new comers. The people who have the good jobs plan to keep them, forever. This has both positive and negative implications for the local economy. It’s great that Portland employers can count on retaining key staff, but a city (and its key industries) also needs new blood to add vitality.

Portland is home to lots of smart, talented people, but it’s also a place where who you know is more important that what you know. This is a glaring incongruity, in my book. And from a civic and business perspective, it’s pretty clear that Portland could benefit from being more open, more like Seattle.

Let’s turn to Orloff again:

Fear is an element in the Portland personality — fear of growing too big, too fast; fear of too much traffic, too many people, and too much growth. Seattle seems to rush in where angels fear to tread — with haste and hustle and lots of hurrahs.

As an entrepreneur with Portland as my base, I don’t want to dwell in fear and I don’t want my company to dwell in fear. I don’t want to shield myself or my company from outside interests. I want exactly the opposite, in fact.

Perhaps the way I do things runs counter to the Portland current. I’m okay with that. I didn’t come here to conform to Portland’s self-styled nonconformity. I came here to breathe cool Pacific air and feel the fire of volcanoes at my feet. I came here to have a good time, to make friends and build businesses. Are you with me?

A Community Of Businesses Under One Brand’s Flag

Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor is the kind of place one does not soon forget. I’ve only been there a few times, but I’d love to go back and I’m open to their mail order offers.

Given my fondness for the company, I’m fascinated by their community approach to building the Zingerman’s brand through common sense line extensions.

Each Zingerman’s shop–there’s a Roadhouse, a Bakehouse, a Creamery, a Coffee Company, etc.–is run by a managing partner who benefits from the experience and organizational savvy that the deal provides.

The consumer also benefits thanks to the managing partner’s pursuit of his or her own passion.

Bottom line, Zingerman’s core basics of “good finance, good service and good food” have taken root in semi-independent Zingerman’s-branded businesses, all located in Ann Arbor.

Sounds like smart business to me.

From A Single Point Of Contact, A Network That Delivers

Fast Company senior writer, Danielle Sacks, likes to write about advertising. She covered Alex Bogusky’s departure from his namesake agency last summer. Now, she’s back with a new piece on how disruptive digital is to the agency business and what we in the industry are doing about it.

Her piece got a lot of attention on Twitter and elsewhere yesterday, and there are many aspects to it that we could explore in this space or over a cold one. But I want to focus on just one item at this time. Sacks showcases Co:, the new company formed by former JWT Co-Presidents Rosemarie Ryan and Ty Montague. She presents their distributed model as a workable alternative, well adapted to our time (which some see as the first “Creative Revolution” since Bill Bernbach joined art directors and copywriters at the hip nearly 50 years ago).

Montague and Ryan decided to build a new kind of marketing business with no old-world waste and inefficiency. Co, which Montague describes as “a brand studio built for 21st-century CEOs and CMOs,” is a tiny group of consultants from the agency, technology, and business-strategy worlds that can “deploy the right team for the right action at the right time for the right outcome.”

Its ability to scale up and tackle a wide range of client problems will come from the eclectic network of 44 specialist companies they’ve lured to play nice with them, from digital agencies like Big Spaceship to crowdsourcing firms like Victors & Spoils to bigger companies like McCann Worldgroup and Horizon Media, the largest U.S. independent media-services company. “We want to be as small as possible and as big as necessary,” Montague says. “It’s not about scale; it’s about scalability. Even though we have only five employees, right now we have 1,500 people we can put against an opportunity.”

These words, or course, are music to Bonehook’s ears. For the model now getting mainstream press attention is the model we’re working to perfect. With one variation–we don’t have formal or pre-arranged relationships with craftsmen at the ready. I don’t see the need. When the day comes that we add more business than our core group of friends and associates can handle, I’ll merely dial up another group of friends and associates best suited to the tasks at hand. I understand the concept of having people in the bullpen, but the reality on the ground is this: when there’s business on the line and a healthy budget for top talent, the talent is always there, ready to go. It’s a law of the marcom universe.

Here’s An Idea: Hire A Promoter To Promote Your Wares

IdeaMensch is a Web site that features people with good ideas. It’s not an advertising site. The IdeaMensch team is more interested in inventors and entrepreneurs. In other words, the people that ad people sometimes find as clients.

So, how did I get chosen for an interview? You’ll have to ask Community Manager, Evan Davies, but it probably has to do with my ability to wear multiple media and marketing hats.

Here’s a slice of the interview to whet your appetite.

Name three trends that excite you?

I’m glad that there’s a new frugality in the nation today, because conservation and wise use of resources signals a return to common sense. I’m also excited to see corporate interests open up to the social Web. They’re doing it to make money, but that’s fine. The net result is still greater transparency and a focus on serving the customer’s needs. Third, I’m thrilled to see a DIY ethic take hold in the creative industries. Thanks to affordable cameras and other technology, a small group of independent professionals can do some major damage. In a good way.

What might you take away from this press, aside from what’s offered in the piece itself? You might conclude that I’m pretty good at self-promotion. That’s fair, but I’d prefer that you modify that thought to I’m pretty good at promotion, period.

P.T. Barnum said, “Without promotion something terrible happens…Nothing!” I agree, and so do most brand mangers and small business owners—that’s why they invest hard earned money to get the word out about their products or services.

Getting Past The Grizzlies In Your Mind

Blair Enns runs his business development consulting firm, Win Without Pitching, from a remote mountain village in British Columbia. Given that he has his feet on the ground, literally, he doesn’t make friends on Facebook, but he does welcome visitors to his neck of the woods for a beer.

Enns lists the directions to his home on his site. They’re standard directions until they’re not.

Park your car, grab your pack and head West along Grey Creek Pass Trail for 61km. (WARNING: the trail is poorly marked in some areas, crosses hazardous avalanche terrain, ascends to 7500 feet at the Lake of the Hanging Glaciers, and winds through some of the most populated grizzly bear habitat in North America. You will also need to ford five large creeks using hand powered cable cars.)

After five days of hiking you will arrive at the settlement of Argenta on the East shore of Kootenay Lake. Walk North down the road and stop the first car headed North. (Be patient. Everyone will stop but you may go an hour or two before seeing a vehicle.) Ask to be taken to Kaslo, 45km up and around the west side of the lake. Get dropped at the gas station and ask for directions to ‘Blair’s office by the park.’

If nobody’s there when you arrive just come in and make your self comfortable until I get back. Have a shower. There’s beer in the fridge. I’ll return shortly with lunch.

In other words, it’s hard to get to Enns’ place. I think this might also be true about the place he wants his clients to go. In both cases, it’s all about occupying higher ground.

More Ennsian Matter (from Broadly Relevant But Highly Differentiated and Zen and the Art of New Business Maintenance