Chicago, IL USA
Director of Content & Social Media for Straight North. Writer, blogger, content strategist, student of the game.
@TheRelationshipInsider Different things work for different people. My approach has always worked very well for me; I don't like to engage someone in a conversation if they are preoccupied or resistant from the outset. But this brings up another good phone practice -- try different techniques. Sooner or later you'll find a style that gets results.
1 month, 1 week ago on Phone Selling Skills 101
Thanks for the thumbs up on my post. I don't know what to do with myself now that Breaking Bad is over.
7 months ago on 12 Posts from Carol 2013 – Day 2
Sonja, These are excellent tips. Everybody is always blathering about the need to create "epic" content -- but posts like this that explain HOW to do it are few and far between. The issue we fight most often is #6, buzzwords/jargon. Often, writers resort to cliches when they haven't really thought through what it is they're trying to say. For instance, when a client writes, "... we create synergies ..." - we'll ask them what specifically that means. Sometimes we'll get a blank stare, but other times we'll find terrific selling points that nobody's spent the mental energy on to articulate.
8 months, 1 week ago on 12 Most Worthwhile Rules for Creating Incredible Content
@Zahrah Musa Hi Zahrah, That's a great question. When I started writing this post, I was assuming that a boss would have whatever technical ability was needed to do the job -- sort of a given. However, there are bosses who don't have enough technical skill for the position, and that's bad.
8 months, 3 weeks ago on 12 Most Appealing Boss Behaviors
@Lori Drienka Absolutely right, Lori. That should be on the list - 12.1.
@Milaspage Thanks. Yeah ... there are people who are really unhappy in their jobs and for whatever reason just won't leave voluntarily. I've seen it a lot, and it's really sad when people in their 40s, 50s, 60s are just stuck. Good companies won't just throw somebody out on the street - they will provide career counseling, placement services, etc., as part of the package.
@Julie M Holloway Julie, we see this all the time as well. Bounce rates for an amateurish site can be quite startling. People take one look, conclude that the company is as clumsy as its website, and click off to find a competitor.
8 months, 3 weeks ago on 5 Biggest Marketing Mistakes Made by Small Businesses
@Heather Clark13 Great points, Heather. It's so important to keep it simple.
@mphcoach Those are good points. Better to put off a conversation than to engage in one while distracted.
@Carmen Rane Hudson Good point, Carmen. Perhaps it is easier for a larger company, in terms of having a financial safety net. However, I still like specialization for any size firm, and for a small firm, I think it's a much better strategy in the sense that you can become a big fish in a little pond, rather than a microscopic organism in a big pond.
1 year, 1 month ago on All Things to All People Marketing
@PointA_PointB @SteveWoodruff Thanks, Catherine. So many firms claim their industry is commoditized ... if that's the overriding mentality in the industry, what an opportunity that presents to an imaginative and bold marketer!
1 year, 2 months ago on All Things to All People Marketing
@SteveWoodruff Glad to hear you agree, Steve. "Afraid to differentiate" is an intriguing way to look at this problem. Very true!
@PointA_PointB Hi Catherine, I could be wrong, but my sense is that smaller businesses have actually regressed on the SM training front since the mid-00s. When SM was new, untested and untried, business owners were very cautious and wanted to be coached on the right and wrong ways to use it. Now, owners have formed their own opinions about what SM is (and these opinions are often caricatures of the reality), and are apt to dive right in.
1 year, 2 months ago on Do You Overshare Online?
Great post, Shanna. These problems can be extremely damaging to a firm, without doubt. Too many firms see social media as some sort of toy, when in fact it is a very powerful tool that must be respected. You could argue that companies should train employees in social media engagement just as rigorously as they would train them in safety.
These are all excellent points, Rebekah. Automated messages are my SM pet peeve -- they are completely contradictory to the spirit of social media communication, in addition to being incredibly annoying. One of my problems is spreading myself too thin. Recently I deleted my Facebook account and that has helped a great deal.
1 year, 3 months ago on 12 Most Simple Social Media Mistakes We All Make
@Yvonne Root Good one. We don't have that problem in Chicago because none of our expressways is more than 2 two lanes wide. :)
1 year, 4 months ago on 12 Most Infuriating Driving Habits
@heidithorne Good ones, Heidi. I enjoyed your little RAMPage.
@SteelToad Good one! We have tons of them in our area. The older I get, the more fearful I become of turning into one ...
@profkrg Honest readers always welcome!
@SteelToad Nothing like a surprise on the highway ...
@PaulBiedermann Paul, sorry for stealing your thunder, but i bet you could come up with 12 more ... at least. A couple of bad left turn people got in front of me just the other day and forced me to go through three light cycles that should have been one. GRR.
@stevehaase Please don't take up the tuba!
@sharongreenthal Frightening. Thank you for sharing this story. We can't hammer home the danger of distracted driving. Some of the material in my post is lighthearted, but this is an issue that has no humorous side at all.
@jenjarratt Worthy additions. Narrow lane driving lessons should be mandatory.
@MZazeela For sure. That's an accident waiting to happen.
@C_Pappas I wonder if your trumpet player was the same guy I saw ...
Hi Catherine, I really like this post. The point about giving up control really hits home with me. It is so hard to let go -- especially if you run a small business. But your ebb and flow analogy is so perfect: it's so much easier to ride the wave of a trend you don't control. You can move faster, straighter, and with less effort!
1 year, 5 months ago on What Tango Dancing Taught Me About Small Business
@Judi Holler Hi Judi, Thanks for the feedback. I know these traps are easy to fall into because I've fallen into them myself.
1 year, 5 months ago on Are You Good Busy or Bad Busy?
@BizBuzz Marketing I can relate to that frustration. People are very quick to take advantage of generous entrepreneurs.
1 year, 9 months ago on Why Are You Giving Away Your Expertise?
@Robin Dickinson @robindickinson Great distinction, Robin. True zigging takes a lot of creativity as well as deep thinking -- both of which are certainly reflected in your cartoons.
1 year, 10 months ago on Business Strategy: Zig When They Zag
@magriebler @KenMueller You are welcome! You both have summed up my thoughts more eloquently that I was able to in this post.
1 year, 11 months ago on SEO: Why a Focus on Rankings Is So 00’s
@FPMarcil I wasn't trying to imply that rankings are worthless, only that obsessing about them is worthless, but in any case I agree that any data has value. With regard to (not provided) -- as (not provided) data continues to grow, it will become harder to interpret keyword data, wouldn't you think?
Tremendous post. I hope people read it, reread it, and reread it again. I see so much bad content strategy because companies just can't pass up any opportunity to sell everything to everybody. But who's going to sift though 100 bullet points to find the one benefit they're interested in?
1 year, 11 months ago on There Is No Audience For 50 Shades of Grey Marketing
Marc, This is an excellent list, though I imagine you had trouble stopping at just 12. Your comment about social ROI is priceless ... though the whole "priceless" thing is another overworked phrase. Speaking of which, "content curation" drives me up the wall when it means nothing more than retweeting a bunch of half-baked blog posts.
1 year, 11 months ago on 12 Most Offensive Phrases You Could Use in Your Business
@rosemaryoneill Interesting ... I'm a big fan of WordPress, so I'd love it if you could elaborate on how mission and style might suggest a different platform. Maybe I'm taking WordPress for granted ...
2 years ago on 12 Most Horrible Pieces of Blogging Advice
@DixieLil Good point! Informal is not the same as ungrammatical, and some "experts" seem to think they are identical concepts. Grammatical errors can undermine your credibility. But you can also go too far in the other direction and edit for hours. For a blog, this isn't always cost effective. I guess it's a matter of finding the happy medium.
@peggyduncan Thank you, Peggy. It's nice to get pleasant surprises like that on your blog, isn't it? Keep up the great work!
@lisarobbinyoung Thank you for sharing your insights. I really like what you said about letting people figure out that you're smart. That suggests an emphasis on action, which seems like very good business to me.
2 years ago on Business Strategy: Geniuses Are Idiots
@HeatherOwen There are very few behavioral universals, but if this article and conversation helps a few entrepreneurs who have some of these tendencies, I'm happy. Thanks for reading and commenting!
@blocki_ It is a quote from the movie "Kingpin," which is noted in the article directly under the quote.
@dbvickery Hi Brian, Glad to hear you've found a winning formula. A lot of bloggers completely miss the boat on image optimization, which is great for the ones who do it right!
@douglaserice Hi Doug, Glad you like the article. I think the Panda and Penguin updates underscore the importance of the point you are making. Google wants to reward truly valuable content and devalue content written just for the sake of optimization. People are just starting to understand this, and it means companies will have to bite the bullet and hire in-house writers.
@Scott Danielson Nothing could be smarter than basing a publishing schedule on known reader preferences -- it would be interesting to know how you determined this. As far as the one post a day thing, that has roots in the SEO idea that Google will index your site more frequently if you add content regularly and often. While this may be true, if in doing it you irritate your readers or overtax your resources ... you're way off the mark.
@MegECox Hi Meg, I'm going to step in for Shanna, who I think is without computer right now. It's a great question. The first thing I try to do is determine whether the comment is credible. There's a difference between somebody raising a legitimate issue and somebody just mouthing off or trying to look smart. If it's a legitimate gripe, the next step is to figure out whether to respond publicly or privately. These are judgment calls. If somebody pokes unfair holes in your service offering, you might want to respond publicly to set the record straight. If someone is mad because they feel you dropped the ball on a particular transaction, you might want to handle it behind the scenes. Generally, I don't think it's a good idea to ignore comments based on the relative influence of the commenter. If it's a legit comment, it should be respected. But there are different schools of thought on this -- we could talk about it all day! Thanks for reading and commenting!
2 years ago on Social Media Monitoring 101
@annedreshfield Hi Anne, My thoughts exactly! I couldn't tell you the publishing schedules of my favorite blogs if my life depended on it. Doesn't matter.
Hi Catherine, Great advice! It really pays to cover payment issues up front, before you get sucked into a bad situation. By asking a few questions, you can sometimes get a pretty good feel for the client's attitude about paying bills. Trying to collect late payments is time consuming, frustrating, and highly distracting. When I was freelancing, I would seldom enter into an engagement when there were red flags.
2 years ago on I’m Your Consultant, Not Your Lender
We saw Rodney Dangerfield in Vegas many years ago and I never laughed so hard in my life. About 3/4 of his act was responding to hecklers, and he crushed every one of them. Long before that, I saw Jack Benny perform, and he was hilarious as well. But what I wish I could have seen was Woody Allen live in the Borscht Belt -- that must have been incredible.
2 years ago on 12 Most Hilarious Borscht Belt Comedians
@DixieLil Actually I'm a huge fan -- don't know if you saw my earlier post on the 12 best episodes. Anyway, there's certainly humor in these episodes, but not as much as in better episodes. Seinfeld was a pretty consistent series, but every show has episodes that are better than others.
2 years, 1 month ago on 12 Most Awful Seinfeld Episodes
I could see how these could make your list -- certainly not top of the heap. The way George negotiates the deal with NBC is really funny to me, though, so I couldn't bear to put these episodes on my list.
Yes, the Limo is a good (bad?) choice ... maybe a shade worse than The Susie. I never noticed the Poppie's daughter connection: thanks for pointing that out!
@susansilver True. In fact, a bad Seinfeld is better than a good episode of many other sitcoms.
Hi Carol, Great point, and one we can't be reminded of often enough in this instant gratification, sound bite culture. Business is complicated. Sometimes you can't see the big picture without going over it one pixel at a time.
2 years, 1 month ago on Why We Need Context
@Kim Phillips Great list ... maybe there's a 12 Most post in there for you ... My dad took me to see Jack Benny once, years ago. I thought, this was going to be lame, but I never laughed so hard.
2 years, 1 month ago on 12 Most Hilarious Seinfeld Episodes
@Kim Phillips So ... what did Belzer say?
@healingmuse Seinfeld never gets old!
@jonbarrick That's true, Jon. You don't see people walking around in puffy shirts. Yet.
@DixieLil Everybody loves the Soup Nazi I guess, but I left it off my list because the whole Shmoopy thing annoys me every 20th viewing or so ... :)
@heidithorne Heidi! Thanks for stopping by, my friend. Those are three hysterical episodes that could have made the list. Kramer eating the theatre hot dog is a classic. MOOPS!
@RachelintheOC @RockTique The Jimmy leg is OK, but if your guy starts wearing a bro, it could be time to worry.
@Peg Fitzpatrick Thank you, Peg. It was a ton of fun writing this post. Those are great scenes ... a list of the 12 best Seinfeld scenes might look much different than this listing, wouldn't you say?
@Kim Phillips A lot of people think Jerry is whiny. Another complaint I hear a lot is the characters are distasteful. Just out of curiosity, which Jewish comedians do you like?
@JBTWEETNOTHINGS EXCELLENT choices! The werewolf thing in the Reality episode was kind of contrived in my opinion - otherwise that one is a clear winner. Junior Mint also very hard for me to leave out. 12 just isn't enough for Seinfeld.
@RockTique That was just on last night here in Chicago: "The Jimmy." Brad loves The Jimmy.
@westfallonline That's a really good training tip! If you prepare for the worst your confidence can only go up.
2 years, 2 months ago on 12 Most Foolproof Ways to Keep People Awake During Your Powerpoint
@Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2 Thanks for the great tips. I've read Erika and also enjoy her take on things. Landrum's Profiles book sounds like an interesting read also!
2 years, 2 months ago on Business Strategy: Zig When They Zag
@coolinsights Apple is an excellent example indeed! The combination of zigs you discuss in your post add up to making Apple a company that is almost impossible to imitate or outflank. At least for now ... I'm still a little nervous about its long-term prospects in the post-Jobs era.
Phenomenal list, Kirsten! I'm fond of "vexed" because it has an element of humor that sometimes helps defuse tense situations. Not to change the subject, but your bio has me wondering ... should there be a comma after "husband?" :)
2 years, 2 months ago on 12 Most Remarkable Words You Should Include in Your Daily Vocabulary
@ElaineJoli Hi Elaine, Good luck with indie.com - sounds like a great concept. Feel free to keep in touch.
2 years, 2 months ago on 7 Ways Marketers Can Learn from Sales Reps
@ElaineJoli Wow, Elaine. Thanks for the encouragement. You are so right about the sales mentality. When I started out in our family business years ago, my dad insisted that I spend at least a year in sales. At the time, I thought this would be a waste of time, but I'm sure my dad was thinking along the same lines you are. Anyway, I wound up being in sales for the next fifteen years! Nothing helped me more as a marketer. Lets both keep shouting!
@ElaineJoli That is an excellent point, Elaine. I wonder if social media, especially when it encourages user reviews and other user-provided content, could be part of the answer to this problem. It seems to work pretty well for big consumer brands on Facebook, but I'm not sure about how it works for entrepreneurial businesses. What do you think?
@MattLBrennan Thanks, Matt. You're right: it's easy to get in a rut ... and the staff as well as customers can probably sense it. Shaking things up every now and then is probably one of the healthiest things you can do for morale as well as marketing.
2 years, 2 months ago on Internet Marketing Tips for Your Boring Business
Hi Nate, Evaluating a program and evaluating a strategy aren't the same thing, and certainly aren't in conflict.
2 years, 3 months ago on 5 Things Every SMB Should Know about Social Media
Great post, Cheryl. The line, "engagement is not a campaign" makes a lot of sense to me. Social media needs to be woven into the fabric of not only a firm's marketing activities, but it's branding and human resources as well. I think B2Bs get psyched out about social media when they see big consumer brands attracted tens of thousands of followers. But a B2B doesn't need huge numbers to be successful; it just needs to connect with the right people. That's not easy to accomplish, but it works!
2 years, 3 months ago on Come Join the Party: Industry Leaders Define the Shifting Roles of Branding
Funny. Partly because it's funny and partly because it's so true.
2 years, 3 months ago on 3 Entrepreneurs You Never Want to Meet
People who mix up loose and lose are a bunch of loosers.
2 years, 3 months ago on 12 Most Unforgivable Writing Mistakes
Hi Jacqui, Nice post ... interesting, Shakirah, how we all wound up here. I really like the point about clearly explaining your purpose up front. It's frustrating to go 300 words into a long post and still not know why you're reading it. This is an area where bloggers can learn a lot by reading newspapers. Reporters definitely know how to grab your attention and perfectly set up a story in the first few sentences.
2 years, 4 months ago on How To Get People To Read A 1000-Word Blog Post
Well done, Andy -- strong finish! I like your approach because sometimes this whole SEO business gets too serious for its own good. A bit of whimsy is healthy. It keeps everything in perspective.
2 years, 4 months ago on Web Marketing Poetry
@Brooke and Sons Tax Glad you find the post helpful. This is always a good issue to ponder.
2 years, 4 months ago on Love the Customers You Hate
There's no doubt there are times when clinging to a customer or type of customer can hold you back. My main concern here is firing a customer that does have business value. Sometimes we don't look hard enough to find it. it's a topic well worth exploring from every angle, so thank you for taking the time to share your perspective.
My remarks were made with business issues in mind. when customers cross personal boundaries I would be far less tolerant. There really isn't any upside there.
@malikabourne2 It's good that you are so conscientious. Since reading and reflecting on the comments on this post, I've also gotten more careful about pinning to the original source. Before, it never really crossed my mind. However, I think some people use Pinterest as a bookmarking site - so what if a reproduced image is part of a blog post you want to bookmark? There seems to be a built-in conflict.
2 years, 5 months ago on Why Does Pinterest Let You Change URLs for the Image Source?
Wow, this really IS perplexing. I've long had the feeling that when social media is the topic amongst execs, logic and normal business practice go out the window. What exec in his/her right mind would promote a toll-free customer help line, and then just have operators answer the phone whenever they felt like it? I think a lot of companies use social media because they think everybody else is, not because they have a strategy for how to use it.
2 years, 5 months ago on In The Social Media And Digital World, Brands Can't Take A Sick Day
@wonderoftech Is it common practice for sites to be transparent about affiliate links? I'm not sure why anybody would care.
@lori_lamb That's a really good point and a whole other problem. It's unlikely that Pinterest can condition pinners to be diligent enough to track the image back to the original source. I don't see any solution to this problem - can you think of one?
@susansilver Even if there was a way to police it, I can't imagine Pinterest having a staff big enough to handle it.
@TOGOMedia Hi Mark, Thank you for shedding some light on this. The examples you have sound perfectly acceptable and ones that enhance the Pinterest experience. The potential for abuse worries me a lot though, since marketers have discovered Pinterest in the last few months. Do you think this issue is on Pinterest's radar, and is there a fix?
@ajperisho Well said!
2 years, 5 months ago on How a Blog Can Help Your Sales Force
Amberr, it's funny you say that. I was talking to a published author friend last week who said that his publisher, a major one, is now factoring a potential author's social media profile into the decision of whether to publish. Traditional publishers are catching on ... finally.
Jon, It's true that a bad blog is worse than no blog, but amazingly a lot of companies are clueless about why it's worth doing a blog right. Hence posts like this one.
Very thought provoking post and conversation, which I found via @Faryna . I don't so much care if a blogger is being a jerk or a truth-teller. For that matter, I don't like to dwell on that distinction a whole lot in regard to my own blogging. For me, the issue is the quality of the content someone is linking to. If it's useful and interesting, I couldn't care less about the motives. That's what's so disappointing to me about many of these "Best of" collections. If you build up such big expectation, the content better be pretty doggone good. If it isn't, it's going to be a warm day in January before I read that blog again. (Today it's going to hit 60 degrees in Chicago, so what am I saying here?) But if a blogger is discriminating and publishes quality Best of posts twice a day for pure link bait, good for him/her.
Another way I look at it is publishing versus writing. I suspect that many of us bloggers have mixed motives for publishing anything. Everybody wants to be read. Everybody wants to attract the attention of both influential bloggers and bloggers they admire and relate to regardless of influence. Almost everybody has some kind of professional purpose behind the decision to publish. What I guess I'm a little less forgiving about is people who mix motives in their writing: taking a position they don't really believe in just to stir the pot or grab attention; using inflammatory language to compensate for not having a point. That type of thing destroys my ability to trust the content.
2 years, 5 months ago on Jerks, Truth-Tellers, Link Bait, and Compliments
Hi Mark, Great post: Google is changing rapidly and Google+ is not widely understood by the business community at large, making posts like this one very important indeed! No matter what you think of Google, there's no doubt it will continue to exert a lot of power in search marketing. Any business that wants to stay visible on Google searches needs to be involved with Google+.
2 years, 5 months ago on Join the Google+ Revolution Now
Great points. I like to read and write list posts - maybe my brain is just wired that way. I assume that if a blogger has gone to the trouble of building a list, he/she has organized the information to be easily digested. This is not always the case in practice, though.
Intrigued to learn what a reverse list post is.
2 years, 6 months ago on Are Readers Really Reading Your Posts?
Hi Margie, This is an important topic, and your frankness is refreshing. I'm an American and have mixed feelings on this issue. On on hand, we're geographically isolated and somewhat uniform culturally, whereas in Europe, for instance, you experience cultural and linguistic changes almost as rapidly as you can cross a street. On the other hand, we could spend less time playing FarmVille and more time paying attention to what's going on elsewhere in the world. For me, I've found social media to a plus. It's allowed me to meet people from all over the world and learn more than I ever thought I would. Yes, I have a long way to go and my ability to converse in other languages is inferior to yours, but progress is progress and I feel like I'm making some.
2 years, 6 months ago on Why Social Media Makes Me Feel Stupid
2 years, 8 months ago on Social Proof or Social Spoof?
Facebook and Twitter are different enough that they can peacefully coexist. When G+ came out, it seemed like Facebook Lite. The problem was not so much another new thing, but another same old thing: that's when I heard everybody (including myself) talk abut social media overload. But I think you are right. There are people who love to hang out on Twitter, people who love to hang out on FB, and people who love to hang out on G+. These platforms are more likely to kill themselves than be killed by a competitor.
2 years, 9 months ago on Let's Talk About What Google Plus Teaches Us About Integrated Marketing
Hi Jay, I think social media in general is having an impact on blog commenting. Four or five years ago, blogs were pretty much the only social platform, but that's certainly changed. Blog conversations are still valuable. Because there are no word limits, post comments can generate in-depth conversation you can't match on Twitter or Facebook. However, most of us are in a hurry and Twitter and Facebook offer immediate social gratification. Plus, on these platforms you feel like everybody is already "there", whereas with a blog, it feels like it's just you and the blogger. I think on some level that discourages commenting as well. Good luck with your new commenting app - I'd be surprised if any technological solution will make a difference, though. No matter how fast conversation enhancers evolve for blogs, they'll evolve faster for Facebook, and maybe Twitter as well.
3 years, 2 months ago on The Future of Blog Comments