Chicago, IL USA
Director of Content & Social Media for Straight North. Writer, blogger, content strategist, student of the game.
@Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2 Hi Lewis, Webinars can be very effective - thank you for bringing it up. We see lots of companies get results in financial services and software, two areas where there's lots of complexity and people have lots of questions.
1 month, 3 weeks ago on What’s the Difference Between Content Marketing and Blogging?
@robertpavlik Great point, Robert. I can't argue with that at all.
6 months, 2 weeks ago on 10 Attributes of an Exceptional Entrepreneur
@Ali_Davies Well said, Ali! I came across a great quote today with a similar sentiment:
"Progress is man's ability to complicate simplicity." - Thor Heyerdahl
Here's to keeping it simple!
8 months, 1 week ago on 5 Things Entrepreneurs Are Wasting Time On
@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.
10 months, 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.
1 year, 4 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.
1 year, 5 months 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.
1 year, 5 months 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.
1 year, 5 months 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, 10 months 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, 11 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, 11 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.
2 years 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. :)
2 years, 1 month 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!
2 years, 2 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.
2 years, 2 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.
2 years, 6 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.
2 years, 7 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.
2 years, 8 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?
2 years, 8 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.
2 years, 8 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, 9 months 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, 9 months 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, 9 months 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, 9 months 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, 10 months ago on 12 Most Hilarious Borscht Belt Comedians