Monday, August 30, 2004

A Magazine For Us...At Last!

Today is the launch of CMO Magazine, Chief Marketing Officer, offered by the same folks who put out an amazing product for Chief Information Officers, CIO and others. I highly recommend you check this out @!

Special thanks to Nathan Towne for turning me on to this. Check out Nathan's website @

More kudos for Nathan for sending me another book I highly recommend: The Essential CIO: Leadership Strategies for Personal and Professional Success. This book is written by CIOs but it's applicable to all that we do as professionals across the spectrum. Well written, concise essays that make you think. Again CXO strikes a chord!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

On The Road Again

I have been immerse in a major project, which I am taking on the road today. I'll be blogging again on Friday. Have a great week...Alain

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Vote Early & Vote Often

The American Association of Advertising Agencies needs you to vote...No, not in the presidential election, but for your favorite product mascot such as the Pillsbury Doughboy or the AFLAC duck, et al. This is to immortalize the five vote getters out of a list of 24 during their September convention. You can vote @ Do you think The Ty-D-Bol Man has a chance?

The Cost of Commuting

As a former commuter---140 miles roundtrip per day---I can tell you that the price of being a road warrior is not simply the gas, it's the wear and tear on your body and your time. In our local rag sheet, where Mrs. works, the business section had an article that focused on this. Based on $2 a gallon for gas, going 160 miles roundtrip to San Diego from Temecula, the fair city contiguous to my part of Paradise, with a car that gets 20 miles to the gallon it cost $1542 per month or $18,504 per year. That's also taking in depreciation, insurance, etc.

The gist of the story is not only the cost but that economic development folks in our part of Riverside County are using that as a marketing tool to say to outside businesses that there is a ready pool of people who would like nothing more to give up the commute, take $18,542 less and be far happier. And the kicker is that the educational and professional level of the commuters is one of the highest in area. We've got the goods here so come on ahead.

It's good marketing that allows you to use what you know about your environment to create a positioning strategy to get the results you want. Stay tuned. If you want to go to the commuter cost calculator go to

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Timely Phone Call

A good friend, and aficionado, sent me this article on Cingular Wireless' new phone service "Escape-A-Date". While the strategy is not new to escape unwanted situations, I used to have my staff call me on my pager when I was in my usual boring meetings so I could either escape or stay depending on the value of the meeting. Anyway, Cingular has figured out they can now charge for this. Truly amazing what they'll do to get even more of your money! Thanks Jim for the heads-up!

Posted: 04-Aug-2004 [Source: Cingular]
Little Rock, AR -- Ever have a blind date where all your hopes and dreams for the perfect match came crashing down at your feet? We've all been there at one time or another. The dilemma for most "dates gone bad" is you have no choice but to endure the situation until you can find an opportunity to call it a night.

  • Cingular Wireless has taken its Voice Connect service where no other wireless carrier has dared to tread with "Escape-a-Date," one of several new options that are part of the company's Voice Connect line of information services.

  • "Escape-A-Date" is the perfect service to use when you are afraid that your blind date may not be just right for you. This new service allows you to schedule a "rescue" phone call at a pre-set time. That way, you'll be called at the time you specify. The service tells you exactly what to say to set the tone for a speedy escape. There are eight randomly generated humorous scripts.

  • Here's an example:
    Hey, this is your escape-a-date call. If you're looking for an excuse, got it. Just repeat after me, and you'll be on your way!"Not again! Why does that always happen to you? ... Alright, I'll be right there." Now tell 'em that your roommate got locked out, and you have to go let them in. Good luck!With "Escape-A-Date," you'll never be at a loss if you need a timely rescue.

  • Other features now available though Voice Connect include:
    Wake-up call. Afraid your alarm clock might not do the trick, or your hotel wake-up call won't come through? Wake-up call is there when you need it, complete with some gentle "nagging" to ensure you don't roll over and go back to sleep.
    Joke of the day. A different joke every day.
    Trivia. Call in daily to test yourself with a new trivia question. When you call back the next day, you'll hear the answer to the prior day's question and get a new trivia question.

  • These new information features are included in the $4.99 monthly feature charge for Voice Connect. Voice Connect consists of Voice Dialing and a suite of information services such as movies, stocks, weather, lottery, TV dramas, horoscopes, sports and news. To access this service, subscribers dial *8 (*08 on some GSM phones). Applicable airtime charges apply to all calls made using Voice Connect.

Monday, August 16, 2004

The Biggest Barrier

It's late and I'm working on a presentation for a client on a topic I'm just learning about and it made me think about the biggest barrier to success: it's all in your mind. I know Dr. Norman Vincent Peale probably said it first, but it's true. I see CEOs who believe every day in what they do, but their people either don't or don't hard enough. As George Steinbrenner says, "If you don't have a hernia, you're not working hard enough."

When you think about barriers, look at the ones you set for yourself in various and subtle ways, that is until you think about it. Once I decided that I was not going back to the corporate world and dealt with it, it's been a far easier process albeit still difficult and full of hard work.

I remember hearing on NPR during the seige of Sarajevo a saying people had there about leaving the city and in a very real sense everything they believed in: "The highest mountain is your own doorstep." How so very true. Watching the Olympics tonight also brought that home. You can literally see the ones that want to win strong enough to put their entire being into the effort. At that point nothing else matters and training and vision and discipline takes over.

The question for you is to decide how many barriers have you placed on your road, whether it's marketing or your own life. The only complicity that alters your fate is essentially yours. That's why it's so important to have a plan, to focus, to be disciplined and enheartened about your achievements...that way the only barriers you'll face will be the new standards you set. As my friend, Jim, says on his blog: That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Great Source

Guy Kawasaki has written a seminal manifesto about starting a start-up called, appropriately enough, The Art of The Start. I recommend you read it because it strikes at something that is often missing from business: heart. I'm not talking New Age crap, but meaningful purpose. God knows, we spend enough time at work to not believe that what we're doing is making some difference in the world. Take it from this old Hippie and Peace Corps volunteer, meaning is often what is lacking in the businesses I see. Read this, please. And then think on how you can rejuvenate your own business as if it was a start-up. Nice thought.

Marketing Really Does Work!

Follow-up to the story of Todd Krampitz who advertised for a liver....he got it over the weekend. I wish him a fast and life enriching recovery. See marketing does work if the story is compelling enough. But as a healthcare marketer it's sad that someone has to to go those extremes to get the word out that there aren't enough donor organs to help save lives. Have you filled out your donor card and told your family?

How It Feels

Mrs. just sent me this picture. I know that's how it feels, but when you think how lucky we've been over the decades to have such cheap gas. Anyway, on the same note, the latest issue of Fortune has a great article on how we can reduce our dependence on oil. It's a duh article, but obviously one that needs a lot of repeating, like more fuel efficient cars. And you wonder why the car manufacturers are giving out incentives to clear out their gas's smart and tells you something about the marketplace. Anyway, enjoy:

Friday, August 13, 2004

Rip Offs

This stat from the Federal Trade Commission as reported in this weeks BusinessWeek should be of concern to all marketers: The approximate number of adults who have been victims of consumer fraud in the past year is 25 million, or roughly 11% of the adult population. That makes our job as marketer all that much harder. Wow!

It's About The "O" has a unique positioning strategy: make buying overstocked and remaindered items like sex. Thus the "O" campaign aimed at women with a tongue-in-cheek message that when you come to the "O", well you know what I'm saying. Clever ad.

Wal-Mart Strikes Again

I know everyone is beating on Wal-Mart, but once again the low-price leader is toppling another giant, Toys R'Us. TRU announced that it was selling its 1200 stores and getting out of the toy business. So it goes.

Wal-Mart is certainly an example of PR in action after being trounced here in our Golden State in trying to set a big box store in an economically deprived part of LA. It's interesting to see the ads with employee testimonials on how they've had opportunities to grow because of Wal-Mart's commitment to their employees, or the one with the parent whose child needed the story goes. Is that enough to convince people on Main Street that Wal-Mart is good for the community? No, but it points out that when you're a leader and you forget to manage your image, you've got to do hind sight tactics, a more expensive and difficult hill to climb. The message is to be alert to image trends and perceptions and nip them in the bud through sound marketing and PR planning.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Interesting article in today's LA Times about DNA injections to the brain given to apparently careless and procrastinating monkeys that turned them from slackers to doers. The implications are huge for such diseases as Parkinson's, but my take is that we are learning more and more how the brain functions and in the future it looks like we will be able to alter brain chemistry to make people do what we will them to do. Any marketing possibilities? You bet. Scary ones especially since scientists are working with MRIs to see how the brain functions when it makes a buy decision, what clues are there, etc. for marketers to exploit. It's a brave new world indeed.

Man Launches Multimedia Search For Liver

A perfect example of how marketing is the foundation for anyone wanting to influence any outcome, comes a story from Houston about Todd Krampitz's message to the world that he has liver cancer and needs a new liver. The 32 year-old has put up billboards, a website and conducted media interviews to get the word out. Read about it @ I wish him the best of luck. I was part of a tissue bank harvesting team in another life and know how difficult it is to get enough organ donors.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004


Firewalls are great to keep the data thieves and other scum away from your important stuff, but it's not wise when they're ingrained in the communications process of a company. I don't know why I am always amazed at the number of clients who tell me they don't have access to company infomation that could be useful in making the entire enterprise work. How can that be? Any company that has firewalls between people and market data and company strategies is only fooling itself.

A case in point is a CEO I'm working with not being in the loop on negotiations that have been going on for months, in one case for years...and then, blam, it's implementation time, or there's a need for information that only the ones on the ground in the marketplace can give you. But without prior knowledge of potential issues it's hard to come up to speed fast in a rapidly changing business environment.

So the lesson for today is, how many firewalls have been encoded in your company's culture? What are you going to do about it?

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

More On Leadership

Several years ago I read an article by Peter Drucker: The First Action Required of Leadership. He advocates that leaders ask five basic questions:

  1. What is our mission?
  2. Who is our customer?
  3. What does the customer value?
  4. What are our results?
  5. What is our plan?

Enough said. TTFN

Monday, August 09, 2004


The September issue of Fast Company is focusing on's one of the better issues they've done in a very long time. I especially found John McCain's essay profound, not because he's a Vietnam vet and a former POW, but because he's a man who has shown again and again that courage takes many forms. He's not afraid to speak his mind or to focus on an issue until it can't be beaten any more, although I don't necessarily agree with his politics. He's one of my personal heroes and I want to share with you the last paragraph of this essay. BTW, there are other great essays in this issue and it's a must read. John McCain's eloquence is inspiring:

"We're all afraid of something. The one fear we must all guard
against is the fear of ourselves. Don't let the sensation of fear convince
you that you're too weak to have courage. Fear is the opportunity for
courage, not proof of cowardice. No one is born a coward. We were
meant to love. And we were meant to have the courage for it."

McCain's essay was taken from his new book, Why Courage Matters. I'm ordering it now.

It's Always About Women

Interesting trivia in the August 16th BusinessWeek about women as consumers and decision makers. A study by the Federal Reserve states that the fairer sex controls 51% of America's personal wealth. Well, duh! Further studies show that women decide 92% of vacation plans, 62% of car purchases and 52% of home-improvement projects. That's why Home Depot is spending $1 billion this year to add softer lighting and brighter signs in over 300 of their stores in direct competition to Lowe's, which has always had more of a woman's touch to its stores and merchandise. Also Best Buys has sliced and diced its data to find that the skirts buy 55% of electronic items and will add personal shopping assistants in its store.

As a healthcare marketer I've always known that women make 80+% of all healthcare decisions, which is why my marketing has always been aimed at that market. In marketing you go where the bucks are and with whomever makes the buy decision. This is a good example of knowing your market and adjusting accordingly.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The Devil May Not Only Be In The Details

What is marketing but simply understanding and solving a problem---either a need or a want--- establishing realistic expectations and then meeting them. The one fly in the ointment for most marketers is that they often have no control on the delivery of the promise. That's why the devil may not only be in the details, but in the people. Nearly every new client I get tells me the same woe: "We have the right product, we just have trouble executing." Then they go on to tell me about their need for people with the right stuff such as accountability, integrity, srtong work ethic, loyalty, people-oriented, etc. You know what I'm talking about!

A case in point is with the past two clients I've been working with. Both leaders are bright, focused and experienced, but they lack the bench to field the team. Both of them have inherited situations that requires great patience, diplomacy, and a willingness to risk upsetting the status quo in order to get to the desired outcomes. Both are plagued by the lack of qualified candidates for their organization due to a shortage in a seller's market. And both are fighting strong politics and hidden agendas by some of the main suppliers of referrals as well as internally. So it goes back to that most critical of details, the right people. Sometimes it means firing someone who is just not a fit or does not have the right skills and initiative necessary in a turnaround situation. But as one of my CEO's says, "It's not really a turnaround, it's a rekindling of the fire." Well spoken.

According to Gallup research, only 28% of U.S. employees are engaged or are actively working at the top of their game....that means the other 72% have a significant negative impact on the bottom line. Why should businesses tolerate this? What does this say about more than the bottom line? It tells me that when you think of how many hours we devote to working and careers, why in the world would you want to be stuck in a job that provides no meaningful challenge or does not engage you? Whose fault is that? Is it the employer's fault or is there something deeper like the fact that perhaps we are in a new era where accountability and dedication are antiquated concepts. Everyone has an excuse. At the risk of losing some of my former hippie creds, it does point yet again that business is facing the dilemma that us Boomers have brought on: generations of workers with a an unearned sense of entitlement.

A Day Full of Green Lights
Ever have one of those days when all the lights are green, the sky is blue, the music on the car radio is in synch with your mood, and all your customer experiences are so well executed it nearly makes you swoon? Yep, that was me yesterday as I ran errand after errand and met the most conscientious people solving my problems, meeting my needs, with a smile and courtesy and a genuine sense that I was important. Even dropped in to get an oil change and tire rotation and was taken care of right away: within 22 minutes I was back on the road a smiling and happy wandering marketer.
I share this with you because yesterday proved to me that good, personal service can be done. And it really goes back to the missive above that it takes the right people with the right attitude to get business and keep it. Yes, I did think of pinching myself to see if it was a dream, but I didn't dare. Some things are just too good to spoil with everyday reality.