Wednesday, December 30, 2009

You Can't "Crush It" to a Degree

Many of you that follow me know that I am a fan of what Gary Vaynerchuk has done. I'll admit, I don't religiously watch Wine Library TV, and at first I honestly thought the guy was obnoxious. I didn't really appreciate what he was doing until I decided to watch this keynote speech he gave.

Since then, Gary has shared a number of other keynotes, thoughts, best practices, and released his book Crush It! It's been interesting to follow him and share what he has done with others. It seems like no one, and I mean NO ONE, knows (for the most part) who this guy is outside of the online nerd world. I'll talk to wine stewards at restaurants and local liquor store wine experts that have no idea who he is. Even with that, he is wildly successful and his book was on the NY Times bestseller list for quite awhile.

Gary blogs on a regular basis and chooses a video format to share his thoughts. While his messages are similar, they are most always relevant and touch on the concept to "Crush It". They may have a different angle or tidbit beyond what he wrote for the book, but that's why the Internet is so awesome. We don't have to wait for him to write another book. Very much so why I enjoy Seth Godin as well.

So with this success and transparency comes criticism. In a recent post Gary suggests to "just grab it". He shares a good point and as usual most everyone that comments is in agreement with him. However, further down in the comments you can read thoughts from "Rick". Rick seems to be a bit stuck in his quest to "Crush It" and is reaching out/challenging Gary to bring more to the table. Here's what Rick had to say:
Hey Gary,

I don't know if and when you'll read this but I hope it gets to you someway and somehow. I've read your book and I believe that I understand it what you say it takes to "Crush It". I've looked at every single video on this blog. I watched many of your video wine shows. I've seen you on at least a dozen shows being interviewed by the media. I've been following you for about 3.5 years and I've
seen your growth. I get it or at least I think I do after hearing you say many of the same things a half dozen different ways.

However, and I think I speak for the masses here why don't you put your money where your mouth is. I don't mean this in a derogatory way and I will explain exactly what I mean. I'm looking for your response here and not your followers even though many will come to your aid as they will deem my post inflammatory. I want you to know up front that I am not trying to garner any name for myself so I'm going to purposely leave off my website and I will only use my first name.

If nothing else I hope you respond for the general masses. I know your book is doing well and so it should be. I know you give away tons of free content and I thank you for that. I realize that we live in a "thank you" economy and for no other reason that may be why so many people bought the book. I bought it in pre-release because I knew if you had your hands in it that it would be content filled. After reading I'm still 100% certain that I know how to Crush It. I'm being totally honest and transparent because I know that is what you would want.

But I think it's time to take this game to another level. Are you up for the challenge? Are you ready to Cr
ush It? Are you ready to help your community Crush It and Grab It? If so, here's what I'm proposing. This list is by no means exhaustive.

I have to admit what I'm about to share with you is not my idea. I heard about it and I feel that since I've been around the Internet it is one of the most brilliant ideas that I've seen suggested. So here goes.

People remember
10% of what they hear about
30% of what they see in action
50% of what they hear, see and are able to explain to others
70% of what they hear, see and do
90% of what they analyze, do and are able to explain to others

You could argue the above numbers but there is no denying that the percentages increase significantly fr
om the first scenario to the last. Have you actually taught people how to Crush It when they haven't learned? I know how much you care about people so please be honest with yourself as you answer this question. Unfortunately, when those that follow you fail in a sense you've failed. When those that hang on your every word fail to Crush It, you've actually have failed to Crush It regardless of how many books you sell.

The new models says: (you may already do some of this but how much more could you do?)

Rather than Preach ----Prove in the now..this year...2010
Rather than Lecture ---Listen
Rather than Coach--Communicate
Rather than Direct-- Demonstrate
Rather than Persuade -- Participate with your community
Rather than Explain -- Experience with your community
Rather than Sell -- S
erve (you do this to a very high degree now)

The benefits to your community and you....
Your training is fresh and in the now not something back in 2005. The Internet is changing fast as we both know.
You create great case studies in the now
Market saturation is non existent because there are an infinite number of ideas
True credibility based on current knowledge
Many new income streams created
Frees you up to build on many more ideas and requires much less of your time

You mentioned in your book some business ideas that you think are going to be big in 2010 but you will not have time to get to. Why don't you take some people who are willing to learn through the process of what you say it takes to Crush It.

Show don't tell. I haven't worked out all of the bugs or the methodology in what I'm proposing but I have a sneaking suspicion that if the business model doesn't change on how you impart information you will be saying much of what you said in 2009 in 2010.

does the preacher keep preaching the same sermon every Sunday? Because the people haven't started implementing none of what he said from the last sermon. I have a strange feeling that the preacher might not be doing much of what he's preaching about in the pulpits. If he is he's doing a very poor job of imparting that information to his congregation.

Frankly I'm tired of the "gurus" talking about this is what I did and if you follow exactly what I did you can achieve the results you desire. How many times does the guru have to say those words before the realize they are quite ineffective? I don't think the masses of people are lazy or soft. I think that many of them just don't know what to do and how to do it.

Gary put your money where you mouth is and help more people Crush It by showing them rather than talking about it. Not just showing them what you do but showing them how to do it for themselves. Teach them how to fish....please. If not you then who?

I love you Gary.
After reading this I not only felt compelled to respond, but also wanted to share this with those of you that follow this blog. I know I don't write too much here and mostly focus on my apartment marketing, but I found this to be an interesting story to tell. Here's my comment to Rick:
Rick, I'm not sure how much more Gary can show you "How to Crush It"? It sounds to me you are suggesting he help people start their businesses. I don't believe Gary has suggested that if one follows exactly what he does they will get the results desired. What he suggests is that you (or anyone) has an opportunity to build something. All the tools are at our finger tips, but we have to go out and apply them the best way that fits us individually and/or our businesses.

There is no cookie cutter approach to being successful or to social media. Gary has shared and continues to share best practices or ideas to point people in the right direction, but it's going to take someone's unique passion and vision for what they want to do to make them successful. I think asking Gary for vision for each and every person he touches is an unfair request.

While I understand you are not attacking him here, I believe what you are asking of him is unrealistic. My point is that Gary himself could not take any and every product or business or industry an
d recreate what he has done with Wine Library by doing all the exact same things. The reason is not because selling wine is unique, it's just not his passion to schlep comic books, batteries, office supplies, insurance, or real estate. Could he do a fairly good job at it? I'm sure he could, but people would recognize he's missing the same passion he puts into wine or the Jets.

It's one's individual passion and vision that will create success. What many may gloss over and misunderstand is that this passion and vision are what's most important, it’s not the tools. It's the passion and vision that drive the content you create online. That's not something he can provide to each and every person. And even if he tried to help everyone with the vision, it’s still going to take the passion to “Crush It!”.

Now, I’m not trying to attack you or what you’ve done. I think it’s admirable for you to post this as many are probably feeling the same way. My question would be for you and others that are maybe
struggling with the concept of crushing it, “Do you love what you do?” Take a step back and really think about it. Most people will say yes, and they are probably right to a degree. It’s the degree that matters. To what degree do you love what you do. Gary is boiling over, where are you on the thermometer? Better yet, where do your customers perceive you to be on the thermometer?
I apologize for the length of the post. I'd love to hear thoughts from others on this. Do you love what you do? Where do you perceive yourself to be on the thermometer? Where do your customers perceive you to be?

Thanks for reading and enjoy your New Years!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Motorola Droid is great and I anticipate it getting better.

Chris Brogan picked up a Motorola Droid phone this past Friday, as did I. He wrote a nice review over on his blog, and I added some thoughts as well. Here's my comment below, and I encourage you to visit his blog to see his thoughts.

Chris, I got a Droid on Friday and have been impressed. I was not previously an At&t iPhone guy (due to the poor service), and ran with a Samsung Windows Mobile phone prior that connected extremely well with our Exchange Server at work. I really enjoyed that phone and have been waiting 2 years for a decent Verizon upgrade offering. Yea, Droid.

So far I'm happy with the Droid for all the reasons you described, and have had a few challenges as well.
- Turning off applications does seem to be a chore. While some have a menu option to do so, others just keep running. I'll have to find that app you were referring to that helps shut apps down.
- The touch screen is sensitive, and I'm getting used to it. One example of an issue I had with the screen is when using the keyboard to write an email. I guess this is both an issue with the email layout design and the sensitivity of the screen. I kept bumping the "Discard" button on the screen while trying to type the message.
- With synchronizing to the Exchange Server is was very easy to do and updates to server immediately with changes, but the email app that is on the phone does not organize my email folders the way I have them on my PC (they come in alphabetical instead). Need an Outlook or Microsoft app to take care of this. Calendar worked fine when synchronizing, but would like to sync notes and tasks possibly. Might need to just find an app for those.
- It seems I'm only able to attach photos to email messages, and I'm having trouble accessing other attachments on messages like pdfs, etc. I may be missing something, but it's not working for me.
- The battery can quickly drain while using, but seemed to last the entire day. I know my wife's iPhone can go a couple days without a charge, but I'll guess that my frequent use has led to a faster battery drain.
- I haven't messed around with importing music just yet, but hope I'll be able to bring in my iTunes library. The MP3 feature seems like it should work fine if I want to set up an account there. I do like to keep all my music in one place on iTunes and would prefer an iTunes app that syncs with the phone. Pandora does work extremely well and Verizon's network really helps support this app.

All together, I really look forward to using this phone more and to see how the app selection grows. I plan to use the camera for mobile video and image uploads using PixelPipe as well. Already tested some of that and works great. One thing you didn't mention is the Voice Recognition Google search. I think that tool works very well and is a great feature. TwitDroid seems to be a nice Twitter client as well. Look forward to hearing more of your thoughts as you use it. Enjoy your day!


Monday, August 31, 2009

How Does a Brand Make You Feel? - My thoughts on GM

About a month ago I stumbled across a blog post about New Brand Strategies for GM. The writer gave their thoughts on what should be done with the branding efforts of the remaining GM brands. Being the nerd that I am and a former employee of a major automotive brand, I decided to give my two cents. Thought I'd share it here as well.

Interesting take. The other brands you mentioned, Toyota, BMW, Mercedes (i may argue with you on the brand position you chose for them), and Volvo all cater to the senses and emotion of the brand. Toyota gives a feeling of security and reliability b/c of a history of well built vehicles. BMW gives a feeling of performance, strength and power b/c of the way vehicles drive and handle. Mercedes is a feeling of status and confidence that one has "made it" or is successful (at least in the U.S.) Volvo is definitely a feeling of safety and protection, however, has always seemed to be more niche vehicles because the feeling isn't powerful enough for the masses.

I like to ask, how does a brand make you feel, and how passionate are people about that feeling? Other than the Chevy example, I think what you have described aren't emotional enough, or just aren't realistic enough to become emotional and drive passionate feelings. Another issue is that Ford or Chrysler have a solid position with like feelings as well.

People are passionate about being American, but Ford is a brand that pretty much claims that as well. Can Chevy have the same brand and compete? Buick has, and always will be known, as the last vehicle people own before they die. Even Tiger Woods can't change that emotional tie. Buick screams: I'm old, I'm OK with that, so I drive a Buick. For Cadillac, "Leading Technology" is too niche like Volvo. It's just not powerful enough on the emotions. And with GMC, I'm with you, no reason to hold onto this one. Jeep already has the "Rugged Reliability" brand tied up.

In the end, I think GM needs to create emotion with their brands. I think a Chevy and a Ford can both be "American" brands, so stick with that and be over the top with it. Drop the Buick line and make Cadillac the "Quality w/ Status" line of vehicle. Forget technology as it is expected in this level of vehicle at this point. That brand was built off of "Quality w/ Status" and they lost sight of that. GMC needs to just become a "commercial" line of vehicles as most of their vehicles are the exact same as a Chevy model anyway. So they're down to two lines of vehicle. They have plenty of options to use stylings from Pontiac or some other lost brands for either line, but it's all they need.

Oh, and thin out the number of dealerships. Do some real market analysis and determine where you are going to make the most impact without creating an overly price competitive market. Ask the foreign brands how they do this as they seem to have it under control. Bottom line, make owning an American car emotional again.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I Made a Mistake

Yesterday I made a mistake. It happens, and when it does I want to try and make it right. I wrote a post about The Irony of Revenge in Social Media. While I stand behind that post and understand Lisa's argument, where I made the mistake was by not leaving it in it's entirety as a comment on her blog. Instead, I left just a modified portion of the post that came across as attacking her. Bad form.

Here is that comment:
I really disagree with your post. I don’t care for the way you handled the unfriending, think it’s a bit ironic you chose to blog about the experience, and don’t feel it’s consistent with what you promote in regards to responding to negative reviews and comments. That all being said, I think you now owe the unfriended person a personal message or phone call. In a round-about way you just made a negative comment about someone (even if they threw the first punch). While you didn’t post it to their wall, you might as well have. Not cool. Time to eat your own dog food.
My comment was uncalled for as I did not fully explain my position, but instead just attacked what she did. That was not cool. The post I wrote here does a better job explaining my point, and probably should have been the entire comment on her blog as well. Anyway, I have come across as disrespectful, and for that I apologize. I have a tendency to just be forthright and say what’s on my mind. I have an opinion and I’m not afraid to share it. Sometimes that’s not right, but I always intend to make it right if/when I make a mistake. I consider Lisa a good friend, and good friends don't shoot off crap comments like this. Again, I apologize Lisa.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Irony of Revenge in Social Media

I really disagree with a recent blog post by a good friend, and the idea to unfriend someone on facebook because of a comment determined to be "negative for negativity's sake." I appreciate the candid feedback given and for sharing the story, but from my perspective the blog post basically tells peers, clients, competitors, and readers it's OK to just delete their critics if they want to. I know there is more of a story behind this post, but I still feel the approach is wrong whether it's a customer, peer, or competitor. There is a time and place to "fire" a customer or friend, but I don't believe it is on facebook. My friend didn't even take their own advice and privately call or message the person they fired. Instead, decided to not "give it a second thought", unfriended the person, and then ironically blogged about it.

I'll admit, I'm no saint when it comes to online criticism. I do have a tendency to dish it out, and it could be interpreted as good or bad. A few months ago I chose to call out someone on Twitter for being too critical. I was blocked from their account and accused of "attacking" them. Was it right for me to say what I did? Did I deserve to be blocked? I was being critical of that person being critical. Criticism happens frequently in social media, and even by many of the top bloggers and experts in the space. Maybe I took it too far, and maybe I should have called them or emailed them privately. We did exchange a few messages after my comment, but then the Twitter relationship ended. My bad I guess, but I felt at the time something needed to be said and I chose to do it publicly, right or wrong. We all make mistakes, and, yes, sometimes it's not cool. However, haven't many of us agreed that criticism is an opportunity? Shouldn't we be accepting the good with the bad? I suppose many times it is hard to swallow, but maybe we're often too quick to judge as well.

How often, as voices in our space or online in general, do we have a tendency to be overly critical or critical too often? In reflecting on some of my own comments and looking at what a number of others I have friended or follow say, I can definitely tell you that many are more critical (including myself) than we may view ourselves. Some may be considered hyper-critical, but it's all open to interpretation by others. We all look at brands or people differently, and we all have differing levels of acceptance or tolerance for criticism. This is something I think we should all keep in mind when interpreting a customer's viewpoint or comments, and possibly judging too quickly.

Wouldn't we all love if our customers would pick up the phone and voice their concerns vs. turning to social media commenting or rating sites like Yelp! ? Of course, but the reality is that people can somewhat hide behind the internet and reduce the amount of confrontation they take on. They feel good about voicing their concern, and they get it off their chest whether or not it's in the most appropriate form. So, yes, ideally make a phone call please or send a private email/message if you have criticism to share, but let's not stomp on the people that don't.

These critics (regardless of where they come from or how they communicate) are customers. Someone that has made a statement maybe we don't like. Does that mean the person is wrong? Do we sometimes get too defensive and not put ourselves in our customer's shoes? We talk about responding to negative reviews on ratings sites, so how is facebook any different? It's only different in that we have more control I suppose. What would happen if that person created a Yelp! review page for you as an individual (your personal brand) and decided to post a negative review? What would you do then?

So put yourself in my friend's shoes. You essentially just had a negative review, but instead of responding in an apologetic way or a way seeking to improve the relationship you've decided to fire the person. Then your friend blogs about how he doesn't like your approach, thinks it's ironic that you chose to blog about the experience, and essentially criticizes you for not eating your own dog food. What do you do now?

Friday, August 7, 2009

My Letter to Twitter: Why I Don't Do #FollowFriday

Dear Twitter,

I have nothing against #FollowFriday really, I just don't do it. There's no real content there other than someone's endorsement. Not to say that endorsing someone isn't a good thing, it's just that I'd rather find someone organically. However, since you have changed the rules a bit with filtering @ tweets it's more challenging to jump into conversations and maybe meet new people. While the new rules help filter some unwanted conversations, Twitter is a place for discovery and search. You have even shown us this by adding the search function to the main homepage. So if this is the case, then why not go back to the old format? Or maybe, make filtering an optional setting. If not for the old way, I may not have discovered nearly 1/2 of the people I follow and enjoy following.

Bottomline, I'm not looking for followers, nor I am looking for people to follow. I'm looking for conversation. Conversation that is interesting. I just don't see enough of it anymore, and I want it back. Pretty please.



Friday, July 17, 2009

The Power of SlideShare

Wednesday I posted our "Building Your Online Corporate Mullet" presentation to SlideShare, and then wrote a post about it over on Tidbits From The Apartment Nerd. We've had a great response so far, just like we did after giving the presentation. What has blown me away is how viral the presentation has become on SlideShare. The slide show is now on the homepage, and continues to get views. I've also noticed recently how much Google Juice one can get from SlideShare. I don't think you can game the system, but if you create some good content the results can be a real benefit. Have at it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Why Must Everything Be Measured?

Wednesday I emailed Tony Hsieh at and asked him:
"... At Zappos do you use any metrics to justify or measure customer service and word-of-mouth success. We’ve been having a debate that this is the reason many companies don’t adopt a true “customer service” model for their business. It’s just not easy to measure, but so many companies have proven that the model is superior (ie – Disney, Ritz Carlton, Zappos, Nordstrom, Chick-fil-a, etc.). What are your thoughts? ..."

Here's the response I received Thursday:
"... We do not measure the amount of returning and new customers from our word-of-mouth model of business. You are correct that it is not easy to measure. We are more focused on creating a relationship between us and the customer. Once we do this, everything else naturally follows. I hope you didn't lose the debate with this news! ..."

Why does it work for them? How can they justify what they do without measuring it?

My answer, because it's more fun. It's more fun to give away free shipping there or back, it's more fun to "do whatever it takes" to satisfy a customer, it's more fun to actually be well trained for the job that you do, it's more fun to have a free lunch everyday, etc., etc., etc.

Create relationships, have fun, enjoy the experience. Sounds easy enough doesn't it?

If you want more, here's what Tony had to say about company culture back in January on his blog. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tidbits from The Apartment Nerd

Hello friends. For those of you that follow this blog I apologize for the lack of content. The past couple of months I have been focusing my efforts on a new blog that is dedicated specifically to my industry and marketing apartments. If you'd like to get some weekly tidbits please feel free to subscribe over at I'm temporarily putting a hold on the content here, but in the future plan to reengage. Thanks and enjoy your day!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Are You Selling iPods or MP3 Players

Apparently our country is in, what experts call, "a recession." "Times are tough out there," is the message I continue to hear over and over. Whether it's a $5 footlong, a coupon frenzy, a "sale," or, God forbid, a going out a business closeout, we're constantly reminded, as consumers, that people are hurting. The conversation seems very price heavy out there. My question is, is that the message companies should be communicating?

I recently had a conversation with an associate I work with about our prices. This person brought up the recession, people losing jobs, the competition offering discounts, etc., etc. as reasons we were unable to achieve more sales. As I reflected on the comments, I admitted that our product needed to have a "competitive" price. That was the only thing I conceded when it came to discussing price. However, what does competitive really mean anyway? Is the price of a Toyota Camry competitive to a Ford Taurus? Is the price of an Apple iPod competitive to a Sansa? I believe we could make an argument that the prices are relatively competitive. Many understand why a premium is associated with Toyota or Apple, but they still may compare their products to other brands. When I was in the car business people would compare all sorts of brands to Lexus. One time a guy compared a Hyundai Santa Fe to a Lexus RX 300. Seriously.

My point is, your price is competitive or relevant to the individual customer. They will buy at a price they can justify a value for. If your product or service is not achieving the price you or your sales team believes it should, then is it a price issue or a product and experience value issue in the customer's eyes? That's where I'm going with this. I don't see Apple reducing the prices of iPods, and I still see Toyota getting a premium over Ford. Why is this, and why don't more businesses choose to differentiate themselves enough from their competition to achieve this? Even small businesses like dry cleaners and restaurants have opportunities to differentiate and really stand out from their competition. And having a better coupon or price is rarely that differentiator.

The next time your marketing team sits down to discuss the next big coupon or discount program, I encourage you to ask yourself why. Why must you feel compelled to offer a coupon or discount? Are you selling iPods or MP3 Players? Are you just a box with a price, or do you offer something more? Coupons and discounts are knee jerk reactions in an attempt to increase sales, do it enough and those knees might just give out.

Just another one of my opinion rants. Enjoy your day.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Twitter is for Nerds & Some Other Stuff

I've been harping lately about how lame it is for people to syndicate their tweets to their facebook status. Doesn't everyone realize that facebook is for your friends, and Twitter is for all the people that are as nerdy as you are about whatever it is you're nerdy about. This post will be my last word on the matter as I think I have now done my best to explain why everyone should just cease with this malarkey. Please enjoy this Powerpoint presentation explaining why you shouldn't do it, and how to remove the application from your facebook account. Enjoy your day.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

You Must Think of Yourself as a Musician

I was inspired tonight, and when I am inspired I tend to write blog posts. So here's the deal. I'm a Dave Matthews Band (DMB) fan. I've been to 9 live shows and appreciate what he (the band) does to entertain. Below I've embedded a teaser video he's posted to YouTube with a snippet off his upcoming new album. Whether you are a DMB fan or not, watch the video and then I'll expand on how he's inspired me in marketing/business.

After watching that bit I'm excited as a fan to hear the new album, but that's not what inspired me to write this post. Before I'm a DMB fan, I'm a marketer/business man. In watching this and thinking about how many songs and how much success DMB has had, I feel we all need to look at our businesses like GREAT musicians do their business.

Here's a band that has been making new music and remained popular for nearly 20 years. I'm sure many of you can think of plenty of other examples of bands that have been doing the same for even longer, but let's use Dave Matthews as an example. So what's the secret for these GREAT bands? It's really no different than a GREAT business. Outstanding passion, integrity, teamwork, innovation, and development (learning).

They obviously still have the passion for what they do, the fans continue to trust the message they are sending, they've been working together creating music for nearly 20 years, and I think it's the last 2 values that really make the difference. You must have the first 3 just to be in business, but you grow your business by innovating and learning.

With each album DMB innovates, but does not steer too far away from the core that made them successful. The fans love it, and they continue to gain new fans with the evolution of the music. When innovating your business, marketing, etc. remember your core. Most definitely strive to innovate, but remember what got you there.

With each year that goes by DMB pushes their music skill level and they also learn more and more about who their fans are. This video is an example of DMB wanting to learn from their fans. It's the interaction, it's the conversation, it's listening, it's learning. Get to know your fans/customers, intimately.

So the questions I pose to today are what are you doing today to innovate, and what are you learning from your fans (customers)? DMB has proven continuous improvement and innovation to their product/services (their music) has been a great success. They also have learned in order to improve they must challenge themselves to learn more about their craft, and more importantly, more about their listeners/fans.

How can you think of yourself/business as a musician? Do you think this way? Why not?

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your day.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Fast Company - April 2009

OK, I'm not even halfway through the April issue of Fast Company and my mind is racing. I have to share 3 stories I think everyone should read.

1. What Should I Do With My Life Now?

2. Sell Handcuffs - Why customers will pay you to restrain them

3. Boy Wonder - How Chris Hughes Helped Launch Facebook and the Barack Obama Campaign

If you don't subscribe to Fast Company, then I suggest doing so. I'm never disappointed. Enjoy your day.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Be True to Your School ... Sort of

I received an email this morning that has me all fired up. I've shared the message below and I would love for you to pass along to support Natalie and her friends.

My name is Natalie Moistner. I am a senior at Cathedral High School and President of the Paws for a Cause group. Five of my friends and I would like to tell you a story and ask for your help.

In our religion class we are assigned a service learning project of our choice. Our school brought in experts on service learning to help us with this project and encourage us to work hard. Me and my five friends (Katy, Morgan, Abby, Kaleigh, and Elissa) decided to host a dog walk to raise money and awareness in support of animal adoption. Things were going great and our group seemed to be the only one that was actually excited about the project.

However, we were called down to the Advancement office at our school and told that we were overstepping our boundaries". There was concern that our fundraiser was going to interfere with Cathedral's fundraisers. The argument was that parents are tired of being asked for money. "Someone may be asked for twenty five dollars and refuse to donate $25,000 simply because they are sick of being bothered."

I am not sure what kind of parents he is speaking with. Our parents are impressed by the leadership and initiative that students take to help others less fortunate than they are. Seeing kids make efforts like this only increases their level of respect for the school. Although we are not asking for money, rather, hosting an event with a $5 admission fee and donating all profits to animal shelters, the Advancement office still feels we should not be allowed to advertise in our school. Even though they assign us service learning projects, allow other organizations to fundraise, we are not to advertise the event at our own school.

We may not agree, but we will honor the wishes of our school. Doing so will cost us a reliable support base, so we have to sell our cause to a larger, less familiar audience. This is where we need your help
The motto of Paws for a Cause is: "Be the voice for those who cannot speak". That is exactly what we are asking you to do. In this case, the animals are not the only ones being silenced.

Help us spread the word about the Monon Mutt Strutt. The flier for the event with all of the details is attached.

Thank you for your time
Natalie Mositner
Katy Achtien
Morgan Lewis
Kaleigh Roughraff
Elissa Hagans
Abby Kotarski

I'm really frustrated by the way the school is handling this. Not only are they squashing a great cause for ridiculous reasons, but they are trying to squash the entrepreneurial spirit of these students. What's great is that these girls are looking for other ways to promote their cause. Their spirit is not completely crushed and by helping support them I think we can not only help the animals, but also help these young innovative students realize they can overcome obstacles to achieve their goals.

My goal is to help them set-up a PayPal account for donations even from people that can't make it to the walk. Any other suggestions on how to help them overcome their obstacles? Here's the flyer they are posting around Indy.


Thanks for your help.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Your Cover Letter Is Your Resume

I was recently asked by a friend for some recommendations in looking for a job and what I look for when reviewing resumes. With all my social media involvement this past year, I would have thought LinkedIn or some other online advice would come to my mind first. But that was not the case.

The first question I asked my friend was about his cover letters. Just like his standard stock resume, he was using a standard stock cover letter. Now, from my experience in multi-family if I get a good cover letter (or get one at all) I definitely take more time to read the resume. If the cover letter is specific to J.C. Hart then I can almost guarantee that person will get an interview.

Why is this important to me? It's important because if someone takes the time to write a custom cover letter for my company then I know they are serious about a career and not just looking for another job. What I really wonder is why this is so rare? In today's tough job market or really anytime it's critical to explain why you want to work for a company. Your resume doesn't do that, and a stock cover letter is just whipped cream on shit.

So then I got to thinking. Uh oh, stay with me. If I have a LinkedIn account that gives all my basic resume info and a cover letter is so important, then why not just send a cover letter out to prospective employers. Most likely you're posting a resume online or emailing it, so why not just send a really great cover letter that has links to all the other information the employer needs to know. While I'm not looking for a job, I put together a sample cover letter/resume that I could tweak and customize as needed. I left it generic for this exercise, but I hope you can see the potential and how it tells a better story.

Let me know if you think I'm nuts, if you like the concept but think my letter needs work, or if you think I'm on to something. I'd love to hear that too. Thanks and enjoy your day!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

"You mean, like the brown meat at the grocery?"

Kim Andreadis inspired me to write this with her Sincere Professionalism vs. Hype? post at I think the question she poses is, with specials flying around when do your customers just turn their head and label you as another gimmick? A few thoughts come to mind.

1. Revenue management systems are a much better solution for staying competitive with price. Simplify the pricing process and your customers will appreciate it.

2. A leasing trainer I work with has a great response to customers that ask if we have specials. "You mean, like the brown meat at the grocery?" Are we selling brown meat here or are we leasing apartment homes?

3. Better yet, why does used car sales have the reputation it does? Go ahead, put a huge gorilla out on the road, wear a plaid jacket, open all the doors to your apartments (why do they do that with the hoods?), and advertise "Cash Back" on all your listings. All that should definitely set you apart from your competition. :)

I understand, desperate times call for desperate measures, but there is a line out there where your customer actually just labels you as untrustworthy and a gimmick. Feel free to attract some unqualified traffic to your property, move some brown meat to some interesting people, and in the end create an experience based on gimmicks. I'm sure those people will surely renew next year and be good testimonials for your communities and brand. Good luck with that.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Walkin' the Line

After defining the difference between Social Media Marketing & Using Social Media for Marketing and reading some recent blogs, in my mind we're finally starting to get somewhere with the whole marketing with social media idea. My friend Duncan at Firebelly Marketing shared his frustrations recently in his blog. He asks for some results based blog posts, and enough with the theory already with social media. It's time we all start trying to use social media for marketing and share results (good or bad). So, today a fellow Apartment Marketing enthusiast, Mike Brewer, wrote about a concept Ford is trying that markets their Fiesta using social media. Read what Mike has to say here: Tryvertising. Thanks Mike for sharing this story and of course your application to apartment marketing.

Now this Ford contest spurred a little debate on Twitter in my little apartment marketing world, and the argument was basically one for "how" Social Media should be used for "marketing." Arguments were made that Social Media should be used in its honest and true form for unbiased feedback and conversation, and feedback from consumers should not be "bought." Others felt that as long as the feedback was honest (even with a freebie) it's a good marketing play.

There are countless examples of companies using social media to market their products. Whether they are buying someone's opinion or not, brands are looking for exposure. How many people are sending Guy Kawasaki or Chris Brogan their products to blog about them? It's happening all the time. Guy is test driving a brand new Audi right now!!! Is this right, is it wrong? I think it's all open to interpretation.

As we move forward and experiment using social media for marketing we will walk the line in the eyes of the consumer. While some might view the Ford and Audi strategies as "against the rules," others will appreciate the projects and want to hear the stories. It's just like any other marketing or advertising, your efforts are not going to appeal to everyone. As long as it fits with your brand and the image you are trying to achieve I say go for it.

Thanks and enjoy your day!


photo courtesy of harry.1967 on

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What's the Difference Between Social Media Marketing and Using Social Media for Marketing?

So, what's the difference between social media marketing and using social media for marketing? Let's first define social media.
Social media are primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings.
OK, now that Wikipedia gave us that definition, let's look at social media from a marketing approach. Here's my definition of "Social Media Marketing."
Social Media Marketing is giving people a reason to talk about your products and services, and making it easier for that conversation to take place using social media tools.
This definition is actually taken right from the WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) website, but I added the "using social media tools." Let's stop fooling each other by throwing theories around that Social Media Marketing is anything more than an online evolution for word of mouth marketing.

Now, "Using Social Media for Marketing" is different than "Social Media Marketing." The use of social media for marketing can be a number of things. In general, "interruption marketing" examples like banner ads, sponsorship ads, AdSense, or blog buttons/links would qualify.

You're probably asking now, OK Mark, where are you going with this? Here's where I'm going. Try whatever you want with social media and marketing. It should qualify as either Social Media Marketing as WOMMA has defined it, or it will qualify as "interruption marketing" as I gave examples for. But here's the rub, DON'T let your marketing efforts fall under any of these definitions here at WOMMA.

Now that I've defined this for everyone please let me know your thoughts, and please read my follow-up post with some friendly debate and frustrations surrounding Social Media and Marketing.

Thanks and enjoy your day!


photo courtesy of Eleaf on

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Alert, Alert, Alert!!!

Recently I have received some Google Alerts for a couple of our communities. If you don't have these set up for your company or your communities I highly recommend you do as it's a free service offered by Google. So let me share with you the two most recent alerts that touch each end of the spectrum.

First is Bayshore Apartments. I received an alert linking me to I'll have to say that I'd never heard of, but it appears to be a long tail website for city/business searches. The alert came due to a review from a former resident that was dissatisfied with us. How great! If I didn't have Google Alerts I may have never know about the review, and I would not have had the opportunity to respond. Unfortunately, both reviews have now been removed (in less than a day) as they must not have represented what was looking for in a review. While the resident's review was obviously very negative, I'm happy I had the opportunity to respond in an apologetic way and explain J.C. Hart Company was following the terms of our lease agreement in this situation. Nothing too detailed, but a nice apology for any confusion for the resident and for readers of the reviews. I do find it interesting that chose to remove the reviews. The only conclusion I can make from this is that they were not specific to the apartments and focused on one incident vs. being an entire review.

Now onto the other end of the spectrum. I received an alert for our Linden Square community. This was a link to, and a conversation thread about Linden Square. I also had not heard of, but it appears to be a long tail relocation forum. It was great to see positive testimonials for our community as well as for J.C. Hart. I did take the time to write a short response to those involved and thank them for their posts. This is a great way to acknowledge to our residents and future residents that we care and we are listening.

I highly recommend you find out what people online are saying about you. It's a great way to discover some websites or forums you were not aware of. Also, good or bad it's always nice to know what your customers are thinking as it may confirm you are doing things right, or it may help you to make improvements to your processes.

Enjoy your day!


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Perseverance (Part 2)

Last June I wrote a post about one of the greatest sports icons of our time, Tiger Woods. In that post I asked a question, "When do perseverance and determination actually hurt your brand?" Tiger has been out of golf and out of the spotlight for more than 6 months now. He is one of the major endorsers for Nike, Buick, Gatorade, Gillette, Accenture, EA Sports, and the PGA Tour.

As I stated in the previous post, this situation presented an amazing opportunity for marketing researchers to study the impact of a celebrity on a brand. Tiger is one of the largest sports celebrities in the world so I would imagine his impact would be much larger than some others, but it will be very interesting to see how these companies are affected by his return later this year.

If anyone in marketing for these companies stumbles across this piece or if anyone has some insight into how or if there is a study for this please let me know. And, please share it with marketers around the world. Thanks and enjoy your day!


Friday, January 16, 2009

I Need More Convincing

Yesterday I received an email newsletter from For Rent Media Solutions. I enjoy receiving these email newsletters from my vendors as they generally have good industry information, new data, or just information I need to know.

In yesterday's message there was a post titled "Magazine Ads Increase Web Traffic By More Than 40%." Just after reading that title I had to dig further. WOW, that's a big number, and I'm curious. As I read, the article pointed out the data was from the MPA (or Magazine Publishers of America), and they provided a link to the full report for the data.

Now they really had my attention. I love juicy data, and I was looking for a convincing reason for print to have a resurrection. As I began digesting the full report I quickly became disappointed. While the study they share is interesting and the analysis of the conclusions are explained well, I struggled with three issues in how the study was relevant to For Rent.

1. I have never considered For Rent Magazine a "magazine". It's not one of those publications I see on coffee tables or in rest rooms, and people do not read it for entertainment purposes or subscribe to it (that I know of). It is a book of listings.

2. The data generated for this study was from non-real estate related businesses, and I could not understand how the products they studied could relate to apartment homes.

3. The studies used for the data were run from 2003-2007. It's 2009, and so much has changed.

That being said, I challenge For Rent to help us all understand more about this study and how it relates to our industry in 2009. The summary For Rent made from the full report did not make it clear for me, and I'd like for them to expand on the findings. I would also enjoy anyone's thoughts on the topic, or statistics you can share from your own experiences with print driving Internet traffic.

Thanks and enjoy your day!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wayne Gretzky Is Your Inspiration

I was fortunate enough today to participate in a meeting with my company's president. The theme of the meeting was marketing, and the CEOs that are a part of this group were asked to invite their Head Marketing Nerd. Thus, the invite.

I probably don't attend enough non-industry related seminars and training, and I must say it was a nice change of pace. The presenter for the day was Mitch Gooze'. Mitch was an engaging speaker and allowed great participation from the group. The main theme for the presentation was comparing marketing and sales to design and production. He asks the question, "While production would not be expected (in most cases) to redesign a widget due to a design flaw, why do we expect sales to fix what is essentially a marketing flaw?"

Let me further explain. What he is trying to say is that there is a disconnect between marketing and sales. The sales team is trying to sell something that the marketing team has not clearly defined. He explained, on the marketing side we must connect the "Who Buys?" and "What are they buying?" to the sales side or "How are they going to buy it?" The message the sales team is receiving in many cases is conflicting or is inspired by them and not by marketing. Marketing should be the team clarifying the Who? and What? while sales is concerned with the How? Too often marketing has not made the message clear and sales is then responsible to fix it themselves.

So, how is this accomplished. Talk to your customers. Find out why they buy your product or service. It's our job to understand what our customers needs are, and if you've been in a business for a number of years you might think you know but in reality you don't. After you find out more about your customers you can give your marketing the direction it needs, and communicate that properly with your sales team.

Part of learning more about your customers should help you to innovate, improve, and stay ahead of the curve. Mitch shared a story about Wayne Gretzky that I just loved. Wayne was once asked, "Why are you such a great hockey player?" He responded, "I skate where the puck will be." Wayne made a choice, and just like Wayne we have a choice in business. We can educate ourselves and anticipate where the puck will be, or we can follow everyone else and chase after the puck. I'd rather play like the great one.

Enjoy your day!


picture courtesy of bobdylan_8 at

Monday, January 12, 2009


A couple days ago I changed the background for my Twitter page, and if you ever read this blog you'll notice I've changed the design here as well. Now this isn't because it's 2009 and time for a new start, it's because of something I learned early in my business career at Toyota.

Kaizen defined is "Continuous Improvement". You will see some schools of thought redefine it as "Six Sigma" or "Lean Thinking". Just Google kaizen and you'll see a number of results. I'm writing this post to just explain the way I define it.

Kaizen for me is innovation, challenging ideas, and change. Part of my blog title and description of what this blog is all about is my obsession with kaizen at every touchpoint. I just can't tolerate "that's the way we've always done it." Join the kaizen train with me. There's always a better way.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I No Longer Give a #&%! About Your Closing Ratio

That's right, it deserved an explative. Why in sales do we get caught up on this number? My question is how many sales did you get today (or this week)? I don't care how many times you picked up the phone or how many people you demonstrated your product to in order to get that/those sale(s) as long as you get them.

Why, Mark, why? Because you're all full of #&%! when you tell me how many calls or leads you had anyway as you're afraid to have a low closing ratio. We've been holding you to some magical closing ratio number, and it's time to stop. I love interviewing new sales candidates or managers and they tell me that they have a 50% closing ratio or higher. I call BS! How is that exactly measured anyway? Is it based on people you actually demonstrated your product to? Is it based on everyone that inquired? Does it include people that are interested in a product that is out of stock or not immediately available?

And given all that criteria, what really matters? I think two things matter.

1. Getting the sales to achieve the goals set for yourself and management.

2. Recording every single call, visit, or inquiry of any kind that comes in.

I believe these are the key measurements needed for selling and marketing a product. And that's why I no longer give a #&%! about your closing ratio.

Enjoy your day!