Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hoops Pizza Box Marketing

Hoops Pizza and Pub at 516 Main Street, Peoria, Illinois is making good use of their delivery boxes. Notice in red type at bottom: "Delivery until 4:00 AM 7 days a week." New York style hand toss with NYC hours.

On the side of the box, the special offer: "Buy One Pizza, Get One Free". Monday thru Friday. 3:30 to 5:30 PM. Limit 4 Per Customer."

I really love the pizza served up at Hoops Pub and Pizza. Very filling -- great big ingredients, bursting with  flavor, on a crust that tastes like artisan bread.

Saturday, January 28, 2012 music player

I really like this music player, that mimics a turntable, needle, and vinyl record.

The music genres on are what I would call Electronic Experimentation, Glitch Dance Ambient, and Techno Minimalism which can be very relaxing.

Not sure why there is a dropout type instance with vinyl surface scratch noise every so often on these songs. That's kind of strange and a bit annoying.

If it was between tracks, that would make sense. Perhaps it's done to divide sections of a song? No, it doesn't seem to coincide with that. A weird flaw on an otherwise nice presentation.

I wish there was a company that enabled musicians to upload their songs and have them presented in such an online device. is a record label started by some techno guys in Berlin I believe.

You can move the needle cartridge arm with your web browser cursor, just move your cursor to the cartridge, see a pointing hand appear, click on the cartridge, drag and drop, hold and slide the cartridge to the desired spot on the vinyl disc simulation.

Friday, January 27, 2012

YouTube account closed message

This channel is no longer available because the user closed their account.

Don't give up on sharing video.

Customers like to learn skills and gain information by watching tutorial videos. Why not do your own branded video tutorials, thereby helping customers and positioning your company as the expert?

When was the last time you recorded a video of yourself explaining the corporate mission in laymen's terms? Or promoting some new product or venture?

If you're a CEO, business owner, store manager, entrepreneur, musician, film artist, or do anything that needs to be seen in action or experienced as if in the presence of it, video is vital for your success.

People like to watch interesting, informative, and entertaining video, especially if it has a spontaneous quality to it, making the presenter seem more authentic, human, and approachable.

Keep endeavoring to perfect your audio-visual presentations. Learn how to do product demonstrations, deliver CEO announcements, and create a relationship with customers for enhanced brand loyalty and increased sales.

Get that company representative out there, in high quality, superior videography, on YouTube, developing an interactive connection with customers, peers, investors, and the general public.

Or contact me and I'll do it for you.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Customer Reality vs Shiny Objects

While it's important to know what's available in marketing technology, it's not effective marketing to chase after brightly colored tool suites and flavor of the month social media platforms. Raw, ridiculous, refreshing customer reality must be the primary focus, then with customer-centric solutions in mind, explore the gadgets and gimmickry.

I found myself responding professionally to a strategy hinted at in a recent quote provided by Danny Sullivan on GooglePlus in reference to his reaction to the article on Marketing Land entitled "Is GooglePlus Mandatory for Marketers? And Is That So Bad?"


"I get the feeling some the folks pontificating about the pros and cons of Google’s dominance have forgotten what it’s like to be sitting in front of a CMO talking about the relationship between search, social media and other online marketing disciplines. What’s most important — one of the biggest challenges marketers face — is determining which of the latest shiny objects deserve precious resources"

- good thoughts from +Kevin Ryan


No. I disagree that marketers need to select certain shiny objects, for themselves and/or their clients, according to the claims of the objects and the budgetary constraints of agency or client.

"We're on the new SlapJack social network!" or "Check out our automated instant order shoppers kiosk" may arouse curiosity in some, but without a consistent social media marketing plan, hopping from one trendy spot to another, and trying to keep up with it all in a rich, relevant, personally interactive manner, may exhaust resources, yet accomplish little.

Shiny objects. Pick the right ones, the best mix, and you'll win the prize!

This strategy, vaguely indicated in the Marketing Land article, but the trace is unmistakable, is, I think, this:

"Shiny objects will do the job, now which ones should we pick?"

which can be more completely expressed by including this underlying attitude:

"If we use as many shiny toys and tools as are currently trendy and sufficiently shouted about by the pundits, we'll have the appearance of doing social and digital media. Then, also, if it attracts an audience that drives itself, interacting with each other, without much inteference by us, and the content is automatically generated (curated or scraped from other sites), we'll be free to move onto other things."

Automated social media is not in compliance with the core values of social media. Authenticity. Transparency. Genuine Personal Interactivity. Sharing. Caring. Providing expertise by linking to good information and by personally answering questions and remarking on suggestions from customers.

This is the top priority. To enter fully and deeply into the world inhabited by the customer. Frustrations and expectations. Trouble and rejoicing. What are they trying to solve, fix, or enhance? Find that goal, inspect it from every possible angle, listen to the exact words used by customers when describing it. Consider only slightly editing their wording for use in marketing campaigns.

What must ring true is the ground your marketing is founded upon. That ground must be a pure and enlightened understanding of the raw reality in which your product provides a solution for a needy customer.

What is it exactly that is making the customer feel dissatisfied, incomplete, suffering some type of loss or missed opportunity? What is the overarching goal and underlying desperation of the customer?

What we must focus on is not the vast array of shiny objects.  The focus must start and remain upon customers. Customer needs. Customer interests. Customer problems. Customer experience. Customer relations. Customer acquisition. Customer retention. Customer word of mouth. Customer service. Customer loyalty programs. Customer feedback. Customer conversations. Customer rewards.

We must get in the dirt and grime, the misery and hopes of customers. Then let that light, that insight into customers, guide our every subsequent move. Object selection will then be secure in market reality.

Social media consultants must assess the wide variety of social network marketing tools, know how to navigate them in a manner that is not annoyingly commercial or inappropriately personal, and which ones are key to the client's objectives.

One client may need to prioritize working an audience interactivity campaign in Twitter, GooglePlus, Reddit, and LinkedIn.

Another client may be better served by building first a strong presence in BlogTalkRadio, YouTube, and Pinterest.

GooglePlus is where your customers will want to be, just as is true with all web objects and internet properties, when your presence there provides great news, information, insight, discounts, interaction, friendship, and other value to the customer. That's what's hard about social media marketing: determining what to provide, or better, how to provide your expertise and solutions in a way that relates to the consumer and is easy to derive value from spending time there.

If your presence on a specific social network is all hype all the time, with no genuine interaction with community members, if you delegate or automate it all, you won't have a real personalized presence there. 

People may be attracted to your brand and check it out, but after the initial burst of interest, participation will fall off and all you'll have is an echo chamber, broadcasting messages that nobody cares about, because you didn't prove you cared about them.

I generally advise people to begin with a website that does all the right things, and then a blog where the CEO, owner, manager, marketing department, or official staff blogger, some jubilant personality representing the company, becomes extremely approachable, neighborly, relaxed, and self-revealing. Not all business all the time, but also not unprofessionally personal (like expressing hot political opinions or self-congratulatory trivia others could not relate to).

The central hub of all client news, products, and information should be the twin properties of ecommerce website and corporate blog. The website needs a News page that features links to blog posts as they're published, while the blog should refer back to specific product pages in the ecommerce site when reviewing these products.

The website acts as the store front.

The blog is the inside circle, the interior office, the online customer service channel, the direct line to the boss, the inner sanctum of the presidency, the livingroom of the corporate suite -- where people are relaxed and get quick results. Comments get fast replies. Actions are taken on complaints. Help is given to solve problems.

At the website, customers see what you have and what you do.

In the blog, customers get to know you as a real, living, caring person and a distinct, differentiated professional of high standards and good practices.

The most shiny object of all must be the clear message of how the customer will benefit. Polish up how you present the driving idea behind your business: how you solve the customer problem effectively and economically.

A great solution at a fair price, with superior service. Tell customers what their bragging rights will consist of, using words derived from customer engagements in the store, office, or social networks.

Establishing the customer base in all its reality, and knowing the mission of the company in social media, what must be achieved and how it must be done, are the top priorities for strategy in social media marketing.

From these two torches of guidance radiate out all the ramifications and directions that impel our progress to increased sales and reinforced customer loyalty.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Lack of Creativity in Hollywood Film Posters

Here's another great example proving that if you're genuinely creative, you have almost no competition.

Alireza Yavari displayed this poster montage on a GooglePlus stream post, as part of his "Funny Trends in Designing Movie Posters".

These Hollywood film posters show a distinct style being repeated by competing movies.

Big heads in clouds and people walking along a beach.

That's the style and it's being used over and over again. Romance and adventure, longing and belonging, emotions and exotic locations. A visual theme that is imitated until it is truly trite, annoying, dull.

This is what happens when people want to work in a special field, but aren't qualified to do anything original. It's safe to do what everybody else is doing. Your boss may approve, if he or she is dull like you. But you won't stand out from the pack. Your work will sit there, boringly acceptable, tiresomely appropriate, unthinkingly faithful to the specifications of the project.

If your work looks like everybody else's work, you don't know what you're doing.

If you can't find something extraordinary about a product, it means you're mediocre yourself. There is always an undiscovered angle, a special anomaly, a differentiation that sets one thing apart from all the others.

By conveying the message "This is safe because it's very similar to what you already like", you may not increase sales as much as what can be achieved by communicating "This is similar to what you already like, but here's why it's different and why that difference makes this very special and exciting."

People may want what they already like, but many blockbuster products pave their own road to fame and fortune. They do something similar, but also different, and that difference must be captured, understood, and presented to the customer.

Familiarity coupled with Extraordinary.

That's a key to success in creativity.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Astonish Your Customers or Lose Them

Somebody started a Facebook page for IKEA customers who wanted IKEA to host a sleepover.

IKEA went to the trouble and expense of providing it. They know the value of insanely loyal and wildly enthusiastic customers.

Times are tough. It's not getting better, and it cannot get better. You must face the reality that business is going to get worse and worse until you eventually are ruined -- unless you take radical steps right now.

Thrill your customers with incredible events and mind-blowing service.

How? Ask them what they'd love to see you do. Let them be as imaginative as they want to be. Consider every suggestion. Look at what your competitors are doing. Study what other businesses are doing to please and amaze their customers.

Business during good times often seems like a party. You display your products, unlock the door, and shoppers arrive to spend money at your store. Everybody's happy, faces are smiling, wallets are opening, cash is flowing.

Not anymore.

Those days are over, probably never to return.

The golden age of modern commerce is done.

We're in a new environment now, one that is hostile to small business and sucking up to Wall Street banks and mega-corporations. If you're not in their league, you're doomed. And you know it. You see the writing on the wall. You need to get your act together like never before.

You will either start today to astonish your customers and be remarkable -- or starting right now, your business is going down, never to recover. It's your choice. Make your decision now and stick to it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Social Media Consulting

When someone really understands a client's business, and has solutions for fixing what seems a bit less than fully functional, or enhancing and strengthening the best things that are already being done, it's like looking up at a chilly crisp sky and feeling a strong sense of purpose and promise.

To efficiently apply your expertise to a business problem, and then see how happy the client becomes, that's what the work is all about.

The project well done and super professional throughout.

A marketing sector masterfully entered and starting to see a trend toward dominating the category, as the top of mind choice for consumers.

Social marketing consultants vary greatly in their skills, experience, and technical savvy. Many will recommend many things, but only be able to personally produce a very limited range of marketing strategies and types of web content.

The client typically requires more than just chatting in a status update loop on several hot social networks. A good social media strategy must include a variety of content delivery modules: long-form blogging, micro-blogging, mobile networking, CEO videos, product demonstration videos, audio podcasts, photo galleries, and micro-market nichecasting.

All of which fall under the responsibility of the social media consultant, and preferably, will be accomplished or personally overseen by the consultant.

Armed with a good comprehension of the business, its products, target customer segments, and sales goals, you commit to specific goals, not just doing something in an unsophisticated though enthusiastic manner. The client wants to rest assured that the consultant is doing the right thing, in the right way, all the time.

Improvement in search engine rankings, increased store traffic, sales upsurges directly linked to social media marketing campaigns, and other objectives must be considered and used as quantifiable results in assessing the success of the consultant's work.

Once these goals are in order, the next in importance is for the client to grasp their level of responsibility for helping the project succeed.  Sometimes this responsibility doesn't extend any further than occasionally evaluating your program, ensuring that the main thing remains the main thing, and keeping the project heading in the right direction.

A social media consultant is expected to rely on the client's periodic feedback to engender a confidence that the work is being done in a satisfactory and efficient manner, but even more so: that it's pointed at the exact goal now aimed at, which can change as a project grows, intensifies, and generates ramifications.

Social media must be played like a delicate instrument. Hit the wrong note, even just a few times, and your performance is pretty much over. Your intended audience that you intend to interact with must be accommodated and appeased.

It can be a challenge to get a CEO, or to act on his or her behalf, and still be normal without appearing too slack, to act like a regular person, a typical social network participant, who just happens to own or manage a business.

To behave in a relaxed manner, be a sincere, genuine, warm, caring, very human guy or gal, but also keep strict professional standards and never say anything that could be represented as being inappropriate, insensitive, or unprofessional.

What if accelerated interactions with customers on social networks results in too many customers coming into the store, so that your staff feels temporarily overwhelmed, not being accustomed to that much purchasing power pouring in that quickly?

What if people keep urging the client to get on a certain flavor of the month social media site, but there have been some dubious practices reported over there? What if it's all hype, with a lot of glitches, some unavailability, user dangers, or it's just of very uncertain value to the business?

Often the client clearly comprehends that some amount of assistance may be required, sporadically or consistently, in the form of assessments and guidance input, including answers to questions, responses to customer feedback, and similar interactions.

This compliance by the client to certain new, but mutually agreed upon, conditions and routines that have been duly established in keeping with the consultant's strategy and methodology must be acknowledged and accepted by both parties to the project, client and consultant.

The most effectively handled project loads derive from a good balance of client guidance and consultant research, taking what the sometimes changing or evolving needs of the client into consideration with outside studies of what the competition is doing and what the customer is starting to want.

To meet the changing needs of customers requires a merging of the consultant's expertise with the client's intimate knowledge of products, customers, and industry sector. Together, guided by an ever-increasing understanding of customer needs and interests, the business can thrive, while others are barely surviving.

Growth is possible, even in unfavorable economic conditions.

Let your customers be a primary source of information about how you're doing now, and how you can prepare to remain successful in the future.

This is where a good social media consultant steps in. Customer intelligence is vital and it's happening on social media. People are describing problems, specifying things they want, revealing their conditions and circumstances, and looking for solutions, or someone who can guide them to one.

Know it and show it.

Know what it is they're searching for, and the best way to supply it, and you've got yourself a market share. You can't help but win, even if you do a lot of things not so perfectly. A customer-centric online marketing strategy can separate the triumphant from the tried and giving up.

Having a solid, consistent, altruistic, not-always-commercial presence right where your customers like to hang out, this is the new marketing and it's getting more powerful and pervasive every day.

What's really nice is it's a lot less expensive, and easier to modify on-the-fly, than traditional media, some forms of which are rapidly declining.

It makes sense to use social media for competitive advantage. By the time your competitors really wake up and try to play catch-up, you'll already have the experience and results of social media marketing, occupying a position that will not be easy to usurp.

Friday, January 13, 2012

YouTube Copyright Infringement and Average People

It's not easy explaining to people why you refuse to upload videos to YouTube of a local musician doing cover songs. Here I am, protecting the musician from lawsuits -- in addition to protecting myself from lawsuits and having my YouTube account terminated -- but they think I'm the bad guy.

They see copyright infringement videos on YouTube. They think or assume or feel that you once recorded some cover songs by a musician friend. They are now angry at you for not uploading these video sessions to YouTube, and -- forgetting about, and not appreciating the legally displayable and distributable material that you have uploaded -- you are attacked for not uploading everything.

They want you to do what the law says you cannot do.

Mainly because they've seen other people violate the law and seem to get away with it.

It's similar to drunk driving. They know other people who drive intoxicated and never get busted for DUI. So, it's not fair, in their minds, that they should be arrested for drunk driving, or even be warned by concerned friends to not drive drunk.

Sure, they may see some unknown person in a kitchen doing a Beatles song on a YouTube video. "How come it's okay for him to do it?" they ask. "You're just depriving us of seeing our friend do Beatles and Bob Dylan songs on video. You're on the side of the censorship forces."

They don't realize that if they look for that video in 6 weeks, 6 months, or 3 years, it will probably have disappeared. Chances are, it won't stay on YouTube very long, I don't care how many cover song videos they find.

I tell them: "You yourself do a video of a cover song and upload it to YouTube, then see what happens. You don't even have to play guitar. Just sing or quote the lyrics in a video. It may be 6 months or 3 years, but eventually, they'll find it and demand you take it down, or pay for permission, or sue you."

I'm trying to comply with the harsh laws out there.

I try to explain that it's not my fault, these are not my own invented rules. This is federal law. Obama's Justice Department is involved. I tell them that DOJ is taking down entire websites, deemed to be infringing on recording industry copyright, and exact this punishment without warning, notice, or legal recourse on the part of the uploader or the provider of streaming material online.

You must own the rights to every tiny second of every video you upload, every nano-image, every flash of content. You must be the legally recognized composer and originator of each bit of sound or visual contained in your end product, your video presentation or film.

It is even getting risky using public domain music or film. Some big corporations are claiming ownership rights of film and music material that they don't legally have a right to, including what was generated by federal agencies with taxpayer money, according to some reports.

The average person doesn't understand any of this, and cares less. They have a desire. You almost fulfilled it entirely, and where you leave gaps in gratification, you are just being a jerk, and probably inconsistent about it, too.

In the average person's way of thinking, people should be able to upload videos of cover songs.

Why? Because they want to drink a lot of beer and watch their musician friend play music, anybody's music, his own or the Beatles and Bob Dylan, and nobody should prevent that from happening. It's what they want, it must be delivered to them.

They're not interested in the facts or the law. They're often the same people who do many questionable things, without fear or guilt, due to thinking they'll never get caught.

I'm depriving them of some enjoyment.

I'm the "bad guy".


Read more about what YouTube has to say about uploading videos and the copyright laws:

YouTube Copyright Tips

YouTube: What Happens if You Upload Infringing Content?

YouTube: Resources for YouTube Users

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Simple Plan for Business Survival

I am pleased to meet you.

My name is Steven Streight.

I'm an internet marketing strategist and web content developer.

I specialize, in other words, in making a business look good, and also help and please customers, on the internet. Principles I apply to online community networks can also be adopted in the real world interactions between staff and customers.

Discovering what needs to be done, then immediately implementing finely-crafted solutions. That's my method. Finding out what you are needing to accomplish, then developing the tools and systems that will achieve the goal.

It's the content that separates winners from losers on the web. Relevant, trustworthy content related to your products and to problems your customers are trying to solve, plus rich interactions with customers online and in your place of business, will keep your company afloat in the stormiest economic seas.

I'm combative in a professional sense. Waging the war of the mind, fighting to make the client seen as the dependable, trustworthy, expert source of solutions, enhancements, need gratification in a product category or service field.

Using social media to interact in a fully human manner with customers and the local community, in pursuit of becoming the top of mind provider.

Positioning the business as, while demanding that it indeed in reality be, the go-to source of expertise, advice, news, analysis, and information -- along with good product at a fair price, supported by helpful staff, and superior service mixed with genuine friendliness and sincere caring.

Simple. Powerful. Proven.

Take the steps you need to take right now, before it's too late.

Contact me.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Conquest and Challenge Syndrome why customer service is bad and loyalty low

Walk into any store and see if you're noticed.

Look at a few products. Gather them up in your arms, then stand them next to each other on a table or countertop. Stare at them. Scratch your chin. Then your head.

Keeping picking up products and reading their packaging propaganda. Point at parts of the products like you're doing a presentation to an audience. Stamp your feet when you're feeling really frustrated.

Appear quizzical, confused, uncertain. Scurry around, unable to find an item which is not in a logical sector of the store. You'll know what the word alone can really mean.

You're on your own in many American business operations. Your wallet, appearing at frequent intervals,  seems to  be all that really matters. Your satisfaction and loyalty are given lip service. That's as far as it goes. No genuine concern for anything but success, or for some, simple survival.

You, as the customer, need to completely understand your own problem or desire. You must know the dollar amount of what you need to spend to get a good solution. You must know the exact product classification, brand, model, size, or amount that will meet your need.

Don't expect any highly trained, knowledgeable, or friendly staff to greet you, help you, answer your questions, or guide you to the best solution.

Here's where a company can gain a distinct competitive advantage. Using a blog, Facebook, Twitter, and GooglePlus to communicate with customers, advise them, mentor them, become the one with all the answers and a charming personality.

Respond quickly to the slightest movement of any social media participant toward you. Rapidly reply to every like, share, comment, direct message, question, compliment, and suggestion. Be sure to click like and share, and post comments, to other online community members.

Don't just receive attention. Give it. Act like an average person -- who just happens to be making a living with a business. Engage in acts of non-productive, non-sales oriented kindness. Unselfish altruism. Share your expertise. Explain a technicality in plain English. Recommend good links, books, videos, etc. by people you admire in your industry.

Post a quick, nice remark when a fan, follower, or friend in social media uploads a video or photo. It may be a video of a song they like, or a daughter or son's high school graduation photo. Say something pleasant. Avoid anything inappropriate, but be relaxed and in common person mode, with your tie slacked and your shirt sleeves rolled up.

Being warm, human, and personable on social media can be good training for your in-store work in this area. It can set the tone and pave the way to meat space interactions. Either way, you must start somewhere and get all your employees on board, no exceptions. One bad apple can ruin the whole program. Everybody must be in customer service mode at all times, even when contact with customers is not expected.

Customer service needs to be vastly improved, both online and in your place of business. Concentrate on getting across this plan of improved customer relations in your social networks, website, YouTube, and other internet presences. Additionally, you need to focus on better customer relations in phone conversations and face-to-face interactions at your store or office.

Exceptions to poor service are memorable because they're so rare. Good service and after-sales support is being done with brilliant implementation in a lot of smart, successful companies.Customers will sometimes rave about really great service when they experience it.

Unfortunately, more typically, they tend to widely distribute their sour critiques of lousy service. People like to complain and get angry about stuff, especially personal injustices. They gush out with great zeal their dreadful customer relations nightmare. This gloomy tale is told even to strangers, their drive to unburden themselves of the insulting situation is so strong.

Somehow telling the bad story to others, in person, on the phone, in email, or in social networks, makes it seem a load that is communally shared, and oh brother, something is shared alright: negative buzz about your business.

Why is it that customer service is not really regarded, in practice, as a key to business success and survival?

Why are there so few books published on this topic of customer relations, while there are tons of books on sales, entrepreneurs, start-ups, management, networking, social media, brand building, digital media, and marketing?

It's the Conquest and Challenge Syndrome.

All that matters is conquest (sales, the plundering of your bank account). Once an individual is conquered, it is assumed that repeat victories will automatically occur, without any effort by the business owner, manager, or CEO. So you forget about the recent conquest, lured by the excitement of the next challenge.

In other words, once a person is conquered, becomes a conquest, he or she is no longer challenging. Of no interest anymore. Worthy only of a special discount coupon once in a while or a free in-store sample.

They move from conquest to challenge. The challenge becomes a conquest, and on it goes. Ever pursuing that new challenge, until it's converted into a conquest, a sale, an exchange of money from customer to store.

It's like the guy who is unfaithful to his current girlfriend because he's already looking for the next one, while assuming he can enjoy the benefits of the current love interest until he finds a new woman. Conquest, then move on to the next challenge.

What makes it worse is that customer acquisition, the conquest or conversion of a stranger into a paying customer, this whole process is typically delegated to advertising, marketing, and public relations.

"If we sit around and wait for our promotions to work, they will come" seems to be the slogan underlying this inertia. Let the print ads, TV commercials, website, and radio jingles bring us new customers.

People aren't stupid. They make mental notes on how a business treats them. One bad experience can negate a lifetime of great relations with a business. One colossal instance of disrespect. One garish example of getting ripped off. One lie. One time-consuming, frustrating, wild goose chase to get something done.

Customers love to share with everybody, even strangers sometimes, angry tales of bad customer services.

People have feelings, not just wallets. They don't want to be ignored, unappreciated, assumed. Business owners assume those who want the product and know about the store will eventually find their way there.

If you think having the right products at a good price, plus a lot of expensive advertising and occasional discounts and special events, are going to obtain and retain customers, you're wrong. It's not enough. It's a big mistake to lean on externals and the extraordinary.

Be friendly, helpful, customer-centric right there in the store or business location. Face to face contact is where the real marketing occurs. The moment the customer walks into your building, or visits your website, that's when sales begins and customer service kicks in. Before they even buy something, your treatment of the customer is felt, sensed, and seen.

From the minute any contact is made with any employee, customer relations has started to burn a "brand" into the consciousness of the consumer. This mental "branding" is far more important than any brand campaign cooked up to push a framework and motivation onto a customer.

The impression your staff makes on each customer is what builds the momentum of word of mouth and online buzz. Your advertising cannot combat the real world experiences of store traffic or customer assistance programs. Eventually, the truth will get out, and your slogans will be laughed at, if not despised.

As CEO, business owner, or manager, you need to provide the model of ideal sales and ideal customer service. You set the example, then enforce the standards your business must strive for to attract new customers, increase sales, and retain loyal advocates, who, as satisfied customers, are happy to find a business that really cares.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Computer Clubs vs Social Media

Has social media entirely replaced computer clubs? I'm not sure. But social networks can supplement computer user groups and robot hobbyist organizations.

Someone on GooglePlus, a social media site, it was a certain Chris Pirillo (catch my  interview with Chris Pirillo on my Blog Talk Radio show) asked the question: "Do you belong to a computer club?".

Some people chimed in with their opinion that people do on social networks what they used to do in real world computer clubs, only it's faster, easier, and more convenient now to update their status and grind out content on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and GooglePlus.

Computer clubs can have appropriate names.

* Detroit Perl Mongers

Central Illinois Robotics Club

* Metro Detroit Linux Users Gropu

* Older Persons Center Computer Club

* Southeastern Michigan Computer Organization

Central Illinois Apple and Macintosh Users Group (CIAMUG)

Of course, this all goes back to the band of outsiders who brought us the first personal computers, the Homebrew Computer Club.

According to Wikipedia:


This was an early computer hobbyist users' group in Silicon Valley, which met (under that name) from March 5, 1975 to December 1986. Several very high-profilehackers and IT entrepreneurs emerged from its ranks, including the founders of Apple Inc.

Though the Homebrew members were hobbyists, most of them had an electronic engineering or programming background. They came to the meetings to talk about the Altair 8800 and other technical topics and to exchange schematics and programming tips.

From the ranks of this club came the founders of many microcomputer companies, including Bob Marsh, George Morrow, Adam Osborne,Lee Felsenstein (wielder of "the big stick", a blackboard pointer used as a prop for his form of moderation), and Apple founders Steve Jobsand Steve Wozniak. John Draper was also a member of the club, as was Jerry Lawson, creator of the first cartridge-based video game system. Ron Jones (Crashed Platter Products and other small businesses) and Jerry Lawson were the only African-American members of the club.[5]

The Homebrew Computer Club's newsletter was one of the most influential forces in the formation of the culture of Silicon Valley. Created and edited by its members, it initiated the idea of the Personal Computer, and helped its members build the original kit computers, like the Altair. One such influential event was the publication of Bill Gates's Open Letter to Hobbyists, which lambasted the early hackers of the time for pirating commercial software programs.

The first issue of the newsletter was published on March 15, 1975, and continued through several designs, ending after 21 issues in December 1977.


I happen to know the Chief Facilitator of the Peoria Area Robot and Computer Appreciation Association (PARCAA), pronounced "par kay", a group that is far deeper and more complex than the club name might suggest to the outsider. 

They are active in digital rights of web users, corporate accountability for customer data, demonstrating new gadgets and accessories, opinionated about haptic immersive technology, hopping rides on the interplanetary internet, and often drinking coffee from budget brands Yuban, Walgreens Nice, and Eight O'Clock, to the more upscale Kupi Luwak, Los Planes, St. Helena, Rwanda Blue Bourbon, Fazenda Sao Benedito, Dallmayr Prodomo, Zanzibar Liberica, and Monkey Parchment.

None of them use social media, preferring email, video chat, or QR code communications planted on flyers posted physically on pre-determined objects in the university campus area, where you scan the code and see a message or video presentation.