Monday, December 13, 2010

Inbound Marketing

Reading marketing and the web related books is a constant fav of mine. I share with you one of the best books, I've come across, in a very long time.

Inbound Marketing - Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

The book is well written and concise. What I like the most about their writing, is the lack of ego. So many of these books are better at the authors "self-promotion" and/or opinions, than usable content. I like their balanced view on various social networking sites.

The book concludes with, "Tips from the Trenches for Startups." Although, this book is not just for startups. You could actually start reading the end first (like cheating on a good novel) and then the rest of the book. I found the SEO section the best of all my readings. And yes, it really is as easy as they say.

Enjoy and good luck.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Better, Faster, Cheaper

On a recent potential client's review, I noticed on their website they said "We subscribe to "Better, Faster, Cheaper." This is a very worn cliché.

I do not subscribe to this cliché. My experience as a services buyer has shown another tired cliché, "Of these three qualities, pick two,"  also needs revision.

The new thought, replacing these clichés, should be, "Improve, Improve, Improve."

1. Improve Customer Service
2. Improve your product
3. Improved profit is the result

Monday, October 25, 2010

Company Reputation

Who represents your company? Is it your PR department, Marketing, the C-suite?

You might be surprised at the answer, although it shouldn't. Just as you search the Internet about a prospective employee, a diligent  candidate will search the Internet on your company. What will they find out about you? Have you checked this yourself? You better.

There are multiple sites, where company information can be gleaned, including opinions/ratings. People will use their social networks to inquire about your company or post information, if they currently work for you. They know people are not shy about expressing their feelings, using their social networks. Social networking is fast and powerful. Any, let me repeat, ANY, contact, inside and outside, reflects on your company. If you're consumer based, this reflection is amplified.

Given that over 80% of the current workforce, would quit their job, if the economy was better. How will this effect you, when the economy gets better?

Think about the next time you tell one of your associates, "you're lucky to have a job" or you interview a candidate for the third time and never follow up with them, how this will impact on your company. This impact may be now or later, but will affect you.

Did you answer the question correctly?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Efficient Photo Shoots

One of our company's expertise is photo studio management and equipment. Also, from the client's side, efficient execution. I spent eight years, traveling the globe on photo shoots for consumer product campaigns. I had strict protocol on-set/location, defined roles and responsibilities and restricted personnel.

It amazes me, the number of people clients allow to attend shoots. Especially, considering 2/3 of them just spend time on their Blackberrys or iPhones, without regard to the task at hand. Yes, there is a lot of downtime and these tools can help productivity. Just peer over the shoulder of one or two people and it's not their work on the screen, but FaceBook and Twitter. Now define productivity.

Professional photography is very expensive and time dependent. My advice is to define accountability for each member of the client's team attending the shoot. Convey these roles to the studio/agency team. Reducing the number of people on-set with reduce your costs. I guarantee it! Right off the bat, fewer people traveling and less people to feed by the craft service. Oh, you thought lunch was free? "There's no such thing as a free lunch." It's all part of the day rate, if not broken out on the quote. 

How many people does it take to accomplish a shot? Just one less.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Would you hire this company?

Recently, I was in discussion with an advertising agency, ready to double in size. They professed on their website, they only handle clients that are willing to change. Great start, I thought, as I am a "change agent" for marketing and advertising agencies, whether corporate in-house or external.

After a few weeks into how I can bring a lot to their company operationally, they leaped forward, and hired a lead person. Without further details, to protect the agency, this quick decision represents a business model that is 60 years old in the advertising industry.

Would you hire a company that wants you to change and operates their own company under an antiquated business model? I speak with authority, as I have never seen this operational structure succeed.

My favorite line in the movie Wayne's World, is when Garth says, "I fear change." Does anyone see a contradiction in this scenario? I want to say, "practice what you preach" or "lead by example". Remember all is exposed in the 21st Century www world.

The lesson.
Be careful what you say verses how you act and as exciting as explosive growth may be, proceed with calculated progress. Look before you leap.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Formula for decision making:
F - collect facts
I - use intuition
R - assess risks
E - base on experience

A good executive will assess all four areas.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The 21st Century–New Economic Drivers

20th Century – General Motors, Ford, Chrysler

21 Century – Google, Amazon, Apple

Think about it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Communication and Empowerment

When you speak with someone, can you look them in the eye? Are you a "crackberry" head? Are you addicted to power? Can you leave your job for more than two seconds, without being connected?

I love technology and guilty of being a geek (but a creative one) myself, so don't get me wrong about communication tools. The point is iPhones, and the like, are just that, tools.

While eating at a Waffle House, I noticed a nearby young couple sitting across from each other. For those not familiar with this restaurant chain, the place and tables are small. Each person, at this table, was on their respective devices. No verbal or visual communication. You see this scenario at the theater, in church, meetings, in the grocery store, everywhere. What was the point of being together?

Next, can work survive without you for an hour? A day? God forbid, a week? Think about this, a week's vacation. If the answer is no, you haven't done a good job of preparing and empowering your people or you're a candidate for a heart attack, because you're addicted to the power. Or both.

My management philosophy has proved to be valid and I share it with you.

    I do not get upset if a manager makes the wrong decision, as much as if they don't make a decision at all.

Mr. Whitacre, the General Motors' CEO, became upset when highly compensated executives came to him for a decision. I read, he sent them out of his office and told them they were paid to make those decisions. I applaud him. If managers can't make appropriate decisions, in their area of expertise or responsibility,  the wrong people are in these positions.

When I'm not connected via technology, I find myself creatively thinking. When your mind is at rest, great things come to the surface. This is a psychological truth, too deep to cover in a blog. Here's a simple example. When you lay down to sleep (assuming you do sleep), have you noticed your mind remembers things or new ideas pop into your head? If you haven't experienced this feeling, seek help.

Morals to this blog:
  • Talk with people. Practice with someone nearby, right now. Look them in the eye. This is called respect.
  • Review your management team, empower them as a subject matter expert. This is called respect. If you're a manager, seek empowerment.
  • Finally, turn off your device. First for 5 minutes, then 10; work up to a whole day and beyond.
Then, enjoy a nice conversation with someone at the Waffle House.

Value Proposition

How many times have you heard this term? What does it mean?

Basically, it means how your product or service differentiates from the competition. But what if we apply it to people and preliminary work.

I am opposed to any service, as free. Specifically, interns' contributions and what we call advertising "spec" work. Everything has value or, as the axiom states, "you get what you pay for."

A warm energetic body is not your whipping person for drudgery work. They provide a function you probably don't care to do yourself. They deserve to be paid.

A campaign strategy or conceptual presentation has value. It should not be a requirement to obtaining a project. Remuneration should be expected.

This poor business model has existed for decades and is permeating other industries, such as architecture and broadcasting. I have also witness "spec" business or marketing plans, for various industries.

Stop this practice!

Anything of value deserves compensation or it has no value.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Marketing As A Discipline

Marketing in of itself, is a series of events:
  • Market Research
  • Market Analysis
  • Define Customer
  • Brand/Product Development
  • Define Market Approach/Media Mix
  • Implement Campaign via Advertising
    (Note, advertising is a partnership with marketing, as a separate discipline that includes brand image and marketing execution)
  • Measurement
  • Repeat
I feel Marketing is independent of product category. The discipline can be applied to any industry.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

From Silly to Absurd

The economy has redefined many job descriptions and I've written about position consolidation before. This one takes the cake. I spoke with a recruiter yesterday looking for the following  skill sets in one person.

Account Executive
Industrial Engineer
Brand and Marketing
Digital Pre-Press
Consumer Products
Graphic Design
[Discipline] Engineer

I'm afraid to ask, "how many more disciplines can you get in one person?" Okay, I can't resist. They forgot plumber and physical therapist. Now it's complete.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Auto Response

Here is a sad commentary on how some companies approach job candidates.

This is a real auto-response from an internet job submission. This company is so benign, they didn't bother to populate the required fields, before uploading to their system.

Dear Jack DeLine (no punctuation)

We have received your resume submission for the Director of Marketing position at (add company name). We will review your resume within (add timeframe) and contact you should your qualifications meet the requirements of the position. Your submission will be kept on file for (add length of time).

In addition to considering you for the Director of Marketing position, your resume will also be added to our applicant-tracking database and we will review your qualifications as new opportunities develop. You are welcome to apply to future job postings if an opportunity interests you.

Thank you again for applying!


Name deleted

(add company name, link to company website, other contact info as appropriate)

Pretty soon we can just have self-directed submission responses and rejection letters.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Toyota Lessons

What have we learned, from the Toyota quality meltdown? In the 80's Japanese cars were superior to American cars in quality. 30 years later, the Japanese manufacture many cars and parts in America. The quality of the two countries have converged.

Here are the questions:

- Where did Kaisen, Six Sigma, ISO, Lean Manufacturing get us? Companies have spent millions of dollars on these programs to increase quality, from car manufacturers to advertising agencies.

- Where is the cost/quality line on ROI?

- What is customer satisfaction worth?

- What is the cost of "packaged" practices (besides hanging a banner on your building)?

Which is a good business practice?
A. Listen to your people to improve quality
B. Buy the latest "management del ano" book and force it on your company associates

(Hint: Who will implement the program?)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Are We Too Lean

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal was questioning the "Lean" manufacturing system. A valid question. Have we reduced our "x" (insert: costs, people, suppliers, insert anything that's applicable), to the point of losing quality or even efficiencies?

As a organizational structure and process expert, I'm all for efficiencies. I'm also a fan of Jim Collins. In his book, "Good to Great," he expresses having the right people on the bus. Also, it's important, in having the right people in the right seats on the bus. But, what happens when you take seats out of the bus?

In one of my organizations, I proved we could add people and reduce overhead, by having the right people in the right places. Do you?


In last pages of Leonard Sweet's book, "The Three Hardest Words in the World to Get Right," he struck home many points I've covered in my blogs, but none more rooted than diversity. Here are some poignant quotes from the book:
  • "Every one of us is different, even when we're doing the same thing."
  • "Cloning is the abolishment of diversity. And think about organizational cloning and social cloning, as segments of our culture celebrate enforced sameness."
  • "Sometimes it's our eccentricities that prod us into our greatest contributions."
Interesting he used the word, "cloning." My same word describing many companies hiring practices. Doing what you've always done, will get you what you already have.

I love this last quote!
  • "Sameness is a one-way ticket to extinction."
WaterBrook Press

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Below is an actual job posting job description. I personally, have never seen so many buzz words crammed into a single paragraph in my life.

No wonder the marketing industry is having an identity crisis. With Social Networking the hottest channel for marketing, how can this language still be relevant. I've never seen this verbosity on FaceBook.

Translating the differentiated Brand DNA and product news into program messaging and components
Aligning and executing programs to resonate with the lifestyle of our target audience
Building shrewd marketing strategies and tactics reflective of the evolving competitive landscape
Leverage company-wide and outside partnerships and assets

Here's my translation, "We need someone who understands our customer, works well with others and can help us make our business grow."

Award-winning marketing strategist, best-selling author, conference speaker and seminar leader, David Meerman Scott, calls this language "gobbledygook". He explains this in his book
The New Rules of Marketing & PR.

How can a marketing hire whose language is "corp-speak", communicate effectively to the customer? Unless your customer is corporate pencil-necks (which this example is not BTW).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Strength and Weakness

The message at church yesterday involved strength and weakness, followed by "What do you have to give?"

This is a perfect question for business, too. I will bet everyone has been touched by "strengths and weaknesses" at some point in their career, either conducting or being interviewed or part of the review process. I have also seen it used as a management directive to increase productivity.

In all these situations that involve strengths and weaknesses, let's reduce it to, "What do you have to give?"

Think about it. Isn't that bottom line.

700 Resumes

Whether you're the candidate or the company, do you ever wonder why there are so many applicants per job?  The answer lies beyond a limited number of opportunities .

In order to collect unemployment, recipients are required to apply for "x" number of jobs per week. "X" is undefined. I have heard that some people will get on the Internet and apply for 30 or more jobs a day!

My heart goes out to candidates, HR departments and hiring managers everywhere.

Next, I will look into criteria based HR practices to cull through this conundrum.

Visit me at The J. Frost Group Website