>Selling yourself

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True, selling yourself on eBay probably isn’t the best idea. But for Alex Chatfield, there was no other way to enjoy the remainder of the baseball season. You see, Chatfield is a Cleveland Indians fan, as am I, and we are somewhat used to not winning lately. Mostly that is thanks to the 10-game losing streak we were on for the first time since 1973. (As a matter of fact, until yesterday’s 13-2 win over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays we had not won a game since June 27th!)

Chatfield has had enough and decided to list his fan loyalty for sale on eBay. The starting bid is $299.00 for which you will receive the following (as quoted from his ad):

1. I will watch at least one game a week of your favorite team and root as hard as I can for them to win.

2. I will send you at least 3 emails a week telling you how awesome your team is and or discussing what your team needs to do to get better (in my opinion).

3. I will wear (at your expense) any appropriate apparel (meaning Male officially sanctioned MLB merchandise) for your team. You will recieve one digital photo of me wearing this garb for each item you purchase and send to me.

4. I will root for your team for the remaining 2008 season and for the 2008 Post Season, after that, I am no longer requried to root for your team.

5. I will email a friend of yours and tell them why their team sucks, and why your team is awesome. (limit 3 emails – no profanity)

Careful though. If you are a Boston Red Sox fan, that will cost you an extra $3,500. Do you prefer to root for Jim Thome’s team? An extra $1,500. Yankees? Prepare to spend an additional $10,000. What about Roger Clemens? That’ll be $5,000 additional. And Barry Bonds? A whopping $35,000!

This begs the question if Chatfield is a fairweather fan or if simply needs some extra money. In either case, Chatfield is marketing himself to users all over the world – and in a very creative idea. This story has made the local news and the hits on his eBay ad are increasing by the minute.

When in marketing, especially in marketing yourself, ensure you are saying what you want to say and not leaving your loyalty out to dry.

-Katy

>Billboard Advertising Lessons

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It is what it is. A phrase that just makes sense. Recently, I saw it used in a static billboard (non-digital/vinyl/paper). I usually don’t like to point out faults of other campaigns or least not publicly. Everyone has to be a critic, right?

Well, I was driving on 480-east and saw this billboard with large words: “Certified Pre-Owned.” The words were crossed out with “Used” written below. So I’m thinking another car dealership billboard. No big deal. But what struck me was the difficulty in reading the corner graphics. I failed to make out the words. And no, I wasn’t driving too fast as it was morning rush hour (meaning 45 mph if I’m lucky).

I forgot about the car dealership ad until the next day when I was driving on E. 14 about to get on 77 South and there it was again! It was up-close and personal so when I saw in tiny letters, “It is what it is. NoGrapesNoNuts.com” I was shocked!! A GRAPE-NUTS billboard? I understand its a cereal with no grapes, no nuts, it is what it is. But “certified pre-owned/used?” Are they selling used cereal? Huh?

So naturally I jump on the website later that day to find this young actor introducing the history of Grape-Nuts. Its way too long to watch but for the purpose of this entry, I suffered through it. Great, it got me on a website that eventually pointed back to the cereal’s original website. Good job, sort of.

Without pointing out all the wrong and strange elements of this campaign, let’s focus on how you can avoid this train wreck (or is it appropriate to say car wreck? Haha, sorry, that was lame!)…

  1. Make sure your billboard is readable from long distances
  2. Use one theme with one focus
  3. Include big words and one call-to-action
  4. Simple graphics and fonts are better
  5. Keep the flashy toned down when using digital billboards

Let me know your thoughts on NoGrapesNoNuts.com; is it really as bad as I think? Maybe I’m not the demographic, perhaps the younger generations are the target market. Did you see the billboards around town? Send us your comments!

~ Michelle

>Keeping track of the hits

>When I first started to research blogging I was a little confused on how I would keep track of the HUGE amount of traffic coming to our blog.

I first started using FeedBurner, but was greatly disappointed because of the lack of efficiency in the program. Sure, it was easy to use but after weeks of showing not having any visitors I became a little skeptical. I continued searching for more tracking sites without any luck.

I contacted Kristi Gustafson, or as I call her the “real Carrie Bradshaw,” who runs an extremely popular blog for the Times Union in Albany, New York. She guided me to a site called StatCounter.

StatCounter.com tracks not only the number of visitors to your site, but provides you with the length of the visitor’s stay, the pages they visited and even their location. I decided to give it a try, what could it hurt?

Sorry FeedBurner, we are actually having visitors reading our blog daily. StatCounter is reliable, easy to use and my new best friend. Who would have thought you could see a map of the world with markers representing your visitors? StatCounter makes that happen. You can also see which blog topics your readers most often read and their reading pattern throughout your blog.

Go ahead bloggers, give StatCounter a try.

-Katy

>Basic telephone etiquette

>Question: Have you ever been on a phone call and wondered how to politely suggest telephone manner tips to the person on the other end?

I have. Out of a recent conversation about a phone interview gone wrong, it is obvious everyone knowing the basics of telephone etiquette is a misconception. Most of these tips I am sure you have heard before, but here are a few in case you have forgotten.

– When on the phone, smile. Callers on the other end will hear it in your voice and will most likely be more pleasant in response.

– Identify yourself. When initiating a phone call of which the recipient is not familiar with you, make sure you clearly identify yourself, what company you work for and why you are calling.

– Actively listen. Pretend you are face to face with the person on the other end. Become engaged in the conversation and ask questions if you are unsure of the answer.

– Practice makes (almost) perfect. It sometimes is easier to role play the phone call before you actually make it. Practicing may help avoid some stumbling blocks you weren’t initially aware of.

Open communication lines. If you have a voicemail, check it often enough that it remains empty. This will avoid callers receiving a “mailbox is full” message when trying to get in touch with you.

– The wind tunnel curse. We’ve all either been there or been on the other end. If it is windy outside and you are trying to talk on your cell phone, It is highly unlikely the person on the other end of the phone will be able to understand anything you say. Please wait until you are indoors to make a phone call.

– Common courtesy. It is true – “Please” and “thank you” go a long way.

– Umm… you know? Take note of sentence fillers you may say without realizing and make an effort to avoid them.

– Snacking prohibited. Make an effort to avoid eating or drinking while on the phone. The person on the other end will thank you.

– Always return your phone calls. “It is the right thing to do,” as my Mom (and yours) would say.

Try to keep these in mind the next time you are on the phone… after all, anytime you are on the phone you are marketing yourself. Go ahead, give yourself something to brag about.

-Katy

>Helping create the next generation of business professionals

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I recently volunteered as a “marketing consultant” for the 2008 Ohio Business Week (OBW) program at Youngstown State University. This is by 5th year participating in the program that will shape the next generation of business professionals. So what is OBW?

Ohio Business Week (OBW) is a weeklong summer program that brings a diverse group of high school students and established members of the business community together to translate textbook business principles into “real world” business practices. Since 1988 OBW has given more than 5,000 high school students the opportunity to experience entrepreneurship and explore all facets of business in a way unmatched in the high school setting. By attending OBW, students emerge from OBW with the skills necessary to succeed from the classroom to the boardroom.

Ohio Business Week Foundation Founder Ron Nischwitz was former Major League Baseball pitcher for the Detroit Tigers (’61, ’62, ’65) and the Cleveland Indians (’63) turned entrepreneur, Nischwitz understands the importance of having a fair balance of academics and athletics.

“Today’s youth tend to get caught up in the world of sports and the hype of going pro,” said Nischwitz. “Students need to understand that there is less than a one percent chance for an athlete to make it to the pros. A student is guaranteed success after highs school if they pursue higher education through hands-on learning experiences like Ohio Business Week.”

By attending programs like Ohio Business Week, students can show prospective colleges that they are serious about their education and their future. OBW is not just for business-minded students. The skills taught throughout the week can be used in any profession students choose to pursue after they graduate from college.

During OBW, students are assigned to a “company” with 10-12 other participants. Under the guidance of a loaned business executive, each company brainstorms ideas for an imaginary start-up business venture and embarks on the Emerging Entrepreneur Project (EEP). Each company elects officers; researchers and writes a business, financial and marketing plan; constructs a trade show display; creates a web page/magazine ad and radio/TV commercials.

Participants engage in interactive activities designed to teach fundamental business concepts and assist companies in completing their EEP. At the conclusion of the program educational scholarships are awarded to students who display exceptional leadership, entrepreneurship and community service.


Bruce Felber listens to company pitch

In addition to the EEP, participants attend presentations given by several business professionals. I started my involvement 5 years ago as a presenter on marketing disciplines and example of campaigns. I demonstrated through brainstorming techniques they can create a marketing and promotion plan for their products. Over the last 4 years I donated my time as a “marketing consultant” where the companies present their product or service and engage me on how to market. Many times they just need a push or challenge and other times they need to focus their tactics and campaigns.

Many loaned executives share their business expertise and build awareness about career trends and employment opportunities. Also, participants attend seminars that emphasize financial literacy, business ethics and communications. Finally, participants tour distribution and manufacturing centers to learn how raw materials are manufactured and how manufactured goods reach the marketplace.

I would encourage any parent, teacher, high school student or business executive to look into this wonderful program. Visit http://www.ohiobusinessweek.org/ for more information. I challenge my colleagues to get involved with OBW or similar programs.

Bruce

>There’s a new chief in town

>A chief blogger, that is. Larger corporations such as Dell, Coca-Cola and Marriott are now actively recruiting people to tell their company’s story via blogging and try and further engage and interact with their consumers. To date, only a little over 11% of Fortune 500 companies have corporate blogs, according to SocialText.

With the rising popularity of the blogs, this figure surprised me some considering how mainstream blogging is becoming. I feel blogging is a way to express personal opinions on topics and be heard even though you are the “little guy” in the industry – this notion is perhaps why more smaller companies are actively blogging.

Can these small companies go out and recruit the chief blogger, just as larger companies have? Sure. Will they? Probably not. Just as in our company’s case we are certainly not going to go out and hire a chief blogger, but will I call myself a chief blogger if the situation calls for it? Absolutely.

>A lesson from Randy Pausch

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As many of you probably know, there is a remarkable man named Randy Pausch fighting for his life at this very moment. Pancreatic cancer will soon take him from his young family, as the doctors do not expect him to live more than a few more months. (Randy’s blog and Last Lecture on Oprah) Given the recent passing of Tim Russert, I felt it necessary to honor this man while he is still with us.

A good friend of mine confided in me he had to reveal to a client their past six months worth of research was sent into “cyber la-la land” and there was no way to get that information back. This is one of their largest clients – how do you even begin to fix it? Randy Pausch has the answer – make the apology REAL and SINCERE.

As Randy states, “A good apology has three parts:
1. I’m sorry.
2. It was my fault.
3. How do I make it right?

The last part tells about your sincerity.”

This lesson applies to all aspects of life – including clients. When my friend approaches their client, he will follow these steps Randy Pausch has suggested… but, he is also coming in with ways on how to fix it. We can all take a lesson from this – if you do make a mistake: apologize, own it and fix it.

>When I was your age, Pluto was a planet.

>Initially, this Facebook group just made me laugh. Whether that is because I am easily entertained or not is a different story all together – but, think about that for a minute. The children growing up now will be educated with the solar system as Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. No Pluto.

This is quite a turning point in history, just as we will always remember Columbine, where we were when the read the OJ Simpson verdict on TV or how scared (and small) we felt on 9/11. Granted, this event isn’t as tragic by any stretch of the imagination – but still significant.

This all began a mear two years ago when the International Astronomical Union (IAU) demoted Pluto to a “dwarf planet” status. Last week, the IAU took another jab at Pluto and requested Pluto from here on out referred to as a “plutoid” – a word not even recognized in the English language. To read the whole story, please visit here.

>And the winner is…

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Zurich, Switzerland. This city was named by BusinessWeek as the world’s best place to live.

Who else was made the list?

1. Zurich, Switzerland
2. Vienna, Austria (tied)
2. Geneva, Switzerland (tied)
4. Vancouver, Canada
5. Auckland, Australia
6. Dusseldorf, Germany
7. Munich, Germany (tied)
7. Frankfurt, Germany (tied)
9. Bern, Switzerland
10. Sydney, Australia

Curious how your city ranked? Check it out.
-Katy

>A Great Man Who Will Always Be Remembered

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To wake up on Sunday morning and Watch “Meet The Press” has always been a tradition or more recently a habit. So this Sunday was no different – or was it? There was an almost biblical feeling. A feeling like something was not right. To watch the show I have grown up with and not see that familiar face looking back at me was strange. Meet The Press without Tim Russert – it is like baseball without hot dogs. You are still there but something is missing.

Tim added that special flavor to an informative and entertaining show that has shaped our lives for decades. Let’s face it. No one has done it better. His political insight was without equal and without ego. Tim added that fatherly advise and never let his own views cloud an issue. Even his coverage of our nation’s elections was without equal. If Tim said it you can believe it and 99% of the time it was true. Is it any wonder that he died doing what he loved best.

If there is any lesson here it is to enjoy your life’s work with a passion, but leave room for the everyday things. Like a morning sunrise or the gentle breeze on a warm Sunday afternoon. Enjoy life and take care of yourself. There is a saying that I will paraphrase, ” One’s life is not measured by how much you have done, but how much you have done for others.” Tim will be forever etched in our hearts and one cannot hear that famous music or words on the screen without a place in out heart for the best of the best.

Bruce