Tag Archive for Marketing

Spend a Day in My Shoes, Sort Of

Lately, when people have asked how I have been doing, instead of falling into a familiar rut and answering mindlessly, “OK” or “fine,” I have been finding myself pausing, reflecting for a moment and telling them, “I am doing great. I have a blessed life.”

Bobby Warren Wendi Warren Mary Taylor Josh Krajcik

Some of the components that make up Bobby Warren’s life, from the top, left: Being a member of Parkview Christian Church; getting to interview people like Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor as a reporter at The Daily Record; shooting video for newspaper website; being the husband of Wendi Warren; enjoying wonderful pets like Madison; playing in Parkview’s praise band with people like Steve Hanna; and hanging out with Josh Krajcik before a concert with The Daily Record’s Lydia Gehring.

And, I do have a wonderful life. If you look at the collage above, you will see just a small sample of the things that make up my life, like church, getting to interview people like Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor or shoot video for a Josh Krajcik interview; spend my life with my wonderful wife, Wendi Warren; enjoy our pets like Madison; and play in Parkview’s praise band with the likes of Steve Hanna.

Here is a typical day for me:

  1. Wake up and ease into my day. I might check to see who’s beating me on Words with Friends; log into Google+, Facebook, Twitter; check out my previous day’s stats on this blog; look to see if me or my wife, Wendi, sold any more books (see here and here); and see if there have been any sales through my Amazon affiliate links.
  2. Once awake, talk with Wendi before she leaves for work. This, of course, happens if I actually get out of bed before she heads to work.
  3. Read the Bible and pray. I have been reading Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai and Zechariah because I teach a Sunday School class, and we have been focusing on this period in Israel’s history.
  4. Get ready and head to work. My full-time job is working as a reporter for The Daily Record in Wooster, Ohio. I get to meet a lot of interesting people, and I really enjoy what I do.
  5. Come home and eat. Self-explanatory.
  6. Engage in various activities. Depending upon the day of the week or month, I might be covering a night event or meeting for the newspaper; I might be in a men’s ministry meeting; I might be watching TV, performing magic somewhere or practicing with the praise team (I play bass); I might be writing, editing or laying out a book; checking and rechecking my social networks and Words with Friends; hanging out with Wendi; reading a book; working on a Sunday School lesson; or writing a blog.

My life is hectic, but not really stressful. I hope you have enjoyed a day in my shoes, sort of. I have a great wife who makes me better and supports my endeavors. I am truly blessed. What about you?

Learning Some Lessons About Persistence From Josh Krajcik

Josh Krajcik is well-known and well-respected as a singer, songwriter and musician in his hometown area of Wooster, but despite all of the love, he found it difficult to make a mark in the music industry. Until The X Factor.

Krajcik at COW Pixlr

Krajcik was among the performers featured on the inaugural season of the latest singing competition from Simon Cowell. The singer’s rendition of Etta James’ “At Last” went viral and catapulted Krajcik into the country’s consciousness. He was an overnight sensation after about 14 years.

Eventually, Krajcik would finish as runner-up behind Melanie Amaro. Despite the second-place finish, Krajcik seemed poised to have a better, longer-lasting career than the Amaro or third-place finisher Chris Rene. His soulful, bluesy voice, described by “The Rolling Stone” as a combination of a “young Joe Cocker, Bob Seger and old Joe Cocker, just seems to have a staying power what will not be as susceptible to changing fads.

The second season of The X Factor did not do as well as the first. After reading about some of the ratings struggles, I posted this:

Krajcik provided a compelling story line for that first season. The 30–year-old burrito slinger resigned himself to working at burrito joint and playing gigs when he could. Then came the audition for The X Factor. Once that aired, it looked as if it would be smooth sailing: Incredible voice; incredible talent; and incredible response.

Despite turning in wonderful performances and being a fan favorite, trying to get a contract signed and album recorded was very trying. Even though Krajcik wanted things to move at a faster pace, he was always able to separate the business side from the music side.

Whenever Lydia Gehring of The Daily Record would interview him (and I would shoot video, as in the photo above), Krajcik always remained upbeat that something would happen soon. Well, finally something is happening. He released an EP on iTunes, and it was a top seller. He recently announced his new album, “Blindly, Lonely, Lovely,” to be released April 2. (You can preorder it through this Amazon affiliate link: Blindly Lonely Lovely.)

“The Rolling Stone” had a reader’s poll, and Krajcik’s album came in as the sixth-most anticipated release of 2013, behind U2, Pearl Jam, David Cook, Arcade of Fire and Queens of the Stone Age. (I can understand being behind U2 and Pearl Jam, but not the other three.) To understand how impressive this is, consider the rest of the Top 10: Black Sabbath, Brittany Spears, Tool and Lady Gaga all finished behind Krajcik.

Until Krajcik demonstrates he can sell records (or digital downloads), all he has done is shown a potential. However, he is in a position to be successful because he never quit, he never gave up, he pursued a music career on his own terms and played with the hand he was dealt. We can learn about persevering from watching what he has done.

In the times I have been with Krajcik (and he has been generous with his time at the Cleveland House of Blues and College of Wooster concerts), he never complained about what was happening on the business side of the ledger. Instead, he focused on those things he could do.

Life might put up obstacles in your way, but let’s focus on what we can do and start there.

Check out this video I shot and edited featuring Lydia Gehring interviewing Josh Krajcik:

Updated April 5, 2013: Listen to the first five minutes of this video. Everything Krajcik was talking about in September is playing out right now, including the promotional tour.

Purveyor of Words Loses Sale Due to, Well, Words

When I started this blog, I had a lot to learn about blogging, which is much more than writing thoughts down and uploading them to a website.

Words on Page

I started learning more about search engine optimization, content marketing systems, WordPress themes and marketing, in general. I was intrigued by a content marketing system offered for sale. The opening words of the promotion informed me the special price, which was a very attractive one, was only available “this week.”

I made a mental note of “this week,” and because it was early in the week, I knew I had time. I went about my business and waited until the end of the week to make my purchase.

I don’t what “this week” means to you, but it means to at least 11:59 p.m. Saturday. In the United States, Saturday is the recognized end of the week, and Sunday begins a new one.

When I jumped onto the website to transact business, the price was the original, higher one. It was not the sale price. I went back to the email to make sure I clicked the right link, and then I reread the email. Turns out, “this week” actually meant “by 4 p.m. Friday.” Our definitions did not match. The pitch used words I knew, but infused a different meaning into them.

Let me just say, I recognize I did not fully read the ad, so ultimately I am responsible for missing out on the sale. Still, the marketing material could have been written better. Namely, it could have clearly articulated the true deadline.

The company offers a content marketing system. Content is made up of several elements, including words. In this instance, those words failed — if for no one else, then at least for this sale.

When you find yourself in a position to ask others to purchase your product or service, incentives are a good way to go. Deadlines provide a good way to spur action. However, when you do, be clear with your potential customers, list the information up front and do not bury the relevant information. Also, if you are like me, read all of the information. Don’t skim.

This is important to remember, even in our everyday lives: Let people understand what is expected. There will be fewer misconceptions and more rewards.

Kindle Fire HD 7 Continues to Score Big Here

It’s been nearly seven weeks since I purchased a Kindle Fire HD 7, and I am liking it more and more everyday. For good reason.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7

I remember reading on Michael Hyatt’s blog about how preferred the iPad Mini over the original, larger version, saying the Mini was what the iPad should have been from the start.

Having never owned an iPad, I cannot make the same statement, but I can say this: The Kindle Fire HD 7 is what netbooks should have been all along. When my wife’s laptop became old, outdated and slow, I wanted to get her a new one. However, there was something attractive about the netbooks. At the time, I did not fully understand what they were; I just thought they were slightly smaller laptops.

Well, in a sense, they are. Netbooks are smaller than laptops. And, netbooks kind of look like laptops. But, what we discovered is a netbook is not really a laptop. A laptop is for computing, and a netbook is mainly designed to surf the Internet.

My Kindle Fire HD does just that. It surfs the web, it feasts on Amazon.com content, it plays games and it even contributes to some productivity. After I first purchased the tablet, I carried it with me sometimes. Now, unless I know I am going to be totally tied to my desk at the newspaper, it comes with me.

Why I Carry My Kindle Fire HD All the Time:

  • It turns my vehicle into a mobile university: This is the No. 1 reason why it is with me most of the time. By owning a Kindle device, I can turn on Amazon’s text-to-speech function and listen to books while I drive. I just finished reading/listening to The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur (which turned out to be better than I initially envisioned). Whether I am in the Jeep five minutes or 35 minutes, I like having the option of listening to a book.
  • It keeps me up-to-date with my blog: I have a WordPress app that allows me to edit or create posts, check my site stats or do anything else I need to with my blog, as long as I have a Wi-Fi connection.
  • I keep my teaching notes on it: I teach an adult Sunday School class at Parkview Christian Church, and I send all of my notes to my Kindle device. I have a study Bible loaded on the Kindle, and I keep my notes for Sunday School on it.
  • I can capture thoughts using Catch app: When you start blogging, you realize how important it is to get your ideas down. With Catch Notes, I can do that. The free app allows you to write notes, record audio notes, take photos, set up reminders and create checklists. I used it the other day to jot some ideas down for future blog posts and a future book.
  • I can move my online reading offline: With Pocket, another free app, I can be reading something on the web and save it to read later. The app works across all sorts of devices. I can be reading something on the web at home, save it to Pocket, and when I sync my Kindle Fire HD, I will get a nice, readable version of the web page. It is important to sync Pocket’s content while you have Wi-Fi access. This is immensely helpful when researching. I have been using it to aid me in writing a book for mindreaders. It is invaluable.
  • I can keep up-to-date with all of my social networks: Again, as long as there is a Wi-Fi connection.

If you would like to purchase your own Kindle Fire HD, check out my affiliate link by clicking here. I recommend the 32 GB version because once you buy it, there is no expanding it. Might as well get the extra storage space.

The Kindle Fire HD  7 has been a great fit for me, but let me caution you by saying I made the purchase because I was an Amazon Prime member. It made sense to have a device geared toward watching the movies, TV shows and videos available for free to Prime members, getting the shipping discount from Amazon and the ability to borrow one book a month from the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

If you are looking for more of a computing tablet, then perhaps the iPad, iPad Mini or Google Nexus 7 are better options for you.

For me, it was the Kindle. You can see other reasons why by clicking here.

Social Media Experts: Are They Anti-Social?

So-called “social media experts” sometimes seem to forget the idea of social.

Social Media Experts

Check out this tweet I sent earlier:

Brian Tracy teaches that leaders should praise in public and criticize in private. Following this advice, I am not going to name any of these self-coronated experts, but I think we have all run into them from time-to-time.

What I find intriguing is how they populate Twitter offering advice on how to grow followers on social media experts, however, they never seem to have the time to respond to any of my tweets or posts (on Facebook and Google+) to them.

When they are proclaiming how to be effective in the social network arena and then do not exhibit social skills, there emerges a disconnect between what they preach and what they practice.

This is why it was so refreshing to read this from Michael Hyatt:

Respond to those who comment. Engaging with your readers in the comments section of your blog is critically important. People today don’t visit a blog to listen to a monologue. They want to be part of a conversation. Therefore, you should engage in new comments on old posts, as if the post were brand new—it is for those readers. It’s a good way to set the tone and let them know what to expect in the future.

via How to Keep Your Blog Posts from Dying in Your Archives | Michael Hyatt.

If you are going to engage in social media, then you need to understand it is a two-way street when people are genuinely reaching out to you.

However, Doktor Spinn urges caution in the “social media expert” debate. He says:

And here’s the problem:

People mistake social media pundits and social media naturals for social media experts. And both of these two groups love the attention, so instead of bringing any clarity to the discussion, they tend to add more wood to the fire just for the sake of it.

In short: Social media experts can be blamed for a lot of things, for sure. But we can’t take the heat for everything anyone with an online following is doing — or saying. So, if you’re in the mood for throwing some stones, how about practicing some aim first?

via Disarming Stupid Arguments About Social Media Experts.

It is probably good advice from the good Doktor, and I should heed it, but it still bothers me when “social media experts” are not very social. What about you? What do you say?

This Discover Card Commercial Is Funny, But Is it Effective?

Discover has really hit a home run with its new ad for the Discover Card, but does the ad work?

I caught the commercial during the NCAA National Championship Game between Notre Dame and Alabama. Normally, I only watch programming that has been recorded on the DVR and skip all of the commercials. I was watching the game in real time, so I was stuck watching commercials.

I am not going to taint your opinion of the ad by describing it, rather take 30 seconds to watch the video above and see what your response is to it.

I think the ad is a good one for three reasons.

  • It has crisp, funny writing.
  • The actors deliver their lines well with good timing.
  • The cinematography is good.

I enjoyed the commercial so much, I actually cued up the ad to play it a second time so my wife could see it.

OK, so the ad is entertaining and funny, but is it effective? I guess the only thing Discover conveyed was a new way to pay your bill in case you are late.

I am a big fan of Dave Ramsey, and my wife and I have cut up our credit cards. I’m not in the market for a new credit card. The ad did not tempt me to submit an application to get one, but I still think the ad was effective.

Not every ad is designed to push a product. Companies use ads for a variety of reasons. Here are a couple:

  • Advocacy: The company might promote an issue, a cause or a non-profit organization (like support your local chapter of the American Red Cross). While it is not pushing a product, it is building goodwill.
  • Informational: This is where a company looks to explain a product and its benefits. While the ultimate goal is to lead to more sales, the primary purpose of the advertisement is educational, to get you prepared to buy.

My conclusion is the ad is effective because I thoroughly enjoyed watching it, and it made me feel good about Discover, despite the fact I am anti-credit card. Go figure. How did you respond to the ad?

What is ‘The Best’ Anyway? It Is Time to Rethink That

When writing a headline for a blog, the goal is to spur action. When writing a blurb, you want to arouse desires. But …

Abe-Wendi

at what point is the hype just too much? I am a magician and a mindreader. I subscribe to updates from one of the online magic stores. It seems like every day, though it might actually be a few times a week, I get some email notification telling why this new magic trick is the absolute best, it will fool everyone and if you can only perform one trick, this is it.

Personally, I am getting sick of the hype. If everything is the best, then nothing is the best. Not everything can be great. We can strive for greatness and perfection, but at some point we will fall short.

Sometimes, the hype creates unrealistic expectations and nothing will really seem fulfilling. I get this a lot with some of the books I have purchased on Kindle to help me write better. I end up thinking, “I paid for this? I knew that already.”

All of us want to be associated with the best things, but one of the things I have come to realize is that what we consider “best” is a subjective and relative thing.

I’ve shared this story before, but for a couple of years of my life I pursued the perfect Kentucky Fried Chicken clone recipe. I read every other clone recipe out there, I read biographies about Col. Harlan Sanders, who created KFC, and I researched newspaper articles from Kentucky newspapers about Sanders.

I believe it was John Y. Brown Jr., former governor of Kentucky and the man credited with turning Kentucky Friend Chicken into a multi-million dollar operation, who said that the thing about Col. Sanders chicken was not necessarily what is in the 11 secret herbs and spices but that the chicken was seasoned in the first place. At the time, southern-friend chicken was made by taking the chicken, dipping it in buttermilk, dredging it through flour and frying it in a skillet. The salt and pepper was added at the table. But, the Colonel’s recipe was seasoned before it was fried, and it was very tasty. The 11 herbs and spices are great, but they are not necessarily the best.

Ultimately, what is best for me might not be best for you. A Ford Mustang is a nice car to own, but if you have a spouse and three children, then the best vehicle for you might be a van or SUV.

I think it is time to give up looking for the best and, instead, we should strive to do our best.