If Everybody’s Doing It


When everyone is doing the same thing it’s time to do it better, differently, or do something new. One approach is to relax and be yourself. Be your brand.

When you follow the crowd, the crowd just gets bigger. But what a creative thinker, a strong leader, and a great salesperson all know is that when you focus on what makes your brand unique (ie, your core strength), you have much better odds of connecting with someone who needs and appreciates what you have to offer. And it’s the only chance you have to make something better than all the rest.

I sell fruit but you might like these socks.


Social Media is no different than any other marketing channel. It should be focused on your brand, product, or service. In some way.

And that’s where we get stuck. Social Media forces us to think about our audience interests, our industry, related topics and categories, and even current news and events. It’s our job to decide what stories, information and memes fit our brand and how far afield we should cast our net in an effort to grab attention.


If social media posts were like products on a market shelf, we would find that some brands are running a convenience store, with aspirations of becoming Walmart. They stock everything. They post anything. Their messages sometimes seem related but sometimes seem random or obscure. Continue reading

2016 Rising Stars Awards


Despite an electrical outage, this year’s event was fantastic. In fact, the dim lights during the first half of the show created the perfect ambiance for the Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble, our spoken word performer, Jada Imani, and our Alumna speaker, Lia Lacy at the 3rd Annual Rising Stars Youth Awards. This is a BOSS Program you should know about — the full event video tells the story…

We had several surprise cash gifts for our Youth Awardees, a trend set off by our keynote speaker, Peralta Community College District Chancellor, Dr. Jowel C. Laquerre, who pledged $500 on the spot for whoever raised their hand first to attend his college. And of course, there was plenty of love and recognition. Continue reading

Getting in Touch with your Feelings


Get in touch with your feelings — they will lead the way in your branding and marketing. The more you can feel your brand, the more precisely branded your materials and message will be. Your feeling will guide you: it will stop you from incorporating some detail that you might be drawn to, but doesn’t create the feeling or emotion that your brand is all about, and it will tell you when you’re right on message.


Need Therapy?

If your marketing collateral is a mess, examine your feelings about your brand. There may be things you’re not quite sure about, or you may have conflicting emotions about some aspect of your message. Instead of starting with a re-write or redesign, start with the feelings — they will lead you to the source of the problem.


Technical Writing — Show you Care


Found on the web:

"Next, we will then start coding. The first 
thing we should do is to..."

Technical writing may seem like a piece of cake — who can’t write a set of step-by-step instructions?

But it’s not that simple. A technical writer establishes a voice and personality for the piece, just like any other writer. That voice can be dry and machine-like, leaving it up to you to process the information in your own head, or personable and warm — right there with you as you go through the steps.

Upset teenage boy at computer

A technical writer needs an editor just like any other writer to avoid the mistakes in the example above. After looking at the same piece of writing for so long, and focusing on the technical instructions, an instruction that tells us ‘next we will’, ‘then start’, ‘the first thing we should do’ is easy to miss. This example is harmless — it’s good for a smile but screams to be improved. But, it shows how the language we use in instructional writing can get our end-user into trouble — or simply distract them from the task at hand.

Technical documents reflect on an organization’s professionalism, and on the writer’s own skill and subject matter knowledge. Technical documents show the organization’s focus on the customer when documents are written with the technical level of the end-user in mind, and written with a friendly, helpful attitude. Take pride people! Yes, someone will read every word!

In the case of the laundry room, art definitely does not imitate life


Men and washing machineFor the first time in… ever? … we are marketing laundry soap to men as the end users.

It’s so great that men are finally doing laundry! It must have really stunk to wear dirty clothes for thousands of years. Granted, the average Joe got a little help from women in this area all that time.

If you know any men, and I’ll bet you do, you know that men have always done some amount of laundry and housework. In fact, they can be, are, and have been great caretakers. The numbers show that while there is a big gap (66% vs 34% nationally in 2012) between men and women caretakers of aging parents, that’s still enough of an audience to market to, considering there are over 65 million caretakers in the U.S.

Dads do their share of laundry in many households, but single dads are a good bet for ‘the numbers’. Single father households make up 8% (in 2011) of households with children, a steady climb from 1% in 1960. A few in that group of 2.6 million U.S. men probably wash clothes and buy detergent.

We know that pre 60s, when television was young and ad agencies were, well, mad men, we suffered the June Cleaver ideal, so we won’t go there. But post 60s saw a steady march towards trashing traditionalism the way Jimi Hendrix trashed his guitar. Irreverence has become part of our culture in every area but a few, including marketing household products to men.

So even though men have been doing a good amount of laundry all this time, only in the last couple of years are we seeing the very first commercials targeting them. Why? Continue reading

Is Measuring Success Worth It? (or, “Spray and Pray, is it OK?”)

Measuring ROI social media

Measuring ROI social media

Whether you pay in DIY hours, in higher project fees, or additional labor, measuring your true ROI on digital marketing isn’t cheap.

Print/mail is easier. A unique special offer code on a postcard makes it relatively easy to track results. Considering that every ‘postcard’ you send out via social media goes out on several platforms, and that you may send many each day, the metrics are more complex, and defining success takes on new dimensions. No longer measured by a purchase or inquiry, now clicks, shares, likes, and other indications of a beating heart in your mass audience also enter the equation.

How do you measure success? Or do you? As always, there is a good part of small business marketing that we ‘know’ we must do, measured or not. We know we need a visual brand, a website, and so on. What part of social media falls into this category? The ‘just do’ category? And which activities fall into your ‘must measure’ or ‘should measure’ category? Continue reading