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“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” – Scott Cook, co-founder Intuit

This quote is dead on. Brands indicating to consumers what they are and having them believe it didn’t last for very long at all. Can you imagine how much companies loved the lack of accountability that they enjoyed for a short period? It was the in-between stage when people stopped building front porches, didn’t talk as often to their neighbors, and the Internet was something only nerds messed around with. Man, you could get away with anything! The days of choosing your own cut of steak and your favorite rub was for the most part a thing of the past. Why, because the butcher went out of business because we chose cheap and impersonal. We chose a lineup of thousands of steaks, chicken breasts, and pork chops sitting on top of a piece of styrofoam wrapped in cellophane.

We all have our ways of keeping up with what's going on in our work and personal life. For me, I've adopted a very simple system with the Moleskine Classic Notebook, Pocket, Ruled, Black, Hard Cover (3.5 x 5.5). My method is very loosely based on David Allen's GTD system. You can listen to one of his awesome podcasts on iTunes with one of my clients, Jared Easley, HERE. He's a very interesting guy, and his method really makes sense. It's all about getting information out of your brain so you no longer have it clogging up your amazing creation maker (aka brain). OK, so here's how I do it. This is one I just set up, so it's basically empty which makes it less cluttered and easier for you to get the system: 1) Get a Moleskine Notebook. You can use the link above, or stop by most book stores. You can sometimes find them at Target as well. I use the 3.5 x 5.5 notebook. I also use a larger plain paper notebook for sketching and journal entries. IMG_0001

I know you’ve seen a few of the people you follow on Twitter showing off their cool custom shortened url links. I’m going to walk you through the quick set up of your new custom short URL domain (your DNS process might take a while). Step 1: Register your short domain. Mine for example is jbass.me. If you don’t have a registrar yet, I’d suggest BlueHost to register your domain, but there are lots of other great companies. Try to keep it short. 5-8 characters is best. Step 2: If you haven’t already, sign up for a bitly account at Bit.ly. bit-tut-11

So you’re driving down the road and you hear your business’s commercial on the radio. It makes you feel good. Really good. You know all of your buddies are hearing your ad and saying…hey, she’s made it. I’m not calling you out. I’ve done it myself.

But is it effective?

Radio can be effective for some businesses, particularly businesses with a large advertising budget . However, I find most times a small business doesn’t have the advertising budget to actually make an impact. You have to build a campaign over a long period of time. It’s all about brand awareness.

My wife loves Fifth Avenue in New York City. Loves it. Her eyes get big and sparkly as she walks the street and sees the famous designers and window displays and walks through stores that we’ve all seen in movies. She’s not even terribly materialistic, but something about Fifth Avenue does it for her. We used to shop like that all the time. There were no online stores, and window shopping was a common activity for us on a Saturday afternoon. I used to really like going to the mall to find my next pair of shoes or going to the sporting goods store to find the baseball bat to add to my Christmas wish list. I’d stay in a toy store for an hour looking at train sets and the Optimus Prime toy. You know this experience, whatever it was for you.

“And those companies can’t–don’t have the discipline to do it, right. They get big, and everyone wants to do everything, and they just say yes. And then they don’t do everything well.” – Sheryl SandbergCOO Facebook

So many times, especially in a business’ early stage, they will take on far more than they should. It’s difficult for them to get in the “zone” and focus entirely on doing a great job. It’s not that they don’t have the ability or talent to do a great job on what they’re working on. They can’t, because they have no focus, and there is probably a lack of resources. You can sit by and wait for the train wreck, because it’s on its way. I just happen to know someone who is the perfect example regarding this problem, and he started a business and was a one-stop shop for anything you were looking for in the marketing area. His website stated that he could create fantastic videos, photos of the client’s business for advertising, print design, business cards, radio ads, and so on. In fact, he didn’t have a professional video camera, recording equipment, or even a dedicated printer. He just WANTED to do all of these things.

“He who is not a good servant will not be a good master.” -Plato

It amazes me how robotic and downright uninvolved some businesses are with their customers. You’ve probably experienced this recently yourself, so you can most likely relate. Let’s say you are walking through an airport-sized mega mart, and you need to know where this “thing” you’re looking for is located. You find the closest person with a vest and a nametag. Then, you blurt out, ” Excuse me, may I ask you a question?” That doesn’t work so you pull out your emergency flares and try to get their attention before they fly by and disappear into an abyss of buggies and determined shoppers. If you are lucky enough to catch their attention with your emergency flares, they turn and look at you with the disappointment that they have allowed themselves to be “caught”. Once you have entrapped this said person, you ask nicely if they will lead you to your item. Then you get a quick “Yeah, follow me”, at which point they take you to your item, point, and leave without saying a single word. In fact, they may find it difficult to reply “You’re welcome” when you’ve thanked them. Does this sound familiar?