Archive for March, 2012

Father James DiLuzio

I have to write a post about this incredible performance I witnessed recently.  Luke Live! is a one man show performed by Paulist Father James DiLuzio in which he reads and acts out, from memory, the Gospel according to Luke.  In the segment of the show I saw, he read chapters 7 and 8.  It was amazing.  I read the Bible like I do most things, in fits and spurts.  When I do read however, it tends to be the Gospels.  In an hour and a half tonight I had these two chapters opened up to me in ways I hadn’t previously experienced.  I had a chance to talk about it with Father afterwards.  I shared some of the insight I gained, and he further explained his mission.  I love talking about religion and politics, but that side of this post is best saved for another place.

I first heard Luke Live! was coming to our parish though standard communications.  An ad was placed in the church bulletin, an announcement was made before mass.  I knew it was going on, but none of these things stirred me to want to go.  It turned out that the religious formation class I teach was going to be attending, so I eventually found out I had to go, but again, that in no way excited me.  Then came the hook:

Freemium.

Just like a movie trailer or that free demo version of your now favorite paid app, I got a free sample of the performance.  Father DiLuzio delivered the homily and sang a song at mass the Sunday before Luke Live was to start.  I was hooked.  He delivered such a high paced, well thought out, rehearsed and organized set of ideas that I knew I had to hear what he had to say over an hour and a half! I know that Father showed up at mass that day because it is what he does, he evangelizes.  I am sure he just saw that homily as a logical extension of his ministry.  But it was well executed marketing at its finest.

In many businesses that are not tech based, the idea of giving it away for free can be scary.  There are other good examples of this in the food industry:

Rita’s Water Ice: I don’t know about where you live, but here in SO-JO if it is the first day of spring, it is free water ice at Rita’s!  We drove through two obnoxiously crowed parking lots this year just for a free cup of flavored frozen sugar water.  Why?  To ensure you get in the habit early of finding your local Rita’s of course, and the press coverage doesn’t hurt either.

Dunkin Donuts: I am a D and D junkie.  Every once in a while I get frustrated that coffee there costs more than other place (with one notable pretentious exception of course) and try a local deli or something.  It almost seems that Dunkin’ knows this, and just when I start thinking I will stray something ‘Free Coffee Mondays’ come around or an online deal like this one.

Chick-Fil-A:  Seriously, if you are still going to other fast food places, stop, find a Chick-Fil-A, and thank me later.  Not sure about chicken for breakfast?  Keep an eye on your local circular because they will invariably send you a coupon for a free breakfast sandwich at some point, and you will forget all about your McMuffin…

I struggled with this in my landscape design business.  Looking back I would have tried a product giveaway to compliment my services, rather than ‘free service’.  Any tangible product has an implied value that promised service does not.  That is of course one of the biggest challenges with marketing a service based business.

Important to note: while I said earlier that the print marketing didn’t stir me to action, it was important.  Without it, I may have been overwhelmed and unaware and the ‘freemium’ content would have gone passed me.  Marketing needs to be integrated to be effective.

StumbleUpon Examples

Posted: March 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

Based in the interests I selected, here are the first five links StumbleUpon sent me too…

The Most Brutal Hits In Sports History

100 tips about life, people, and happiness

uwall.tv

Funny or Die: Facebook Status Translator

Why Gas Prices Rise: Is It Demand, Speculation, or Politics

Random, fun, and interesting.  By the way check out the uwall.tv one in particular, I found it really cool…

Yes that’s right ladies and gentlemen, that was the most clever title I could come up with for a StumbleUpon article.  I know, I know, I can and should do better, but it is late and that is about what I got left in the tank today.

So why am I writing about StumbleUpon.  Quite simply it is a great tool if you really don’t know what you want to see on the internet, but you know you want something good.  I have never had to stumble more than 3 times in a row (and rarely more than once) to find something of interest to read or view.  In an internet where truly random searches are harder and harder to get, StumbleUpon has lead me down some great paths, like finding this site for example.

It is also potentially a great tool for growing a blog as outlined in the great article from the well respected bloggers at http://www.problogger.com . I have not used it for this yet, but plan to.  We will see how it goes.

Friday was the last class in an eight week landscape design program I have been teaching.  It was a great class and I honestly think the students all took away some valuable information.  Friday was final presentations.  I find I am so much more excited to see how everyone delivers their designs rather than how their designs actually turn out.  I love public speaking.

I had a student who did not want to present because his english was no es bueno.  The class was great, encouraging him to get up and give it a shot.

He nailed it.

Why?  The basics.  The basics of delivering a good presentation trumped his heavy accent and mediocre grammar.  These points are true whether present to one person or 100.

1. Take your time.  He didnt rush, spoke slowly, and consequently was easy to follow.  The best way to make sure that you don’t rush is to practice.  Don’t just focus on your formal presentations, but rehearse your greetings, elevator pitches, and networking talking points.  (if you don’t have a less than one minute, simple description of your business and what you do, then write and practice one.)

2. Beginning, middle, end.  A pet peeve of mine is talks that are all middle.  He set up the presentation, then delivered the information, then wrapped it up nicely.  Before you start talking, always pause, just for a second, to let the room focus in on you.  Then have a clear start, don’t just roll in to the meat of the talk.  Finally, have a rehearsed finish that ties everything together.  A well organized sales presentation will be better received then one packed with too much unorganized information.

3. Eye contact.  He looked up and connected visually with the audience.

4. Content.  He had a good project.  Good content matters.

When you dont know where to start, go back to the beginning and start at the basics.

There has been a bit of dust up recently over the way Google manages individual profiles and tailors search results accordingly.  More and more as online profiles become online personalities, the web is trying to create custom experiences.  The danger in this is it takes the ‘wild west’ analogy for the web of about a decade ago and tears it town.  The web is now closer to a gated community than the wild west, only with out the homeowner association fees (yet).

Enter StumbleUpon.  Not new, but I think increasing in value for web surfers who really want to find something that is not so carefully selected for their tastes.  StumbleUpon does what it’s name suggests, with nothing more than a vague category selection (like marketing, for example) it sends you directly to a random page.  Sometimes its good, sometimes it not, but my experience lends to good more often than not.  So in one of my Stumbles I found this article and thought it was worth sharing because: :

1. It is originally from INC Magazine, a great publication I consider a trusted source.

2. I got to the page via StumbleUpon, a great search tool I started using recently and will be using more.

3. Pictures and video are really the future, they tell stories, stir emotion, and lead search results.  Dare I say Pinterest

Here is the article which includes the 10 videos.  Enjoy and thanks for reading:

10 YouTube Videos Every Entrepreneur Should Watch | Inc.com – StumbleUpon.

My First Poll

Posted: March 25, 2012 in Facebook, Pinterest, Social Media, Twitter

First poll.  It’s simple.  Please answer.  Thanks!

In light of my posts earlier this week, I thought this would be of interest.  See the article below from PC World explaining how Pinterest just changed their terms of service.

Pinterest Responds to Concerns, Changes Terms of Service | PCWorld.

This is designed to do a few things, including manage potential copyright infringement, but something I found interesting is they are ‘paving the way’ for private boards.  This would make Pinterest available to use like a personal diary or even vision board.  Something to look for in the future.

This was a note I posted on my Facebook page some time ago.  Thought it made sense to share here. – 

Some people think that things happen for a reason. Others think that things happen to them. Sometimes, they will say, others are just lucky and they are cursed. There is something true about all those examples, things do happen, everyday, all the time, anywhere you are. Things continue to happen regardless any effort on our part. As a matter of fact, if things stopped happening ‘to us’, then we would really be in trouble.

After breakfast with my wife this morning, she noticed that the dishwasher was not draining. We both had the same ‘oh great what now’ reaction. Seems my morning, scheduled with a long list of to-do’s, was about to take a detour. I was very frustrated. Standing dishwasher water is kinda gross, but I manually bailed out the unit anyway. I found nothing. Enter the negative thoughts: “I don’t know what I am doing. I have to much to do to worry about this. Why is this happening, now, to me, etc.”. I did the only other thing I could think of and pulled the washer out from under the counter and removed the drain hose to see if it was blocked. It was not blocked, and I knew this because now there was a large pool of washed water covering the kitchen floor.

It seemed that what I should have done from the out set was call a appliance repair company. The appliance in question is fairly new, but of course just out of warranty, something else I thought ‘would of course happen to me’. It seemed that the major piece of self talk stopping me from seeing a solution here was “I don’t know what to do, I don’t know anything about Dishwashers.” These thoughts left me feeling worthless and frustrated.

After I gave up, I called a service tech. I stood there staring at the machine, wanting to kick it, to puish this inanimate object for destroying my day. With the day completely ruined, I began to sulk and called my dad.

When I explained to him the problem and how frustrated I was, we began to discuss the unit and how it worked. “So the water flows in, then once the basin is full, a pump circulates the water through the machine. Once the rinse is done, a second pump flows the water out. That must be the problem.” So, of course, I responded, “Well thats great, I am glad I called the tech, because I know nothing about pumps.” Seemingly without emotion, he asked me a simple question, “You know something about screws, don’t you?”

“Um, yea?”

He proceeded to tel me that I didn’t need to know about how a pump worked to take a pump off. But, since he thought I might want to know, he told me how the pump worked and how it might just be jammed, not damaged or broken. With a good luck, he said good bye and left me, alone again, with my mess.

“You know something about screws, don’t you?” This echoed in my head. I guess I had nothing to lose, right? So, I took a look. Two screws and two clips. Simple. I removed them and the pump. More water on the floor, but I was less agitated this time for some reason. I looked inside and there is was, a toothpick, two actually, stuck in the impellor. I took the pump to the work table, removed the cover, and the toothpick just fell out. Just like that, fell out. I was thrilled! Reassembling the pump, then reattaching it, then putting the unit back in, I pressed the wash button. Everything worked! And drained!

I called my wife. I called and canceled the service tech. I called my dad, and then I just stared for a while smiling, realizing I had just learned and applied some valuable lessons.

1: Nothing happens to you, things just happen, then you DECIDE how you are going to react to them.
2: Use what you do know to anticipate what you don’t. A simple, patient thought would have told me, without knowing anything about dishwashers, that water would have spilled on the floor.
3: I did know something about screws. I was so focus on what I couldn’t do that I never considered what I could do.
4: I assumed. I assumed when I saw the standing water that I have a huge problem. I assumed my day was ruined. I assumed I could do nothing about it. When I stopped assuming all those negatives, I realized I didn’t have a 200 pound day-ender in my kitchen, I just had an out of place toothpick.

Do you have big problems at work or at home that you feel you can’t do anything about? Don’t focus on the overwhelming problem, focus on the screws, and maybe you will find a toothpick or two.

God Bless!

Here is some great information for businesses from some of my favorite sources on how to use Pinterest for your business:

9 Tips to Boost Your Business With Pinterest from Inc.com

What is Pinterest? from my friends at Digital Firefly Marketing

Still Not Promoting Your Business on Pinterest? from Social Media Today.  Check this one out, it has a great info graphic showing user demographics for Pinterest.

Should You Have an Interest in Pinterest? from the Social Media Marketing Institute sheds a sobering light on some of the potential draw backs and things you should be aware of if you are going to use Pinterest commercially.

And finally How Small Businesses Are Using Pinterest from Fox Business.

Good luck, and again, even if Pinterest is not for your business, it is still a lot of fun and I highly recommend checking it out for yourself.

Web Wednesdays

Posted: March 21, 2012 in Design, Marketing, Pinterest, Social Media

Pinterest Logo

One thing is certain, there is SO MUCH CONTENT out on the web one does not even know where to start.  I am constantly following blogs I don’t have time to read and still adding new ones that I find interesting.  So, here is where I am going to help you filter through it all.  Wednesdays I will highlight something I think is the ‘best of the web’, and Thursdays will be the ‘Best of the Rest’, or a link list for some of the great content I find out there.

So this week, this first Wednesday of Web Wednesday’s, I am taking a cop out.  I am going to highlight Pinterest.

I know, I know, you didn’t need to read my blog to hear about Pinterest.  Clearly I am not breaking ground here.  Consider this more of a confession… Hi, my name is Dominick, and I am officially addicted to Pinterest.

I use Facebook and find it a useful tool for both personal and business communication, but I don’t think I ever got hooked.  I came closer with Twitter because it provided for a little more random interaction.  But with Pinterest I find it not only useful, but fun, motivational, and random enough to be exciting.

And for savvy retailers, graphic designers, landscapers, and other visual professionals, an incredible marketing tool.

The other social and search networks work primarily on a text interface that also supports graphics.  Even for all the photos on face book, your status updates are all about your words.  I am blogging, so I appreciate words, but there is something about the overwhelmingly visual nature of Pinterest that can be very influential.  Someones pin board can not just share some info, but tell a story.  It like Facebook + Google images + StumbleUpon all in one.

So how could you use Pinterest for business?  Let’s say you are a tattoo artist.  You could start a Pin Board that includes you favorite ink from around the web, talk about what you do and why you like it, and reference how it compliments your own style.  You could also have a Pin Board for your own work that shares the link to your own web gallery so people who search Pinterest for Tattoos will find your work, and have a path to get back to you if they want it.  The ease that this could happen might be the best feature of Pinterest for businesses.  Much like Twitter, the beauty is in the simplicity.  Pining images, searching the site, liking, and commenting is very easy.

If you are not already signed up, do it.  Now.  Go.  Thank me later.