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Weatherproof Marketing with President Obama January 21, 2010

Posted by David Dirks in marketing, Marketing Buzz, Public Relations Strategies.
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Take a look at this photo, which I took on a recent trip to Manhattan.  This billboard was placed in one of the busiest areas in Manhattan and it was hard not to catch this one.  It’s actually two billboards with one canted one way and another facing a slightly different direction.

This billboard has stirred up some contraversey but you can’t be surprised at that.  When was the last time you saw a sitting United States President in an ad for a product?  Of course, the President didn’t wear the Weatherproof jacket just to get a posed shot at the Great Wall of China during his fall 2009 trip there.  Former President’s Clinton and Bush could have been seen using any number of products as well.  Clinton was a runner of sorts, so perhaps the running shoe he used or the running suit he wore was fair game.  Bush (W) likes to mountain bike and surely he likes certain brand of bike for that adventure.

President’s photographed using common products is not a surprise here.   The real surprise is that someone had the guts to make it into a very memorable and media-notable billboard ad.  By ‘media-notable’ I mean ‘viral’.  This caused quite a stir and was noted across the country by all media channels.   And that my friends, is just what the NYC-based jacket company wanted to happen.  Apparently, they are pretty good at creating PR ‘events’ (they are too high profile to call ‘stunts’) in order to garner an amazing amount of free advertising and attention on themselves.

This use of the President in their ad was, from a purely marketing standpoint, perfectly executed.  Even if they knew (which they probably did) that they’d have to take this billboard ad down, they won.  More people heard about this billboard, the jacket, President Obama, and of course, Weatherproof itself.

Of course, this kind of media ‘event’  is not everyone’s cup of tea nor am I recommending that any go out and do this same thing based on the brand of shoes he might be wearing.  What I am pointing out is that this combination of advertising and PR event is very powerful.  The billboard is the advertising and the media storm it created was the PR half.  Just Google or Bing this event and you’ll find a trail of material a mile long.  Just what the marketing doctor ordered.

When Weatherproof got the call from the White House, which asked them to take it down, Weatherproof figured out a way to keep their billboard up for another two weeks.  How did they do that?  They pleaded their case that it would take at least two weeks to put up a new billboard to replace it.  Brillant.  Another two weeks of exposure.

The lesson here:  thinking outside of the box on ways to create media-friendly events that draw attention to your business (in a somewhat positive way of course!) is the name of the game.  For whatever money they spent on that billboard in the middle of mid-town Manhattan, Weatherproof received many times more exposure for its jackets on a NATIONAL basis.  I can only guess that their website generated a lot of activity and will for some time.

Weatherproof Jacket: $599.  Billboard featuring President Obama wearing a Weatherproof Jacket:  Priceless.

Beating a Recession -11 February 18, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in business strategy, Buzz Marketing: Lowest Cost/Highest Payoff, Public Relations Strategies, Recession: How to Beat It!, Sales Strategy/Tactics.
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David DirksWhat if you could develop a product that could create excitement in your business and elevate your status as an expert in your field?  What if that product could be profitable and help you to get into the door for new business?  And, what if I told you that most of your competition, bar none, might think about it but never really execute on it.  Would you be interested in that?

You should be.  I don’t care if you’re a retailer or service-based provider, you can do more with that stuff that’s in your head.

Are you ready for the product?  Here it is:  write and publish a book. I can’t think of a better way to promote your and your business than by sharing it with customers and future customers.  I know and you know plenty of people who have a great body of knowledge but it’s all locked up in their heads.  In 99.9 percent of the time, it will never see the light of day in a book.  That’s completely your advantage if you commit  and invest the time to write and publish one.

“But I don’t know how or have the time to write a book”, someone might say.  From my perspective, you can’t afford NOT to do it.  In most cases, you can self-publish your book without spending a fortune on it.  As a matter of fact, with print-on-demand publishing capabilities today, almost anyone can publish a book.  I suggest you look at POD publishers like BookSurge (www.booksurge.com).

Let’s get one thing clear here: writing a book is not easy at all.  It takes a commitment of time and intellectual capital from you.  I know because I’ve already written three books and have more on the way.  It takes time and effort to produce a product you’ll be proud to showcase.

The rewards for the effort you make to publish your expertise are excellent.  First, I can almost guarantee that most business owners will never publish a book.  Might talk a good game but won’t do it.  A few might even atttempt it but never finish it.

A book that shares your expertise is a market differentiator.  If you’re looking for a way to survive in the long run and create some separation from you and your competition, write and publish a book.

I have a good friend of mine who is in the herbal business.  He’s already written two books that he sells at an amazing profit margin and he has created for himself a recognition for his expertise.  He promotes his business and his expertise everywhere he goes.  It clearly separates him from the crowd.

I don’t care what business you are in…you can do this.  Landscaping business?  Write a book about tips for keeping your yard looking like a million dollars.  CPA advisory firm?  If you haven’t written a book on a multiple number of topics to help your customers already, shame on you.  Own a resturant?  Share your favorite recipes and tricks/tips for making meals at home that are “5 Star Quality” but economical.  Own a heating business?  Graphic artist?  Whatever business, you need to consider writing and publishing a book.

“But I don’t know how to write”.  Then find someone who can write and help you develop an outline and draft.  If you want to do it bad enough, you’ll find someone who will help.  There are too many tools available out there to help you publish a book (and most are free).

Differentiate yourself from the crowd by sharing and selling your expertise.  I know it won’t solve your immediate problem of dealing with a slowdown in business but the investment of time will pay off in the long run.  Trust me on this, your competition isn’t going to do it.

Beating the Recession Webinar Now Available! January 2, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in A New Webinar!, business strategy, Buzz Marketing: Lowest Cost/Highest Payoff, Increasing Your Profitability, Innovation: Not Just for the Big Dogz, Public Relations Strategies, Recession: How to Beat It!, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Strategy/Tactics, Small Business Advertising.
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David DirksYou’ve asked for it and now we’re offering it…

If there was one webinar that you could attend and spend a few bucks on, this is the one.  With business conditions as they are, you can either choose to ignore it or do something about it.  This 5-hour webinar is designed to help you impact those marketing and sales issues that you can control…and there’s a lot you can control!

We’ve designed this webinar to be jam-packed with actionable marketing and sales strategies that are designed to move your business forward and keep it moving in any economy!!

For registration information, go to:


Note:  There is a significant discount for those who sign up before 1/23/09…don’t miss out on that.


Public Relations Marketing 101…Forgotten Art? July 26, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Marketing Buzz, Public Relations Strategies.
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The previous blog posting I did prior to this one was about how to hire a marketing or sales consultant. I forgot to mention one thing.  It’s an insight into just how the ‘shoemakers have no shoes’ (as the old saying goes). Here’s what I mean:

I write a business column on marketing for the Times Herald-Record (www.recordonline.com) here in New York State. With a business partner of mine, we’ve been writing this weekly column since February of this year. The column, like this blog, focuses on sales, marketing, and organizational issues that confront businesses today and our suggestions for dealing with them. I focus on the sales and marketing columns and my partner focuses on the organizational development issues.

Now here’s the deal. In this part of the Hudson Valley, I could probably throw a random stone and hit a ‘marketing’ or ‘sales’ consultant. There’s plenty of them around. How many of them have contacted me since February about a column idea? Or an interview opportunity? Guess? Zero. Instead, I’ve had to chase them down. I wouldn’t hire any of them because they have missed what seems to be to be a simple and basic premise regarding public relations marketing. There so good that they failed to see the marketing opportunity in pitching a story idea in their own market!

If you’re a local marketing or sales consultant or business consultant…why not pitch a potential story idea to the folks who write the weekly marketing and sales column? Huh?

You might say, “maybe they don’t read paper”. They don’t read the local paper that serves a huge portion of the area they live and work in? They really stink then.

Columnists and business editors are always on the lookout for good story ideas. If you have to write nearly 52 columns a year, you need ideas.

So, here’s another question to ask a prospective marketing or sales consultant when you’re shopping for one:

When was the last time you pitched a story about a idea you had for your local paper on the subject of marketing or sales? What was the story idea? Did you get some publicity?

If the answer is no, run. You don’t need a shoemaker who doesn’t own a pair of shoes and goes barefoot.

Relationship Marketing: Skate Boarding Shop November 30, 2007

Posted by David Dirks in Building Foot Traffic, Public Relations Strategies, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Tactics.
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Good grief.  I was at my local ski shop the other day, picking up our ski rentals for the season.  Right next to the ski shop is a skate boarding shop.  While waiting for a few things, I decided to walk over and take a look around the skate shop.  I encountered the owner and we chatted a bit.  I asked him how business was going and things like that. 

Of course, it didn’t take too long for me to ask: do you collect any information on your customers when they come in to shop and buy products?  Simple things like, name, address…and email?  Let’s see, skateboard shop with twentysomethings and tweens who frequent the shop are into email and instant messaging, text messaging…it’s their way of life. 

His answer:  No, we do not collect information.  And he said it as if, well, we hadn’t thought about that.  Me: how about if you host a special event here at the shop…wouldn’t it be easy to email your customers about the event?  How else would  they find out about it?  What if you started a free electronic newsletter and offered that to all who are willing to share their email address?  Wouldn’t that be a great way to maintain contact and build a relationship?  What if you had a special sale…just for those on your email list? 

I could have went on and on with ideas to promote his business but I stopped.  It was clear he wasn’t getting it.  I did offer that you didn’t need to  have some fancy PC database management software to collect customer data…how about a simple 3×5 card that has the name, address, phone, email of your customer?  Just simply ask them at the point of sale.  Most of the time they’ll say ‘yes’, of course.  Especially if you tell them that they will receive a free newsletter on skateboard, ‘invitation-only’ events, special sales, etc.

I look a the expression on his face.  He’s not buying it.  I’m apparently not selling it well, either. 

We grabbed our ski rentals and headed out the door.  Of course, I’m thinking: here’s a guy with a store, hidden off the main street, that needs every bit of promotion and customer relationship building he can get…and he doesn’t see the need to start building a relationship by maintaining contact with people who might drop into his store.  Small thinking.  Too bad.

Missing the Public Relations Prize October 27, 2007

Posted by David Dirks in Buzz Marketing: Lowest Cost/Highest Payoff, Public Relations Strategies.
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In addition to writing to this blog, I also am a freelance outdoor writer.  I have a weekly outdoor column (www.recordonline.com) and have published in other outdoor magazines.  But that’s not why I’m writing this particular post.  This post is about illustrating what a lost opportunity to get free publicity really looks like.

As an outdoor columnist, I have to write 52 columns a year, at a minimum.  The need for new and fresh material is constant…well, weekly.  In the seven years I’ve been writing that column, I can count on my hand the number of outdoor guides (people whose incomes and livelihoods depends on taking people out on fishing or hunting guided trips) who have approached me with a column idea that I could pursue.

Or take the couple who emailed me only recently to tell me that they opened a tour service for guided hikes, mountain bike rides, and kayaking adventures…last June!

So, here I am, a local outdoor writer who publishes an outdoor-oriented column every week in a newspaper that has one of the largest circulations in the area (+300k).

If you’re an outdoor guide who depends on getting the word out about his/her services and you can’t afford to advertise…what do you do?  You contact the local outdoor writer with some column ideas!!!  If you own an outdoor tour guide business that is located smack dab in the circulation area of the newspaper…what do you do?  You contact the local outdoor writer before you open your business with a press release announcing your new business (for starters).  Then how about some story ideas?

How sad.  There are people who are in business and don’t recognize an opportunity to share their knowledge and skills with readers of a large circulation newspaper…and get some needed publicity to boot?

How hard is that?  Apparently very, very hard.  As a marketer and freelance outdoor writer, I’m just amazed by the lack of interest, follow-up…call it what you will.

Yes, there have been a few that recognized the opportunity to get some press.  Those are the very few who have the ability to step forward and make things happen.

What about you?  What public relations opportunities are your creating for your business?  What local writers or columnists would be interested in hearing some of your story ideas?  What are you waiting for?