Thursday, November 29, 2007

Carpe Diem...

“I wanna do the tubes,” my son, PJ, decided as soon as we entered the water park.

The “tubes” are inner tubes in a lazy river. I liked his idea. Anything “lazy” sounded like great vacation activity to me. So Beth, PJ and I grabbed tubes and waded into the river.

The lazy river was a little stronger and faster than it looked. I held onto PJ’s tube as we snaked around curves and drifted under waterfalls. But soon he grew weary of me.

“Dad, let go,” he pleaded pushing me away. “I want to do it myself!”

Suddenly, it dawned on me: My window is closing. Dad may soon not be cool. PJ will become more independent. He’ll tune me out. My influence and impact will diminish.

It’s bittersweet. But there’s a lesson in it…

Parents: Seize every day. Time passes quickly.

Marketers: Seize every moment in a new product launch. Time waits for no one.

What’s new today will be old tomorrow. The novelty wears off. Your product will fade into the background. Prospects will begin tuning out your marketing messages. Editors will stop writing about your product and cover newer ones.

Planning your launch carefully is imperative. Make the most of your short window of opportunity. You can’t wing a new product rollout. Every bit of your plan needs to be in place well ahead of time. Things will move faster than you expect.

Make a plan. Work the plan. Track results.

“That was fun Dad,” PJ said reaching up for a hand out of the pool. “Can we do it again tomorrow?”

“Absolutely,” I said. “Let’s squeeze in as much fun as we can. Vacation is way too short.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


More than five years ago, my mom had a stroke that partially paralyzed her lips and tongue. Now her speech is unintelligible, but she has kept her voice. Whether it's through handwritten notes or painstaking repetition of garbled phrases she continues to communicate. She keeps her sense of humor and refuses to let her disability become a handicap. I'm proud of her.

About five years ago, quite by accident, she taught me a marketing communications lesson.

She called me at work to share something. She kept repeating herself. But with her garbled speech I quickly became frustrated. So, she calmly hung up. About ten minutes later, my office manager Pat came into my office with a fax -- from my mom. Mom remembered an old fax machine I gave her. If she couldn't talk on the phone, she'd find another way to get her point across.

I laughed at her ingenuity.

Sometimes, as marketers our messages are garbled. If our target audience doesn't understand we blame them. "They just aren't listening to us." It's hard to see how we could be the problem. But perhaps we're using the wrong media. Or maybe we haven't made our message clear or relevant enough. What's important is not placing blame, but finding a way to get heard. It all boils down to doing whatever it takes to get our point across.

Last weekend, my brother and I threw a surprise 70th birthday party for mom. As she walked into the banquet room she was greeted with a booming "Surprise!!!" from family and friends.

For once, she was speechless.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Last Things First....

I'm at the AAPEX/SEMA/NACE trade shows in Las Vegas this week.

Every year while I’m away at Industry Week, I offer the same advice (sing along if you know the tune):

Returning from a tradeshow or special event? Use your first day back like it's your last day at the event.

It's easy to get swept away catching up and put off following up.

But what's more important? The day-to-day grind -- or reminding that hot prospect that you’re one of the hundreds of exhibitors they saw last week at that big tradeshow?

Take a moment to jot a quick note, send a catalog, or ship that sample you promised. Don’t let your follow-up get fouled up. Set your priority on contacting the hottest prospects first and working your way down the list.

But don't call anyone today. Afterall, they'll probably as swamped catching up today as you'll be -- tomorrow.

(This means don’t be surprised if you call me Monday and can’t get me. I may be too busy following up. Please don't be offended. Be inspired.)