Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Numbers Are The Beast

The factoids in that YouTube video (see link below), which were presented to the Board of Sony in 2008, include:

To be 1 in a million in China means there are 1,300 people in China just like you.

China is the #1 English-speaking country in the world

Top 25% (by IQ) in India is a group larger than the entire US population

There are more honors kids in India than kids in US

The top-10 in-demand jobs today did not exist in 2004

We are currently preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist, using technology that has not yet been invented in order to solve problems that (today) we don’t even know are problems

Today’s students will have 10 to 14 jobs by age 38

1 in 4 employees today have been with their employer less than a year – half have been with their employer less than 5 years

1 in 8 US couples who were married in 2008 met online

There were (in 2008) 200 million users on MySpace

If MySpace was a country, it would be the world’s 5th largest (between Indonesia and Brazil)

#1 Broadband-use (per capita) country in world is Bermuda – US is #19 and Japan is #22

In 2008, there were 31 billion searches on Google every month – in 2006, that number was 2.7 billion (where did people go before Google to find information?)

First text message was sent in 1992 – in 2008, on every day in 2008, there were more text messages sent than there are people alive on earth (roughly 6 billion)

Technology is penetrating the population at a greater rate than ever before. To reach 50 million in a market audience:

Radio took 38 years
TV took 13 years
Internet took 04 years
iPod took 03 years
Facebook took 02 years

In 1984 there were 1 thousand Internet devices
In 1992 there were 1 million Internet devices
In 2008, there were 1 billion internet devices

Today there are 540,000 words in the English language
In Shakespeare’s time, there were just 100,000 words in English

One week’s worth of the New York Times contains more information than an 18th Century human would encounter in his entire life

4 extabytes of unique information (that’s 4x1019th) will be generated this year. That is more than all the unique bytes of information generated in the previous 5,000 years.

New technology information is doubling every 2 years – so for Tech students, half of what they learn in year-one will be outdated by year-three

NTT Japan has developed a new fiber optic cable that can push 14 Trillion bits/second – that’s 2,660 CDs or 210 million phone calls/second

This cable capacity is tripling every six months and will do so for the next 20 years

By 2013, a supercomputer will be built that will have more computational ability than the human brain.

By 2049, a single computer selling for about $1,000 will exceed the current combined computational ability of the entire human species (about 6 billion brains)

Every five minutes in 2008:

67 US babies are born
274 Chinese babies are born
395 Indian babies are born
694,000 songs are illegally downloaded

As fascinating as these facts are, they are two years out of date, and about as relevant as the newspaper headlines in Milwaukee on January 24, 1922. Still, they indicate the direction we’re all going.


Monday, March 29, 2010

The Future of Agencies

A Guest blog by Jeffrey Cole, an ally and associate of long standing

The conversation or idea - what's the future of the agency in the digital age - is not new. For the past five years traditional and interactive agencies have sought to truly create an integrated solution for their clients. A few have succeeded. Though many seem to continue to struggle with shift that the consumer is now in control of the brand conversation. God forbid you aren't listening and the conversation is not good, Unfortunately, those who have been listening cannot shift their own strategic thinking paradigm in order to innovate around the old stale strategies of the past.

Metrics and Analytics is key. Coining an old term from Ghostbusters, "Agencies must be the key-master." Understanding how to apply behavioral, conversational and traditional metrics to a brand strategy is no longer relegated to the MBA who performs the most accurate Linear Regression. Through the old Flow Marketing principal out the window. It is past time for the new math. The only successful integrated marketing team will:

• Collect the most up-to-date and relevant information about the customer(s)
• "Listen," "Hear" and "Apply" all of their relevant conversations, reactions, and responses, and
• Innovate beyond even what is traditionally and digitally available right at this moment to engage and motivate consumers toward ACTION.

We as marketing professionals must continue to not only navigate but circumvent the turbulence brought on by digital technology, the social web and changing consumer behavior.

It is a new world defined by technology and consumer control.

• Consumers today have a complex relationship with media: it poses challenges as to how and where to engage with them. And, it is different for every brand, product and service. Agencies cannot recommend only from their respective "bag-of-tricks" simply because it is "what they do best." Successful strategists do not limit themselves only to the familiar or the most "cash positive" path for agency revenue. They use everything in the global arsenal.

• Consumers trust consumers (Or friends, followers and fans) more than they trust brands: it means we need to mobilize fans and followers to evangelize on behalf of the brand

• The Groundswell has gone mainstream: the consumer is now a creator/sharer/sales associate and distributor; brands must learn to harness and inspire these new roles.

• SWOM (Social Word of Mouth) reigns: content and the experiences agencies create must stimulate it

• 3.5 billion brand conversations happen every day, all of them VERY public: time to master the art of listening.

Consumers hate most advertising
• Only 5 % agree with advertising claims: brands must start being honest and authentic
• 50 % say brands don’t live up to advertising promises: No kidding! Brands must start being honest and authentic
• 67 % complain there is too much advertising: forget messages carrying all the weight, create experiences and conversation

Adaptive marketing is the new model
• Everything is powered by digital: hire digital, think digital, learn digital or die
• Real time response, as in political advertising, is the future of marketing: monitor social media regularly and change as the conversation changes.
• It’s all about pull not push: the formula is SEO plus value equal traffic
• Addressability is here: you should be thinking versioning, and customizating options
• Intelligence and analytics will drive everything: make it part of your strategy before and after creative development

Media needs to combine paid, owned and earned
• Paid: for scale and reach and speed: social can’t do everything, reach, scale and speed come from paid
• Owned: for content, relationships, listening and co-creation: open source opportunities are everywhere so create great content, utility and apps
• Earned: social, SWOM, PR, bloggers, influencers: paid can’t do everything; you need a social and conversation strategy, not simply a presence on Facebook.

Successful agencies will move well beyond campaigns
• Build campaigns PLUS platforms: you need both, Nike-plus without a brand behind has no plus
• Stop thinking in terms of audience and think about a community of participants: a brand’s consumers may be your best creative resource, or at least your best medium
• Undo unbundling: unbundled won’t work anymore: agencies need to find ways to integrate; become curators; and learn co-creation, curation, and crowd-sourcing
• Embrace and master new technologies quickly: you are working on the re-invention of print ads on the iPad, right?

Clients will look for three things
• Ideas: note this does not mean messages or ads
• Interaction: engagement, connection, community, media
• Intelligence, as in you need to collect, report, analyze and predict: if you don’t have robust analytics, and the brilliant minds to apply the findings – you’re in big trouble!

Jeffrey Cole
Three Point Ventures, LLC

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Advice on Marketing a Natural/Alternative Cancer Clinic in Central America

By Ned Barnett

I was asked by a colleague for advice on how to get publicity for a cancer treatment center in Central America that uses a natural/alternative form of therapy. This represents several challenges - the medical establishment, a lack of a specific news hook, and indifference from the mainstream consumer media. My recommendations are based on my significant experience in this market, and can be applied to any alternative therapy product or treatment.


You’re going up against the medical establishment, and that’s not easy. After more than two decades working for conventional medicine (hospitals, MDs, etc.) I branched out in ’94 and began working with natural and alternative healthcare providers (including the makers of supplements). I was PR director for Citizens for Health – among other things (in the last days before email), we put two million letters on Congressmen and Senators’ desks in two weeks – each individually written (these weren’t form letters) and got the Health Freedom Act of 1994 passed and signed – that’s the law that allows you to function today with alternative health treatment based on natural herbs. I also launched HealthWorld Online – then and now the largest natural and alternative healthcare site on the Internet. I’ve worked with a number of other natural and alternative health clients. I mention all that to mention this: my advice to you is based on more than 15 years of experience in this general marketplace.

First, the national mainstream media is predisposed to stand in opposition to you. They credit American-born (or at least American-trained) MD medical doctors (even osteopathic DOs are suspect, although they have the same license to practice as allopathic MDs) at the expense of all others. Central American cancer cures and cancer clinics are especially the butt of scorn and bad jokes – you may not remember Laetrile (made from apricot pits) that in the late 60s and early/mid 70s offered hope and early graves to thousands of late-stage terminal cancer patients, but the media remembers.

So understand going in that you’re fighting an up-hill battle; a guerilla battle to set yourself apart from other natural/alternative healthcare solutions (because yours works), and to do that, before you can even fight the battle, you have to create the weapons.

Try this:

First, get as much coverage as you possibly can from the natural and alternative healthcare publications, websites and other media (there are some natural/alterative healthcare and lifestyle radio stations or programs, too). In that coverage, do everything you can to emphasize the German tie-in and minimize the Central American tie-in. There will be a time (see below) when you can leverage these clips into coverage.

Network out with the Whole Life Expo crowd (speaking engagements and booths at shows) to gain further credibility; when you’re there, see if you can get LOCAL interviews on radio, local TV or in local newspapers – the “local” hook (and the fact that Whole Life Expos and similar events are also often advertisers) will get you the first clips from the mainstream. If you do radio or TV, capture those digitally so you can later use them in your client’s website press room – and get screen-captures of the clips, as the local media won’t keep them online forever, but you can.

Next, to begin to reach out to the mainstream media, create news. They don’t care that you claim an improbable (to them) cancer treatment – but they’ll cover newsworthy events (maybe).

To do this, stage events that bring together satisfied (survivor) clients with those suffering from or fearful of cancer – in a format where the satisfied former patients can give their personal testimonials (believe me, they’ll love to do that – this has changed their lives, and they can’t help it any more than a reformed smoker can help being a self-righteous PITA around still-smokers). You can have an “alter call” at the end, a time when those looking for hope, help and a change in their prognosis can come forward and sign up for appointments for pre-qualifying exams. Shoot straight – let them know what’s involved, and you’ll have people flocking to you. Example: For a dentist client who wanted to do nothing but dental implants, I created the Mid-Cumberland Dental Implant Society (the Nashville area is known as the Mid-Cumberland, having to do with the Cumberland River that flows through Nashville). Every patient he’d ever had was automatically a member-for-life, and many of them would show up at meetings for potential patients to give their personal testimony. There’d be nurses and the dentist there, too, and here’s what we’d tell those potential patients:

“Dental implants are not covered by health insurance – a full set will cost you about $22,000. Dental implant surgery is painful – you’re going to hurt, and there’s a limited amount that we can do to mitigate the pain while you’re healing. However, when you’re healed and the implants are in place, you’ll be able to eat anything you like – apples, steaks – anything at all.” Our approach was a cross between educational seminar and tent revival meeting. Our target was people with money and dentures, and after they’d heard the testimonials, after they’d been told several times that it was both expensive and painful (facts which created trust), we had an alter call, and we only needed one of these events each quarter to keep that dentist’s practice full. You couldn’t beat them away with a stick – the hope of being able to eat something other than soup, ice-cream and baby food was irresistible.

Now, think about how much more important being healed of cancer is than being able to eat apples or steaks. Then hold these seminars, and invite the press. Record them on video, so the press doesn’t have to show up, but can still see the testimonials from real people (who’ll consent to interviews). You may have to do these a while before you get someone to actually cover you – but since these are great marketing tools that will bring in paying clients, you can probably afford the wait.

One more thing. Get someone to ghost-write under your client’s byline a book – “New Hope for Cancer Sufferers …” or something like that (I ghost-wrote a book called “New Hope for Cancer … (something)” about 22 years ago for a cancer surgeon who’d been a professor in a major New Jersey teaching hospital before moving to South Florida to practice medicine and practice golf – it was very helpful for his practice, so I know this works). People with cancer are desperate for hope – in spite of all the medical advances, the Big C is still seen as a death-sentence, and who among us hasn’t had loved ones or close friends die from cancer after enduring the most humiliating and painful treatments – radical mastectomies (or other ectomies), radiation and chemo that leave them wasted and thin, bald and hurting, vulnerable to other infections (including nosocomial infections, the ones you get while you’re in the hospital – which kill about 9% of all the people who die in hospitals). So hope for something that’s holistic and WORKS, something that lets you heal while vacationing in a tropical paradise … it doesn’t get better than that. And of course, books and authors can be promoted and the media will pay attention in a different way than they do about the treatment itself. Stage book-signing events that will also draw press coverage.

OK – so you’ve got lots of natural/alternative healthcare coverage, and a fair amount of local media coverage, you’ve got book reviews and the credibility of a (hopefully) best-selling author, and finally, you’ve got newsworthy events. With all of this, you’ll be as well-positioned as possible for generating mainstream media coverage. Absent this (or FDA approval – and I wouldn’t hold my breath, no matter what your client hopes), there’s not much reason for the media to cover you. With this, you’ll be hard to ignore.

I hope this helps. Good luck.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Penetrating the US Hispanic Business Market (tips that apply to penetrating any minority market

By Ned Barnett - (c) 2008

I just received a vitally-important, strategic question from a Miami-based, Cuban-born American small business-owner client: "How can I best penetrate the U.S. Hispanic business market without having to make presentations in Spanish?"

This reflects a larger issue - how can any American business penetrate the huge - and fast-growing - Hispanic market in the U.S.? Setting aside the issue of legal vs. illegal immigrants, the undifferentiated Hispanic market in the US (made up of Cubans, Puerto Ricans and other Caribbean-area natives, as well as Mexicans, Central Americans, Latin Americans and Americans of direct Spanish descent) is now larger than the African-American market AND larger than the entire Canadian market - both in terms of raw population numbers and the size of the economy (i.e., there are more dollars in the U.S. Hispanic market than there are in the Canadian market). And this growth will continue to increase - at least through the year 2050 - because of births, legal immigration and other sources.

So the question my Hispanic-heritage (but fully American) client is: How do I penetrate this fast-growing market without sacrificing my strong foothold in the larger (i.e., "Anglo") American business market? This becomes more acute (and focused) a question for him because, while his heritage is Cuban and he does speak Spanish, his language-of-choice is English - having grown up in Miami, he's far more comfortable with his adopted nation's language than he is with the language his parents grew up with.

To address the language issue, the way to handle this is to consistently take the bold position:

If you want to penetrate the larger U.S. market, you have to do business in English, which is the language of business in America.”

In this way, no matter who you’re speaking to, you’ll speak in English (except when you’re talking to Spanish-language American media, such as Univision, in which case - especially if this is a broadcast media outlet - you'll need to be fluent in Spanish). This came up some years ago when I was promoting a former Deputy Drug Czar from the Reagan/Bush administrations, a Puerto Rican/American named Diaz, who had to pass on a Univision interview because he literally didn't speak Spanish (as far as he was concerned, he was a New Yorker and an American).

Beyond that issue of language, to penetrate the American Hispanic market, you’ve got to make news among the business news media who reach into this market, and you've got to position yourself as an expert on an issue (or more than one issue, but let’s start with one) that matters both to the media and to your target audience.

This is a fact: Given a choice, people prefer to do business with people - and businesses - that they’ve heard of. And, given a choice among those they’ve already heard of, people prefer to do business with acknowledged experts. There is a bit of a “thrill” associated with doing business with someone who’s seen as an expert (even if that person is not an “expert” in what you hire them for) – especially if that “expertise” has been anointed by the media.

A very personal example, I’ve been featured in eight different History Channel programs since late 2000 (none about PR or marketing). Since these programs began to air, I’ve had clients “brag on me” – telling their friends, families, as well as their own clients, that they’re doing business with “that guy on History Channel.” I used to have one client – a night-owl/insomniac like me – who used to see me on the History Channel (and it's affiliated Military Channel) in late-night reruns … and he never failed to tell me about it via emails that were waiting for me when I got into the office the next morning. He (a CEO of a micro-cap public company) even introduced me to his board as “that guy on the History Channel.” This happens a lot – a lot more than I’d have ever dreamed possible – and it seems to really matter, in a positive way, to some clients that I’m “that guy on the History Channel.”

What that means for someone wanting to penetrate the U.S.-based Hispanic market is this: The more you can generate positive coverage in the U.S. Hispanic business media (even if you’re not talking about your core business), the more likely it is that you’ll be positively viewed by clients and, (in this case, more important), prospects. To succeed, you need to figure out hooks you can use to generate positive business coverage featuring you – even if it’s not about your business – that will position you as a role-model leader in the Hispanic market.

Another factor that’s common among all “minority” groups striving to assimilate into the U.S. business mainstream – success, by their members, in that mainstream is highly regarded by those who’ve not yet achieved a measure of mainstream-market success. Consistently - and common among all identifiable minority business groups - those who’ve already met this goal, who have successfully penetrated the mainstream U.S. business market, are respected - and they are sought out for advice and guidance by those who have not yet gotten out of their core market niche.

Yet a third factor is this: there’s an increasing awareness among members of the mainstream business market (and the mainstream business media that serves this market) who want to figure out how to penetrate what they correctly see as the fast-growing U.S. Hispanic market. They’re just starting to “get it” that the Hispanic market in the U.S., as noted above, is not only larger than the American Black market – but that the U.S. Hispanic market is larger than the entire Canadian market! That remarkable business fact has still not widely “sunk in,” but as awareness grows, demand grows for experts (and you could be one of those experts) who can coach and guide those in the mainstream U.S. business market to enter and cash in on the fast-growing U.S. Hispanic market.

One key to your success could come about by melding these three factors – by not only being seen as a U.S. Hispanic businessman who’s achieved significant success in the larger U.S. Business marketplace, you’ll be respected (and ultimately, sought out) by your target Hispanic-owned business market; and, by being seen as a gateway/guide into the Hispanic market, you’ll raise your reputation among mainstream businesses - and sought out by the mainstream business media.

In the mainstream, that three-in-one score is called a "hat trick" - but the last time I was in Hialeah, that success-times-three was called a “trifecta.”

To do this, you want to position yourself in several different ways.

1. Position yourself with the business media (both the Hispanic business media and the mainstream business media) as an expert in helping/coaching businesses to make the transition from the comfortably-safe (but limited) niche of the Hispanic business market and into the larger (and more challenging – but ultimately more rewarding) mainstream U.S. business market

2. ALSO position yourself with the mainstream business media as someone who can guide/coach mainstream businesses in cashing in on the fast-growing Hispanic market.

3. Position yourself with Hispanic businesses (the potential clients you want to reach) as an expert who’s made the transition from narrow-focus Hispanic Market to broad-focus (without leaving behind the core Hispanic market).

4. Finally, position yourself with Mainstream businesses (other potential clients you also want to reach) as an expert who can help/guide/coach them in penetrating the narrow-focused but fast-growing Hispanic market.

Getting in front of the media (points one and two, above) is relatively easy if you are a living example (i.e. a Hispanic business leader who's successfully penetrated the larger mainstream U.S. business market) of the messages you’d want to convey – you need to reach out to decision-makers in these media and position yourself as a “talking head” expert – a go-to guy they can consult whenever they need your specific angle. This can be done pro-actively – positioning yourself in advance; and it can be done responsively or retrospectively – positioning yourself as an expert when “breaking news” can be made to tie in with your media positions. It can also be done by “creating news” – by conducting online research surveys that can be used to generate press coverage (this approach is easy, and it always works).

Beyond that, you’ll need to have some programs or activities that will generate news – these will give the media yet one more reason to bring you into their discussions – and, in the process, positioning you with your two target audiences. These programs or activities can include (but not be limited to):

a. FIRST – understand this: In each of the ideas below, you will use examples and illustrations from your own business (to subtly remind target audiences of what you do that made you an expert to begin with) – including your clients. While the ideas below aren’t about your business, they’re all based on the lessons you learned while making your business a success – which is what gives you the credibility to be an expert

b. Write articles for both Hispanic and mainstream business media markets (publications, e-zines, etc.) about your core issues - in this case, how Hispanics can penetrate the mainstream business market, and/or how mainstream businesses can cash in on the growth and profit potential inherent in the Hispanic business market)

c. Create a blog or web-zine to be used as a platform for presenting these views. For example, see my blogs on marketing http://barnettonmarketing.blogspot.com/, on PR http://barnettmarcom.blogspot.com/ and on book/author promotion http://barnettonpublishing.blogspot.com/) – I use these to put forth positioning ideas and find them useful in creating new business, and you can, too.

d. Begin the development of a book (for your purposes here, you don’t even have to finish it – though finishing and publishing one would be very useful), “(Your Name's) Guide to Going from the Hispanic Market to Mainstream Success (and vice-versa)” – a book that would position you as an expert. (HINT: I’ve ghost-written two of my nine business books – if you’re really interested in this, I can help)

e. Solicit “positioning” speaking engagements with – at least initially – Hispanic business organizations (Hispanic chambers of commerce, seminar producers, etc.) on the topic noted above (the book title)

f. Develop a for-profit seminar, in conjunction, perhaps, with a local college or university - or on your own, or with some other group – to present this “guide” to prospective clients who want to emulate your success

g. Videotape that seminar – or create a made-for DVD/video around a 30-60-90-minute presentation (with audio-only version for those who listen in cars)

h. Develop a subscription-based e-newsletter on the topic noted above – this gives you ongoing visibility and credibility with prospects (and members of the media) and keeps you fresh and top-of-mind

i. With all of these under your belt, begin to solicit “paid” speaking engagements (keynote addresses at business conventions, etc.) – these should be paid gigs that will also help you promote your business (subtly, by weaving your business through your talks as examples of how to succeed). I had one client who literally made 43% of his revenue from paid speaking engagements – and, after a year, he wound up generating roughly 72% of his new clients from among those who’d seen him speak – and you can do this, too.

j. Promote each of these heavily to the targeted media noted above – each of these not only gives them yet one more reason to write about you, but each of these also positions you as a “go-to-guy” expert they can call on to comment on and “position” the news that’s breaking as it relates to cross-cultural business development

Once the media understands what you have to offer, they’ll want to cover you (and to use you as an “expert” when they cover cross-cultural business news). Through them – and directly (there are other ways of reaching out) – once the markets see what you can deliver, they’ll want to do business with you – EVEN (and this is surprising, but true) if you never really focus on the core elements of your own business. It’s enough that you are seen as an expert, one worth emulating – and people will come to you, if only to have the “bragging rights” (or because they think you’re better at what you do) that comes from working with a media-acknowledged expert.

There are a lot of other strategies and tactics that can be done – totally different approaches, as well as refinements of the “initial thoughts” I’ve shared here. However, this is a strong, we'll-proven place to start.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hobby Shop Marketing Ideas

Ned Barnett (c) 2008

Here are a number of ideas that I believe will work to build traffic and volume for a hobby store in Nevada (this blog is based on an actual plan for a real bricks-and-mortar store). These are based on my 35-plus years of experience in PR and marketing, as well as my (somewhat more limited) experience in promoting hobby shops.

1. Have after-hours (after hobby club meeting) open-houses for the IPMS and other local hobby clubs (car club, model railroad club, RC club, etc.)

a. Invite them over after their regular club-meeting sessions

i. Offer them some soft-drink hospitality

ii. Offer them the chance to buy the latest kits (or rare old kits) and other modeling supplies at even bigger-than-normal discounts.

o Hold out some “just released” kits for sale-debut at these events – so members can be “the first on their block” to get the latest new release from Eduard or whatever

o Set aside some kits (old kits you bought cheap, that are rare and out-of-production) for extra-discount sales

o Invite members to bring by their own “old kits” they want to sell or swap (it’s not money in your pocket, but it will bring them out)

o Invite members to bring display kits, and offer an award or trophy for the best built model to show up at each event – then offer these winners a “pride of place” special display in the store, until next month (or longer).

b. Do this for all hobby clubs – not just IPMS – and include railroad modelers, RC car and plane clubs, auto modelers, etc.

c. Invite human-interest-story reporters to come by and see the “real story”

2. More effectively promote your club-member discount (to all clubs, not just IPMS)

a. Ask for their member lists so you can promote directly, or …

b. Offer to pay postage etc. to them to do the promotions directly to their members on your behalf (make a contribution to the club – maybe a kit to raffle off, instead of hard cash)

3. Set up an additional club-member discount for large purchases; for instance:

a. Purchases retailing at over $100

b. Purchases retailing at more than $250

c. Purchases retailing at more than $500

This will encourage high-ticket purchases from your most likely high-volume local customers

4. Set up a store-specific website for recognition

a. Find a local modeler who’s a web-geek to set it up and keep it up for you (barter?)

b. Keep the website current on all the events listed here and other store activities

c. List details of special sales and deals

d. Announce the arrival of new and hard-to-find items that will bring people into the store

e. Invite local modelers to submit photos of models (or even articles on how they created those models) and post these online

f. Link to the local and national IPMS sites, and to other non-commercial (i.e., non-competing) websites – make your site a portal to other modeling sites

g. Create a “blog” linked to the site where you can (and where your customers can) talk about important elements of the hobby

h. Create an online bulletin board where visitors can ask questions or offer answers, or just “talk” about modeling

i. See the SMML list, which is similar and sponsored by a hobby shop in Australia

ii. Be sure to moderate the list (i.e., approve posts before they go online) to avoid harsh/nasty comments or promotion of competitors

5. Create a sign-up sheet for customers – capture their emails for use in very low-cost direct marketing

a. Use the email lists to announce new items in the store – create a quick pitch in the email, then provide details via a link to your website for details

b. Use the email lists to announce special events (items in this plan) – include a quick pitch and a link back to the website

c. Ask the local clubs to provide you their member lists and contact information (including emails) to beef up this email contact list

6. Put an ad in directory in the back Fine Scale Modeler

a. The ad won’t help all that much with the locals – though it will reach modelers among Las Vegas’ never-ending stream of newcomers

b. The ad will help a whole lot with out-of-town visitors

c. Offer special discounts to out-of-town visitors and new residents (put that in the FSM ad listing if you can, as well as on your website) to encourage first-time visits

7. Compete with the direct-order hobby suppliers

a. Prominently offer to direct-order items, including hard-to-find items (after-market parts, for instance, or relatively rare kits and such)

b. Offer a big discount – 20% or 25% – off retail for pre-paid direct orders

8. Encourage experienced local modelers to "hang out" at the store

a. Put some chairs in a corner, with a coffeepot and a small coke machine – every successful shop I know has such a group

b. Have an interesting video playing on one of those self-contained TV/DVD/VHS machines

9. Before Christmas (i.e.., as soon as possible) create a one-day 25% off sale day for club members only

a. Have people from the clubs there, on hand, to sign up new members so interested walk-ins can also get that 25% discount.

b. Alternatively, offer that special discount (maybe only 20%, but maybe 25%) from now until Christmas –

c. Have sign-up materials there so YOU can sign people up for the clubs (making the clubs grateful) and give any interested customer the discount.

10. You have a tremendous potential asset in your attached “storage space” – you can use at least some of this space for a variety of business-building purposes, which could include:

a. Provide a layout space for one or more local model railroad clubs

i. They used to have space at A local competitor – which I arranged for –

ii. However, A local competitor is moving locations right now and might not have space in the new location (I just don’t know)

b. Create a well-lit, well-ventilated “work bench” space, where modelers (railroad, radio control, plastic) could come and build kits, individually or in groups on scheduled “work nights” or “work Saturdays”

i. This would prove helpful, as more modelers than ever before are living in apartments or small homes that don’t afford them the space to work – or where they can’t work with modeling chemicals – from resin to CA or model airplane glue

ii. This would also allow “master modelers” to hold, on their own, self-sponsored informal how-to workshops for their less skilled brethren

c. Create and promote store-sponsored “master modeler” training/demo sessions –

i. Invite local master modelers to stage these store-sponsored events

ii. Invite hobby manufacturers and distributors to do “master modeler” product demos

iii. Invite out-of-town master modelers (who’ll be in Vegas for other reasons – hey, everybody wants to come to Vegas, eh?) to do skills/techniques demos while they’re in town

iv. Promote these through the appropriate local model clubs

v. Get a local modeler who’s also a web geek to set up a web-cam to conduct these master modeler demos online as webinars (there is very little cost to this)

vi. Promote these master-modeler webinars/seminars nationally through member-societies (IPMS, NMRA, etc.)

vii. List these demo programs (especially, but not limited to, webinars) in hobby publication coming events calendars

viii. Invite the local media to “cover” one of these master modeler training sessions as a “human interest” story

ix. Arrange with local TV to do brief on-camera master modeler demos of models or modeling techniques (or radio control car models) with the demonstrators representing your store

d. Create a “safe” airbrush spray booth, vented to the outside with a spark-free vent fan (and hood) where modelers who don’t have spray-areas in their homes could come and spray.

i. Sell disposable breathing masks, and require all who use this to either buy from you or bring their own.

ii. You might even charge a nominal hourly rental fee for this, though that’s a judgment call – is it better to attract more people or better to increase revenue

iii. You could set up a compressor/air tank with standard fittings and people could bring their own airbrush … or you could rent them an airbrush the way The Gun Store will – for those who want to use their range – rent shooters a gun (or they can bring their own)

iv. This should increase your sales – people could buy their paint and supplies as they need them

e. Work with local kids’ charities (St. Jude’s Ranch) and scouts, etc. – and with local hobby clubs – to have hands-on basic modeling (or other hobby) guided construction demos

i. Promote these via the local media as well as through the hobby clubs and the charities.

ii. This works! I used to do training/building sessions at a local orphanage, with the backing of my local IPMS club

iii. A local hobby store provided basic, low-cost (Matchbox 1/72nd in those days) kits for the kids to build

iv. You can offer all your customers the chance to contribute to the charity –

1. Tell your customers that X% percentage of each sale

2. You can offer to customers the opportunity to contribute an extra amount ($1, $5, $20, etc.) toward buying – at cost – models and supplies (some people would prefer to actually contribute)

v. We got some nice local TV coverage and press play)

Sunday, January 20, 2008


The following is excerpted from an article from a Nigerian-based e-zine (which explains some of the word-choices) that, among other things, quoted Ned Barnett as an expert in making money from your blogs.

1. Sell advertising
This is probable the most ordinary effectuation of investment a book to create income. If yours happens to embellish a well-known blog, or digit that is well-received in a portion niche, it’s ever doable to delude ad expanse on your own. For lesser-known blogs, services much as Google’s AdSense or BlogAds enable bloggers to found ad programs. AdSense’s — which lets you superior individual ads that are conformable with the noesis of your book — pays you based
on how whatever readers utter on the ads for boost information. Even better, it’s free. BlogAds, on the added hand, many bloggers up with would-be advertisers and levies a authorization in convey for whatever ad placements that result. "The pleasant thing, too, is that the ads are relatively unobtrusive," says historian Allen, co-author of "The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online."

2. Help delude others’ products
Here is added click-through opportunity. Affiliate programs enable your book to support as a conduit between readers and online sites substance different artifact and services. One favorite pick is Amazon.com. If, for instance, you substance aggregation reviews or modify meet name a aggregation in expiration in your blog, an affiliate aggregation provides a effectuation for
your readers to utter direct from your book to Amazon to obtain boost aggregation most the book. If they fortuity discover the record or calculate card, you intend stipendiary as well

3. Solicit contributions
Not every blog-related income potential involves hawking artifacts or services. As Blanche DuBois did in "A Streetcar Named Desire," study relying on the mercy of strangers. Ask for contributions. If, for instance, your small-business book supports a drive or supply in whatever style — feature you repeatedly name set reform, upbeat tending or whatever added matter — you crapper ever transmit for reverend support. Even if you’ve attracted a assemble of lawful mass who exclusive savor datum what you hit to say, they haw be selection to undertake their loyalty with a lowercase playing help. Programs much as PayPal attain it cushy to found a ultimate on-site effort assemblage button. "There are lots of commendable ’cause’ blogs that would remember for donations from glad members of the book community," says Las Vegas marketing and fund-raising consultant Ned Barnett.

4. Market your services in your blog
Many grouping assort blogs exclusive with a cyberspace-based soapbox — a locate to yell your opinions and lowercase more than that. Granted, blogs are an saint scene to deal your thoughts with others, but don’t lie their power to create newborn playing as well. When appropriate, impact in references to what you do and, in turn, what you haw be healthy to substance whatever would-be computer or computer who haw be datum your blog. That crapper distribute your instrument and your playing moxie at the aforementioned time."Instead of brief commentaries that begin a talking with readers, as whatever blogs do, I indite the equal of book articles that shew my abilities, strategies and perspectives on restricted issues," Barnett says. "When it resonates, it effectuation money. Since play this approach, I hit generated threesome newborn stipendiary clients and brought in most $10,000 on income — direct imputable to restricted blogs."

5. Use a book to increase your existing computer relationships
Nor does whatever marketing touchable inserted in book noesis hit to be restricted to transfer in completely newborn business. By using a book to regularly transmit with existing clients as substantially as added readers, you crapper verify plus of the possibleness to flooded inform them most everything your playing does. That haw modify your readers’ discernment of the flooded orbit of your products or services."My book has helped existing clients watch the arrange of my skills and services," says Ted Demopoulos of Demopoulos Associates, a Durham, N.H. consulting and upbringing concern. "One computer who had exclusive utilised me for upbringing in the time was astonied at my arrange of skillfulness and is today using me for a consulting project. Another who exclusive utilised me on theoretical projects is today considering me for a more business-oriented project."

Friday, December 24, 2004

Referral Development - The Low Cost/High Return Way to Build Business

Ned Barnett
(c) 2004

Referral Development is the art and science of turning others – including current, former and prospective clients – into defacto marketing agents for you and your business. These individuals I’ve come to call Referral Development Sources (RDSs), and they can be a vital element of your overall success. Turning individuals into RDSs is a skill that many businesses need, but few businesses master.

Creating and supporting a successful referral development program, one that delivers productive RDSs, is not hard. However, it does require focus, consistency and a real understanding of the human motives that turn disinterested strangers into active and aggressive, motivated and productive referral sources.

Experience shows that the two essential keys to successful referral development programs are motivation and communications.

Motivation can be recognition (either real or manufactured), as well as financial remuneration or something else the individual values, but isn’t likely to be able to obtain on their own. Real recognition can come through a peer-to-peer group, an association or other organization already respected by potential RDSs; “manufactured recognition” is anything that you create that will influence those hungry for recognition (think Who’s Who). For those individuals who crave recognition, a plaque on the wall and an “appreciation” dinner can be more motivating than a five-percent commission. Volunteers for charitable non-profits often put in endless productive hours for a walnut-and-etched-brass plaque and a “grip-and-grin” photo in the local newspaper.

However, not everybody hungers after a plaque on the wall (or the equivalent). For them, you’ve got to provide something more specific – generally something with a monetary value.

For example, while working with wealthy physicians (and trying to turn them into productive RDSs), I found that run-of-the-mill recognition doesn’t work – they’ve got an MD framed and hanging on their wall, and frankly, that’s a hard act to follow. Just as important, for individuals earning upward of a half-million dollars a year, a motivating level of remuneration was usually financially out of the question.

I had one successful surgeon laugh in my face over an offer of $20,000 a year to participate in a referral development-related marketing program. “Son,” he said, “I can make that anytime I want to, just by keeping my office open an extra half hour a day.” Which told me he brought in $10,000 for every fifteen-minutes-a-day he stayed open, and also told me that I wasn’t even close to playing ball in his league. At least not of the game was “bucks for bodies.”

So I had to come up with motivators that worked for doctors – and what I learned can easily be applied to other referral development groups.

One motivator for that physician group (or others who are relatively immune to manufactured recognition) was peer-to-peer recognition. This is something fairly easy to create if you have the resources of a major hospital behind you (as I did at that time), or if you are able to use a professional society to provide the recognition. However, this approach can be rather difficult to create if you don’t have influence of control over a peer-group body.

This same principle applies to other businesses: If you can control or influence a group of peers to which the RDSs belong – or if your RDSs are individuals who might respond to more direct recognition, you can go with recognition without remuneration. However, if you don’t have such a group to work with (and through), or if your potential RDSs are relatively immune to manufactured recognition, you’ll need to find a more material form of motivator.

However, over time, I discovered that doctors respond to entertainment-related gift certificates (fancy dinners, for instance) or activities such as day-cruises. The important element of these incentives seemed to be that they were something they could share with their wife or husband – a “reward” for their long hours away from home, and perhaps also something to “prove” that the doctors are VIPs.

Motivation will differ from group to group (and from individual to individual); however, referral development motivators generally do not deal in “deferred gratification” – to get people to act as defacto marketing agents, you’ve got to quickly and memorably deliver on the motivator.

The other essential element of a successful referral development program is communications – specifically, an ongoing communications program designed to keep individuals’ roles as potential (rewarded) referral sources “top of mind.”

Because these individuals are, by definition, not intimately involved with the product or service, “out of sight, out of mind” is a daily reality for referral development programs. These communications programs will have to be tailored three ways:

  • To you and your product or service
  • To the target audience
  • To the motivator incentives that you’ll be providing

However, every company’s (and often every product’s) referral development program will require a very specific, carefully designed set of rewards, recognitions … and communications.

Nonetheless, there are some commonalties to keep in mind – including what I call:

Barnett Marketing Communications’
“Top Ten” Elements of a Successful Referral Development Program

1. Identify Your Ideal Referred-to-You Client: To generate qualified, high-value referral leads, you have got to be able to swiftly, clearly and effectively communicate to prospective Referral Development Sources the specific the nature of persons or businesses you’re looking for in the way of referrals. In sales, this is often called the “elevator pitch” – a brief, concise statement you can deliver between floors in a crowded elevator. To have an effective elevator pitch describing your target referral, you have to take the time to boil down your laundry-list of prospect identifiers into a simple, short one-paragraph statement you can give in your sleep – when you’re there, you’ve got the message you need.<>

2. Identify Your Specific Target Market of Potential Referral Development Sources: To succeed with a referral development program, you’ll need to craft a very focused target list of companies and individuals who can be motivated to consistently make high-value referrals. These can be clients (current, former or even prospects). They can be trade association execs. They can be independent business contractors in an allied business. All of this depends on the nature of your business, your product and your service mix. Tailor your list of referral prospects to those people (or companies) best positioned to make referrals. Be creative, and be open to odd-but-effective approaches. For example, in Las Vegas, I once ran a referral program that had casino hotel concierges and taxi drivers referring Vegas visitors to my hospital’s chest pain center – it’s not the kind of program that would work everywhere, but it was remarkably successful in this 24-hour town.

3. Create Your Referral Development Lead Offer: The referral development lead offer is the heart and soul of an effective, productive referral development program. This offer has to communicate a number of important messages to prospective RDSs, including:

  • What does an effective, qualified referral prospect look like;
  • What, specifically, is “in it” for the RDSs in exchange for providing effective referral prospect, as well as how (and when) that incentive will be delivered;
  • How the RDSs should to about making their referrals; and,
  • What steps you are likely to take when following up on their referral if an effective, qualified prospect (who is likely to be persons of some significance to the RDSs – they have a stake in what you do with the referral)

To create a referral development lead offer that works, you have to try to get inside the minds of your target referral sources – then create a series of offers that will motivate those specific people to want to refer you. Ideally, your motivating incentive should work, not once, but again and again. While each product or service’s incentives will be different (and there may be additional differences among the various RDSs), my experience suggests that it is very nearly absolutely essential that you provide an immediate (or timely) incentive, rather than some long-term “points” system or other deferred (i.e., “annual”) incentive. These are too easy to ignore, and offer too little in the way of action-motivating inducements to be – in most cases – truly effective.

4. Test Your Referral Development Lead Offer: Once you have a message you think will work, you’ve got to test it. In concept, this is no different than testing direct marketing or advertising messages. You can even use the same approaches – for instance, focus groups can work quite well. The means of testing are less important than the fact that you’re actually testing messages, refining them until you have ones that work.

5. Create and Test Your Core Referral Development Message: This is another elevator pitch. It has to clearly explain the value you offer to RDSs for their referrals. The message must be brief, succinct and strong enough to capture and hold your prospective RDSs attention. It will be very distinctive to your offer, and – as with the offer itself – you should test this, too, on representative members of your target market audience.

6. Communicate Your Core Referral Development Message: Develop a system whereby you can get in front of potential referral sources – and while in front of them, present your core message. The second part of this system is follow-up – once you’ve got them interested in the bait, you’ve got to be able to hook them, reel them in and land them – the RDS fish who get away are of no use to you.

7. Design and Implement Your RDSs “Education” System: When you finally land a RDS who has the potential to increase the number and quality of referrals you receive, you still have to educate them. With the proper information about your product or service, they can improve their performance. They have to understand the product or service – and especially the benefits offered – sufficiently well that they can communicate these to their targets. If they are clients, this education will also help to reinforce them in their decision (and very likely enable them to make better use of your product or service). But that’s a side-benefit – the real benefit comes through more and better qualified referral leads.

8. Identify and Implement A Referral Follow-Up Plan of Action: To bring your referral system full circle you need to devise two follow-up steps.

  • A way to continue to market to your referral leads that don’t immediately turn into clients; and,
  • A way to systematically communicate the progress of a referral back to your referral sources to keep them motivated.

9. Create An Effective Referral Development Lead Conversion Strategy: Referrals have little value if they don’t become clients. To be sure that referrals don’t fall through the cracks of day-to-day operations, develop, test and implement a specific set of internal steps (probably involving marketing and sales departments and staffs) that will convert leads into new clients. Your staff needs to know what they need to do when the phone rings or emails arrive from your RDSs – they need priority, consistent treatment.

10. Develop a Method of Measuring Your Referral Development Program Success: This will, of course, be specific to your referral development program – but it is an essential component of ultimate success. Only by measuring and evaluating performance can you fine-tune and improve your referral development program.

Conclusion: Create a referral development program that is suited to your organization, to your product or service, to the nature of your RDSs and to the nature of your ideal prospects. Support that program actively, make sure your incentives are sufficiently motivating – then measure your success and let the program evolve. Done properly, an effective referral development program becomes a valuable, low-cost/high-return adjunct to your other marketing programs, adding value to your bottom line while helping to build buzz – word-of-mouth that has a value all out of proportion to your effort.

A Warning Note: There is one thing that you do not want to do – and that is trying to tell your RDSs how to go about pitching their own network of friends, colleagues – and even competitors (you’d be surprised how often business competitors will make referrals). This is highly personal to them, and you need to leave it up to their own best judgment. If you try to coach or direct them, they’ll feel like underpaid commission sales force members – more likely than not, they’ll resent this and become ineffective or even counter-productive.

Credits: I’ve been creating and managing referral development programs for more than 20 years; still, I know that I’m learning new information and ideas every day, and so it has been with the development of this material. Specifically, I’d like to recognize John Jantsch, a marketing coach and the creator of the Duct Tape Marketing System (http://www.DuctTapeMarketing.com), whose web-published ideas on building a referral marketing program added some useful insights as I developed this material.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Media "Vapors" Over Bogus Bellwether Economic News

(c) 2004 - Ned Barnett

The business media seems to once again be suffering from a near- critical case of the "vapors" - this time over the warning signs projected by early-return Christmas holiday sales. Their apparent need to predict the near-term future has all but outweighed their ability to interpret the real news available to them.

This just-completed first-of-the-season holiday shopping weekend has been a classic example of this media compulsion. First, I heard an ebullient holiday sales prediction based on an estimated $8 billion in one-day retail sales on "Black Friday" (an ill-named date if there ever was one). Then, just a day later, I read in The Financial Times that doom was the order of the day.


Because Wal-Mart's sales growth figures were relatively flat. Not down - just not up as high as Wal-Mart's investors might have wanted. That was all it took for even the most respected business media to begin questioning not only the nation's holiday sales, but the country's entire multi-year economic recovery.'


When Wal-Mart's projected November/December sales were reported as relatively flat, all of the other "positive" trends just seemed to go up in smoke. For instance, the National Retail Federation confidently projects an industry-wide 4.5 percent growth - to a phenomenal $220 billion in non-Internet retail - for the entire 2004 holiday shopping period. Visa USA reported a massive 15.5 percent spike in Visa card sales, up to $4.1 billion. Internet industry analysts are tracking - and reporting - an incredible surge in Internet sales, up by more than 20 percent from last year. Getting more focused on the "right now," Shoppertrak reported that "Black Friday" sales grew 10.8 percent from a year ago, to a record $8 billion in retail industry-wide first-day sales.

However, these positive reports seem to have all been ignored in the media rush to make this venerable bellwether - Wal-Mart - "dictate" not only Christmas holiday sales, but to make it a marker predicting the fate of the entire ongoing economic recovery. It seems that the business media has gone overboard - again - in trying to predict the future while ignoring the present.

In this, the business media's experts seem to be following the recent pattern of the political media, which was seemingly desperate to predict the outcome of the US presidential election - even just a few hours before the polls closed. The political media used such esoteric bellwethers as the Washington Redskins loss the last home-game Sunday before the election, the previous infallibility of the Zogby last-day poll, the apparent relationship between Presidential job-approval (as defined by Gallup)and the actual vote - and most importantly, the results of exit polls, polls that were never intended to predict outcomes (but only to explain why different demographic groups voted as they did), to predict the final vote tally.

I'm not sure why it is so important for the big-foot media to use unrelated "markers" to predict the future. However, it is nonetheless clear that at least this bellwether's predictive quality IS important - vitally important - to the business media, in the way that Ben Franklin's "Poor Richard's Almanac" used wooly caterpillars to reliably predict the severity of an upcoming winter.

But when it comes to predicting our economic future, Wal-Mart is no longer a reliable wooly caterpillar.

Here's what I think is really happening.

The U.S. national economy - and America's retail economy - both continue to be strong. The overall recovery continues to move forward in solid, if not spectacular, fashion. As a result, there's a new business bottom line - Wal-Mart is no longer a reliable bellwether of Christmas Holiday sales success. This is true for a variety of very good reasons.

First, Yogi Berra's observation about crowded restaurants apparently now applies equally well to Wal-Mart: "Nobody goes there anymore because it's so crowded." Last year, Wal-Mart scored another record year - just as the entire Christmas-season retail sales scored a record year, up roughly 4.5 percent (estimates of growth range from 4.0 to 5.1 percent for last year's holiday shopping season, depending on how you define the "season") over the previous year, as well as scoring their highest sales level in history. Which meant that last year, Wal-Mart did better than ever before - and perhaps, just perhaps - Wal-Mart had maxed out on their ability to pack in people who are tolerant of both huge crowds and excessive waits at cash registers. This year, Wal-Mart is as filled-to-the-rafters with customers as they were last year, but maybe (again, just maybe) they've reached a point of diminishing returns. Maybe their discounts, range of goods and "convenience" have ceased to outweigh the crowds in the aisles and the crowds in front of the cash registers. I do know this - crowding and congestion has gotten so bad at Wal-Mart that radio talk show programs normally devoted to politics or current events have hosted call-in segments on how to "beat the system" at Wal-Mart. Suggestions have included using the registers in the Jewelry or Sporting Goods departments, which have shorter lines.

Next, whenever a company gets as big and successful and powerful as Wal-Mart has become, competition moves in. It has surely done so this year, especially because, at least for the start of the 2004 holiday season, Wal-Mart seems to have decided to coast on its reputation rather than aggressively compete for business. In doing so, they seem to be forgetting that they originally succeeded against the nation's established retailers by out-competing not only the local mom-and-pop stores, but also by overwhelming an early generation of mega-retailers. Instead, this season, Wal-Mart has chosen to eschew deep-discounts - at least at the start - and that opened the door for others to capture customers and steal market-share. The result? On "Black Friday," those more-competitive retailers succeeded in pulling away sales from Wal-Mart - seasonal sales that, in this zero-sum market, that mega-retailer will never be able to recapture. On a day when sales set records, Wal-Mart was busy, but not busier than they were on the same day in 2003. Logically, those customers had to be spending their holiday dollars somewhere else.

Here's how the competition did it. Super-Target now competes with the Wal-Mart super-stores, and their ads proclaiming variety and deep discounts are everywhere. K-Mart just merged with Sears, and now they're both playing hardball. K-Mart was open on Thanksgiving, stealing start-of-the-holiday "Black Friday" sales - and market share - from Wal-Mart by creating a new shopping day. Then Sears opened at 5:30 a.m. on "Black Friday" - and offered huge deep-discount sales running only from 5:30 to 11:00 a.m. - again effectively "stealing" market share and sales from Wal-Mart.

In addition to playing the new-store-hours game, all the competitors - K-Mart, Target, Sears, as well as J.C. Penney, Best Buy, Circuit City and a host of others - have gone out of their way to offer huge and impressive deep-discounts. K-Mart, for instance. had a 50-percent-off sale right before Thanksgiving. Sears offered discounts up to 50% - and their pre-dawn sale on "Black Friday" offered an additional 10 percent discount. That doesn't even begin to cover the advertising, promotion and deep-discounting efforts of America's shopping malls, all designed to attract shoppers to their welcoming womb - and since Wal-Mart isn't in these malls, they're all working to steal shoppers and market share away from Wal-Mart.

In the face of that competition, Wal-Mart offered a relatively few "targeted" discounts (the $19.95 DVD player was indeed impressive) and no special store hours. Even without the extra competitive oomph, they held their own - but, unlike their competitors, they failed to capture their share of the market's 10% same-day growth over last year.

Finally, the retail Internet is booming as never before. Saturday, FoxNews aired a prediction that the Internet will really boom this holiday season, and AP published a similar report: "In the online world, holiday sales, excluding travel and auction sites, are expected to increase 23 to 26 percent to $15.1 billion, from $12.3 billion a year ago, according to comScore Networks Inc., an Internet research firm." Every dollar spent on Internet gift-shopping takes that dollar away from Wal-Mart (and other bricks-and-mortar retailers), yet retail analysts predict yet another banner year for these retailers, and even without the competitive spirit shown by other retailers, Wal-Mart is still predicting modest growth.

All of which suggests that the economy is healthy, that this holiday retail sales season will be better than ever before - and, perhaps just as important (at least to the business media) that Wal-Mart is no longer a reliable bellwether for holiday sales (or the economy as a whole). Which means that reporters and analysts will have to once again look at a variety of different information sources for specific trend-indicating data points - then think through what those data points, taken together, actually mean.

And one final note. "Black Friday," although it evokes memories of Wall Street's "Black Monday (1987)" and "Black Thursday (1929)" crashes, actually refers to the day that retailers "enter the black" - begin making a profit for the year - because of the huge impact of holiday sales. That's got to be the dumbest media buzz-name for a memorable day that I've ever heard - but from now on, when you hear "Black Friday," think of "in the black" instead of "massive market crash."

About Ned Barnett:

Ned Barnett, the owner of Barnett Marketing Communications (http://www.barnettmarcom.com), is a 32-year veteran of high-stakes crisis-management public relations, and is a frequent “source” for print and broadcast journalists. Barnett has advised many corporate and personal clients on effective crisis relations – often stopping a crisis in its tracks, even before it gets started.

As a political consultant and speechwriter, Barnett has worked for candidates and officials from both parties, as well as for public interest advocacy groups in areas involving the economy, the environment and healthcare. As a historian, Barnett is widely published in military history magazines, and has appeared a number of times on the History Channel, discussing military technology.

Barnett has taught PR at two state universities, and has written nine published books on public relations, marketing and advertising. He’s earned PRSA’s coveted Silver Anvil, two ADDYs and four consecutive MacEacherns; in 1978, he was the youngest (to that time) person to earn accreditation from PRSA, and in 1984, he became the first person to earn a Fellowship in PR from the American Hospital Association. But mostly, Barnett provides PR counsel to a range of corporations, authors and advocacy groups.

© 2004 – Ned Barnett
Barnett Marketing Communications