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Showing posts from December, 2006

Toward a Code of Ethics for Marketing Consultants

My philosophy of consulting has always been that 1) I want every client to remain a (satisfied) client for as long as possible, and 2) I want every ex-client to be referenceable. To me, that seems common-sensical enough, but I'm disgusted by how many outside vendors don't share that approach to clients, whether through price gouging, incompetence, non-responsiveness, or just plain dishonesty.

It's not that there's a shortage of ethical codes, just a shortage of adherence to them. Codes abound, from ethical guidelines for management consulting and search engine optimization, public relations and blogging.

My personal contribution to the genre would be:

- Start with an honest assessment of your strengths. No single individual can be good at everything, even with a narrowly-defined area such as website design. Accept projects only in your strength areas; you'll be more likely to avoid delivering poor quality work.

- Develop a network of talented people in your non-str…

5 Things You Didn't Know About Me You Might Want To Know

Ardath Albee at the Marketing Interactions blog tagged me, so in the Christmas spirit, I'll play the game.

1. I biked to Canada with my oldest brother when I was 15. That's biked in as 10-speed, not motorcycle. 920 miles in eight days.

2. My wife and I like to joke that we are both "perfect 10s" -- I was the tenth child out of ten, she was the tenth out of 11. Yes, our holidays are insane, with intimate family gatherings that are about the size of Cleveland.

3. I worked my way through college cooking at and managing an Italian restaurant. I still enjoy whipping up a couple of the recipes I developed there -- chicken lasagna with cheddar sauce, and seafood lasagna with white sauce.

4. My summer car (and perpetual project) is a 1966 Ford Galaxie 500 convertible. It's a two-door 5-passenger vehicle that's longer than my wife's SUV (an extended one with the third seat). I've thought of painting it gray with a white stripe down the middle and letting fight…

Perfecting The Art Of Defining Your Micromarket

Many companies, particularly smaller firms, struggle to properly define their target micromarket properly. The natural temptation is to spread efforts widely so as not to miss any possible prospects. For example, one company I worked with said it "focused" on eight (!) vertical markets. You can focus on one, two, possibly even three things simultaneously -- but not eight. The practical result of a "scattershot" approach is that the best prospects are inadequately communicated to, resulting in wasted marketing efforts and dollars, a mushy message, and an inordinately difficult sales process.

By carefully defining and focusing efforts on a micromarket and using the proper micromedia to reach it, companies not only reduce wasted marketing spending but can also finely tune their messages to have the greatest impact on their target market, as opposed to producing lowest-common-denominator prose designed to appeal to a wide variety of prospects, and thereby being of litt…

Adding Social Networking Links to Your Blog

Happening across Blogs Are Like Pliers on the One by One Media blog, I noticed two things: 1) these guys are pretty smart, and 2) the social networking links across the bottom of each post are cool. Where did they get them?

It didn't take long to find the Social Bookmark Link Creator. This handy tool enables you to add links to a variety of social bookmarking sites to each of your blog posts in Blogger, Wordpress, or MoveableType.

I'm guessing it works best with Wordpress. In Blogger, the tool only allows you to add text links to social bookmarking sites, and even then, it took some experimentation to get the links to show up in the right place without breaking my template. It also only provides instructions for creating a vertical list; if you prefer a horizontal list -- which I think looks better -- you'll need to add "&nbsp" between the links to keep them from running together.

I tried adding social bookmark icons from the ExplodingBoy blog, but couldn'…

Marketing in Reverse How To Handle Returns

Marketers promote products, and sales professionals sell them. Understandably, both groups focus on a one-way flow of products -- out the door and into the hands of customers. Little thought is given to the messy problem of products coming back in the door through returns; that's an operations problem. But while marketing generally isn't, and shouldn't be, in charge of the reverse logistics process, it definitely needs to be involved.

First, returns are a big issue. According to Forbes, "up to 7% of an enterprise’s gross sales are captured by return costs," amounting to a staggering $100 billion per year in the U.S. alone. Return rates vary by product and type of retailer/distributor, from about 5% in consumer electronics, to 15% on average for computer manufacturers, and up to 30% for book publishers.

Second, proper returns handling is important to marketers. As Multichannel Merchant magazine points out in this article, "handling merchandise returns is an i…