Change is often discouraged or debated in organizations until there are no other options, and sometimes at great calamity. Tom Neff, my mentor, taught me that organizations must embrace and plan for change by choosing progress instead of letting inevitable change just happen to them. We have seen countless industries migrate through the revolutionary transitions of the last 25 years, and we have also observed others that have refused or fought change at every step.

Organizations and individuals that are paying attention, taking a leadership position and adapting choose to progress through their change paradigm and often succeed in becoming stronger, better companies. There is a great article about General Patreaus and his Adaptive Leadership style. Let’s face it, the military has gone through significant change and if you think they have relied on old style top down management style you are wrong. Give this article a read to learn about a great “soldier, scholar and statesman,” I hope it encourages you to choose progress during this time of change. Read more…

I recently spoke at the Nashville City Club about Finding Audience & Creating Uncontested Markets. (Watch Video Below) Over the years, I have worked in advertising and marketing, leading turn-arounds, start-ups and companies in transition.   This presentation focuses on developing the plans and strategies for successfully positioning your business.

Seven Video Segments of 6-9 minutes each: Total Run-time 54 minutes

Many business and entities automatically assume certain outcomes and modes of operations for their given business model because of what is considered the norm. However, buy stepping back and evaluating Revenue Model options from the beginning and working backwards leads to innovation and opportunity, many times creating Blue Ocean opportunities by themselves. Professor Andy Hargadon at UC-Davis has identified 8: Unit sales, Advertising fees, Franchise fees, Utility fees, Subscription fees, Transaction fees, Professional fees and License fees.

Many times the Revenue model decision will lead to innovations in distribution, audience building, packaging, etc. that create opportunities and  differentiation that contribute to the strategy canvas and ultimately success. Determining  the revenue model creates a clearer out point to begin building the plan and monitoring the progress as you move forward. It also makes it clearer as to what analytics need to be monitored along the way to insure  conversions, economic (sales) and non-economic (non-sales but ultimately lead to sales) are occurring and building. Make sure you have clearly defined your Revenue Model and aligned all of your efforts to maximize it. Want to know more, Read…


I’m a big believer that in this environment, there is no one way to get to market. Both online and traditional media work in unique ways. You need to find the right mix of both that will serve and reach your audience.

But right now, major media has a problem, and it isn’t necessarily the internet. Sure, the internet has changed how print media needs to do business. But much of the problem for major media is that they are fighting the need to realign their old model to fit the contemporary model.

They still don’t know how to capitalize or monetize the edge they have. A recent study done by Cornell researchers shows that there is indeed an edge for traditional news outlets. Fast Company’s Kit Eaton says “it’s a sign that the old guard should chill out about blogs and how they’re destroying the news world.”

Read more about Old Media Still Powerful: Blogs Follow News Outlets 2.5 Hours Later – Read more…

Any viable internet strategy needs to include conversion concepts. Sometimes that might be economic, as in sales.

But it can also be non-economic; for instance, you may want to get people to move or migrate to pages, to opt-in to your email list, or to take whatever action you desire them to take. This conversion is the kind that creates steps in building relationships with potential customers.

Imagine if a customer walked into your store and you grabbed something off the shelf, shoved it into their hands, and said “Hi – you want to buy? Let me ring that up.” You would be rebuffed!

You need to realize relationship development and conversions that will move people through your website. You need to recognize strategies that will move the relationship orientation to your business.

I have a client whose sole online conversion goal is to generate phone calls into their office from 8-5 Monday-Friday. They’ve refined a specific strategy to deal with this, and they’ve built a very successful sales model off the concept.

It doesn’t need to be bells, gadgets and gizmos! What might work with your strategic planning? Here are some unique ideas on generating conversions in an article posted at the Wall Street Journal, Three Best Ways to Convert Web Traffic Into Sales – Read more…

A friend of mine just Facebooked, “Thinking there has to be some way to unite indies rockers.” To which I replied, “If the ants ever get together, the grasshoppers are in trouble!”

There’s a dirty 4-letter word that every musician must heave to succeed: “WORK.” And the work needs to be done, as my friend Tom Jackson says, by “majoring in the  majors, not majoring in the minors.”

Right now I’m working with an artist, Steve Bell, who has an amazing fan base. He’s toured consistently for the last twenty years, and recently began working in a new area, launching symphony tours and performing sell out concerts. He’s never been signed to a record label.

It takes focus and determination. No one will do it for you. In my experience, those who might get that “lottery ticket” opportunity are ill-prepared for it when it comes along. Numerous times I would see bands get the chance to perform for a potential shot at success, and their sets, show, and songs weren’t ready. Guitar players’ pickups would feedback through the PA – even their gear wasn’t ready!

It takes hard work; but at the end of the day, every overnight success is a story capped with 12 years or more in the making. Those who work on things that matter can have a successful career. For them, there is no downturn in the music industry.

So stop whining, and start working! Here’s a great article to help you out: The Top 5 Reasons You Will Fail in Music – read more…

Clay Shirky recently wrote a great article on Cato Unbound. What he describes in the news industry is a mirror of what has happened in music. However, my take is that the “established,” which has consolidated over the last 30 years and bloated upon itself, is now decentralizing again.

30 years ago there were thousands of newspapers, individually owned in each community, just like radio. The internet also gives us a glimpse of what people have done all along – word of mouth. No doubt the tools are great, but fundamental behavior has not changed. It has simply adapted to the new channel.

There is another interesting emergence. All businesses carry a certain amount of “overhead” that is not part of the profit center. Unfortunately, businesses now evaluate all activity only through the profit lens. I believe we are going to see a return to this and the “green” movement as one beginning of realization.

Interestingly, over the years artists, writers, journalists, musicians, etc. have acquiesced to the systems and allowed them to be co-opted, consolidated into larger corporations. These were run by management that believed the channel or the pipeline “was the thing” instead of the creative (content) that it delivered.

During this period they relied on a false sense of truth that anything they delivered would be consumed. They continued to cut and squeeze out the creators to increase profits creating slowly diminishing environment. The collapse we are experiencing is the bloated entities unable to maintain their girth and the rebellion of the masses to look elsewhere.

This article, Not an Upgrade – an Upheaval, is correct that “programming” is going to be the central element in the new media space, and that current institutions are failing to adapt to the models required to make or allow that to happen. Read more…

I got an email recently from Burnside Distribution. Here’s what they said:

“Physical sales of CDs continue to decline; I doubt anyone will dispute this. Large chains and big box stores are reducing the amount of titles they carry and in the process have set up huge returns, both directly to Burnside and through our one-stop partners, seriously affecting our cash flow. This obviously has a negative effect throughout the entire industry.

While CD sales continue to be the majority of our business, we recognize that the trend is towards digital.

While our sales deteriorate with some of these accounts, independent stores seem to be holding their own and in some cases are gaining sales because of unique marketing strategies such as Record Store Day and Vinyl Saturdays. Indeed vinyl is back and we are shipping more LPs, EPs and 45s than have been shipped in the last two decades. A combination of savvy retailers, internet retailers such as Amazon, and a mix of product configurations will allow distributors such as Burnside to survive in a suffering industry and weak economy.”

I found it ironic. First they report that CD sales continue to decline, and that digital sales are increasing. Then they  go on to report the resurgence of vinyl – that medium is growing!

In my opinion, the biggest problem in the record industry right now is that it has refused to reorganize and restructure to fit the new model. They have sued customers for sharing music; they have consolidated mom and pop shops to big box stores. And now those big box stores are eliminating titles, cutting their floor plans and inventory!

The same thing is happening in the radio industry, where they have collapsed down to 13 currents in regular rotation. This flies in the face of “the long tail” mentality and reaching audiences. Where top 40 radio plays fewer and shorter songs, classic rock is playing more and longer run times. And classic rock is growing in popularity, even experiencing an emergence in younger audiences.

The general market distributor says this: old fashioned step tiered music distribution with fixed margins in place, dependent on floor plans shrinking. The model is broken.

Too many companies stay out of the internet. Others rush in with “techno-ecstasy,” often times at the press of employees and without any objective or strategy.

“Hey, look at this gizmo I found, let’s do this!” Whatever the latest marketing trick or tool, it may be worthy of evaluation. But if it’s not serving your larger strategy, it may not be useful for you.

You may think the resource is “free,” but it isn’t free when you consider the investment of your resources to run it out and implement it. Plus, there is a risk you take with poor implementation from a customer perspective.

The other downside is that it may distract you and keep you from implementing core strategy that is vital to your business.

Before I use the latest marketing tool, I want to make sure it connects with my audience, communicates with my audience, and harmonizes with other strategies I have in place. If it doesn’t pass those 3 tests, I won’t use it, no matter how shiny the object is!

Paul Gunning, CEO of Tribal DDB Worldwide, writes at about the caution you should use in employing the latest gadget, gizmo, or tool. His article provides a very good understanding of the components you should evaluate it on, and the four corners of the strategy to put it together. Read more… Social Media Reality Check

I was at my bank on Saturday. The teller invited me to go to a special online promotion at “” I noticed this “register to win” promotion was also printed on my deposit slip. So a couple days later I went to the website. What did I find?

I found they had a new website. Their old URL is now redirecting to their new website – but there is no “/teller” replacement URL at the new site. The bank’s numerous locations all over town were giving a promotional push to “/teller”, but it was an undelivered promise – a breach of trust with their audience! (I will definitely reevaluate how much I trust them in the future.)

Here’s what often happens in businesses: we throw something up in the air and hope it sticks. This kind of thinking is mostly driven by new technology, or by a limited view of what the business perceives themselves to be.

Advertising and promotional planning all comes back to these 3 fundamentals: 1) a focused message, 2) expected results, and 3) the audience’s point of view. And it needs to be campaign driven. Businesses can’t just say “let’s run some online ads” and think that will do it.

Online ads, especially on click-throughs, can be a nebulous call to action with no meaning. We need to be focused on the ad content and on the strategy to be used to engage our customers, whether it’s in publishing or online ads.

Cliff Kuang of recently wrote about online ad content in Print Media Is Dying. Online Revenues Are Tiny. What If the Ads Are to Blame?…Read more…

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