Broken Records, but Vinyl is Growing

October 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Entertainment and 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.

Do You Suffer From Techno-Ecstasy

August 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Online and more

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

Hope It Sticks

August 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Online and more

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…

Redeeming the Creative Process SyFy

August 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Top of Mind

Working in creative endeavors has always been interesting. Balancing art and commerce is a fine line, and when it applies to advertising, promotion and marketing, it can get very blurry.

You can always tell the ads and creative marketing ideas that had “too many chefs.” I had an embarrassing moment one time when looking at a magazine ad. I commented on what a piece of garbage it was, only to hear the person standing next to me say “I shot the photo for that ad.” Naturally, I responded, “well, it does have some redeeming qualities!”

Whenever I start a project working with a new art and design group, I often have to temper their attempts to redesign the logo. Seldom have I worked on a project where the logo was so bad that it was bringing the company down. However, most designers are apt to consider their opportunity to have lasting impact on the company.

Good creativity needs to focus on the audience and the story we are telling. You can always go back and worry about the logo later.

Recently I noticed that the Sci-Fi network changed their logo, and I have to agree with graphic designer Ken Carbone. “Dear SyFy, Imagine Greater – Please!” – read more…

Romance and Theater

June 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Top of Mind

The original design and intent of your business are important assets for your company. And it’s crucial that you don’t let the growth of your business squeeze out and overwrite your original design!

Years ago, Starbucks developers created a coffee house experience for its customers. In the words of President and CEO Howard Schultz, there was a “distinctive Starbucks experience” that was vital to the company’s original design. It was the “romance and theater” of a customer’s trip to Starbucks that was envisioned when their first coffee house was opened.

Yet the world’s largest coffee house chain experienced something less than distinctive in 2007 when sales slowed considerably.

Why? Customers understood what Starbucks management did not – the original design of a warm and intimate neighborhood coffee house had been replaced by automatic espresso machines, flavor-locked packaging, and mass-designed store layouts. All very efficient progress, but lacking the envisioned experience originally intended.

Redefining your own original business design may be difficult, but in the face of a slowed economy, it’s important that you maintain the culture and commitment to who you are.

Read more about how Starbucks is making changes in order to win back customers and return to its roots. Read Article…

Socially Speaking, How is Your Word of Mouth?

April 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Online and more

I recently spoke at the Brentwood Chamber Tech Strategies group about Social Networking.   It’s interesting to talk to business owners and leaders about this phenom and their reluctance to embrace it.  One attendee contacted me and asked that I speak to their executive group about the topic, only to have the CEO decide not to pursue it at all, and they have completely ignored the entire area as a group while their competition is embracing it.

Everyone has always said that the best advertising is “Word of Mouth,” so why aren’t more companies participating in their own opportunites in the word-of-mouth dialog? The truth is, you are in the social space whether you want to be or not.  Elective absence is not an option because your competition, and most importantly your customers, are there and they are talking with or without you.

Carl Weinschenk has an excellent article on ITBusinessEdge on the subject and I have to agree with him that “Any company that doesn’t think social networking is a corporate tool is missing a big opportunity.” You are already in the Social Space because your customers are there and if you do not participate you are leaving it all to chance.  This article is also cross linked with some great supporting topics like:   six misconceptions about corporate use of social networks, executives who are leveraging Twitter, policy and procedure suggestions on social media and social networks, and more.   Read article Social Networks, Suitably Altered, Becoming Workplace Mainstays

Building Your Audience Preso

April 2, 2009 by  
Filed under Online and more

I recently spoke to the Tech Strategies group of the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce this February. The subject was Building Audience ~ Creating and Engaging Experience, and below is the Preso including the Strategy Canvas and the Power Point slides of my presentation Building Audience Preso.

This is a large presentation and you have to manually advance the slides.