I will be adding new posts in the not so distant future but at this time I am on hiatus.
Posted Jun 2017
Sound Tags are they the next big fad in Branding?
Question: What is a sound tag? Answer: It’s the sound bite used by advertisers and TV show producers to signify something is up or to differentiate their product from their competitors. Sound tags are today’s tag line. If used well it can become a powerful tool in your branding tool box, if used unwisely it becomes nothing more than an annoyance.
A well thought out Tag Line can take quite a bit of time to create as it must communicate the essence of ones brand value to the customer in less than 7 words. The same goes with creating an original Sound Tag as it too must convey something of value or it’s not worth adding.
Sound Tags should not be confused with theme songs. Theme songs can be as simple as using royalty free music or hiring a musician to score and create an original piece of music. Theme songs typically run from 30 to 60 seconds. Sound Tags on the other hand can consist of musical notes such as those used by Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind or an electronic non musical sound such as the one used by my Google Droid Phone. In most cases sound tags are no more than 1 to 2 seconds in length depending on the application.
The best examples in both cases are memorable and can live on indefinitely the worst examples on the other hand can become a millstone hung around the brands neck.
Welcome to TV Land
TV Shows from the very beginning pioneered the use of Theme songs to promote their shows. Well if we are honest Radio show creators pioneered the theme song but for our current argument we will stick with TV. So let’s have some fun and see if you can actually hum or whistle the following theme songs:
Category 1 individuals who are 50 and above: Giligan’s Island, Leave it to Beaver, Happy Days, Mash.
Category 2 individuals younger than 50: Star Trek Next Generation, Home Improvement, Simpson’s, Smallville, Law and Order
What did I tell you, you got every one didn’t you?
As a side note, many of today’s TV shows especially sitcoms have been forced to reduce the amount of time allotted for the theme song to be played at the intro thus less memorable songs being written nowadays. In most cases there is no ending music as networks reduce the end credits to a mini screen while they promote the next show.
While were sticking on the TV show theme let’s look at 2 ways to communicate your brand through theme music:
First example is the Law and Order franchise which uses an original and distinct musical score with each derivative series playing off the original theme. The second example is CSI franchise which chose to barrow three songs from The Who Music Catalog to represent each of its derivates. Both series are popular and long running but one chose to use original while the other borrowed. You be the judge as to who did the best job of theme song creation. As for me, when I hear the L&O theme song outside of watching it, I know what it is and I think of the show. When I hear one of the songs used by CSI franchise outside the context of the show, I think of The Who not CSI.
Lastly while I am on the TV Show theme song kick a personal favorite of mine is the theme music used by the British Television Series Poirot.
As mentioned above Sound Tags are similar in nature to its theme song cousin but it has more in common with its other cousin the tag line. Like the tag line which is restricted to 7 words or less the sound tag is restricted to 5 seconds or less.
When creating a Sound tag you are trying to create a sound mechanism that ties itself to the brand being advertised or promoted much like a companies or brands logo. This sound mechanism should covey to your ears what the logo does for your eyes. It’s no different it just uses the ear gate verses the eye gate to reach your brain. Think about it for a moment, if you were blind you rely on your hearing not sight to tell you about something. When the cross walk is cleared for walking you hear a unique sound that tells the blind person it is ok to walk just as the light for sighted people tells you its ok to walk.
This is the cool part about a sound tag, in connects the customer/prospect to a product/brand by way of a sound. Since we are global community no matter what language or messaging is used in the ad (TV/Radio) when it is accompanied by the unique (to the brand) sound tag it becomes a universally recognized part of that company’s identity much the same way a brands color does. That’s why it’s imperative to create an original sound tag not a borrowed sound tag.
Example 1. The first use of a sound tag in my mind is used by the creators of Law and Order. Whenever there is a need to transition from one scene to another they will often blacken the screen and use the now famous chunck, chunck sound. If you’ve watched it, you know what I am talking about, if you haven’t, then go to YouTube pull up an episode and watch it. Once you have watched an episode you will know what I am talking about.
Example 2. Up next is a stellar example of sound tagging used to identify a specific brand. This time I’m talking about the sound tag used by INTEL. Everyone recognizes this sound tag which is always heard whenever the word Intel is used during the commercial. Again a great use of a sound tag to convey the INTEL brand.
Example 3. Up next is the sound tag you hear when you turn on your Windows based computer. You probably didn’t think of this as a sound tag but that’s what it is. The Windows creative team saw an opportunity to utilize a specific sound let people know they were using a Windows based machine. Thus when your computer launches you hear the Windows Sound Tag telling you: “I’m here, and I’m ready to go to work for you”.
Example 4. Of course we can’t leave off next two competing Sound Tag giants. If you’ve gone to the movie theater in recent years then you have heard the now famous sound tags used by the following two giants in sound reproduction technology namely Dolby Surround Sound and THX. Depending on what technology is being used one of their ads will run just prior to the movie. What a brilliant marketing deal they struck with today’s movie makers. “If you want to use our technologies we get to tell everyone about it before the movie even begins”. This was never the case in the past but it is standard practice today.
Example 5. I already mentioned it before, but is deserves mention again it’s the sound tag you hear when powering up your Google Droid phone. When I turn my phone on, up comes a graphic along with an electronic sound tag that says droid.
The first example of the bad use of a sound tag is the one I recently heard on the Radio. It was an ad for our local Sleep Country USA. At the end of the commercials I heard a distinct but familiar sound. What sound did I hear? Well it so happens, it’s the very same one used by Rush Limbaugh as his sign off sound at the end of every hour.
Oops what went wrong hear? Did the ad creator head over to Royalty Free shop and pick out a similar sound tag in order to tie the sleep country brand with Rush or was it just laziness? It remains a mystery to me but regardless of the reasoning behind it I predict it will go away and won’t stick around.
Side note, even if you don’t like Rush you know the sound I am talking about, he’s been using if for well over a decade. It’s his sound tag.
The next sample is another local company who is a well known radio user. In this case I’m talking about The Longevity Clinic. For some odd reason their agency or creative staff much like the sleep Country people decided to borrow a well know Sound Tag rather than create one of their own. In this case at the end of the Longevity Clinics ad you hear another familiar sounding sound tag in this case it’s the one used by another well known radio personality The Kim Kamando Show.
She like Rush has been using the very same sound tag at the end of her show for a decade and now comes along the makers of Longevity Clinics new ad campaign and they do a direct rip off of this sound tag. I suspect it will be dropped soon once they get flack or decide to move on to the next fad.
So what can ad agency people do when tasked with creating a sound tag for said client? They can avoid ripping off another company’s sound tag by hiring a musician who can use a keyboard to actually create something brand new. Stop relying on the royalty free source everyone else runs to. These services are ok when you need a music bed for a one time only campaign but not for a theme song or sound tag. I could compare royalty free sources to that of a whorehouse or maybe a community well is a better description but I won’t. If you must create a unique and distinctive Sound Tag, you better be willing to pay for the process of doing so otherwise skip doing it altogether.
If done well, a Sound Tag can be a great tool to differentiate your brand from the rest of the pack. But if done poorly, it can detract or tarnish your brands reputation. Think long and hard before jumping on the Sound Tag Band Wagon because in most cases Sound Tags aren’t needed. Instead focus on building the brand through other means.
Here’s to creating memorable Sound Tags.
Robin Williams and the Depressed Mind
Depression stops us in our tracks it slams us to the ground and renders us useless nothing but a pile of Jell-O.
When I read of Robin Williams or any number of successful artists dieing from suicide or your father or friend is found dead from self inflicted gun shot I know they didn’t do this because they were well. They did this because they were sick, mind sick and no amount of self medicating worked, thus they decided to end the pain of depression through a self induced death.
Depression The Silent Killer.
Depression is the silent killer of dreams and relationships and a happy life. There is no light inside a dark tunnel just darkness just hopelessness just fear and all its ugly associated outcomes.
Fear and depression go hand in hand.
When faced with a challenge whatever it may be you want to turn and run away from it as fast as possible. Where before you would roll up your sleeves and tackle something now you find yourself cowering in bed hoping for everything to go away. You seek sleep and slumber the safety or a warm blanket you can’t imagine stepping out and taking a risk and when you do it becomes a sentence from hell rather than an inconvenience in a lifetime adventure.
Dread and depression go hand in hand.
The inability to catch your breath the pain in the pit of your stomach the clammy hands the lack of sleep and everything else that is associated with dread and depression is real and it is not imagined. But it is! It is imagined it is exploded it is a false expectation appearing real. When no one pursues we feel they are. When no one is putting us down we feel like everyone is when we feel that the world is against us they aren’t, instead it’s our brain not functioning right. The brain is emitting the wrong chemicals the fight or flight chemicals are so ratcheted up that the body is overwhelmed with its inability to take control and think much less act normally.
The sadness that engulfs one is overwhelming you only wish to cling to your loved ones when they see nothing wrong you see everything wrong. It is hell living inside the mind of a depressed brain. Hell
Where does my help come from?
Where is the hope and where is the relief where is the light the hope the strength to push beyond it? As for me I find strength in Christ. I also find strength in reality, that what I may be feeling at times may indeed be nothing more than a bad dream. Reality is not how I perceive things when I am depressed, I am driven by misfiring neurons so I need to accept this and then seek ways to find relief to find guidance, truth, strength, peace and hope I need to find wise guides who can hold my hand and walk me through the darkness that is engulfing me. I need help to move forward and feel like my old true self.
The Lord is my Shepard I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quite waters, he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me:
your staff and your rod comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all my days of my life, and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever. Psalm 23
Depression has a long history
David the psalmist was a depressive, his psalms are filled with images of a depressed mind; grief, panic, sadness, remorse, fear, trepidation, depression and abandonment. Yet through all his ranting he also found solace in God even if at times he thought God had abandoned him.
A deep study of this Psalm will give you ample material to see the arch of a depressed mind who has found peace. Suffice it to say Psalm 23 has brought comfort to millions of suffering people over the centuries.
The Bible is clear in its portrayal of God – The God of the Bible both Old and New Testaments states that he feels the things we feel and can sympathize and emphasize with us.
At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabacdthani? Which means - My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? … with a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. – Mark 15:33
Yes God knows what it feels like to be abandon he knows what it feels like to be scorned and ridiculed, he knows just like David knew how easy it is the human race to fall into a state of depression and dread. Yes Christ rose from the grave and conquered death he lead the way for his followers – but while on the cross he could only feel what he felt and that was pure abandonment plain and simple. He felt what all of the humans have felt during the hours he hung on a cross waiting to die at the appointed time.
Why am I using text from the Bible to assist with understanding depression? Because the sacred texts known and the bible is full of people who dealt with depression including the Messiah Jesus the Christ! If He suffered and so many of his followers suffered than we can see that it is common for human beings to suffer from depression, depression is part of the human condition and cannot be ignored or trivialized nor swept under the rug and sequestered away in the imaginary world of make believe. It is a s real as a person who has thyroid gland issues or diabetes or heart murmur or ulcers and therefore must be dealt with in the same way all other physical maladies are dealt with; with honesty and sincerity.
An honest look at depression
The biggest challenge to depression is not treating it but admitting it. Why do we as the human race so often pretend depression isn’t real and those of us who suffer with it often think of themselves as second class citizens who would rather self medicate via drugs, booze and sex rather than seek out professional help?
Ask yourself this, when was the last time anyone decided to self medicate a thyroid condition? When was the last tike someone tried to self medicate a heart condition? So why are so many people self medicating there depression away through self destructive means?
When you read of Robin Williams or any number of successful artists dieing from suicide or your father or friend is found dead from self inflicted gun shot you know they didn’t do this because they were well. They did this because they were sick, mind sick and no amount of self medicating worked, thus they decided to end the pain of depression through a self induced death.
Few if any other form of illness causes people to kill themselves only depression. Only depression leads to self loathing, self destruction, self absorption leading to death to self.
The Cause of Depression
So what causes depression? That my friend is for another time in some cases it may be brought on by past life experiences while at other times its brought on by genetics and yes there is even a spiritual element found connected to it not found in any other form of illness.
What can we do now?
For now all I can say is if you suffer from depression than you must teat it much the same way you would finding out you had a bad heart or kidneys that no longer function must seek out help. You must seek professional help and follow the directions prescribed by the “experts” and above all lese do not give up. Develop a healthy safe solid group of people who will be there for you through the highs and lows. You must and this is from a person who suffers from a depressive mind seek God and grab a hold of Him and let Him give you the strength you need to carry you through. Like the Psalmist you can’t go it alone but with Him you know you can make it.
Depression is as real as cancer is for those who suffer with it. They are just two faces of our fallen flesh that we inhabit. Everyone has their challenges depression is just one more in a long list we as humans must cope with.
My heart goes out to all who suffer and have suffered from depression. My heart goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one due to depression. I personally have lost a couple of friends to depression in my lifetime and I have comforted others who have lost a loved one to depression. I have stood by while various people I know have ruined their lives through addictions and self destructive behaviors most likely tied to a depressed mind and I have a friend who needs me to come and sit with him as he is suffering from a depressed mind and another one to call who is suffering.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear.
The Intouchables a wonderful movie that may change your life
Recently my oldest son Nate brought home a DVD from the library called The Intouchables and said "Hey Dad, we should watch this sometime". Normally his movie choices fall into the action realm so I thought "oh gee, another one of those". So when it came to watching a movie last Saturday night I didn't have my hopes up when he mentioned we should watch The Intouchables.
Well after it began I became intrigued by what was taking place on the screen and decided to watch it with the intent of giving it a go. Well to say I enjoyed this movie would be an understatement, I was overwhelmed by the emotional impact it had on me.
The Intouchables is an intense look at what life is like walking in another person’s shoes. It’s a look at what life could be like if one chooses to go against ones natural tendencies and take risks instead of playing it safe. In the movie we get to watch the transformation of the people we are watching, its brilliant writing and acting.
I enjoy watching when a person’s life is being transformed for the better in front of my eyes. It makes for wonderful story telling. What is truly amazing is the film depicts a true story so watch the ending credits to get the full impact of what really happened to these two individuals.
Movies of the past used to tell stories, they thought us lessons, they inspired us and they challenged us. They were designed to be watched as a collective and you would be impacted as both an individual and a collective audience. That’s why when the movie ended and you enjoyed it the audience would cheer.
Those days are no longer with us, with much of movie watching switching from the theater and to the living room most of today’s movies are visually stimulating but emotionally empty lacking any real sense of purpose other than to take you on a two hour thrill ride. The movie making days of telling deeply rooted stories is no longer the norm but the exception. So when you come across a movie like The Intouchables you are coming across a rare gem, well worth your time and attention.
The Intouchables is a French movie with English subtitles but after the first few minutes you no longer notice as the movie is so captivating. The Intouchables is a wonderful movie filled with challenges and transformations, laughter and sorrow, expectations and surprises, its story telling of the highest order.
Here’s to watching The Intouchables, a movie that may change your life.
Here's to inspiration, where ever you may find it
So it has been a while since I last wrote a blog entry. I guess you deserve an answer as to why. First off, it’s not that I don’t have insights I wish to share I do it’s just the time factor of creating something worth reading. Lately I have had less time to focus on my writing as I have been spending most of my time creating a profitable business for myself.
One aspect of my business is turning my long time venture The Hog Radio Show www.hogradio.net into a profitable nationwide media property. To this end I have been working to partner with a radio network which will provide me the avenue I need to reach a huge nation wide audience. Now that this in place I can pursue sponsors who will benefit from the reach our show will give them.
To do this means applying all my Marketing and Business Building expertise to seeing this venture become profitable and expand far beyond what it has been. This being the seventh year, I believe this to be the year we will see the breakthrough we have been dreaming about for the past 6 years.
Added to this I’m also embarking on another business venture which will draw upon the past 25 years worth of my professional life. It is a very doable and exciting venture I am laying the ground work for but even this venture comes with a price and that price is my much needed attention which again takes me away from my time to write.
This doesn’t mean I won’t be writing, I will but now you know why I haven’t been writing as often as I used to.
On another note, I just want to say I am so grateful to You Tube and all the contributors out there who’ve spent hours loading up so many great albums, concert and TV footage of musicians from the past. While writing this blog, I have been listening to Bobby Darin Live at the Copa 1959 LP thanks to a kind soul who took the time to load it onto You Tube.
You Tube allows people like me a chance to go back in time and watch, listen and be inspired by so many great musicians and artists I never had a chance to hear growing up much less see in person. I’m truly inspired by all the great music produced over the past 100 years much of which never gets airplay. In a world where music is here and gone in the time you can say Miley Cyrus it’s refreshing to find so much inspiring music at your finger tips.
So instead of turning on the radio at work or home, why not turn on You Tube and look up an obscure artist or band you heard about as a kid but never had a chance to fully hear out. Here is my suggestion, look for music that came out prior to the 80’s. Not that I don’t listen to 80’s music I do, it’s just you will be happily surprised at how much diversity in musical styles came out prior to the 80’s.
Here’s to inspiration, where ever you may find it.
A life well spent or squandered
Seconds slide into minutes which slide into hours which slide into days which slide into weeks which slide into months which slide into years which slide into decades then you poke your head up and ask what happened to my life? What did I accomplish? How many lives did I speak life into? How many lives did I bring death to? Did I do what I was supposed to do or did I live for my own appetites? Did I crush to gain what I have? Did I give to gain what I have? Is my life worthy of a book or a post card?
So what will it be? Will you choose to make a positive impact in the lives you interact with or will you squander and neglect the well being of those around you? Will you pursue your own life’s passions while neglecting your family and friends or will you incorporate your family and friends in your passions?
Will you make the choice to live the remainder of your days to better the world around you or ruin it? Will you stay bitter or will you forgive? Will you stay stagnate or will you grow. Will you make the changes needed to accomplish the lofty goals you’ve set for yourself or will you stick with the habits that have kept you from achieving your goals?
Will you determine to stop hurting others by your words, actions and deeds or will you maintain your hardened heart and continue to hurt those around you? Will you break the chain of the past or will you build another link and pass it onto the next generation?
So as the second’s laps into the minute’s laps into the hour’s laps into the day’s laps into week’s laps into month’s laps into years, will you have nothing but destruction or mediocrity to show for your life or will you have a legacy of positive impact?
Seahawk Super Bowl Victory Proves It Takes Teamwork To Win.
If I had to sum up the Seahawks Super bowl victory in one word it would be TEAMWORK!
The Seahawk team has been in the making for 4 years now: loose ragamuffin players picked for their potential not for their record. Has been's, rejects and wannabees all coming together starting 4 years ago when the Seahawk's Management Team thinking process changed.
The Seahawks proved throughout this season no one person was any more important than the other. Everyone supported everyone from the first to the last play and once again it showed up this past Sunday with a concise victory over the Broncos the favored team to win the Super Bowl. The Seahawk Team proved them wrong.
The Seahawk Team is not only those who hit the field every week but those who never hit the field. The Legion of Boom is an apt name for not only the players but the Twelve Man who showed up in mass to pack the Super Bowl Stadium. These fans made up of everyday people some who probably spent their life savings to be at this game have been the not so secret edge to the continued Seahawk wins this past season and before. The energy, the support and yes the noise they generate during a game have showed the Seahawk players just how much they are appreciated and loved. Believe me this is as important to the morale of the team as anything else.
The saying “The sum is greater than its parts” couldn’t be more dead on than in the case of the Seahawks. The Super Bowl 48 win was just a reflection of this. Our manager has done a magnificent job of putting together “team players” who are pledged to each other and not just themselves, who are sold out to playing their very best and supporting each other. From Pete Carol a winning college coach yet failed NFL coach to a 2 year old unproven quarterback to the rest of the squad who picked off balls and ran the distance to score touchdowns and field goals.
This Team mentality not only permeates the players who see the most playing time but also the players who rarely if ever see playing time often referred to as the support team. Yet without the support team you wouldn’t have the field team. This plays out from the rooky 6th stringer to the coaching staff to the trainers to the administrative people and beyond who do what they do to make things happen each and everyday.
Great teams be they professional football, businesses or kids soccer win both off and on the field when they see themselves as a team. Maybe you’re a player, maybe you’re on the support staff it doesn’t matter, what matters most is you see each other as members of the same team.
Winning teams see themselves as winners and thus they treat each member of the team as a winner. When one player falls the other player picks them up. When one player scores the others share their victory. When one of the players is injured the others work harder to fill the gap. When one player fails the others rally around them and build them up, not tear them down. When the Leader is selfless the team members will be selfless. When the leader is 100% sold out for the team the team will be sold out. When the leader gives glory to the players and not them self, the team will go out of its way to do what it takes to make sure the team wins. When management hires for potential not track record they will be rewarded with innovation and a team mentality. When management takes risks on has-been employees (those who’ve been out of work for years or are 50 plus years of age) they will be rewarded with an employee who will rise to the occasion and even surprise the management.
Winning teams are just that; teams. Team see themselves as a team not just individuals. When management hires for strengths and potential above just experience they will be well rewarded as we have seen with the Seahawks victory at this year’s 2014 Super Bowl game. Team work, trumps superstars, ball hogs and braggarts any day of the week.
Here’s to teamwork.
Seahawk fan since 1976
Lets face it we've all heard the line "If you build it, they will come" more than we would like to admit. The movie Field of Dreams was loosely built off this premise. Kevin Costner's character builds a baseball field in a corn filed and guess what all the old baseball greats show up to play baseball. Disney built his amusement park in the middle of nowhere and he did all right.
What is missing in the line "If you build it, they will come"? The second line "Then market the heck out of it, otherwise they wont know that you built anything". Marketing is what gets people to your baseball diamond, amusements park or your website and oh yea your blog. I'll admit when I began this blog I didn't do any marketing just a tag line in my semi-monthly newsletter and a few announcements in the various LinkedIn groups I belong to. Well almost a year has passed by and I have yet to achieve any great numbers in the way of visitors. Why? You guessed it, no marketing.
Good marketing takes a few things to work here a couple things you need in order to make your marketing work for you.
Money. That’s right without money you can't pay anyone but yourself (which means you don’t get paid) to handle some of your marketing needs. Marketing needs for website traffic is SEO and ongoing entries into various people’s blogs, websites and groups. This all takes a lot of time and speaking of time.
Time. Time is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a good marketing campaign. If you are like me a sole proprietor you are already juggling all too many balls and the idea of spending one more hour a day in order to bring in more visitors to your site is just too much for you to tackle. after all if you're like me you have a family that’s needs you attention, you have obligations that you need to tend to and after spending 9 to 10 hours in your office already you are pretty burned out and the last thing you have energy for is to do your own online marketing campaign.
Game plan. A plan is also part of your marketing efforts. Without a rough idea of where you want to go and to do with your marketing you will have little to show for your efforts? On the other hand if you have clear goals you are setting for yourself you can then gage your work to see if you are hitting any of the marks you have set for yourself.
Example is a client I am working with right now. He hired me to expand his business into a new direction. I have been working with him for over 7 months now and in reality we have seen very few new clients added to his business. It's not because I am not working a plan, I am, it’s because he is very late getting into an already very crowded space and we have to work twice as hard to prove we can offer better than our competitions services. Yet while we are really just launching (no website as of yet) our competitors have begun adding even more services to their roster in order to keep the clients they have and to woo new clients from their competitors. We have had to go back and make changes to the original business model in order to get into contact with new prospects.
In my role as a Marketing Consultant I wear multiple hats, namely sales and marketing. I am busy serving my client on a part time basis (he can't afford to pay me more thus he gets what I can give him).
I also produce a weekly radio show which keeps me busy and if thats not enough I'm also writing up a buisness plan for new business venture which I will need to get venture funding in order to launch. So you can see my time is already well spent and you know what? I am not alone. Everyone I speak to who owns their own company is wearing multiple hats and doing all they can to keep their head above the water, its part of owning your own destiney.
All this to say just because I have this blog doesn’t mean I get a lot of visitors, I don't. That's because I don't market it. I don't market it because I am busy. Do I wish to gain more visitors which I can eventually offer something to? You bet, but until the day arrives I have more time or cash to pay someone else to market it or I'm actually monetarily gaining something from it, this blog will continue to be a creative outlet for me to share insights I have gained as a real world business owner.
So go out and build it, then market the heck out of it. Maybe they will come, maybe they won’t. If they don't, you’ve still learned a valuable experience; not every one succeeds the first time around it often takes years of struggling before you see the payoff. So keep struggling because after all what else would you rather be doing?
Where have all the stereo stores gone? The passing of a bygone era
In the hey days of hi-fi stereo systems circa late 60’s to late 80’s you could always depend on your local stereo store to deliver top notch stereo gear. I like many a young man grew up in a home where my fathers was into music as much as I was. My Dad like many even owned a Real to Real player along with one of the first transistorized component stereo systems he built from a kit. He also hand built a pair of cool looking floor speakers from plans he purchased through one of his DIY magazines.
My first stereo system was an open and play record player with removable wooden speakers. My first two records were the Spencer Davis Groups Gimme Some Lovin and the Beatles Hey Jude Album which I cranked up every chance I got. Later my folks bought me an 8 track player which my dad wired to the stereo system. The first two tapes I bought were Sweet Give us a Wink and Robin Trower Bridge of Sighs.
After graduating from High School I moved to Phoenix to attend AAI. As a going away present my Father gave me his component stereo system minus speakers having upgraded his own system by then. Upon arrival in Phoenix it wasn’t long before I had located my neighborhood stereo store. After six months I had saved up enough money, so off I went to my favorite stereo store and purchased a pair of 100 Watt Epicure 11 Speakers for $150.00 dollars (keep in mind this was 1978 and that was a lot of money at the time).
Upon completing my technical training I moved back to Washington and settled in Lynnwood where as you guess it I located a local stereo store by the name of Magnolia Hi-Fi. Magnolia Hi-Fi was a locally owned and operated small chain of stereo stores that specialized in selling top notch stereo gear. I like many other audiophiles would come by the store on a regular basis to talk shop with the knowledgeable staff and fellow patrons. So when it came time to buy a new component for my stereo system, guess where I purchased it? Yep, it was Magnolia Hi-Fi. This went on for years.
Then one day everything changed. While stopping by the store to see what was new I noticed they had brought in a truck load of Big TV sets. Where there once was rooms filled with stereo gear now sat monster televisions. The staff was the same but the atmosphere had changed. It wasn’t long before less and less stereo gear was available and the sales staff I had come to enjoy had moved on only to be replaced with a less educated staff that didn’t have a love for stereo system just a quick sell.
Today we live in a post audiophile world where most people are happy to listen to their tunes through a home theater system, hand held device or computer. We the baby boomers are the last generation to truly live for creating expensive stereo systems that cost upward of two thousand dollars. Magnolia Hi-Fi along with 99% of all stereo stores who made a living selling hi-fi systems have been relegated to a bi-gone era right alongside record stores and .10 cent comic books.
To quote Mary Hopkin “Those were the days my friend we thought they’d never end”
Without a platform to disseminate your ideas they will die. Without the funding to get your company off the ground it will die. Without the proper distribution channels in place your products will fail to make it to market before a competitor with a better distribution system is able to swamp the market with their copy cat product. Luck also plays an important role.
The role luck plays in being successful is often overlooked by many would be entrepreneurs. But since luck does play an important role, savvy business people have always understood they needed to stack the deck in their favor. The following are three examples of stacking the deck in your favor.
The would be professional singer who tries out for a national talent show the likes of American Idol, The X Factor, The Voice or America's Got Talent is increasing there odds. These individuals have the pipes but need the added luck of exposure to help them move forward in their singing career. By stepping up to the plate and trying out for a national talent show they have stacked the deck in their favor. Even if they fail to place at the top they can still spin their 3 minutes of fame into getting them in front of other entertainment entities.
The sales person who makes cold calls. If you don't call the person on the other end they don't know you exists but be making a phone call they now know you exist. This allows you to begin to build a bridge to them which is stacking the deck in your favor.
The entrepreneur who goes on Shark Tank to pitch their company is stacking the deck in their favor. If they get picked, they get funding, expertise and distribution needed to move forward. If they don't get picked up they still get exposure worth millions of dollars which they can spin into getting their products picked up by a retail chain or funding by other private equity firms.
In all of these examples, these individuals have stacked the deck in their favor which in turn increases their odds of winning.
So what can you do to stack the deck in your favor?
Brands that can’t build buy! Microsoft & Nokia, Bezos & Washington Post
The old saying: “If you can’t beat them, buy them” applies to two business buyout announcements this past weekend.
Microsoft announces purchase of Nokia Cell Phone Company. Microsoft has long been playing catch up in the area of telecom & web based business. Microsoft began as a system (software) based company unlike rival Apple who began as a hardware/system based company. Microsoft built operating systems and software which was applied to various computers being built by second parties. Apple on the other hand built closed system PC’s.
Microsoft was able to expand quite quickly by placing their software/operating systems onto countless millions of computers the world over outpacing Apple. This changed when Apple launched its IPOD platform which subsequently allowed Apple to enter into the entertainment and web world simultaneously. The IPOD eventually opened the doors for Apple to enter into the cell phone world allowing Apple to outpace Microsoft.
As part of Microsoft playing catch up they introduced the XBOX which subsequently opened the doors for Microsoft to move into the hardware business. I personally believe the XBOX was one of Microsoft’s best business choices opening the doors for them to reinvent themselves and open the doors to many future possibilities. The purchase of Nokia by Microsoft not only allows them to offer cell phones but also leverage the Nokia Brand and Nokia technology which will be one more step in their desire to once again outpace rival Apple.
Amazons Jeff Bezos announces he is purchasing the Washington Post. Bezos the owner of the world’s largest book seller decision to purchase the Washington Post is a real head scratcher. Or is it? Jeff Bezos has always had an affinity for the printed word; after all he built the Amazon empire by moving millions of books through its Seattle warehouse. So the idea of becoming the Editor and Chief of the Washington Post may not be so far away from what he has already been doing.
The Washington Post has long been held a prestigious position within the world of politics and publishing. By purchasing the Washington Post he will now have two positions he didn’t before. First off he will have a place at the Washington Insiders Round Table where he can hoist a cold one with top influencers in WA DC. Second he will have a place at the Newspaper Publishers Round Table where he can hoist a cold one with the world biggest media influencers the likes of Murdoch and Redstone.
As for profitability, I don’t know if it will be monetarily profitable for Jeff but from a position of power it will be very profitable. He will now have an open invitation with the political elite of Washington DC and a platform to espouse his personal beliefs. Not bad for a man who can shell out 280 Million dollars from his own pocket to buy a newspaper.
Here’s to brand buying.
Justice League Joins Forces with KIA to Fight Poverty
Ok, maybe I was under a rock when the Justice League/Kia Car Campaign was rolled out earlier this year at the 2013 New York International Auto Show but I don’t remember hearing or seeing anything about this wonderful pairing of two iconic brands. For those of you who also missed it let me explain. Earlier this year Kia and DC Comics joined forces to create a line of DC Justice League inspired Kia cars. The purpose behind this was three fold: 1. To raise awareness and promote the We Can Be Heroes project which is a non profit organization which works to raise money for various non profit orgs who are assisting impoverished individuals living in the Horn of Africa. 2. Build awareness and promote the DC Comics Justice League franchise. 3. Raise awareness and market KIA autos. Go to Built for Justice to learn more.
After stumbling upon this project and the cars involved all I can say is this is truly a win-win scenario between all parties concerned. DC gets publicity for its Justice League franchise, Kia gets publicity for its line of autos and people who are desperate for help get helped through the funds raised as a bi-product of this campaign. You couldn’t ask for a better combination.
KIA a relatively new comer into the American auto market has done a good job to build and market sporty looking small to mid sized cars to younger demographic in America. DC has a long track record of entertaining super hero fans for the better part of 70 years and has done a spectacular job in reviving interest among comic book fans with their DC Justice League franchise be it movies, comic books or licensed products.
I love it when two like minded companies do a co-branding program which truly raises awareness for both of the companies. What I like even more is when in this case they use their clout to help others. The Justice League inspired customized KIA’s is an excellent example of dual brand marketing. I just hope they can further leverage these cars through various event marketing as in showcasing these cars and the associated We Can Be Heroes campaign at all the Comic-Cons and other entertainment based conventions even the electronics trade show would be a great place to showcase these cars.
Kia and DC We Can be Heroes should be driving these cars onto the studio sets of every talk show on TV (Maybe they have) they should also be making the rounds at the various major car shows. I hate to think these cool cars will be relegated to a few shows and then parked in someone’s office. Why not auction them off at the end of the campaign with bids starting at $20,000 above build price with all proceeds going to the We Can Be Heroes project. Do up a huge PR campaign and then watch the free press you’ll get.
Here's to seeing more of this type of co-branding for a positive cause. Hey here is a great idea why not have MARVEL partner up with an auto maker and create a line of XMEN inspired cars for their “We Can Be Heroes” type of project.
George Zimmer The Face and Voice Behind Men's Wearhouse is Out of a Job.
George Zimmer the founder of Men’s Wearhouse has been ousted from his position on the board of Men's Wearhouse a major player in the garment industry with its 1,100 retail outlets.
This past week George was ousted as board member from the men’s Wearhouse due to various issues listed in an article on NBC News. George is just one more in a long line of founders who have been relegated to the Blow Out Bin of business founder has-beens.
In a great audio book called you’re The Greatest by Francis X. Maguire Frank shares about his time at Kentucky Fried Chicken where he played a key role working with KFC founder Colonel Harland Sanders. Part of his story is insights into the impact on the company as its founder the Colonel was slowly let go of his responsibilities and was no longer needed in the daily workings of the company.
We all witnessed the ousting of Steve Jobs and his later return to Apple. We witnessed the leaving and return of Star Bucks founder Howard Shultz.
I witnessed the leaving of Focus on The Family founder Dr. James Dobson and his subsequent need to start another radio show focusing on the family.
We all witnessed the fall and ousting of TV Preacher Jimmy Swaggert and how he just would give in and went off and started another TV “ministry”.
Again and again we have seen individuals in positions of power having a very difficult time letting go of what they started. I have read numerous articles and even written some myself about the need for business owners to create an exit plan so when they are faced with being no longer needed they can transition into something else and still feel good about themselves.
How many men when they are retired either by choice or by pressure of company find it difficult to cope and for some lose purpose even to the point of suicide?
There are countless would be actresses who come to tinsel town for a chance to become the next Angelina Jolie only to find out it’s a lot harder then what they thought it. Yet instead of saying good-by to their pie in the sky dreams and moving on, they turn to making porn movies where they sell their souls to become the next big porn star.
How many of us can’t let go of a past relationship which soured and went south yet you can’t seem to get past the fact it didn’t work and you lose valuable years of your life pining away rather than picking yourself up and moving on finding someone who is worthwhile?
When we see our identity being tied to what we have created or do we are setting our self up for a fall. Instead, why not take the attitude of being grateful for the opportunity to have built something and seeing it continue on long after you have stepped away from it, much like watching a child grown up and go onto having a life of their own without need for our constant parenting.
Here’s to passing the torch gracefully.
Carl’s Jr. is once again stooping low as they can go with new ad campaign.
As per standard operating procedures Carl’s Jr. one of four fast food franchises owned by fast food giant CKE Restaurants, is continuing on with its tradition of producing raunchy ad campaigns designed to lure in would-be customers. Given the gist of the latest ad you can figure the demographic they are shooting for is males 16 – 30 who love Adam Sandler movies, listening to Howard Stern, subscribe to Maxim and spend too time watching porn and playing online war games.
The latest ad featuring Jenny McCarthy is just the latest in a string of shooting for the lowest common denominator namely using sex to sell their fast food fare. Who better to use as a spokeswoman than Playboy Playmate Jenny M who is a national TV treasure and self confessed sex hound who at 40 has yet to pair up with the right dude.
Unlike fast food rival In-n-Out Burger which is a family owned business with 281 outlets who has established itself as the Drive-In of choice for those seeking out a Destination Drive-In experience. Note they are so famous they actually sell limited edition screen printed t-shirts. (Talk about a great wholesome way to advertise your self). Carl’s continues to stoop to using sex as its differentiator not good food or quality service nor a destination zone but sexually charged ads.
Whenever a company has to slip into the sex sells mode you know you are dealing with adolescent CEO’s and Ad Clerics whose goal is to push the boundaries of good taste in order to capture a given audience share. Much like Go Daddy who has never tried to be anything else but the Bob’s “big boy” of online Hosting companies, Carl’s makes money off soccer mom’s driving mini vans filled with young up and coming soccer players. Where as Go Daddy caters to online business owners, the fast food joints I know cater to as many people as they can including families which are made up of soccer moms who after watching these ads will most likely turn into an In-n-Out Burger over a Carl’s Jr..
Speaking of families, Family Guy Cartoon has been quite the hit TV show with its highly sexualized overtones including not so subtle references to S&M and canine/human relations. Maybe I am getting to mature for such rubbish and have outgrown my adolescence. Maybe I would rather remember the days when Barney was the name of Fred Flintstone’s next door neighbor not a sex addicted character in How I met Your Mother. Maybe I still believe in old fashion values like showing restraint, self control and modesty. Where your sexuality is explored in the privacy of your own home and not aired on primetime TV shows or within the pages of Playboy or a commercial for hamburgers.
But hey who is kidding who here? There are plenty wholesome ads being created and aired everyday and that’s why when Carl’s does air a new sexually provocative ad campaign they garner millions of dollars worth of free publicity from all the media outlets including this post today. Maybe In-n-Out Burger needs to take a page out of the Carl’s JR advertising playbook and create a firestorm of interest by creating an Ad campaign focusing on old fashion family friendly values and then pitch it as the anti Carl’s campaign. Who knows maybe they will also get lots of free press.