Focus Groups: Yes!

Focus Groups: Yes!


Marketers are always talking about focus groups and how learning information from them is extremely valuable. Most business owners are rolling their eyes as they envision large conference rooms with two-way mirrors and product testing where the participants mostly just complain about the product and the business owners have to endure a torturous hour or so.

In today’s digital environment, and the age in which everyone is very vocal about their likes and dislikes it may seem like a focus group is unnecessary. The thing is, that’s not entirely true.

The part of the focus group that matters is the feedback you get from your prospective customer- in a third party environment. That’s not to say that the standard, old style two way mirror setting is the way to accomplish this. We’ve found that more casual, fun networking style events have a larger appeal and garner more interesting and ultimately helpful results.

For an example, read about a focus group event we hosted for one of our clients.


Regardless of the style of focus group you host the feedback is the most important. Many business owners have products that they love, and their family loves and they come to us stating that “everyone they have given it to loves it” Of course they do. When you are passionate about something you have created and you ask those close to you what they think of it, regardless of what they may actually think, they want to support you, so they tell you everything they like about it. Put simply, it’s a biased opinion, and no business owner will get an unbiased opinion from anyone they know personally, or otherwise, so long as they know you are the business owner.

Hiring a third party to host and discuss your product in an environment in which they feel safely protected from hurting the business owners’ feelings, however, changes the outcome quite a bit. Marketers use this feedback in a number of ways, including finding nuggets of truths from your potential customers about the advantages and disadvantages of your product, brand and message. Discovering that your new energy drink tastes terrible to your prospective audience, gives you the advantage to make changes to the formulation to improve the taste. Finding out that no one understands what your product does or how it works, gives you the opportunity to find clever ways to include that educational piece in your messaging. These are the things marketers need to know in order to help you sell your product to your target audience and that’s why we keep insisting that focus groups are something you need. Diversity Inclusion: Be The Change Diversity Inclusion: Be The Change

You’ve heard it before: Being diversity-inclusive is important. "Diversity inclusion" has become a bit of a buzzword lately, but what does this term mean when it comes to a small business?

Many small businesses hear "diversity inclusion" and assume it's related to HR -- and it is. But it's much more than that. Aside from hiring a diverse population as part of your workforce, there are internal and external messages that represent your company -- and being inclusive in those messages is also highly important.

Diversity inclusion can be broken down into three buckets:

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Items Needed In Every Marketers' (Actually Every Business') Toolbox

Items Needed In Every Marketers' (Actually Every Business') Toolbox

I wish I could say that I had thought of the idea myself, but I didn't. Just like the saying goes, Success Has Many Fathers, While Failure Is An Orphan, the same came be said of author of a really good idea as well. So I won't claim to be the father of the idea that I have been practicing for several years. That father (or mother in this case) would be my wife, Nicole. And Nicole, ironically, got the idea from her mother. Now, who my Mother-in-Law got it from, I have no idea. So what exactly is this ground-breaking idea? Well it is the idea of writing (and I do mean handwriting) a simple thank-you note and sending it to a person through the US Postal Service, otherwise known as snail mail.

Doing this, is something that I learned from watching my wife do consistently throughout the 24 years we've been married. Whether it was someone who had done something nice for her, gave her a gift of some kind, hosted us for dinner, you name it, whoever that person was, they were going to get a handwritten thank card or note in the mail. I have actually been on the receiving end of these notes from my own Mother-In-Law. It's never anything big ever, just simple note cards over the years that have said something along the lines of, “Thank you so much for the wonderful whatever, it's absolutely beautiful or I love it! - Love Mom.”

But when this simple gesture is practiced in business it takes things to a completely new level in business. And I enjoy going to that level. Because as we all know, the practice of even saying thank you is becoming a bit rare. And in business, thanks-you's are typically delivered  by either someone actually saying the words or by sending a thank-you email. Both of which are fine. However I actually enjoy sending handwritten thank-you's and have seen how well they have been received, and also have enjoyed receiving benefits from having done so. On several occasions after having sent a handwritten thank you, I have received an invitation from the recipient requesting a one-on-one meeting, or have received an unexpected introduction or referral from that person with a glowing recommendation. I don't send these thanks-you's for those purposes. I genuinely feel that there is a lack of human touch and interaction across all areas of life, but especially in business, and sending handwritten communications is my way of trying to keep the human touch and connection alive. As a side benefit however, doing so has helped me create a vast network of people who feel they really know me, feel strongly about me, and are willing to do (and have done) amazing things to help me.

As Marketers though, think about how transformative that kind of unexpected touch and interaction could be for your business if you were to practice that kind of communication with your customers and clients. Imagine how your customers, clients and/or prospects would feel if they received from you a handwritten and addressed thank-you in the mail that simply said: So-n-So, Thanks for coming to our event, it was great seeing you! – or So-n-So,Thanks for stopping by our booth, really enjoyed chatting with you! Sure, it would take some time to do something like that, but think of how well that note would be received...think about how well you and your company would be per-ceived. It might make a lot sense to think about. If so, perhaps as you think about the tools you need to develop stronger and more effective marketing efforts, you may want to consider adding a pack of note cards or thank-you cards and some postage stamps to that list. The Importance Of Diversifying Your Marketing Plan The Importance Of Diversifying Your Marketing Plan

In today’s increasingly digital age, business owners are often preoccupied with marketing tactics that they have heard about and know they need -- most commonly, social media. As marketers, we frequently encounter business owners who come to us asking for help in creating their social media strategies. Often, these clients are so focused on the idea of social media being the most important tactic that they neglect other, more important pieces of their marketing plans.

While no one disagrees that social media is an important and powerful marketing tool, it cannot be the only tool, as many businesses experienced when the largest social media platform, Facebook, recently experienced an outage....


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Are you brave enough for these big ideas?

Are you brave enough for these big ideas?

MAY 20, 2019

Guerrilla Marketing was the brainchild of the late Jay Conrad Levinson, Chicago advertising legend, who published a book about it in 1984.  The concept is still going strong.  Dare I say, it’s still big.


Guerrilla  Marketing tactics use the idea of disruption, interruption and surprise in public places. They make people stop, look, laugh, gasp, perhaps interact and most likely talk about what they saw. The tactics get emotional responses. They create a buzz, sometimes even news. And they’re remembered. So is the product.


That’s a darn big bang for your buck. Which is why Guerrilla Marketing is often perfect for brave and innovative smaller businesses (with brave and innovative marketing partners) who may not have big dollars to make a big impression.  It works especially well if you have a localized business. Yes, it’s for major brands too, and you’ll see a few examples of them here.


I’ll stop using words to describe it and just let you see and react to a few terrific examples from around the world.  They didn’t need any explanation in the real world, so I don’t think they need it here. Go ahead…be brave and bold!

Advertising in the Animal World

Advertising in the Animal World

Generally speaking, birds and animals advertise for an opportunity to pass on their genetic attributes. Similarly, businesses advertise to make that dollar-dollar-bill-y’all. Both animals and businesses seek to find some way to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack…so to speak.

Some animals want to highlight their physical attributes while others (I’m looking at YOU Bower Bird!) want to show off what an elaborately decorated home they can provide to their mate. The Red Hill Crane does mesmerizing dance to appeal to just the right dance partner. While the Blue Footed Booby (Yep, that’s a thing!) shows off their sexy blue feet to impress the ladies.

Bowerbird Nest (Photo credit: Tim Laman /


Red Crowned Cranes (Photo credit: Evan Pike /


Blue Footed Booby (Photo credit:

All of these birds, as well as the gorilla with the most silver back, the buck with the biggest antlers, and the baboon with the reddest backside are trying to impress with what sets them apart from their competitors. Whoever can catch the eye and the attentions of their intended audience, wins.

So it is in business. We all have to identify what it is that we do better than the others, what sets us apart, what makes us special. And then communicate that to the world. Once we identify our core competency or our extra special widget, we then need to find the best ways to market that product or service to our target audience. If you don’t fully market what you have or do, then your business can never fully reach it’s potential. In other words, don’t be the booby who wears socks to the beach.