For the Beauty of the Earth: To Rise Above


I hope that if you haven’t already had the chance, that you make the point to see Ken Burns’ new film “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” on public television.  As with every other piece Mr. Burns has done, this is thorough, well edited, packed with tons of great facts, loaded with incredible scenes and photographs, and absolutely impossible to stop watching!  The coolest thing: This idea of a national park was unique to the United States; it had never been done anywhere else on this planet, and has since been copied by the rest of the world.

As I have been glued to the tube, I have noticed that there were numerous individuals like John Muir or Teddy Roosevelt who were seeing places like Yellowstone Valley, The Grand Canyon or Yosemite Valley for the very first time in their lives and remarking that they were having a “transcendent experience”, and it moved me to think about what that means.  I went to the reliable dictionary definition and found this: 1. To exist above and independent of. 2.To rise above; surpass; exceed. (to climb over). They actually moved outside of themselves because of the beauty they saw.

I was especially moved when President Roosevelt was standing on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and remarked something to the effect of, “Leave this as it is. Nature has been at work through the ages, anything man would do would harm it.”

You’re probably wondering, David, how are you going to turn this into a marketing blog?  You know what, I’m not.  I simply wanted to stop, take time to smell the roses and appreciate the fact that I live on this incredible planet in this wonderful country where I am free to write this blog and say what I feel.  Ain’t life fantastic!

I also know that it is far too easy for me to take myself too seriously and that by taking in the Beauty of the Earth, I am reminded and humbled that I am just a man; that I only reside here temporarily; that I have a responsibility to preserve and protect; and that it should be my goal in life to always strive to rise above.

Have a picturesque day!


Put the “Local” in Your Locale


Times are definitely tough, despite what Bernanke may say about the recession.  Squeezing the absolute most efficiency out of every marketing dollar spent has never been more important.  More and more lately my conversations with business owners have turned to what tried and true marketing efforts that they always relied upon in the past that are now starting to provide lackluster results at best.  For businesses whose customers come from a geographically local area, this concern comes in the form of, “my Yellow pages and local newspaper ads don’t seem to work anymore.”  These bright entrepreneurs have even dabbled some with Twitter and Facebook but are finding that these social networks are not providing the kind of local targeting that they need.  They’re a bit exasperated as to what to do.

Welcome LBS or Location-based Social Networking.  This is the true marriage of GPS services with traditional forms of social networks thereby giving the added benefit for the people who you are connected with being able to locate where you are at any given time.

The true viral potential of social networks can really come to play in LBS if your business is truly local and relies upon people coming to your location and buying offline.  Once you have become known, the people that like you and visit you tell their friends who want to join in the fun and they tell their friends and so on and so on.  The possibilities are really endless.

Jennifer Van Grove in her article Beyond Yelp: Location-based Opportunities for Vendors, talks about two relatively new LBS based social network sites that are starting to get some real traction, particularly on the coasts.

I decided I would take a look at three social networks: and to get my own take to see what potential there might be for local businesses.  Keep in mind that there are constant suggestions and improvements being made to each of these properties so my opinions may become quickly dated.  I also look at things from a strict marketing potential, not as much from the standpoint of whether I would engage in these on a personal basis.

Yelp is kind of the grand daddy of LBS with a very successful track record.  It is a very robust property and would be appropriate for probably the broadest spectrum of businesses from dentists and doctors, to beauty salons and spas, to bars and restaurants.  Its twist is that users can provide reviews both positive and negative as well as providing lists of places that they frequent.  There are nice ties into Twitter and Facebook and profiles can be customized with pictures and personal information.  Keep in mind that anyone that is added as a friend or any review provided can be seen by anyone in the world, whether they belong to Yelp or not.  The really nice thing about Yelp is the use of interactive maps for locations, much like Google maps.

Foursquare uses the very creative concept of “checking in” once the member arrives at a location, thereby letting their network know where they are.  The unique aspect is the ability to build up check-in points with the ultimate goal of earning the badge of “mayor” of a particular location due to the number of times you visit the place.  For the marketer, this becomes the opportunity to provide free drinks or coupons for any mayor that checks into your shop.  This encourages them to notify their network of where they are.  As with Yelp, there are nice ties into Twitter and Facebook and lots of help for API developers.  There is even an IPhone application.  The drawback here is that Foursquare is not in every city.  As of the writing of this post I requested information as to when they would be in Kansas City.

Of the three, I felt like Brightkite has the farthest to go.  Yes it connects people locally and it is location based and yes it has nice ties into Twitter and Facebook, but I just couldn’t see the “thing” it brings.  What makes Brightkite special?  One distinct advantage over Foursquare is that Brightkite is available in more locations.

With all of these properties I would advise getting into them and experimenting some.  Perhaps with another post, I can talk about ways in which a business would promote themselves, to get better visibility on these LBS networks.

The bottom line is that many many people are using the smart phones to find friends, places to eat, recommendations for good doctors and places to shop and they want them to be local and findable.

Is your locale local?  If it is, then you need to understand location-based social networking.

All my best,


Why Is “I’m Sorry” So Difficult?


I am a proud member of Rotary International, an organization where service above self is its objective and whose efforts help millions of people locally as well as around the world.  In fact, Rotary has been instrumental in helping to completely eradicate polio on this planet, an achievement that is very close to realization.

As a benefit of this membership, not only do I get to work with some great people, but I am exposed to the inspired writings of some famous and not-so-famous people.  In the latest edition of the Rotarian magazine, I was provoked by an article by Joe Queenan entitled “I’m [not] Sorry.”  In his writing, Joe takes us on a historical journey into the act of apologizing, and how what was once considered the morally correct thing to do, has in the U.S. morphed into something that has become “so rote, gutless, emaciated, tortuous, insincere, and self-aggrandizing” as to make it worthless to the victim.  Historically, begging for forgiveness was not just a saying; it was what was expected by the person apologizing, that there be some groveling involved.  Today, politicians go so far as to make it our fault with the apology that goes something like, “I regret that the actions I am accused of having committed caused any undo pain and/or suffering.”  In other words, “It’s too bad that you’re so thin-skinned as to have taken offense, get over it.”

Never doubt that I won’t try to put a marketing spin on this, it’s what I do.

This article got me thinking. How many companies, in an effort to protect their brand, fail so miserably when after the inevitable mistake, they simply do not thoroughly apologize to their customer?  Many companies will make the attempt by offering money back, or the exchange for a new product, or even the coupon that allows you to come back for free.  And, don’t get me wrong, these are all good moves in the right direction.  But what effect would it have if the CEO were to write a personal letter of apology, begging that the customer stay as a customer?  Would this amount of “groveling” have any added effect?  How would this action make you feel?

In one of his latest blogs, a good friend and confidant, Shawn Kincaid, writes about Finding your Mission and Core Values as a prerequisite to setting your business apart from the competition.  It’s a great article and one that will make you think.  I recommend spending time with it.

My take on this is that if your core values include the priority of valuing the relationship you have with your customer then it must necessarily include the importance of admitting your mistakes and begging for forgiveness.  And I’m really not saying that the customer is always right, there are indeed times where the customer is just plain wrong.  But when your mistake happens, and you know it will, then having a formalized public relations policy for saying “I’m Sorry,” can go a long way towards improving that all important customer relationship.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.