Category Archives: News and Trends

Taking Digital Content to the Trade Show

Recently a client of mine was attending a trade show for a selected group who could use his services. It was not an audience that was his “bread and butter” but a crowd that could help him seriously expand certain areas of his business. As usual, he packed up his display, business cards and brochure. But this year, he took something else along.

I had been working with him for some time on his blog posts and I suggested that for this newer audience, we create a special handout featuring the content of the blog directed at this audience on how to select services they need. The article was not an advertisement, but a piece with valuable information that would help the trade show attendees compare my client against others they would meet. The one-page, 8-1/2” x 11” handout was branded with his logo, picture and contact information but the content itself was extremely objective. Nevertheless, by distributing the content, he established himself as the authoritative source on vetting service providers and competitors.

The client was happy to have something to give away other than marketing materials or a novelty trinket and those that stopped by his booth appreciated the forthright information in the piece. The best part for the client was that the content had already been created…on his site.

I think many companies fall prey to underutilizing the content they already have available to them, especially if they are going to a trade show and already have an amazing booth. The booth should say it all, right? Well, maybe, but most companies don’t change their booth as quickly as their industry changes. Your digital content, on the other hand, can keep up with regulatory changes, emerging trends, etc.

Before you head off to the trade show, take your marketing efforts a little further…

  1. THINK about what kind of information the trade show attendees will most be seeking from businesses like yours and what kind of information your company can specifically provide that will inform, surprise or impress them.
  2. SEARCH for the information in your digital cache.
  3. PRESENT it for display or distribution at the trade show in the most effective way, depending on the type of information you are working with.

For example, if you have a blog, you already have the fundamentals of a great addition to your trade show display or booth. You can repurpose selected posts by presenting or distributing them at the trade show…

  • As a branded, pdf handout
  • As a few, summarized main points on a banner, poster or novelty
  • As a brief guide, booklet, or handout for customers to use as a guide that summarizes a series of related posts
  • As a slideshare or powerpoint presentation that loops continuously
  • As a video presentation
  • As an infographic, on a table top display or banner
  • As your own particular novelty item, sharing your wisdom (ex., a deck of cards, a USB, a paperweight, work of art, flag, t-shirt, etc.)

Before or after the event, those related blog posts can even be summarized or “teased” in social media to interest the audience leading up to the event.

The moral of the story is to never forget the information you have out in cyberspace as you’re packing up for the trade show. You don’t want to miss the chance to tell the trade show attendees what they are wanting to hear from companies like yours.

Go Ahead. Disrupt My Day.


If you’re like most Americans, you noticed something different about the election.  His name was Donald Trump.

He said whatever he wanted. He did whatever he wanted. He disrupted our day because his message was innovative, as was his delivery.

The definition of disruptive innovation, according to Wikipedia, is an innovation that helps create a new market and value network, and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology.

Does that mean Trump will become the “new” kind of politician that Americans will continue to elect? Will he replace the established, experienced, “stately”, politically correct model of politician that we have come to expect?

No matter what your political opinions, or what happens in the next four years, American politics have now changed. An outsider has triumphed, in part due to his disruptive approach to which created his ability to stand out from his opponents. For better or for worse, Donald Trump captured the world’s attention from the moment he began his campaign. He was aiming to disrupt the status quo of politics, and his succeeded.

As marketers, disrupting your audience’s day can work to your benefit too.


When I see the billboards and advertisements for Chick-Fil-A, starring a cow who wants you to eat more chicken, I can’t help but chuckle. Like most innovations, there is risk involved and the decision makers had to climb on board with an unorthodox idea. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall as the Richards Agency pitched those cows to Chick-Fil-A. They were planning to sell chicken with no chicken involved. The campaign idea, now more than a decade old, was something so out of the ordinary that you can’t help but talk about it. The cow mascots helped propel the company to the #1 spot in the nation for chicken sales, even surpassing KFC. Now that’s disruptive!

ad-just-got-better-340I’m sure the next four years will be filled with more disrupted days, just as they have been now that Donald Trump is nearing inauguration. I think disruption begets disruption. For example, the quintessential example of disruptive technology is the iPod. The iPod changed the way we bought, listened and interacted with music on a global scale. Ever since that first product introduction, CEO Steve Jobs, marketing genius that he was,  was smart enough to keep the excitement going. To this day, whenever the new iPhone comes out, the world seems to stop and watch. Every new piece of technology is marketed as a life-changing event, something that will redefine our society. While it might be simply a product upgrade, the original expectation and reputation that Apple has built for disruptive technology continues to play repeatedly, like a familiar song everyone wants to hear. If you’re lucky enough to endear yourself to your audience with something disruptive, you will create an expectation for more of the same!

Good disruptive marketing also makes you look, but GREAT disruptive marketing brings you into a different world.  For example, here in the Chicago area, two local hospitals, Edward and Elmhurst, recently went through a merger and successive rebranding. I recently attended a seminar where the in-house creative team explained the branding process and how they set out to be disruptive. Instead of following the rule book on hospital branding using the usual colors and language, their goal was to find a new brand, different from every other hospital–something exciting that no one had ever done before.

Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare's "Healthy Driven" initiative features professional race car driver Danica Patrick. Through the campaign, Patrick is encouraging healthy behaviors through Edward-Elmhurst's Danica Patrick Healthy Driven Challenge at Patrick is a native of Roscoe, Illinois. (PRNewsFoto/Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare)

Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare’s “Healthy Driven” initiative features professional race car driver Danica Patrick. Through the campaign, Patrick is encouraging healthy behaviors through Edward-Elmhurst’s Danica Patrick Healthy Driven Challenge at Patrick is a native of Roscoe, Illinois. (PRNewsFoto/Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare)

The result of their search was the “Healthy Driven” campaign, with racecar driver Danica Patrick involved as a spokesperson. They set out to be “provocative, yet welcoming”. Instead of subdued, soothing colors they embraced red-hot, bold orange, yellow, and black hues. Messages were edgy, empowering people and encouraging them to take responsibility for their health. But the idea of “healthy driven” was more than an ad campaign. It penetrated every program at the hospital. In fact, the marketing director said they knew the brand had really touched their audience when a disgruntled patient, calling about his bills, told the operator on the other end of the line they did not have a very “healthy driven” attitude!

This November we learned a valuable lesson about disruption and how powerful it can be whether it is viewed positively or negatively. Trying something disruptive in your marketing campaigns can be successful for many companies, and it can be successful for you too. Don’t be afraid to do something unusual, bold, and unorthodox to reach your audience. The ground you break may pave the way for a disruptive innovation for your brand.

If you are interested in exploring disruptive marketing techniques for your brand, I’d love to brainstorm with you! Contact me at 630.778.6182.

SANTA BABY…from Big Ideas Writing!

Holiday-BlogSo it’s Christmas time, and if you’ve ever read my blog at the end of December, you may have noticed that I usually try to get funny, or rather “punny” with my post. Who can forget “A Social Media Night Before Christmas” or last year’s “12 days of Content“? Well, this year is no exception. With apologies to the composers, I’m letting loose with a parody of “Santa Baby” in the only way you will ever hear it from me…words without music!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Santa baby, just slip a iphone under the tree, for me;
Tech’s an awful good choice, Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa baby, a spell checker that actually thinks, not stinks;
Perfect docs are a must, Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight.

Think of all the good I’ve done;
Servicing the clients each and every one.
Next year I could be twice as good… if you check off my Christmas list.

Santa baby, I don’t enjoy accounting so look, my books,
You can do them all year, Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa honey, one little thing that would be sublime….
More time…to get the deadlines all met, Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa cutie, and fill my stocking with all I need, like leads,
Never can have enough, Santa cutie,
and hurry down the chimney tonight.

Come and trim my Christmas tree with testimonials from ones I’ve made happy;
I rock my clients’ brands all year, 
Making them smile from ear to ear.

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing…to bring.
Another year like this one Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight!

Hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry, tonight!



Deciding Your Marketing BudgetAccording to Marketing Sherpa, 68% of SMBs are planning to increase their marketing budget in 2013. The very thought of it makes the heart of this web content writer skip a beat with the hope that some of them might seek my services. An increased marketing budget is always exciting but making decisions about how to spend it can be tricky.  Here are five questions to answer before deciding on a new marketing strategy.

Who is your target market?  This is such a basic question that companies forget to keep asking it.  Sometimes the cogs are in place, the wheels are in motion but a company fails to reach the people they want. Why?  Because their target market or demographics have changed!  Make sure your company has kept abreast of who is using your products/services and why.

How does your target market find your products/services…today?  Statistics show that the number of shoppers using the internet for purchases has risen 23% between 2009 and 2015.  For  service-based businesses, the internet is often the critical path to customers.  Make sure your web presence is strong enough to entice and convert your prospective customers.  In other marketing channels, make sure you have a presence where your customers are.  If they are using Facebook and Twitter, then you should too.  If they attend a particular trade show, make your reservation.

Will current marketing strategies continue to work in the future?  If you have more dollars to spend, you can do more of the same or something completely different.  Depending on your business, the market and the sophistication of your audience, a bigger budget may create the opportunity to try a new marketing avenue with unprecedented success!

What kind of ROI do you need to see?  Hopefully, your company has some metrics and means of measuring the ROI of your current marketing campaigns in place. If not, a subjective assessment is needed, at the least, before spending/buying decisions are made for the coming year.  Then it becomes a matter of value for your dollar as you determine your strategy. In most cases, social media and internet marketing will come out on top as the most cost-effective ways to spend your dollars.

What kind of manpower do you require?   If you can increase your marketing activity using the existing staff in your marketing department, congratulations.  However, you may find you need to expand by hiring a part-time or full-time employee, or a freelancer.  Often a reasonably priced freelancer can serve as your outsourced graphic designer, marketing strategist or professional freelance copywriter to update your website content, write your blog or post your social media. 

Whatever decisions you make, make them wisely.  In the marketing world, a few dollars spent prudently can rival the results of a larger budget spent foolishly!