Wednesday, November 9, 2016

May We Live in Interesting Times

The age old Chinese curse seems quite apropos. While it is true, I said during the primary that if this elections came down to Trump v Clinton that Trump would win (I didn’t want to believe it yet here we are) but this is not an “I told you so” moment. It is a time to assess our options and the choice we have made.

The people were looking for an anti-establishment candidate, which I would believe and even laud if it wasn’t for the overwhelming reelection of total establishment incumbents like John McCain and Chuck Schumer. So where does this leave us?
I have been pondering this all night (literally I slept barely a couple of hours and lest you forget I have a 3 year old who will be waking up soon, it is going to be a rough day)
So I have been thinking of worst case scenarios, and I am inclined to think selfishly given that it is what my fellow Americans chose last night, selfish, narcissistic, megalomania. Worst case scenarios how does this affect me, my family right here in this house?

Well…
If President Trump sweeps in day one and completely dismantles Obamacare, how does that affect me?
Not at all really.

If President Trump is able to build that wall, how will this affect me?
Not at all.

If President Trump and his Congress are able to revamp the tax code so that it further skews toward the top earners, how does that affect me?
Again, not really very much.

If President Trump tears apart NATO in an effort to allay with Russian, how does that affect me?
Nope not much (cheaper vodka?).

If President Trump returns us to an outmoded 20th century business and manufacturing practice of total disregard for the environment and perpetual rape of natural resources?
This hits a little closer to home as I have long felt that we were on the wrong track when it comes to being responsible stewards of our collective home. It does put an undue burden on my daughters to clean up the mess that Baby Boomers have created for us all. Although we were pretty much here already.

BUT
If President Trump allows roving bands of white supremacist thugs to run rough shod over the country side, how does this affect me personally here in this house?
Not very much, but it will have an enormous impact on people I love and care for so this, then begs a response. What does one do on the eve of Kristallnacht do I pack my bags and run for the border (fuck there’s that wall), Do I pick up arms and resist (dude I'm 50 and not built for that shit), or do I go along to get along?



This is when the hard choices will need to be made. I heard someone, in the lead up to election night, say that collectively the American people are smart and that he wouldn’t worry if we did elect Donald Trump. And I sincerely hope that he is right although anyone who knows me at all knows that I do not believe this.
Hold on tight America times are going to get interesting.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Do's and Don'ts of Trade Show Practice.

As I begin to register for the upcoming trade show events I come to realize that, with so much emphasis on content in-bound, digital and social media marketing stratagem these days it might be of interest to take a step into the face to face marketing world of Trade Show Practice. This type of marketing is as much push messaging as it is pull attraction. It is a tough nut to crack, because we have to balance the techniques of inside sales with that of more aggressive outside sales practice.
One of the first things to look at is the booth itself, where it is located, how is it arranged, is it attractive and inviting or does it feel cramped and closed off. The location choice is very import and should be considered with the same level of attention with which you would make any advertising placement. A few things to consider here are the type of pitch you are making and the kind of contact you wish to achieve. Does your product sell itself and does it make a “statement” on its own? If so you would do well to choose a high traffic area where attendees can see your product and your booth staff can talk to and put information into the hands of as many people as possible. IF, like at my company, the product is a little bit more niche and requires some education it is probably a good idea to position the booth in a more quite location to give staff an opportunity to connect with the show visitors. For example, for the upcoming Doble Seminar in Huntington Beach we chose the back corner of the first aisle. The first aisle because we know that all of the show visitors will make their way down it, but the back corner because we know that it will be somewhat quieter and afford us some intimacy with the clients.
Once the perfect location has been chosen, register early to insure the best spots, then it becomes about arranging it in an inviting and attractive manner.
One of the first “don’ts” would be not to put your table across the front of your booth space. Better to lay it alongside in an effort to invite traffic into the booth. The booth needn’t be too elaborate; one can do some very effective layouts on a budget by making use of large poster stands with some eye catching visuals. One thing to be aware of is ceiling height. While most large venues will have very high ceilings some of the private rooms or hospitality suites may have limited clearance so plan accordingly.
An effective attention getting technique that I have employed in the past is to place tall posters at the end of long corridors in an effort to be seen from far down the aisle. When designing the graphic keep in mind the message and imagery and be sure to place you company logo in a prominent location that can be seen.
Keep any literature out and prominent but another “don’t” would be to place it within easy reach of passersby. We want the clients to come into the booth, we want to be able to engage with the client and if they merely grab and go with you literature that opportunity is lost. What we do want to do is bring them in and keep them comfortable. That is why I always suggest springing for the extra padding. Many people are surprised by how soothing it is to have the extra thick padding under foot when you are walking the hard concrete floor of a large stadium venue.
Another thing worth doing would be to say hi to everyone that passes your booth. “Good Morning” and “Have a good Show” should come as easily to the lips as “Please” and “Thank You”. This practice by booth staff will serve to open the eyes of passersby and cause the harried visitor to look your way. Very often this results in the “Oh, Advanced Power Technologies, what do you do?” question the is a great opening.
Once you get the people into the booth the primary function of a tradeshow is to gather information and generate leads for your business. Whoever staffs the booth should at the very least be exchanging business cards with visitors. If you give one, try and get one in return. There are some business card readers on the market that can then scan the cards and import the data, otherwise you can just do the input by hand. If they don’t have a business card then, by all means, carry on with the conversation and create rapport with the client, creating this rapport will enable you to ask for the info you need before they leave the booth. Have paper, computer or tablet available for this purpose. I understand that sometimes these trade shows get busy and it is difficult to follow through with these things when you have half a dozen people in the booth all requesting information. It is a good practice to not give out a business card or brochure without at least requesting they sign a guest list, again have a clipboard or tablet available for the purpose. The minimum info to capture is Name, Company, Email and /or Phone. Also, keep in mind that sometimes, at a busy tradeshow, you might want to cut the conversation short. If the booth is full of people, it may be useful to give everyone a minute or two, then grab the quick badge scan or business card with the promise of a lengthier conversation later. I find that most business professionals understand this “make hay while the sun shines” mentality.
It is often possible, through the event organizer or through the venue, to get the complete list of attendees. You may have to pay for this list and it is a shotgun approach and means you will gather information on folks that may not be directly interested in your products. Another shotgun technique might be to have some kind of offering or drawing, a gift card or a free product upgrade in exchange for folks dropping their business card into a hat or fish bowl (leave the fish at home). I find this does not always yield the quality interested prospects you want, but it is a way to gather the information. In the motorcycle industry we offered a drawing for a free oil change. One person won the oil change, but everyone got a call with some inducement to get them in the door.
It may also be possible to use new and emerging cell phone technology to enhance the visitor experience at a trade show. By enabling push notification Geofencing can offer a unique level of engagement with clients. As they walk around the trade show floor it is now possible to broadcast messages to everyone about products and events at the show. But it is increasingly possible to narrowcast to a specific target audience, coupons, detailed information on products or perhaps even a special invitation to the hospitality suite.
A next level use of this technology would be to use the customers location on the show floor to alert the booth staffers when the perspective client passes near the booth. I would have tailored personalized presentations ready for any show attendee that opted in when asked to receive information about our booth, company, and/or products.
And of course to bring it back to the Social Media and Content Marketing aspect you really want to own the #hashtag, live cast video, snaps, vines, booth staff selfies, anything to maintain the buzz surrounding an event.


And that’s how it’s “done”. Easy right?




Do's and Don'ts of Trade Show Practice.

As I begin to register for the upcoming trade show events I come to realize that, with so much emphasis on content in-bound, digital and social media marketing stratagem these days it might be of interest to take a step into the face to face marketing world of Trade Show Practice. This type of marketing is as much push messaging as it is pull attraction. It is a tough nut to crack, because we have to balance the techniques of inside sales with that of more aggressive outside sales practice.
One of the first things to look at is the booth itself, where it is located, how is it arranged, is it attractive and inviting or does it feel cramped and closed off. The location choice is very import and should be considered with the same level of attention with which you would make any advertising placement. A few things to consider here are the type of pitch you are making and the kind of contact you wish to achieve. Does your product sell itself and does it make a “statement” on its own? If so you would do well to choose a high traffic area where attendees can see your product and your booth staff can talk to and put information into the hands of as many people as possible. IF, like at my company, the product is a little bit more niche and requires some education it is probably a good idea to position the booth in a more quite location to give staff an opportunity to connect with the show visitors. For example, for the upcoming Doble Seminar in Huntington Beach we chose the back corner of the first aisle. The first aisle because we know that all of the show visitors will make their way down it, but the back corner because we know that it will be somewhat quieter and afford us some intimacy with the clients.
Once the perfect location has been chosen, register early to insure the best spots, then it becomes about arranging it in an inviting and attractive manner.
One of the first “don’ts” would be not to put your table across the front of your booth space. Better to lay it alongside in an effort to invite traffic into the booth. The booth needn’t be too elaborate; one can do some very effective layouts on a budget by making use of large poster stands with some eye catching visuals. One thing to be aware of is ceiling height. While most large venues will have very high ceilings some of the private rooms or hospitality suites may have limited clearance so plan accordingly.
An effective attention getting technique that I have employed in the past is to place tall posters at the end of long corridors in an effort to be seen from far down the aisle. When designing the graphic keep in mind the message and imagery and be sure to place you company logo in a prominent location that can be seen.
Keep any literature out and prominent but another “don’t” would be to place it within easy reach of passersby. We want the clients to come into the booth, we want to be able to engage with the client and if they merely grab and go with you literature that opportunity is lost. What we do want to do is bring them in and keep them comfortable. That is why I always suggest springing for the extra padding. Many people are surprised by how soothing it is to have the extra thick padding under foot when you are walking the hard concrete floor of a large stadium venue.
Another thing worth doing would be to say hi to everyone that passes your booth. “Good Morning” and “Have a good Show” should come as easily to the lips as “Please” and “Thank You”. This practice by booth staff will serve to open the eyes of passersby and cause the harried visitor to look your way. Very often this results in the “Oh, XYZ Inc, what do you do?” question the is a great opening.
Once you get the people into the booth the primary function of a tradeshow is to gather information and generate leads for your business. Whoever staffs the booth should at the very least be exchanging business cards with visitors. If you give one, try and get one in return. There are some business card readers on the market that can then scan the cards and import the data, otherwise you can just do the input by hand. If they don’t have a business card then, by all means, carry on with the conversation and create rapport with the client, creating this rapport will enable you to ask for the info you need before they leave the booth. Have paper, computer or tablet available for this purpose. I understand that sometimes these trade shows get busy and it is difficult to follow through with these things when you have half a dozen people in the booth all requesting information. It is a good practice to not give out a business card or brochure without at least requesting they sign a guest list, again have a clipboard or tablet available for the purpose. The minimum info to capture is Name, Company, Email and /or Phone. Also, keep in mind that sometimes, at a busy tradeshow, you might want to cut the conversation short. If the booth is full of people, it may be useful to give everyone a minute or two, then grab the quick badge scan or business card with the promise of a lengthier conversation later. I find that most business professionals understand this “make hay while the sun shines” mentality.
It is often possible, through the event organizer or through the venue, to get the complete list of attendees. You may have to pay for this list and it is a shotgun approach and means you will gather information on folks that may not be directly interested in your products. Another shotgun technique might be to have some kind of offering or drawing, a gift card or a free product upgrade in exchange for folks dropping their business card into a hat or fish bowl (leave the fish at home). I find this does not always yield the quality interested prospects you want, but it is a way to gather the information. In the motorcycle industry we offered a drawing for a free oil change. One person won the oil change, but everyone got a call with some inducement to get them in the door.
It may also be possible to use new and emerging cell phone technology to enhance the visitor experience at a trade show. By enabling push notification Geofencing can offer a unique level of engagement with clients. As they walk around the trade show floor it is now possible to broadcast messages to everyone about products and events at the show. But it is increasingly possible to narrowcast to a specific target audience, coupons, detailed information on products or perhaps even a special invitation to the hospitality suite.
A next level use of this technology would be to use the customers location on the show floor to alert the booth staffers when the perspective client passes near the booth. I would have tailored personalized presentations ready for any show attendee that opted in when asked to receive information about our booth, company, and/or products.
And of course to bring it back to the Social Media and Content Marketing aspect you really want to own the #hashtag, live cast video, snaps, vines, booth staff selfies, anything to maintain the buzz surrounding an event.


And that’s how it’s “done”. Easy right?




Friday, July 1, 2016

She's a Beauty, One in a Million.

I bought my R90/6 in April of 1993, it was my birthday and after a bit of a false start (not a crash or anything just a literal bad starter) I was able to ride it home from Marin County to my apartment just south of San Francisco. This meant crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on a glorious spring evening. I was literally howling at the moon and was even able to get the toll taker to let me pass free because it was my birthday and I had this beautiful motorbike. And so it goes, flash forward all these years and the many many bikes in between, but this love affair that has followed me around the country California to Denver back to the bay area and then, alas, to New Jersey where the bike has sat now for ten or twelve years. I originally parked it because it started to run rough and at an advanced idle. After exhausting my first aid skills I took it to a professional who told me that is was likely the woodruff key had worn out and needed to be replaced. I have no idea the veracity of this claim, but I have been dragging the dead carcass around for years. AND NOW YATATA DA!! I get to start the process of taking her apart nut from bolt and refreshing and or replacing everything that I can and like Frankenstein resurrecting the old girl. Pictures are to come, but here she is being brought to my new workshop in Branchburg NJ


and this just for fun.
 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Gerry Mac's Custom Crafted GuiTardis, The Tardis Guitar

It has been a busy summer.

But here is one for all you Dr Who fans out there anxiously awaiting the upcoming season, here is something we hope you’ll really like. Introducing GuiTardistm a concept from me and guitar master builder Gerry McGuckin. This custom made affair was produced for Steve, professional player, fanboy, and soon to be brother in law.


Whovian Guitardis is a one of a kind work of Art
The original handmade GuiTardistm at Pandorica in Beacon NY



custom made Dr Who Tardis Guitar
Custom Guitar Maker Gerry McGuckin.
The GuiTardistm  is extremely playable for a professional and is not much heavier than a Stratocaster. I know many Whovians that will drool over this work of functional art. There are a few “Doctors” and former “Doctors” that should probably have one in their collections, I think specifically of Peter Capaldi who cut his teeth in the 80s playing punk rock guitar with Craig Ferguson in a band called The Dreamboys. So yeah, he needs one, and I understand David Tennant plays guitar as well. Custom orders can be made by contacting Gerry 845.926.0471 or me m8qlaff .



"Oh, It's smaller on the outside."



And OMG, look at this place! A relatively new Whovian mecca in Beacon NY, this CafĂ©/ Bistro is kitted out in complete Dr Who style from its “smaller on the outside” bathroom to the Ood who greets you at the door. Pandorica is certainly worth a pilgrimage.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Creativity in Marketing.


It is finally here, the 3rd installment in our conversation on marketing in the digital age. I started with the postulate that the internet, for all its flash and sizzle, is really not new in terms of communication, but it is faster and smarter.  But we come to learn Social Media or content driven marketing requires adaptation and perhaps an evolution from consumers as well as business and advertisers.
Feel free to watch that one: Thoughts on Evolution

In the follow up we defined agility and examined the necessity of paying attention and being willing to respond quickly, even if it means making a mistake. As in the famous "You can still dunk in the dark." Tweet from Oreo.

A Tweet from a brilliant Content Marketing Pro
during the blackout at the New Orleans Superbowl

Go ahead and watch that one again, you know you want too. Agility in the Digital Age

In this 3rd installment I explore the possibility of creating something from nothing. Building up a business from just an idea is easier that ever, or is it? It requires vision, creativity and a lot of hard work, so no I guess it is not any easier than it ever was, just "maybe faster and smarter",



I do hope you enjoy these and keep looking out, because more are coming.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Great Reissue at a Great Time

So we started a fairly comprehensive list of books for my Daughter in college and most of these would make for some fabulous summer reading for anyone who missed any of the classics the first time.

Something to add to that list is the re-release of Adrift in the Vanishing City a novel by the award winning author Vincent Czyz, who also contributed to the reading list by the way. It got some great press the first time around and I think it deserves more this time.

Like this, which came from Matt Badura, Review of Contemporary Fiction, Spring 2000
Adrift in a Vanishing City by Vincent Czyz is a collection of 9 interconnected fictions constellated around the love story between Zirque Granges and Rae Anne Kelly. Zirque—a world-hungry cavalier raging against Thanatos—is “trapped being who he is for eternity, tired of being Zirque, distracting himself from himself with a change of scenery.” Zirque’s restless nature impels to continent—and bed—hop, while the love-locked Rae Anne recedes into the depths and learns to “live through the never-knowing of her man.” Within this basic yet inexhaustible framework, Czyz composes an Orphean song of desire and longing that explores the tenuous nature of human intersection and memory with a tenderness rare in experimental fiction. 
Enhancing the pleasures produced by Adrift’s multiple narratives, Czyz’s primary accomplishment stems from the quality of his language. Indeed, Adrift is a book that rewards multiple readings and demands to be quoted, as the multilayered construction of Czyz's prose enables Adrift to speak toward those depths of mind and memory that tend to elude language. In this sense Adrift is ostensibly a work of prose poetry. As Czyz says, “This is the land of the guttural tongue, the great dead stone cities, the legend that has begun to lift itself out of the ruins, like those surreal paintings in which the images are raising themselves off the canvas, emerging from flat two-dimensional art into the four- or five- or 22-dimensional actuality we cannot keep track of anymore.”

Throughout Adrift in a Vanishing City, the city is a metaphor for memory—human and mythic—and its unspeakable reaches. Readers should rejoice that Czyz has explored this city and has returned from the underworld with a song to recover the vanishing dimensions of ourselves."            

And from Capper Nichols

Certain books require a patient reader, one with the ability to concentrate closely and intently. Sentences are not straightforward or transparent, but long and labyrinthine, like intriguing yet shadowy dreams. The writing, more like poetry than prose, calls attention to language, to the fullness of a word, a sentence, with the purpose of expressing inexpressible emotions and experiences. Think of Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past or Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury or, more recently, William Vollmann's Fathers and Crows.
In such works, plot is secondary to language, image and character. What happens in the story is less interesting than how the writer writes the fictive world and its residents into our consciousness. And what we come away with after reading is mood and idea more than a narrative.
Vincent Czyz's (pronounced "Chez") Adrift in a Vanishing City is just this sort of work: lyrical and pensive, an odd and often beautiful portrait of longing. Many sentences and paragraphs need to be read more than once, sometimes for meaning, sometimes for the striking words and images. Czyz's feverish style can get tiresome, but more often his sensuous writing is a pleasure:
Leanin against the fender of my car ... Blue Jean would work so hard on gettin that malt thick as it was through the straw she'd forget me ... she looked so happy, the cold sweet malted slush in her cup all it took, a warm kiss against cold lips, her tongue cold too...
Neither a novel nor short story collection, Adrift falls somewhere in between. Or somewhere else entirely on the genre map. The nine stories (or chapters or sections or...?) share characters and settings, but there's no narrative progression in the conventional sense. The characters do stuff, talk, ruminate, do more stuff.
The main character is Zirque Granges, a man who can't stay put in one place for long, but who always comes back to Pittsburg, Kansas, and his long-suffering girlfriend, Blue Jean. Blue Jean teaches kindergarten and hangs out with the Duke of Palluca, a "famous walker," and with Pap, a drunk with a clubfoot and harelip. When Zirque blows into town they all hang out together. The point of view shifts among the characters from section to section, giving each a shot at telling what they see and think and feel.
Some of book follows Zirque on his wanderings, to Mexico City, Budapest, and to Paris, where he hooks up with his other (though less important) girlfriend, Veronique, the bad girl to Blue Jean's good.
Each of the characters is dissatisfied, longing for something, someone. But there's no sense that anyone can or will or expects to get what they want, except maybe for brief moments. The mood of the work is melancholy but not forlorn. The characters are adrift in memory and in anticipation, yearning for what (supposedly) was and for what could be. "It's always that way," Zirque says. "In a pocket fulla crumpled, unanswered (or once-answered) desires, we keep a photo of what it is we want (again maybe) and hold it up to everything we get. Time after time there's a shakin’ a the head, a return a the photo."


Our desires, how we want and what we want, are never simple. Adrift shows just how intricate and troubling desire and memory are. What makes Czyz's book so satisfying is that he accomplishes that end not just through the depiction of his characters' inner lives, but with a strange language that is hauntingly appropriate.


I look forward to getting my copy and you should too.  http://amzn.to/1GlIjlY
And of course check back for the reading list in it's editable spreadsheet soon.