Wish I Had Thought of This

barcodesHow do they think of such things? Take a look at a new idea for barcodes coming out of Japan. You know barcodes, those ubiquitous little black & white stripes on every consumer product package (and then some). Someone had the glorious idea that since they had to print them anyway, why not have them make a statement. Take a look at this gallery of fine artwork they’ve developed.

Here’s more from the Fast Company blog.

“Since 2005, D-Barcode has been creating custom barcodes for a mostly Japanese clientele. They’ve even begun selling their wares to anyone who wants to license them, starting at $1,500 for the design, and $200 a year for licensing. A custom or exclusive use code will run upwards of $4,000–but given that companies spend millions on designing a single package, why don’t we see more detailed thinking like this?”

Bottom line – another great way to set your company apart from all the rest and another example of innovation creating opportunity where others saw nothing special.

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Filed under Creativity, Trends

Becoming Better

What are you doing today to become better tomorrow? Input Your Brain

Last evening, I had the opportunity to speak to the Brainerd Chapter of the IAAP (International Association of Administrative Professionals) about networking. The presentation is called “Work the Pond” and is based upon the book of the same title by Darcy Rezac. It is a great resource for anyone wanting to update or improve their networking efforts.

These individual members of IAAP came together as a small group with the purpose of learning something new. Today, they know more about how to network (and improve their businesses and personal lives) than they did yesterday. How many will use this new knowledge and put it into practice? Hopefully all of them, but even if they never use the knowledge gained, they are better for having heard it.

The neat thing about this group is that they have meetings every month at which they have an education program. That shows a true commitment to improving themselves and their profession through exposing themselves to new ideas and information on a regular basis. How many of us are guaranteed to learn something new on a regular basis?

I respect and appreciate other professionals who are willing to sacrifice their time (after regular work hours) to gather together to improve themselves, learn something new and become more valuable to their organizations.

My hats off to you IAAP and thanks for the opportunity to share.

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Filed under Goals, Professionalism

Planning for Uncertain Times

2010The old axiom “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail” seems to have a bit of a hollow ring to it after the events of the past 18 months. After all, many making plans based on the predictions from the national media and economists in 2008 were blind-sided by the economic collapse caused by the crisis in the financial sector of our economy. However, it is true that in order to move forward confidently, we must have SOME sort of plan for the future.

However, based upon the recent record of national economists, how confident are you in the recent predictions of growth for 2010? How does one plan confidently in such an uncertain scenario?

In a great column in Business Week, Steve McKee (of McKee Wallwork Cleveland Advertising) gives good advice for small businesses looking to prepare their marketing plans for 2010. For McKee, the answer is: you prepare multiple plans based upon three scenarios:

The economy in 2010 will look the same as 2009.  In this scenario, the key is to focus on share. Prepare your marketing budget to be able to quickly take advantage as your competition goes out of business or cuts back on their marketing.

The economy will get worse in 2010. In this scenario, your main focus will be to keep your business as a viable concern going forward. However, keep in mind that recessions and bad times can have some of the greatest opportunities for those who continue to market and position themselves for when times get better. In this scenario, cut back, but don’t cut out your marketing.

The economy will grow in 2010. During recovery, the temptation will be to grab all you can. Just remember that there can be danger in growing too fast and having your receivables exceed your cash, causing service and/or inventory problems. In this scenario, moderate demand through pricing and payment terms.

For greater insight, I suggest you read the entire article. It is a quick read and will provide you with valuable insight as you prepare your plans for 2010.

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You Owe It to the Rest of the World

Former Hheadvicearvard President Abbott Lawrence Lowell once said to his students: “Imagination without hard work is usually barren. What is more, the brighter the imagination, the greater the amount of work required to its full fruition.”

Are you a slacker? Are you wasting your talent? Do you have brilliant ideas that come to you that you let slip away? Well, its time to “work it baby, work it”!

The new economy is going to be built by those willing to work hard on developing their innovation quotient, not necessarily their intelligence quotient. The old economy was all about developing skills and manipulating facts to engineer and build “things”.  The next century, especially in the United States, the economy is going to be about innovative ways to use what we have, designing new products to make us more efficient and productive. Successful companies are going to be the ones who can deliver new ways to help us work, relax and raise our families.

It is up to you to work hard to develop your innovation and imagination. You need to wring the most out of the creative talent that you possess in your noggin, because it is the imaginative ones around us that will pull us through and get this economy moving once again. If you have an imagination, you owe it to yourself and the rest of us to “make those dreams come true.”

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Filed under Creativity, Leadership, Responsibility

In Their Kitchen

Promotional ProdKitchenucts Association International (PPAI) recently asked 1,005 average American consumers how many promotional products they had in their kitchen. The response? Overwhelming …

More than three-quarters of the group (828 people) had at least one promotional product in their kitchen, while the bulk reported having anywhere between two and 11 or more. But, here’s the part you can really sink your teeth into: The product/advertiser recall was through the roof! A whopping 86% could name not one, but two promotional products in their kitchen, while 50% of those could name the corresponding advertisers.

So, what’s the takeaway? If you are looking for a low-cost way to say “thank you” this holiday season, think “kitchen.”

This time of the year, the kitchen becomes the center of the home for family meals and friendly gatherings. Put your company name or logo on centerstage during the holidays.  Something as simple as a hot pad or as elegant as long stem wine flutes, there are many great ways to express your appreciation to those who are important to your business. The bonus factor in kitchen promotions is that these same customers will interact with your brand for years to come.

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River of B.S.

Bull

In these days of  the new economy and internet 2.0, one can suffer from information overload.

All the information one can want or need is available on line… If one applies the proper amount of time, effort and diligence.

However, if you make the effort to gather the information, the question then becomes: how relevant is the information you receive? Do you have the time or expertise to sift through all the B.S. in order to separate the gold nuggets from the turds?

For the past 15 years, I have spent a great deal of time online.  I was one of the first in my neck of the woods to get dial-up and I’ve been using the internet ever since 1993.  I have been reading blogs since 2003 and I’ve been on Linked In since 2005. I’ve been linked to and befriended; followed and partnered on more websites than I can keep straight. I comment, I blog, I tweet and I update and I subscribe to over 50 different blogs and my inbox is stuffed everyday with highlights and words of wisdom from gurus all over the world.  I am as connected as a man my age has any right to be.

So, what is my point?  The point is; I feel I am qualified to finally make a statement about the value of social media (the new darling of the media illuminati) and here it is: Social media is a virtual river of  B.S. flowing into your office or home, particularly in the area of marketing. It is up to you to filter the truth from the crap and it isn’t easy. One corollary to my statement is this: the old rules of marketing still apply. You have only three resources you can apply to advertise your business: time, talent or treasure.

To be successful in social media, you either need to spend the time yourself to figure it out, to develop the expertise needed to work your own strategy on-line or you must pay someone to do it for you. If you decide to pay someone to do it for you, they had better damn well know what they are doing or they can cause significant damage to your image and therefore your company. Simple as that.

Most of the people on social media websites are busy trying to impress others and many come off looking like fools.  Many of the self-appointed “gurus” are trying to sell their particular program of “how to use social media” to everyone else. Most of them are all selling the same uncertain ideas – in other words, they are guessing at this point. This particular form of interaction with consumers (social media) is too new for anyone to have developed hard and fast rules for what works. Most of those who tell you otherwise are full of “wishful thinking” or something else.

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Filed under Bullshooting, Social media

Just… Wouldn’t… Quit

The Minnesota Twins were 7 games behind Detroit on September 1st.  They lost one of their best players to injury for the year shortly thereafter. The local sports pundits chortled and said “See ya next year in spring training”.  Yet, with their back to the wall, they refused to lose. Through the month of September, they worked, hustled and just kept coming back.

Going into the final weekend of the season. they were 3 games down with 4 games to play, no team had ever overcome those odds before; winning was improbable at best, it was said. Good effort they were told, way to fight guys, now go close the Metrodome and “wait ’til next year boys”

This glorious morning the Minnesota Twins are Champions of the Central Division of the American League.

Tied with Tigers after a 162 game season, they played in an epic 12 inning game that featured comeback after comeback, a game that will be remembered for years to come, winning dramatically with hits from two of their youngest players under enormous pressure. Truly a classic performance from a team of over-achievers. It doesn’t matter how they fare against the big, bad Yankees in the coming playoffs, these guys are winners now. 

For the rest of their lives, they will look back at this past month, these past few days, last night’s game and remember that this was one of their finest hours, their defining moments, because they just… wouldn’t… quit.

So, if someone says to you “it can’t be done” or someone tells you “to stay down, you are beaten”, remember the Minnesota Twins of 2009 and know it isn’t so.

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Filed under Facing Adversity, Leadership