Archives for 2012

I’ve most definitely created a monster, and it’s name is Tony Scott.

These days, just about anyone who really wants to be a media star, or internet star rather, can be one. All it takes is a HD video camera, some decent lighting, and lots of nerve.

About a year ago, I teamed with my brother Tony to create a high-traffic blog that covers youth hockey here in the great state of Minnesota. It was no surprise that YouthHockeHub.com (YHH) was an instant success, largely due to Tony’s passionate efforts. As of today, as hockey fever builds in Minnesota, YHH attracts upwards of 50,000 visitors a month. And that number will surely swell to over 75,000 by the end of March.

Back to our budding media star Tony Scott, my brother’s internet alter ego. With my assistance, Mr. Scott produces a weekly videocast for YHH in which he gives his ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ on certain topics, promotes a featured player of the week, and shills for current and potential advertisers. If you have the stomach to go back and view Mr. Scott’s body of work, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to notice gradual improvements in his on-camera demeanor. His natural charm and passion is truly beginning to reveal itself. Whether he is creating a fan base forhis weekly offerings remains to be seen, but he will continue plunking himself down in front of the camera, and taking his shot at internet stardom.

With nearly a dozen videocasts under his belt, Tony Scott’s zeal for becoming an internet personality is building with each new video offering. And while he needs to invest in some better lighting, he has no shortage of nerve…that rare quality you find in one of thousands of today’s internet YouTube stars.

At this moment, I have to take my leave, as I have another edition of YHH Weekly Videocast to edit.

(Flip ahead to the 2:40 mark to see Tony smash an egg against his face, narly)

Homework assignment for the Lemon Network: ‘start kicking ass.’

My Nephew David Zosel attends the prestigious St. Thomas University just across the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN. He’s majoring in entrepreneurship. Didn’t even know that was a major. Interesting.

One of David’s first assignments in the entrepreneurship program is to create a start-up company and generate real revenue by semester’s end. Real revenue, can you believe that? Anyway, David approached me this past Sunday about helping him design a wordpress website for his social media marketing company. His positive energy for the project, and entrepreneurship in general, was quite captivating. I was sold.

Step in the elevator, start pitching.

But before I spend 20-30 hours creating a kickass website that will likely get his team an A on the project, I gave David a little homework assignment. This is the same homework assign I would give any client looking to create a brand that cuts through the clutter, and speaks to the customer right where they live.

Here’s what I asked David this morning to really make the site/brand rock:

1. Unique selling proposition – many call this the elevator pitch. In 25 words or less (50 max), describe why someone would buy from you. Hence, if you were in an elevator, and someone asked what you do, how would you tell your story in 30 seconds? Why is LN different from the burgeoning array of so-called social media marketing companies? Do you work harder? Are you cheaper? Do you keep it simple? Do you make it simple for me, the business owner, who has no clue how to leverage SM?

What makes you different? That’s branding. Everything else is bullshit.

2. Pricing / Packaging – If I’m potential customer, how do we work together? What do I get for my money? How do contracts work? What results should I expect? What am I paying for? What am I not paying for? Would your service work well for my business (B2B or B2C?) You need to clarify these details (and any other ones you can think of) so a customer can quickly decide if they would like to move forward.

When I get more specifics on items 1 and 2, I will design David a kickass branded web presence. Without clarification on points 1 and 2, there’s no point designing anything.

Getting married? Romance Leaders can hook you up with a fabuous destination wedding anywhere in the world.

Romance Leaders is a new division of Travel Leaders, a twin cities based travel agency, that specializes in destination weddings and exotic honeymoon vacations anywhere in the world. We designed and built this full-featured wordpress site for the new division that their in-house marketing staff / travel agents will be constantly updating the content, and creating special private landing pages for clients, new partner pages promoting a number of travel vendors.

With the new features in WordPress 3.42 along with other handy widgets supplied by the Genesis Framework, it was easy to hand the keys over to the staff at Travel Leaders.

At Home Restoration: a very cool WordPress site for a very hip guy. And a monster conversion rate to boot.

wordpress websites

At Home Restoration owner and Expert Finisher Jon Dominguez has a unique passion for refinishing and restoring antiques, furniture, interior wood trim, and cabinetry. But he is unlike most tradesman you might bring into your home. Jon is an artist in the true sense of the word. His mission is to create beauty where none exists. His medium just happens to be wood. His results are impressive, his pricing is reasonable. He loves his work so much, he might even do it for free.

Free, really? As Seth Godin puts it,

“Art is what we’re doing when we do our best work. Art is a gift. You can sell the souvenir, the canvas, the recording… but the idea itself is free, and the generosity is a critical part of making art.”

And that’s precisely what Jon brings to the table. Like me, he consistently over delivers when it comes to quality, whether the client appreciates it or not. That’s why it was a rare pleasure to create a branded wordpress website for this interesting character. Jon is also a very talented musician and songwriter, BTW. Fun to be around, no doubt.

About the site, it converts at a very impressive rate, probably higher than 10%. Just a guess. But the site competes very well organically for terms like ‘furniture refinishing minneapolis,’ ‘furniture refinishing minneapolis mn,’ ‘wood refinishing minneapolis,’ and many other localized terms that put his site #1 on Google.

Unimax LineOne: a focused new direction using WordPress as a micro-site.

telecom wordpress website

I’ve had a long-standing relationship with the good folks at Unimax going back at least five years. The telecommunications software marketer has traditionally sold it’s flagship product, 2nd Nature, to enterprise companies with thousands of employees. Suffice to say, 2nd Nature is a big ticket item, with a long sales cycle.

Instead of depending on sales for the flagship product, Unimax tried a different approach. They created products designed products with specific features aimed at solving specific problems, at a much more attractive pricepoint. LIneOne is a such a product. To take LineOne to market, Unimax needed a simple solution for both branding and marketing. And WordPress was the solution.

Instead of creating complete new websites to promote the new product, we created a simple microsite off the main domain, http://unimax.com/lineone/. This way, they could have a complete site, while continuing to build on the primary domain. For lead generation purposes, they use the site primarily as a landing page for email marketing, webinars, and other communications done with partners. Seems to be gaining traction, as I see a steady stream of leads on a daily basis.

Facebook firestorm creates instant traffic for new Eagan, MN yogo studio.

In this day and age, builders of WordPress Websites like us are often tasked with creating Facebook Fan Pages. It’s just part of the deal. But being a fan page admin, it can be kind of be a pain when your page attracts new followers like the folks at Sparrow Studios in Eagan, MN.

We built this sleek, stylish WordPress website for owners Erin Zosel (2nd cousin) and Brigitta Sharpe back in Early August with the goal of opening the Yoga and Fitness studio in the south suburbs. With the growth of Yoga and fitness, and what promises to be a growing economy (knock wood), Sparrow Studios seems poised for success. With Both Erin and Brig having huge Facebook Friend lists, acquiring 400 fans to their page was a slam dunk, and and should bode well for their new business. So when the site and fan page launched, I began receiving dozens of notifications daily of folks liking the page, and showing enthusiasm for the new fitness venture. Which was awesome, BTW, but a little surprising.

A great lesson for anyone starting a business these days: build a following withing your closest group of friends, who’ll gladly spread the word for you.

Daily Mortgage Report: automated blogging makes for awesome lead generation.

A print ad in this day and age? Well, sort of.

As our client Unimax is about to launch an exciting new product, we helped them create a teaser email that they’ll blast to their mailing list today previewing the upcoming announcement. It was fun, partly because it was reminiscent of the days when we cranked out print ads on what seemed like a daily basis. Real old school formula — headline, visual, killer copy.

With print seemingly near extinction, there are not many requests for marketing and design calling for this unique skill set. Is it a dying art? Or will it make a comeback? In Unimax’s case, it will definitely get the job done.

 

 

Splunking: impressive messaging all B2B marketers should aspire to.

While working on a recent B2B marketing project for a software client, I checked out Splunk, a provider of operational intelligence solutions. And I must say, I was totally blown away by their messaging. I can’t say that I’m a IT Director or CIO (their prospect I’m guessing), but I’ve gotta say, their approach is dead brilliant. In literally under 30 seconds, I completely get what they do technically on two important levels:

1. Emotional (‘Listen to Your Data – It’s Trying to Tell You Something’)

2. Intellectual (showing their awesome dashboard in the video)

That’s pretty impressive. Plus they support their claim with business case arguments, which are also backed up with impressive big brand case studies. If I were a director or C-level prospect, I’d be picking up the phone, I’d want to know more.

Am I being overly naive here, or should we all be taking a lesson from this? Splunk simply follows B2B marketing principles to the letter. In my 30-second first impression, they did not mention a single feature, only big picture benefits. They told me what they could do for me (benefits), not how they do it (features).

I’m offering this short post here today, only becuase  it’s rare to see such well-executed B2B communications such as Splunk. While I don’t give them huge kudos for their aesthetic design, the brand approach from a messaging standpoint was literally flawless. I know nothing about operational intelligence solutions, yet in less than a minute I can see what a cool solution Splunk offers.

That’s a principle all B2B marketer should aspire to.