The Jedi cloud-storage solution

Kind of my first attempt at ‘cloud storage’ for my team about three years ago:

  1. Buy a domain & get unlimited hosting at
  2. Set FTP paths to sub-directories set at 755 (so visible path/nav to browsers).
  3. Show staff how to quickly upload via Filezilla.
  4. Give links to sub-directories to sales team within their current online sources.

But I’m not going to upload any HTML, so what do I do with the ‘home page’? This still cracks me up:

The online directories: Where are they in 2012

One of the reasons I started this blog was to discuss the advent of online industrial directories like Industrial Quick Search and GlobalSpec, as well as consider the struggles of the goliath of paper directories, Thomas Publishing (now ThomasNet).

It’s been almost ten years, and I hardly blog about these companies any more. The paradigm shift of 2002 is the ‘new normal’ of 2012. In the next few blog posts, I am going to share updates about what these companies are doing, certainly with some punditry from  me.

Stay tuned!

Marketing hard, video harder: a testimonial

Part of the point I’ve been telling myself about why I do this blog is this: Anyone can blog about how to be a marketer. But the reason I blog is (indirectly) about how hard it is. Decisions, effort, patience. Tactical, not strategic.

So I lapped up this blog post at Psychotactics by Sean D’Souza because it was so honest about giving up … and what he did about it. About one of the hardest things in marketing today: videos.

“I didn’t give up video. I just got busy.

You know how it is, right? You want to do something and then you make this grand list. Then you do a bit of it. And you do some more. And some more. And you get results. And then you do a spectacularly stupid thing.

You give up.”

read more at: The Importance of Video in your Marketing

(I will admit that I’ve followed Sean’s emails and blog for years, without ever subscribing to his services. But I will say that his writing style has rubbed off on me for the better, and heartily recommend following his blog or putting down cash for his services. Bonus is his cartoons like I borrowed above.)

The Groupon or Woot of B2B? Oh wait, not.

One of the trade pubs I get (online and off), sent me a new type of email at the beginning of the year, with this subject line:

Introducing TMWorld Deals:  Dell LED/LCD Monitor for Just $129

My first reaction: ‘Oh, they’re going to offer Groupon or Woot style deals from their advertisers.’ My second reaction: ‘Um, Dell monitors?’

Yep, they’re just posting deals from a third party, of no specific interest to the subscribers.

Maybe they plan on using this platform with their advertisers? Maybe they need the added revenue? As it stands, not a service to their subscribers, and a dilution of their brand authority.

The B2Blog that is B-to-Blah

Maybe its too obvious to me, but it bares repeating: is NOT a commercial venture. Not a blog to support an agency. Not a shill for links or outside interests.

It is a personal blog about marketing. Even more than B2B, it is about Industrial marketing.

The point is it is MINE. It is part of who I am. A hobby, and an outlet. Coming up on it’s tenth anniversary in 2012.


So last May, I flagged an incoming email announcing a different blog with the same name, albeit spelled differently: BtoBlog, an outpost created by the folks at BtoB Magazine.

I just took another look at that blog and found something quite different than B2Blog:

  • More than one author
  • Lots of ads & promotions (including interstitials)
  • No RSS feed, heck no main URL/domain
  • Comments are all spam (and not deleted)
  • Spotty content … well, maybe that is the same as B2Blog 😉

It’s a bit of a shame, you’d hope that this could be a cultural, viral blog (like FastCompany has become). Instead it is content-fodder to generate ad revenue.

I will say that BtoB does highlight the latest post on their homepage (which unfortunately swirls with headlines like any other magazine), and has recruited “client side” bloggers that can generate quality, first-person articles that are worth reading.

Maybe I’m being to cynical. Or maybe just protective of ‘my turf’. But for a Magazine that covers social media like it is hot stuff for B2B marketing, this blog leaves me feeling blah.


Your brochure is not a secret, why do you act that way?

Our top competitor had never offered their product brochures on their website. Their website was still sporting a 1999 look, so I assumed this same indifference applied to posting PDFs.

Helpful ... not

But since they brought their website into the 21st century earlier this year, their general catalog is the only worthwhile PDF (still sporting a 1998 look). They don’t even let the site’s visitors know that product-specific brochures exist.

Are they trying to keep them a secret? Are they afraid I might get them?

Well, of course I have them! I found some of them posted online elsewhere. A few have been leaked by prospects who had to give them to us so we could ‘match’ their products.

I gave up trying to keep our product info a secret a long time ago. I don’t understand their rationale. They’ve got to assume we’ve got this info anyway, so why are they keeping it a secret?

At one time salespeople felt threatened by website content diluting their power of information, but today salespeople are frustrated if they aren’t supported by a robust website. And we all can guess how the prospects are feel about this.

Time was we would get thousands of brochures printed, and try to get into as many hands as possible. Why should it be any different today?

Bad grammar destroys reputations

This guest post by Andy Wallner is in response to my post last March: A missing hyphen can unravel your reputation. Embedded links are his, likely are for SEO purposes, and I am not getting paid. Andy was bold enough to contact me with a personalized pitch that proved he could actually write, not just spam my blog.

If Missing Hyphens Unravel Reputations, Bad Grammar Destroys Them

Hi this is going to be a good articles on bad grammer and stuff with marketing so have fun reading with it thankz.

Now, I’d be willing to bet that when you read that first sentence, you were ready to assume I had no literary skill and that the rest of the article had no credibility. Sadly, this kind of bad grammar happens every day, around the world, at marketing firms. As the business world continues to grow, many marketing professionals are in such a hurry to get copy out the door that they fail to proofread their material. It doesn’t help that few marketing degree programs require courses on basic English and grammar.

Why Does Grammar in Marketing Matter?

Failing to proof your marketing material could cost you dearly. When presenting material to a potential customer, it is imperative that you have everything perfect. There was a slogan used by a popular shampoo manufacturer some years ago that went, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Nowhere is this more true than in marketing. If you leave potential customers with a bad taste in their mouths, you have likely lost their business for good.

On top of that, poor grammar and misspelled words send out a signal to customers that you don’t care about your business. Bad grammar essentially tells the client, “I was too lazy to even proofread this before I sent it off, and I will likely be too lazy when it comes to providing you with service in the future.” Customers want to deal with professionals, not amateurs who didn’t take the time to read and reread their own promotional materials.

Web Footprints Marketers Leave With Poor Grammar

Just as the Internet has led to marketing professionals being able to quickly and easily get their message out, it has also led to marketing professionals being burned. When you put something out on the Web, it is almost impossible to erase, not just because the information is stored on a server somewhere, and not just because temporary cached files are saved to computers around the world.

If you put out material with mistakes, and a potential customer sees it, they can’t un-see it. Even if you catch the mistake and correct it, it’s too late, as the customer’s confidence in your business has already begun to crumble. This is another reason why making sure things are done right before putting them out for the public is so important.

For Every Rule, There is an Exception

This isn’t to say you can’t play fast and loose with the rules in some situations. In marketing, knowing your demographic is the name of the game. You are going to want to speak to your audience in their own language. You’re trying to appeal to a specific type of customer, and just as society has its own cultures and subcultures, it’s important to know the ways in which your audience and its subsets communicate.

For instance, if you are marketing to teenagers it may be acceptable, in some cases, to use improper grammar to reach them, as teenagers often intentionally use improper grammar themselves. Of course this can’t be standard practice, but for certain novelty marketing, you can get away with it. However, you certainly would not want to use the same improper grammar when marketing to a medical office or a legal firm.

Again, it’s about knowing your audience, and using the grammar and spelling that they use. If you take a look at the popular, you can see how the site has used deliberately broken grammar to market and sell humorous products. Another example would be the underground and edgy message board 4chan, where a set of lingo built on horribly mangled grammar is known and understood, and actually encouraged by the regular readership. Once again, it comes down to knowing your customer base.

Misspelling Keywords Doesn’t Work Anymore

And this brings us to another important point: keywords. If you’re using the Internet to market your site, or you are using search engine optimization tactics, you know that keywords are a very important part of making your site more visible than your competition’s. If you don’t take the time to ensure that your keywords and phrases are spelled correctly and laid out properly, you may be missing out on traffic to your site. Knowing how people speak, as well as how they write, is essential to any marketing campaign.

Keep in mind that there are many simple tools you can use to combat grammatical errors in your copy. Most word processing programs have built-in functionality to check for spelling and grammar errors, and there are online tools to do the same. However, never rely solely on an automatic spelling and grammar check, as they are prone to faults as well. If you truly want to remain free of grammatical errors, proofread everything, then proof it again, then have someone else proof it for you. Remember, small grammatical errors can lead to lost customers, as well as a ruined reputation.

The truth about B2B marketing

I’m way too mild-mannered to be a fan boy of Steve Jobs, and also really want to avoid the cliche about blogging about his marketing chops. So I’ll just point at this comprehensive post I saw earlier today by Laura Ries, The Secret of Steve Jobs. Yes, we’d all like to be that marketer, but will humbly admit that we aren’t (or that there are too many road blocks, like not being CEO).

What we B2B marketing managers are is scrappy, tactical, and responsive marketers. Myself, I think my start as a salesperson gives me a unique edge in being able to match our customers to our products. And with a very strong technical skill to master the tools of marketing, we generate results that are impossible for others to duplicate. A meeker Steve Jobs in our own factory, you might say.

All that to build up to this fascinating blog-post by the wiz of the “Four hour work week”, Tim Ferriss, interviewing online marketer and millionaire Mike Geary: How To Make $1,000,000 Profit Per Month with Digital Products.

“To be honest, I was a little slow in learning marketing and building the business, so it took me about five years to get to those numbers. About two years into this venture, I was finally making about $50,000 per year with the online business. As I explained above, growth exploded once I quit my corporate job, and my earnings increased about 10x the following year. Growth in following years went to $3.6 million, then $6 million, and finally $11 million in annual revenue.”

Yes, while we’ve been sitting in our cubes or offices filling up our company funnel, this guy has been filling up his pockets. But that’s not why I share this. As you read his interview, you’ll see that Mike Geary is just like us …

  • Very close to our product
  • Know our sales force
  • Adjusting and tuning our marketing
  • Mastering our tools
  • Watching costs and revenue
  • And traveling 10-15 days a month (Well, if we are traveling, its certainly not to go skiing!)

So the truth is I have no allusions about being the Steve Jobs of B2B. I do see tons of opportunity to be the next Mike Geary, either at work or on a personal venture. How about you?

Fixing up your web form? Here are today’s best practices

Chris Rand says: “Form design is an area where most web designers really could do with some training, if the forms I come across on a day-to-day basis are anything to go by.”

So, even if you are trusting a web designer, better to have a best practices cheat sheet to hold them accountable to. That’s exactly what Chris links to, posted at Smashing Magazine.

Speaking of usability, the download has many different file formats in a zip file. If you just want the PDF (print to 11×17 for legibility), here it is.

(Secretly wishes the zip file had CSS code for the examples.)