Welcome to a monthly communication designed to briefly share ideas, concepts and experiences you can apply to your particular situation. Use this as a thought-starter or as the impetus to make that change or take that next step.

Meet People4Good

One of the things wise people encouraged me to do was to meet with people to help me see what possibilities existed out there and to better understand what made me special, valuable, and unique.

Creating Space to Create

When you run a small business, manage a few dozen accounts, shepherd a travel basketball playing teenager, and work behind the scenes on two non-profit leadership teams it’s easy to...

Improving on Improving

People want to improve.  Well, most people do anyway.

They’ll talk the improvement game.  They’ll go to conferences.  They’ll read those books.  Most will target a...

S.O.S : Secure Other Support

As sellers and account managers we are a reflection.....When they’re doing great work it shows naturally through our demeanor and plays out...

Building Relationships with Words

My Dad is probably the biggest fan of my writing – and sometimes my biggest critic.  I’ve seen the statistics for this monthly piece and most of you who receive it actually read it. Some of you may muddle through it while others...

Branding for Busy Brains

There is a commonly seen logo that I simply love.I love everything about it.  I love how different divisions have the same...

Collateral Marketing

Unless you are one of a few devout underground music fans, the group Portugal The Man probably hadn’t passed by your ears prior to...

No Such Thing as Multitasking

Multitasking?  Nah.  Sometimes we can do multiple things in a really fast sequence, but when we try to do two jobs at one time...

Accoutability + Consistency = Coffee

About a year and a half ago we hired a business development person at our marketing and advertising firm. It was a big step for me since prior to that time...

Jack of... a Few Trades, Master of Some

Things seem to happen so fast these days.Of course that’s what people have been saying for generations so...

Hurt People Hurt People

Sometimes you come across a person who just rubs you the wrong way. It happens to all of us in business (or education or healthcare or not-for-profit foundation work). That’s because those people are everywhere. Hopefully you aren’t one of them! =)

Market-izing

What exactly is marketing and how is it different than advertising? The answer is often like the reference to the oldest, biggest, revenue-generating internet business, “you know it when you see it”.

Bench Strength

On the first night of November (which did seem weird), the Houston Astros captured their first-ever baseball World Series Championship. Just four years ago they were the laughingstock of the baseball world and had lost over 100 games – a near record for futility.

Bowling Trophies and Parking Spaces

Money is a great motivator. Generally we can all agree on that concept and, as the holidays and the end-of-year bonus season approaches, it’s worth noting that most everyone is motivated by mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money. (That’s a 90’s comedy sketch reference for those not as old as I am.)

Pull Over and Take a Big Whiff

In the marketing world, we tend to be heavily focused on the next month, quarter, or year. A lot of business is like that – forecasting sales, production, and the sort. You’re wondering what you’re going to need, how your supplies will meet your demands, when you’ll see an increase in patient flow. Everything has to work together.

This Message was Just Right

Like many of you, I grew up hearing nursery rhymes and, while I may not know why the itsy-bitsy spider crawled up the water spout, I can tell you one thing: Most anything that is universally familiar can become fodder for successful advertising.

Strawberry-Lemonade Distractions

Have you determined the core drivers in your marketing plan? Most of you have or, if pressed, could likely list them. Yet, I’m guessing that newest gadget, social media channel, or fad is distracting you from improving your core strengths. Facebook is a prime example.

Breaking Patterns

There are patterns in every part of commerce. It’s easier to be robotically repetitive and as businesspeople, shoppers, or office workers, we tend to continue doing what we’re most comfortable with. If you’re going to do the same thing every time, though, you may as well see if your pattern makes sense and is helpful to your goals.

No Overnight Experts

Nothing against the communications and marketing programs at colleges and universities…I’ve had the opportunity to address many students and have met with many interesting professors and teachers. Marketing theory is important and the studies released by those types of experts lead a lot of activity and drive many behaviors. It’s interesting stuff.

Kindness Counts

I will often judge how much we’ll enjoy an act at The Spot based on one natural interaction: I watch how the artist treats our magical, kind, and helpful sound engineer, Travis. If they care for him and treat him well, their performances are almost always extra enjoyable. If they come off as short or unappreciative, it's not as good.

Laughter is the Best (Advertising) Medicine

Humor is a wonderful way to break into someone’s space or to capture their interest. When it’s appropriate, we use humor in our client’s marketing. It’s a fun way to communicate with clients and customers. Ultimately, people want to do business with someone they know or trust. They also want to continue doing business with those same people.

Authentic Dialogue

It’s so easy in the sales process to nod your head, agree with the prospect, and work to keep the peace. After all, it feels better and what kind of position are you in to object or share strong opinions when you’re trying to start a business relationship with someone? The answer is the best position.

Ask Away

Early on I was going to be a reporter – a television sports reporter, actually. I think someone told me I had a face for radio and, eventually, economics and life caused me to shift from journalism to capitalism.

Not-So-Background Music

It was probably 2003 and I was working at BusinessVoice in Toledo, Ohio. I had one of those little desk calendars with quotes on it, and while I can't remember who said it, I clearly recall the daily message saying "The problem with life is there's no soundtrack."

The Blob

At a recent meeting, I was both listening and minding my own business when the word came drifting across the table. One of my favorite clients told a co-worker I was a “blob”.

Exit Ramp Etiquette

I spend a lot of time on highways watching the mile markers fly by. As I’ve written before, being on the road gives me an opportunity to really think and process. One of my more recent trips reminded me how timing and order play an important role in not only our personal lives but our business lives.

Favorite Flavor

I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream.”

That might have been the first food marketing campaign in the history of America (or not).

Staying the Course

Last year we started an advertising campaign in a local newspaper for our advertising agency. Not many businesses in our area of specialty actually advertise very much so it was a significant move. A month or so ago, we collectively decided to shift our focus from print to local television. We were in the process of producing our new commercials when we got some bad news.

License to Create

One of the best meals I’ve ever had was in D.C. at a tapas restaurant. It was late in the evening and the kitchen was about to close. My friends and I simply requested the staff “bring us what you want”. The chef whipped up an amazing array of small plates with all kinds of tastes, textures, and flavors. We tried them all and were blown away. It was so good. And the meal was a memory.

Value Your Value

B2C Enterprises invests over a million dollars in media most years, while at the same time, interacting with salespeople from at least seven states. That’s a lot of business transactions and a lot of sales appointments.

Eyes on the Outside

It seems the closer we get to something, the more we accept it and just move into a routine. Some routines can be good; they can produce fruit that helps us grow and develop. Others trap us into a false sense of comfort. How do you know the difference?

Storytime is Worth the Time

Use someone else’s informative and entertaining story until you create your own to share. I did this when I was younger and I also did it seven years ago when I started my advertising agency. If you’re doing something you’ve never done before, it can be hard to have a story to tell right out of the gate.

You Can’t Fake Sincerity

They’ve ruined the process for many. Certainly they’ve made a lot of work for those who genuinely do put their prospects' best interests first. Typically when a salesperson walks through the door, the potential client leans to the position of distrust. It may be unfortunate, but it’s generally the case.

Step it Up


You get in and settle into your job and before you know it, the realization hits there are lots of other things that need to get done. If these tasks are ignored, a pattern can quickly develop where you concentrate solely on your assigned task and begin to ignore the ones that also need attention. A set of boundaries purposefully or incidentally begins to be built.

A Little Love Goes a Long Way

It's basketball season and I love basketball – more than most anything. So it’s a good time to write about basketball. Fear not if you are no hoopster, this month’s Seed is actually about a whole lot more. Controversial NBA Star Kobe Bryant recently announced his retirement.

E-Mail Etiquette

If you are a human being in a typical office work space, you're probably one who uses email. More likely than not, Yahoo, Gmail, or even AOL email rules your world. It’s as constant as the rising sun. It stands to reason that something so ever-present would have some rules.

Everyone Gets to Sell

When certain people hear the word salesperson, or seller, or account representative, they get kind of a yucky feeling or feel their stomach turn. Perhaps it’s because I spent most of my adult life observing, training, and coaching sellers, I have a general warmth or kindness for those in that profession.

The Uncomfortable Question

As many of you know, not only do I handle marketing and advertising at B2C Enterprises, I also work as a career firefighter/engineer in Chattanooga, Tennessee. One of the things we do is plan for emergency incidents before they happen, or, in firefighter shorthand, pre-plan.

How's Business

Immediately I have to decide….Is this a “not sure what to ask you so I’ll just ask the simple how is business question”, or are they genuinely interested in the affairs of the marketing and advertising agency I run? And if they are actually interested in the affairs of the company, how much do I really think they want to know or hear?

Operation: Get Comfy

Most of us are more likely to be uncomfortable. Yet, almost everyone still finds themselves in situations where they have to mingle, network, communicate, or break into a crowd of people. It's not easy, especially if you're not wired for that setting.

Sales vs. Marketing… FIGHT!

Sales blames Marketing and Marketing blames Sales. Either the leads or prospects the sales people are getting from marketing aren't any good, or the leads are great, but those danged sellers can't seem to close any business.

Look Out for the Breakthrough

In late 2009, I wrote my first B2Seed. Since then I've written over 60 columns and even in the months (like last month) when I wonder if I'll have anything to share, something strikes me. It's usually simple, occasionally profound, but whatever it is becomes practical, helpful, and thought provoking.

Holiday Road

They were great trips, but as Mom so rightly pointed out, they came at the very end of the summer. Before the trip there was wiffle ball to play, swimming to dive into, friends to ride bikes with, girls to meet, smaller family trips to take, and movies to watch. All enjoyable activities and the kind of things kids jam into their summers.

Back2The Future

A few years ago, I realized I had started a company without having a full understanding of the best systems to put in place. As the firm grew, things were done in ways that seemed to make the most sense. The business expanded, new clients joined the portfolio, and employees were hired.

6 Degrees from New Business

For the past few years we've been doing work for Boxley Materials Company. This isn't a piece about one of our clients, rather an interesting study in how business development, building a network of referring partners, and the power of the internet has made our really big world incredibly small.

Gambling on (or for) Productivity

However, March of every year brings one specific activity that breaks this pattern. They are called "Brackets". Those silly sheets of paper that have the NCAA College Basketball tournament pairings with the top 64 (okay 68 now) teams in the country competing for the championship show up at offices all around the nation.

Are you sowing seeds?

Except it's not - it's really quite simple. Naturally, I like to write - hopefully you can tell that from the energy that goes into delivering some value to you with these monthly pieces. But it's far more than just being an outlet for my dormant passion for creative writing driving this work. I send these out to you as my own way to keep my company and our work in front of you on a regular basis.

Learn Something New

It's easy to get into a routine. Patterns - good and bad ones both - form before we know it. Before too long they simply become the "way we do things around here". The fastest way to break a routine is to learn new things. As we get older that gets harder to do - not because there is less to learn, but because our approach has been grounded and formed.

Busy-ness-vs-Business

You can scurry from task to task - even cross off the plentiful items on your "To Do" list - but that doesn't mean you are successfully navigating your day or the priorities that come with genuine business. Perhaps you've heard me discuss the tyranny of the urgent. Maybe you've paid big bucks for time management classes or systems.

Serve and Protect Your Brand

A while back I saw the familiar look of a Chicago Police cruiser. It was the same as I'd seen in movies like the Blues Brothers or Ferris Bueller's Day Off. It remained just like it was on ER and all the other shows throughout the years. I'd seen it hundreds of times - or maybe more. This time, however, something different caught my attention.

Good Help Is In The Timing

Generally speaking, as we go about our days trying to pay it forward, we are greeted with appreciation and sometimes even acknowledgement. That feels good and it's one of the reasons (if we are honest) many of us help others. Helping others just feels good.

I know a guy who knows a guy...

When you connect people to others you help both parties. Yes, that's a simple concept. If you want to grow your business, one of the best first steps you can take is selflessly and purposefully linking others. You don't do it to directly build sales. That becomes a bi-product of your development as a resource to others in need.

Let it Flow

Like water, your business may flow in a natural direction, picking up speed as you move forward - often faster than you desire. Until you redirect, harness, and capitalize on the power generated, you're likely to watch it race out of control.

Tell Them, Remind Them, Tell Them Again.

Recently a friend invited me to a very interesting wine dinner. I'd never been to one before and didn't really know what to expect until I got there. Basically, the winemaker...

There’s No Need to Overthink

There has been a big snow storm in the east and southeast.  A lot of my readers from the Midwest think I am overstating it, but we recently got about two feet of snow here in the mountains of Southwestern Virginia. That means there's a lot of shoveling to be done. Doing yard work (or snow removal) is frequently when I do my best thinking.

Stop, Look and Listen

Have you ever been at a party, or perhaps the coffee shop, when you run across someone you know and you just cannot remember their name?  Of course you have - it happens to all of us.  Sometimes it's the second after they tell it to you and you realize it's a lost cause - their name is gone.

A Big Delivery Mess

The B2Seed is typically reserved for entertaining, edgy and exciting content. This month we're going in a different direction. One of the biggest new stories of the fall has a practical application for anyone in business who interacts with customers on the web. And that's pretty much everyone.

1/2 Price Burger Night

Jason Martin decided he'd had enough sluggish Monday nights. His restaurant stays crowded most days - serving great food Monday-Saturday and turning into a hip live music venue later in the evenings. Patrons usually pay full price for the gourmet burgers --- but on Mondays they get a deal.

An Empty Building - An Interesting Perspective

When I arrived in Toledo, Ohio in 1997 as a sales manager at an ABC owned TV station, the top local advertisers in the market were primarily established, well-known retailers. Many in the Midwest would recognize the names that perennially appeared on the rankings - Lion Department Store, Home Depot, Value City Department (and Furniture) Store and a significant local grocery chain called Food Town.

Another Interruption

It’s a great example of the power of interruption. You can actually see the difference. Perhaps as you review your next advertising sample or work with your creative team you will see this same snapshot and identify it with the power of simplicity.

Living the Dream

Recently I was watching the movie “Inception”. I had seen it before and understood most of the plot, but this time something else caught my attention. “Inception” is a movie about infiltrating one’s dreams to exhume secret information from the subconscious of important business people. It’s a bit of science fiction, but a fun distraction.

Lead by Example

For years I have looked for business principles in odd places or at random times.  Usually I file them away for some future use.  While it might have been smarter for me to read all the leadership books I could find, observing what others were doing shaped me as a businessperson and has worked out okay.

$5 Burgers & 5 Star Resorts

I spent $5 (or so) to eat an In & Out Burger, fries and a vanilla milkshake. I spent considerably more to stay at a really nice resort as a small part of the visit to LA. Both were amazing encounters and each destination knew exactly how to create the right experience.

Idea Links

Through the years I have kept a series of folders and files labeled “ideas” or “creative concepts”. Whether it was for a talk, a sales concept or a creative idea, when I came across something that really caught my eye or grabbed my attention, I filed it away – never knowing when it might become useful. Those recycled ideas – often rebuilt for a different purpose have served me well.

Never Too Busy

There was an internal battle I had to work through. Last month I wrote about Nick Saban and his approach to changing a culture. A few weeks back I read a very interesting article about him in the Wall Street Journal that once again caught my eye. A different publication, but a similar thought starter…

Can You Stomach Change?

People in leadership overuse sports vernacular when dealing with business questions. Things like “no pain no gain”, “step up your game”, “hit a home run”, and the rest you have heard. What is interesting to me is when sports people use sound business principals in their programs.

Loansolutions.org and How It Can Help You

Ok – so no one likes a bragger. On the other hand it’s perfectly fine to talk up someone else, right? Since my company started a little over three years ago, I have been honored to be associated with Member One Federal Credit Union. For two years now they have been selected as one of the top places of employment in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Who's Representing You? And How's It Going?

It’s usually pretty easy to come up with a mission statement, a distinguishing characteristic of your organization, or even a unique selling proposition for your company. Leaders frequently focus on these concepts.

"SeaGirls"

Can you remember the first time you saw the ocean or the grit of the sand between your toes? Probably not, but over time you’ve come to appreciate the expanse, the power, the calm, the beauty, and all the other things that drive so many of us to a shore of some kind.

Never Confuse Activity with Accomplishment

I listened to a recent radio broadcast of a college basketball game. The teams were moving up and down the court at a fevered pace. There was lots of movement and action – not any scoring. This went on for a few minutes and the announcer said something that caught my ear. He said, “Don’t ever confuse activity with accomplishment,” and it hit me.

Good Food Ain't Cheap, and…

These days there are smart phone aps that allow you to stand in one store and check a competitor’s price right then. If the other location has something cheaper – you leave, go across town, and buy the same item for less money. As a retailer – you needn’t be afraid, but it should be on your mind as you do business. Be aware of price.

New Ways to Deal with Old Patterns

When you are brought in to tidy up and refocus a half dozen advertising sales departments over a few decades you’re bound to notice some consistencies. This is the best time of year to note and begin to change one such pattern in your own business.

Cain Wasn't Able

I knew exactly what I was going to write about until I opened the Wall Street Journal one morning and saw the following headline: Cain Never Prepared for the Storm. Herman Cain. Remember him? Only a few weeks ago he was a frontrunner in the Republican Presidential Primary. Regardless of your political leaning, you simply have to agree this was a poorly executed Public Relations problem.

Get Everyone On the Same Page

This month, I was all set.  Ready to share what was on my mind as usual --- until I saw the following piece in Sports Illustrated.  It was a classic case of two well meaning departments not cross checking the master calendar.

Shine the Light, Be More Effective

My managers and I would meet to decide where to shine the flashlight.  Everyone, no matter their performance level, has a limited capacity.  The concept almost always played out as expected – what you as a manager focus on determines where the team will put its attention.  Where you direct your efforts, the team will follow.

Early Bird Gets the Worm

Sometimes it gets to the point where the pile can get so large you simply have to do something about it.  Sometimes it’s just one big item.  You know what I’m talking about.  It’s those things you just don’t really want to do – the very things that eat away at you, cause you to wake up at 4am, or stop you from quickly falling asleep at night.

Who You Gonna Call?

A few weeks ago my company had one of those bursts that often accompany a fast growing organization.  On Monday it was confirmed B2C Enterprises would be handling all the marketing for a local franchisee of a major national company.  Along with my creative partners, two campaigns we built won Western Virginia Addy Awards the following Saturday.

Hit the Pause Button

Blackberries, iPods, iPads, Facebook, Texting and Email all make communication and catching people in a hurry much easier (usually). The problem is we are all going non-stop and the pace of life swirls around us – sometimes even overwhelming us.

What's New?

While doing some research on what other marketing companies are doing with their web sites I happened upon a Roanoke-based firm who had a “What’s New” section on theirs. When I clicked on the link it was clear they had a different perspective on what counted as new. The latest entry was from April 2010 – over six months ago.

Selling Power & Drawing Power

Most every one of my clients is in the budget preparation and planning stage…it is the season after all! Many of you are coming out of some tough times and all the expenses that can realistically be cut have been. To best make these cash flow numbers work for everyone you simply must take another look at the revenue side.

"I like Geico"

To him it wasn’t really anything against State Farm (I breathed a sigh of relief for Big Red). It was that he really liked Geico. That’s the power of television and top of mind awareness. The fact it is driven home before a child reaches nine years old tells you all you really need to know about making an impact with your advertising.

Afraid of a Good Idea?

Super Bowl Champion Coach Bill Belichick teaches the concept that “ideas should be innocent until proven guilty”. It’s true – really. People are too often afraid of ideas. Fresh ideas are usually followed by change and change is not a friend to many. Ideas in and of themselves are not the culprit. It is what organizations, leaders and people do with those ideas that really determine change.

Keep That Customer

It’s important to get new customers. It’s even more important to keep those customers. Two current business partners of mine specialize in that. For years Jerry Brown at www.businessvoice.com has been helping literally thousands of locations around the world market to their current base of clients through his Point of Entry Marketing Programs.