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Danny Starr

The View From Here

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Welcome to my not-so-active blog!

Tue, 26 Aug 2014 14:40:00 +0000

It's been a while since I've written any blog posts... but I'm sure you can see that.

The reality is that I don't have time to blog anymore, but I do continue my journey towards perfecting the holy grail of BBQ, the beef brisket, when I'm relaxing on weekends. 

Feel free to browse my posts on food, marketing and anything else.

Why You Should Try Making Your Own Pulled Pork

Tue, 11 Jun 2013 16:35:00 +0000

Two 8-pound pork butts being smoked at the cottageI get a lot of traffic on my blog from people looking for information and tips about BBQ.For the past few years, I went from primarily being a consumer of good BBQ to learning how to smoke my own meat.  But for the past few months, I have been working on pulled pork.  I have learned that pulled pork is a relatively easy way to try smoking meat on your own.Here are a few reasons why you should try making your own pulled pork:1)  Pork is inexpensive:  Compared to some other types of meat like beef, pork is relatively inexpensive.  If you're doing pulled pork, you want a bone-in pork putt and that is a relatively cheap cut of pork.  Find a good local butcher, budget for about half a pound per person and call ahead and place an order. If you get too much, don't worry as there are always things you can do with leftovers.  2)  Pulled pork is versatile: You can do lots of interesting things with pulled pork.  Get some high-quality buns from a local bakery and serve with coleslaw and corn bread (I used the Dinosaur BBQ recipes for both).   Or if you want to class it up a bit, get some really good tortillas or taco shells and make tacos.  Use the leftovers for breakfast and wow your guests with pulled pork eggs Benedict.   You can keep any leftovers around for a few days and simply reheat as needed.  Pulled pork shephards pie... the possibilities are endless.   3) Pulled pork is scalable:  You can easily smoke two butts at the same time as you smoke one so it's almost as easy to feed a family of 10 as it is to feed a gaggle of 40 friends.    4) Pulled pork is relatively easy:  People spend years or even a lifetime testing and perfecting their BBQ/smoking techniques and that's part of what makes it so much fun.  With a little knowledge and patience you can make pulled pork that blows almost anything you've had at a BBQ restaurant away.  Granted, that might be because you don't live near quality BBQ, but even then, BBQ restaurants have to cater to a wide group of people who don't always show up to eat when the food is ready.  The best part is that there is no shortage of great knowledge available for free on the Internet.  Here's a great video by Aaron Franklin that I used as my template for pulled pork:Here are a few tips based on my experience so far:You don't have to smoke it the whole way: Your meat really only absorbs the smoke flavor for the first 3 or 4 hours so really concentrate during this period of getting a good smoke onto your meat.  Use cherry or apple wood if you can find them or try something else.  Either way, focus your time at the start of infusing your meat with smoke flavor and then you can worry about making sure it's cooked properly later on.  Wrap it: After about 4 or 5 hours, wrap your pork butt in tin foil.  I'll add some beer or something else and seal it up in tinfoil and finish it on the oven if required.   Purists will argue that it's cheating but we're trying to make sure we don't waste our time/effort when we first start doing this ourselves.  Plus, when you have guests coming over, you have to serve them something and so wrapping will ensure you don't screw up. I will wrap my pork butts at about 180 degrees F internal temp and leave on the smoker for a few more hours until it hits 200.  I have even transferred my pork butts to the oven at 180 internal temp with the oven at 250 and let it finish that way while I go for a swim.  Trust your temps:  The real science of good BBQ and smoking comes from understanding how to maintain a good grill/smoker temperature and knowing when your meat is done.  The real pros can do this with their eyes, ears and noses.  Not being a professional and a being bit of a gadget nerd, I have a wireless thermometer that tells me the temp of my grill and temp of my meat from as far away as 100 yards so I don't have to open[...]

Another way to think about Content Marketing

Sat, 11 May 2013 15:07:00 +0000

I have always found the term Content Marketing to be confusing.  Does it mean that we develop content and  use the principles of marketing to spread it around?  Does it mean that we use content to market products?

For the past few years, I have been seeing and hearing David Spark all over the Internet.  He's been a frequent guest on The Beancast, he's been on Tech News Today, and he has been hosting his own podcast. He was really the first person I saw/heard using the term "brand journalism" and being a veteran tech journalist, he was well qualified to speak about it.

Since then, the concept of brand journalism has really started to catch on as a new way to think about marketing your brand and spreading your content through an audience of influence.  Here's a recent Globe and Mail article, and here's a great piece from Forbes.

So I figured it was about time that I invited him on The Voice.  David was an amazing guest and gives us a great overview of what brand journalism is and how you can harness the power of journalistic thinking to connect with customers and drive sales.

Check it out here on the web.   Or if you're into iTunes see more here.

I have some great episodes coming up as well.... will be talking about digital maturity and might also be diving into the world of pharmaceutical marketing.

Recent Podcasts

Thu, 18 Apr 2013 13:44:00 +0000

Here's a summary of the podcasts that I recorded for IABC's Ottawa chapter.

I really believe neuromarketing is one of the most interesting and under-discussed aspects of marketing.  Many of our marketing efforts fall flat because we don't take the time to consider how the function of the human brain governs everything we do. 

UX Design
Last year, I attended a full day UX design workshop by Jeff Parks and Kris Mausser on UX design and it really drove home the importance of designing experiences for people.  This is a really "wide" topic but Jeff does a great job of giving you some things to think about if you want to explore this topic in more detail. 

Blogger Outreach
My favorite episodes to record are ones where I have more than one guest in the studio with me.  In this episode on blogger outreach I bring together a PR/Media Relations professional and a mommy blogger to discuss how you can harness the power of the blogosphere to tell your brand's story and connect with customers. 

Coming Up
I am working on putting together a few episodes now that will tackle the subjects of pharmaceutical marketing and brand journalism.  If you have any suggestions for topics, just let me know

Take your mobile strategy to the next level

Wed, 02 Jan 2013 19:36:00 +0000

I'm in the weeds getting ready for CES 2013 (the Consumer Electronics Show) in Vegas next week but my latest IABC Ottawa podcast is up.

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I was lucky enough to get the chance to speak with Whurley from Chaotic Moon about how marketers and communicators can take their mobile strategy to the next level.  I was interested in exploring topic because I think many people simply think about apps when they think about developing a mobile strategy.

Whurley was super fun to talk to both before and after we recorded the episode and it was the first time I have ever interviewed somebody on a treadmill desk.  They have done some amazing things with mobile technology at Chaotic Moon including building apps for The Daily but you have to see the Board of Awesomeness (see video above). 

Computers for Communities is looking for a volunteer Director of Communications

Tue, 13 Nov 2012 17:54:00 +0000

C4C Computer Lab at Draffin House For over two years, I have volunteered my time with Computers for Communities (C4C).  C4C is an entirely volunteer run non-profit that helps Ottawa-area people get access to technology. The most visible work that C4C does is refurbishing computers and donate them back into the community.  What's different about C4C than other organizations doing similar work is that with C4C, people can earn computers through volunteering and the fact that C4C supports open-source software.  I learned about C4C when I first moved back to Ottawa and was interested in volunteering for an organization that helped people in Ottawa and was involved in technology.  Now, I sit on their board of directors and volunteer my time as their Partnership Director.  C4C is currently looking for somebody to volunteer as Director of Communications.  We have an enthusiastic team of communications volunteers but we're at the point where we need somebody to lead the team to help tell the C4C story.  Here's a good idea of what would be involved:Develop, manage and review the organization communication plan annuallyEnsure all communication milestones are achievedWork with and support the team lead of the communications teamEnsure volunteers are appropriately trained and orientedMonitor all communications channels to ensure consistent messagingPersonally, I think that C4C has a great story to tell and we've had lots of success in the past few years... we just need somebody to help us shape and share that story as far and wide as possible so that we can take the organization to the next level.  This would be a perfect opportunity for somebody who is looking to develop their communications skills and experience while helping their community.  If you're interested, you can contact me and I'll be happy to help answer any questions.[...]

I'm back!

Fri, 21 Sep 2012 23:14:00 +0000

Rainbow over Molokai, Hawaii at sunrise 

After one of the busiest summers on record, I'm glad to report that I'm officially back to reality.  I wouldn't recommend to anyone that you move into a new house and get married within a two-month period but I'm really looking forward to the next chapter in my life.

Summer is usually a slow time for the IABC Ottawa podcast The Voice, but this summer was full of interesting developments.  We started being syndicated nationally through other IABC chapters (and soon to be internationally) and booked some amazing guests.  The highlight being a three-part series on the future of news media and communications that started with my interview of Alan Neal and finished with Graham Machacek's discussions with Kevin Newman and TVO's Steve Paikin.

Guests coming soon include Terry O'Reilly and Mitch Joel... so if you're aren't subscribed, now is the perfect time!  Here's The Voice podcast RSS feed.


Thu, 12 Jul 2012 18:26:00 +0000

Sorry, not much going on here in terms of blog posts.

I'm busy moving into a new house and getting married in a few months so you won't hear from me for a while. 

I do have a bunch of podcast episodes coming up for IABC, you can listen or subscribe here

I hope you are having a great summer!


Do you read annual reports?

Thu, 03 May 2012 19:47:00 +0000

I was listening to this episode of Marketing Over Coffee today and realized that I should probably write a post about how I often read annual reports for companies I am interested in or firms that operate in industries closely related to those of my employer into order to gather macro-level insight into where things are going and why.

In this week's MOC, Christopher Penn references a recent episode of Kitchen Table Companies where at the 50 min mark he talks about combing SEC S-1 filings for public companies and gleaming all kinds of great information from them.  They are often long and dry but there's gold in them if you take the time to look.  Here's an S-1 filing from Salesforce.  Specifically, check out the section about their business

Chris also mentions quarterly analyst phone calls and I often read transcripts of those as well, here's one for Motorola.  

These sources of information are invaluable to anyone looking for insight about the competition, your industry or a company you could be interviewing for.  I highly recommend you listen to MOC and the episode of KTC with Chris to learn more. 

How more competition can increase sales

Thu, 05 Apr 2012 17:54:00 +0000

Interesting comments here on Fast Company from Roku CEO about competing Apple TV. Roku makes the Roku Box, a piece of Internet-connected hardware that will turn your TV into a Smart TV so that you can stream web content and run apps.

Roku outsells Apple TV right now in the USA but understandably, everyone is waiting for Apple to jump into Smart TV in a big way soon with the release of a Apple-branded TV set, most likely in the form of an Apple HDTV that runs iOS.  It will probably be expensive but it also has the potential to set the Smart TV market on fire.

You'd think Roku was scared but they aren't and here's why: Smart TVs or Internet-connected TVs are still a relatively new product category.  When you are competing in a relatively new product category, competition (especially from big brands with lots of recognition) helps raise category awareness - big time.

As the Roku CEO says, "sales doubled with Apple released the Apple TV". 

Next time you're scared by the entrance of a major brand in your category, think of it as a opportunity and not a threat.  

Image credit: robertnelson

How to Network When You're Shy

Fri, 09 Mar 2012 14:08:00 +0000

I am hosting a networking skills workshop on Monday for The Community Cup here in Ottawa and so I thought I would share a few of my thoughts on how you can be an effective at networker despite being a shy person.  Most people who know me believe that I'm a extrovert and that might be true to some extent but I have always felt that I am really a shy person that simply learned how to overcome it.  I learned how to confront my shyness and overcome it by developing skills and a system that worked for me yet I still find myself sweating before I walk into an event.  Here's how I have learned to network despite being a shy person.  Prepare Yourself: Take the time in advance of any networking to really work on how you describe yourself and your experience.  Practice out loud and even spend time recording yourself.  Listen back to your recordings and figure out the best words and combinations of words that make your description pop.  Having the words handy to introduce and describe yourself gives you the confidence you are going to need to talk to people.   Research: I could write a whole post on this alone but use Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to learn more about the people and companies you want to meet.   Here's a little nugget for you: do some work to find out who is going in advance to an event and arrive with some idea of the people you might want to talk to.  This has never been easier because events often use online registration tools (like EventBrite or that generate a list of attendees and people often tweet about an event they are going to. Spend a few minutes looking around or even ask the organizer if you can get a list of attendees before you go.  Doing some research will help you be familiar with people BEFORE you meet them. Be Active on Social Platforms:  This might not work for everyone and apply to all communities but based on my experience, one of easier ways to get over being shy and doing network is to be active on social platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn.  For Twitter, make sure your username is your real name and your picture looks like you (this isn't Plenty Of Fish, you want people to recognize you easily not think you're hot).  If there is an event hashtag, watch for it and participate in advance.  If you did your research, retweet people going to the event and get on their radar.  For LinkedIn, see if there is a group around the event and participate in the discussion.  The goal here is to have people come up to you at the event and introduce themselves to you.  Trust me, this actually happens and it works.  I can't tell you how many times I've walked into an event sweating with nervousness and somebody has come up to me to introduce themselves.  If you are able to get really good at doing this, you have won the war before the battle even starts.  Start and Screw Up Early: Would you rather have a bad interaction with John Doe or Bill Gates?  Make your mistakes early and with the "little fish" because, trust me, you're going to make some mistakes and it's easier and less costly if you make those mistakes early so you can learn from them and that you don't do it with CEO's or other power players at a time when it could really hurt you.  When I was doing my MBA, I did informational interviews with recent grads and I screwed up a few of them.  I also went as many networking functions as I could (even if they weren't the best events) so that I could get some practice.  If you start your networking practice early then you'll be rocking when it really counts.  I have heard that it takes up to 150 connections to make one quality connection so the sooner you meet more people, t[...]

New IABC Ottawa Podcast: Does your organization have a proper content strategy?

Thu, 01 Mar 2012 15:45:00 +0000

My latest podcast has been posted for IABC Ottawa.  This episode talks about content strategy and my guest is Kristina Mausser from Digital Word

I wanted to talk about content strategy not only because it's a really important topic in 2012 but because I think there are a number of concepts and elements of content strategy that marketers and communicators don't really understand.  We often hear about something and we keep hearing about it but we never take the time to think about it strategically.  I saw this episode as an opportunity to pause and do exactly that.

I did a few things differently for this episode.  This was the first time I recorded the podcast with with a live guest in the MediaStyle studio.  Every other episode that I did was over Skype and I found it very helpful to have my guest in the same room as me so it was very much like a conversation because the MediaStyle studio is really comfortable.  You may have an image of a radio type studio but the studio is actually a room with comfortable chairs and we are wearing microphones on our lapels.  

It was also the first time I had a more detailed script with me.  In the past, I had notes on who my guest was and what questions I wanted to ask but I found that when I listened back to my recordings, that the intro and outro could have been more polished.  I have to thank Bob Knorpp, host of The Beancast (marketing and advertising podcast) for the advice on having a more detailed script.  I have always admired how smooth and polished his podcast sounds without sounding overly scripted, which is actually my goal in terms of being a podcast host. 

Enjoy the episode and let me know what you think.

New IABC Podcast Up: Email Marketing

Thu, 16 Feb 2012 21:40:00 +0000

I started my "marketing career" working at an email service provider (a company that sends emails for marketers) and so it was great to be able to come back to email marketing in my latest episode of IABC Ottawa's podcast "The Voice".   Listen and learn more here

I wanted to talk about email marketing because I don't feel that it gets enough love.  Back in 2000, it was all the rage and was very much the "you gotta be doing it" marketing tactic so business was good for anyone in the email marketing field.  I used to help my clients be better email marketers and in doing so, developed and published many of the best practices still being used today.

Over the years, those best practices seemed to become written in stone and I was really enjoying DJ Waldow's recent thinking on how we should look to break those rules so I decided to invite him onto The Voice (the podcast, not the TV show) to talk about the relevancy of email in 2012 (it's as relevant as ever) and how to break the rules to get better. 

3 Ottawa BBQ Places in 1 Day

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 17:54:00 +0000

Ottawa is lucky to have at least four authentic BBQ restaurants in the area:  D&S Southern BBQ on Russell Road in Carlsbad Springs, Fatboys Southern Smokehouse on Murray Street and The Smoque Shack on York Street.  There is also a new place on Bank Street in the Glebe, Annie and Clyde's Southern BBQ.  As my fiance was spending Saturday with her bridesmaids getting their dresses sorted out, I decided to grab a few buddies and see if I could visit D&S, Fatboys and Smoque in the same day.  It turned out to be quite the adventure.  Each BBQ place is different and if you know BBQ, then you know there are many different preparation methods, sauces and rubs that go into BBQ, making it a very personal thing.  If you're not sure which one you'd like to visit, do what I did - visit them all.  D&S Southern BBQ D&S brisket D&S is about 20 minutes East of Ottawa but it's not that hard to find.  Get off the 417 by making a left on Boundary road and follow it until you get to the junction with Russell Road and you'll see it.  They have ample parking for cars and snowmobiles.The restaurant is large with lots of comfortable seating for families and so I'd say that D&S is really the best option for people with family because the combination of parking and seating make it perfect for people with children who can't afford to spend the time it takes to get the minivan parked downtown.  If you are bringing kids, be sure to have something to occupy them as our food did a bit of time to arrive.  But hey, if you want fast food, go to McDonald's.  The food at D&S is really good.  Everything is big. They even have a 5.5 pound "burger" called "The Determinator".  If you eat it in 1 hour, you'll get yourself on the D&S Wall of Fame.  We had brisket, pulled pork, ribs and wings with sides of coleslaw and cornbread.The brisket was really good.  The sauce you can see on it in the picture was really tasty.  They slice their brisket thinly and there is a nice layer of fat (flavor) on it.  The pulled pork was sweet and juicy and the ribs were tasty and tender.  Now, some people will say that D&S' ribs aren't fall of the bone and that's the way they designed them but that doesn't mean they aren't tender.  The cornbread was amazing.  It's not as "mealy" as other places, more like a muffin but still, it was really good and worth ordering for sure.Fatboys Southern SmokehouseLocated on Murray Street near Sussex you'll find Fatboys Southern Smokehouse.  I should start by saying that I went to Fatboys on the day that it opened wasn't overly impressed.  The brisket was dry, the ribs were small and the sides were dry and unimpressive. Here's Ottawa Citizen restaurant reviewer Ron Eade's thoughts on Fatboys at opening.  Fatboys brisket and cornbreadI was pleasantly surprised to find out upon my most recent visit that they fixed all of these issues, and then some.  The brisket was nice and thick with a huge layer of fat on the top, the ribs were juicy and tender and the sides were really good.  They also have amazing little cornbread bites that are addictive.  One my buddies said the ribs were the best he'd had since The Salt Lick in Austin Texas.  That's high praise for sure.  Fatboys also has amazing sauces and if our server wasn't 6'5'' and over 300 pounds, I would have stolen some as the store won't be up and running until the Spring.  Fatboys is a large open space with plenty of TV's, tables and beer paraphernalia.  The decor and the details are really impressive and you can see that they spared no expense renovating the[...]

My First IABC Ottawa Podcast Episode is Up!

Wed, 01 Feb 2012 17:20:00 +0000

It's been a busy 2012 so far for me and I'm really happy to announce that the first episode of IABC Ottawa's podcast "The Voice" that I am hosting has been posted on the IABC website

I have always been a fan of podcasts and listen to upwards of 5 to 10 of them a week, so it was a no-brainer when IABC Ottawa asked me to take over co-hosting duties from Jud Rasmussen who didn't have time to give it the attention it deserved.  Jud is a close family friend of mine and I wanted to make sure that I tried to keep up the amazing quality he established over the past year. 

For my first episode, I decided to talk about Peer to Peer Marketing with my buddy Jackson Wightman.  

Give it a listen and let me know what you think.

What the #1 Google search in Canada says about how people use the web

Fri, 16 Dec 2011 16:38:00 +0000

I'm a big fan of using search data to gain marketing insights so when I saw the most popular Google searches for Canada in 2011 come out, I couldn't wait to see the news.  When I did, I was somewhat shocked. 

If you haven't seen them yet, here they are:

2. Skyrim
3. Canada Post Strike
4. Rebecca Black
5. Ryan Dunn
6. Japan Earthquake
7. Game of Thrones
8. Jack Layton
9. Royal Wedding
10. Google Plus

Other than the fact that Rebecca Black is so high (btw, she's #1 worldwide) I was really surprised to see a web address at #1.  While I wouldn't be surprised to see a web address in the top 5 because I see this often with some of the websites that I manage, I was taken aback to see a web address at #1. 

This highlights a few important points about web marketing and usage:

  1. Not everyone is as web-savvy as you are.  I NEVER type web addresses into Google but this tells that many other people do.  
  2. If you're monitoring your organic search volume you MUST remove any branded searches from your analysis.  If you don't do this, you'll think you are doing way better at organic search than you really are because your organic search results will include people who already know your web address and would have been direct traffic if they typed the address in the right place. 
  3. If your web address isn't a trademark, be careful that competitors aren't outbidding you for paid traffic that you could be getting.  However, even if it is, you should watch this anyways as Google may not catch it and prevent somebody else from bidding on your trademark. 
 Pretty interesting stuff isn't it?

It was 35 years ago today...

Fri, 25 Nov 2011 15:12:00 +0000

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Today is an important day because it was 35 years ago today that The Band held a concert at the Winterland in San Francisco called "The Last Waltz". 

The Last Waltz was so much more than a concert or a film directed by Martin Scorsese.  It was more than a Thanksgiving feast where the 5,000 people in attendance were treated to dinner and dancing prior to the show's 9pm start.  It was also much more than The Band's last concert together (except for reunions shows with various formations).

The Last Waltz is an important milestone in the history of rock and roll and a key moment in the history of Canadian music. 

I suspect many people aren't aware of The Band's connections to Canada, in fact most of the Band was born in Ontario.  Robbie Robertson was born in Toronto, Garth Hudson was born in Windsor, Rick Dank was born in Green's Corners and Richard Manuel was born in Stratford.  Only Levon Helm was born in the USA, having been born in Arkansas in 1940.  The band spent many of their early years backing Ronnie Hawkins, playing clubs up and down Yonge Street in Toronto.  They had strong connections to other Canadian musicians and those are evident in The Last Waltz.  In fact, many other Canadian musicians including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell performed with The Band during The Last Waltz.  Here's a great example of that, Acadian Driftwood. 

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The Last Waltz deserves to be remembered today for a number of reasons:

  1. It was a celebration of the impact Canadian musicians had on rock and roll from it's ascent in the 1950's to the mid 1970's. 
  2. It showed that bands could to go out while still on top and do it with grace and tact instead of fiery theatrics and sub-par music.  
  3. Many of the performances recorded at The Last Waltz are some of the best versions of those songs ever recorded.  (Who Do You Love with Ronnie Hawkins in particular and Van The Man's Caravan to name a few)
  4. It spawned a concert movie that is still today thought of as the best concert films ever made.  
I own a copy of The Last Waltz on vinyl and listen to it often.  I also own the original concert film.   If you're interested in the The Last Waltz, I'd suggest picking up the 4 CD box-set that includes the concert in its entirety.

Why Marketing People Need to Understand Communications/PR

Wed, 16 Nov 2011 14:54:00 +0000

In case you haven't noticed, the world of marketing is changing and if you don't change with it, you risk finding yourself in a real bind the next time you need to find a job.  And given the state of the economy and the high-level of economic uncertainty we face, I think it's a great time to rethink marketers plan on "winning the future".

I say that marketers need to understand is the world of communications/public relation better and here's why

  1. As budgets shrink, companies will not be able to afford seperate marketing AND communications departments so as they look to do more with less, resources in both departments may be called upon do to both sets of tasks. 
  2. In case you hadn't noticed, marketing people and communications people are switching sides.  If you think the competition for your role or any job your are applying for is only going to come from people in your specific field, you're kidding yourself.  Read any marketing job description these days and note the requirement "Degree in Marketing, Communications or any related field..."
  3. The importance of social media is bringing together marketing and communications roles as companies struggle to figure out who owns what and how it is best managed.  If you understand what everybody touching social media does, you are well positioned to help your company tell its story. 
  4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) might be a primarily marketing function but media coverage is a great way to get high-quality back links to your site.  Also, if you are employing an effective listening strategy (something communications and PR people are good at), it's easy to find stories about topics that relate to your company/product/customers and join the conversation and get high-quality back links. 
  5. Having great writing skills is important and you learn many things about writing great content from communications, public relations and marketing writers. 
  6. I believe our future is going to be determined by how successful our entrepreneurs will be at growing companies that hire people.  To me this means that we all need to get better at wearing more hats and doing more than just one thing.  In short, I think the day of the one-trick pony is over.  
What do you think? 

My next post is going to cover a few tips and resource that I think are great for marketers looking to understand communications/PR better. 

image credit: bgottsab

Is it OK to promote ____________ through my personal social media accounts?

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 14:03:00 +0000

One of my least favorites things about social media is when people mindlessly promote things through their personal social media accounts.

I know what you're thinking "Danny, isn't this exactly what social media accounts are for?".

The right answer is "not really".  Social media are for connecting and helping people but this isn't a post about what social media are/aren't good for.  Sometimes the best way to help people and make connections is to promote things, but everyday I see people who seem to have to no idea when it is or isn't appropriate to promote things through their personal social media account.  On a bad day, Twitter looks like a bunch of people promoting whatever it is they are doing at that moment.  I have lots of theories on why this happens but I'll save those for another post....

I hate to answer a question with more questions but I think people need to ask themselves a few things before they promote anything through their personal social media accounts?

  1. Is anybody listening? If you have no followers, no connections or no fans, then you are simply wasting your time.  
  2. Is anybody going to care? Think about your audience.  Who are you connected to and who are they connected to?  I often see people promoting events for their company when all of their connections are friends.  If you aren't sure if people are going to care, why don't you put some thought into what social media platforms you select and how you present your offer.  
  3. How often am I doing this?  Look at the ratio of your promotions vs. interactions.  If you're the digital equivalent of a person standing on a street corner with a megaphone then maybe you should reconsider. 

I'd like to suggest that if the answer to either of the first two questions is "yes" then you shouldn't promote whatever it is to your personal social media connections.  If the answer to the last question is "more than once a week", I'd also suggest you seriously reconsider.  There are people who can get away with it more often than others but chances are you're not one of them.


image credit: ehnmark

My Tips for Creating Killer Marketing Videos

Wed, 26 Oct 2011 15:04:00 +0000

My company recently went through the process of creating a short marketing video to help prospects understand why they need our product and what they need to do.  We worked with Simple Story Videos and here's the video:

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I learned a few important lessons during this project and I'd like to share them here. 

  1. Understand your goal: This goes without saying but invest the time up front to make sure that everyone on your marketing and management teams are clear about what the goal of the video is so that you can focus your efforts and feedback.  For us, the goal was to motivate people to download the product and try it.  By taking the time to understand what our call to action was and how we wanted the audience to feel after watching the video, we were able to stay focused because you can create many different types of videos. 
  2. Keep it short: The shorter the video, the more likely the viewer is to watch it.  I hate seeing people invest time and money in long videos assuming the audience is going to watch it.  Creating a short video is really difficult because every word and image is critical in helping to convey your message but you need to be very strict during the development of the script and storyboard in order to pull this off.  Always ask yourself "is that really necessary?  Can I do that with images instead of words?  Is there an easier and clearer way to get that same message across?".
  3. Know your audience: Be very clear on who the audience for your video is and be sure to always look at the content from their point of view.  If something isn't going to make sense to your audience then you need to deal with it ASAP.  Always critique your video from the point of your of your audience and what you want they to do or feel. 
  4. Work your script and storyboard: Script and storyboard development are the most important aspects of the creative process so be sure to spend the time working and refining your script and imagery during storyboarding.  Doing so will help you make sure your don't waste time and money changing something later.  I also recommend making sure you document everything during these phases and that you take the time to make sure your feedback is incorporated into each iteration.  
 Have you ever created a marketing video?  If so, what did you learn?

Why I Voted for Yasir Naqvi in Ottawa Centre

Wed, 05 Oct 2011 14:23:00 +0000

Gary Vaynerchuck talks about passion and hustle in his amazing book "Crush It!", btw I reviewed it recently, and I think that this post is about both of those things more than politics.

On Sunday, I took about 15 minutes out of my day and voted for Yasir Naqvi (Liberal) because I think that you aren't going to find a better candidate or somebody who works harder for Ottawa Centre than Yasir.

When deciding who to vote for in this election, I could have cast my ballot on the basis of political party platforms (I tend to lean Conservative) but in the end, I had to vote for the candidate I knew would be the best for person the job. 

We are in a period of intense economic uncertainty and the task ahead is daunting, regardless of which party wins and what kind of government they formThe truth is that there is lots of hard work to be done and I know firsthand that nobody works harder than Yasir.  

Yasir has probably knocked on every door in Ottawa Centre, twice.  I know this because when I canvassed for him, most people I spoke to had already met him. When did phone canvassing, most people said he had just been to their door.  That's the type of person Yasir is. 
I care about making Ottawa Centre a better place to live and so does Yasir.  I volunteer my time with Computers for Communities, a non-profit that refurbishes computers and donates them to people who can't afford them.  Last year, Yasir showed up unannounced to an event we were holding at 8:30pm on a weeknight because he wanted to meet our volunteers, hear about what we were doing and offer his assistance.  He has continued to support C4C, helping us make important connections with other volunteer organizations and enabled us to amplify the good work we are doing. 

This is what Yasir does. It is what he will continue to do if you vote for him on October 6th.

He works tirelessly for our community and has a record of delivering results. People will often say – Candidate X has worked hard and deserves your vote, while that is undoubtedly true about Yasir, more importantly, our community deserves Yasir Naqvi as our advocate.  

If you want to know more about how you can vote in advance of October 6th, visit the Elections Ontario website.  

4 Easy Ways to Find Great Content

Thu, 15 Sep 2011 16:40:00 +0000

allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' FRAMEBORDER='0' />Everybody loves to find great content.  The problem is that finding the good stuff is hard because there is so much stuff out there.Here are 4 easy ways for you to find great content:  #1: Use and follow Twitter lists:  I am finding that people aren't sharing as much content on Twitter as they used to but my biggest recommendation for finding great content on Twitter is to use lists.  Curate your own lists but more importantly, follow the lists curated by others and create a column for the list in Hootsuite or Tweetdeck.  If you're in marketing/advertising, a great example of Bob Knorpp, host of The Beancast,  curates a list of show guests.#2: Read great blogs and watch for curated link posts:  There are some amazing bloggers out there who put up weekly posts of that lists amazing content.  I'm sure that there are blogs about the topics you are interested in that take the time to curate posts with great content.  Here's a selection of blogs and bloggers that I know do this:  Mitch Joel:  Shares great content form his network in a post weekly of links worthy of your attention.  John Jantsch (Duct Tape Marketing): Shares great stuff every Saturday.Mediastyle: Does the same each week on their blog with their weekly Style Guide. I would also like to point out that blog projects often provide great sources of content because you will often get viewpoints from many different sources you might have otherwise heard about.  My friend Jackson Wightman has a great example over at his 52 week blog project on local food in Montreal called Ici et Here.#3: Visit curated content websites: There are also websites that curate, aggregate and share great content.  Here's a few that I pay attention to:  Say100: A collection of online voices that help shape conversation by curating and sharing content.PSFK:  The place to go for inspiration and design ideas on just about everything.Brain Pickings: Maria Popova has written for many influential magazines and knows what's cool and what is happening.   #4: Follow people in RSS: If you aren't already into RSS, then I would suggest you check it out immediately using a RSS reader like Google Reader.  One of the best features in Google Reader is that you can easily share items in your feed with people who choose to follow you.  More importantly, you can follow others.  One of the people I follow is Christopher S. Penn, who always shares great content.  What are some of the ways that you find great content?[...]

Why You Should Be Using Video During Your Job Search

Thu, 08 Sep 2011 15:18:00 +0000

Almost two years ago, I wrote about using social media as part of your job search.  Today, I'd like to take some time to discuss the use of video as part of your job search.If you are not using video as part of job search or how you market your skills, you're missing out an a huge opportunity, and here's why:Employers and recruiters want video: Let's face it, potential employers and recruiters are even busier than we are, and video helps them see who you are really quickly.Nobody is doing it: If there has ever been a way to separate yourself from other applicants, it is video because nobody is doing it.  I keep asking one recruiter if anyone has sent him a video and he keeps saying "no", so there aren't many people using video for their job search.  It's not rocket science: This doesn't mean it is easy, but doing a video takes nothing more than a camera (you could use your laptop cam) and some decent sound and a clear, well-written script that you can deliver with confidence.  You don't need to create an Oscar-winning film. You can paint outside the lines:  With resumes, you are mostly constrained to a few different formats and the standard conventions that will help you get noticed (no mistakes, focus on achievements and highlight specific skills relevant to the job).  With video, you have the opportunity to show some of your personality and what makes you unique. More importantly, it gives you an opportunity to show how your would present yourself in an interview.  BONUS: Here are tips for creating good videos:Prepare: spend lots of time writing a script, practicing and figuring out where and how you are going to film your video.Test: spent the time to do some tests of your video.  Record and then play back and refine.  Trust me, you will learn a lot by doing this.   Sound: I believe that you record something that looks good with your laptop camera and some good lighting but you need to be sure that you can heard clearly.  Keep it short: The shorter your video, the more likely people are to watch the whole thing.   Hire a professional:  If you don't think you have the chops to pull a video off by yourself, considering hiring a professional.  It might not be as expensive as you think and really, isn't getting an awesome job worth it? 2nd BONUS: Video ideals - because there are lots of different approaches you can take.  Why not do more than one of these? Video resume: Provide an overview of who you are, what you've done and where you want to go.  Considering picking a story or something that isn't in your resume/cover letter and talking about it.  Book review: Read a book and do a quick review of it and why it's relevant to what you want to do.   Hire me/Recommendation video: I have to give props to DJ Waldow we created the best video of this type I have ever seen.   Interview: Connect with somebody interesting or influential in your field and ask them 3 questions.   Have you ever used to video to find a job?  What did you learn?[...]

Why no recent posts

Wed, 24 Aug 2011 21:32:00 +0000

Meet Murray, our new puppy and the reason why I haven't posted lately.

Why being a marketer is like being a 35 year old bachelor

Tue, 09 Aug 2011 19:07:00 +0000

I have always felt that people who don't really understand marketing have problems grappling with a few of the important concepts that should form the basis for everything that you do in marketing.

At the same time, being 35 years old and unmarried has also taught me about the importance of understanding these same concepts.

You need to manage expectations
In marketing, it is important to understand the expectations of your potential customer and either meet or exceed them.  You never want to promise something to your customers and fail to deliver it.  

The 35 year old bachelor needs to make sure that his mother doesn't think he's going to marry every girl that he dates.  Every girl that you meet doesn't need to think you're going to marry her.  That not to say that you shouldn't treat a woman well, it's just that you have to manage expectations properly if you plan on developing any sort of trust, which is key to every relationship you will ever have. 

You need to know who you are and why you are special
As a marketer, you need to know what your brand is, what it stands for and what your unique selling proposition(USP) is.  You need to be constantly working to refine your USP is and how you communicate it but you should never lose sight of it and you should be communicating it as often as possible.

The 35 year old unmarried bachelor needs to know who he is, what he stands for and why he is special because you need to believe in yourself and what you're doing in order to feel like you are truly worth spending the rest of your life with.