Monthly Archives: February 2011

Messaging, marketing, communication and stories start off my day.

When I awoke this morning I sensed that it was earlier than usual.  Perhaps it was because it was so dark.  You know, that “darkest before dawn” thing.  I reached over to the nightstand and mashed the button on my iPhone to check the time.   It shined 4:59 back at me.  There was also a “Breaking News” item displayed.  It reported that two Iranian warships had entered the Suez Canal.  Hmm.  I had been thinking about that story – and how it has been reported – for the past two days.  I couldn’t go back to sleep.  I usually get up at 6:00 a.m.  I decided to go ahead and get up.  It was only an hour before my usual wakeup time, and I had slept well during the night probably because I had played tennis the evening before.

I started the coffee brewing, retrieved the Wall Street Journal from the driveway and dug into the news, for I am nothing else if not a news junkie.  The story that caught my attention was about Wal-Mart and how “…executives veered away from the winning formula of late founder Sam Walton to provide ‘every day low prices’ to the American working class.”  I was also intrigued by an article about how some attorneys are using Facebook and other social media as part of their jury selection process.

Next, I checked my e-mail and discovered that there was an update for my Kindle e-reader.  I clicked on the “Learn more” hyperlink and did just that.  While on the Web site I somehow discovered a book by Seth Godin entitled “All Marketers Are Liars.” I then learned that one of the updated features of the Kindle is that Kindle readers can now see what other readers have highlighted.  Wow, how cool!  But wait.  Amazon now knows what I highlight in my Kindle?  Hmm.  Anyway, I like Seth Godin’s marketing and messaging blog so I checked out the book.  The book’s message is basically this (from product description):

Seth Godin’s three essential questions for every marketer:
“What’s you story?”
“Will the people who need to hear this story believe it?”
“Is it true?”

All marketers tell stories. And if they do it right, we believe them. We believe that wine tastes better in a $20 glass than a $1 glass. We believe that an $80,000 Porsche is vastly superior to a $36,000 Volkswagen that’s virtually the same car. We believe that $125 sneakers make our feet feel better–and look cooler–than a $25 brand. And believing it makes it true.

Hmm.  Good stuff – for I believe that message.  If you have heard me speak or write about marketing communities, you know that I stress that the community must tell its story.  I think I’ll buy the book.  I click on the book’s image and discover that the Kindle edition is $18.99 (set by the publisher), the hardcover Amazon price is $9.58 and the lowest used price is $4.56.  Do I even need to tell you which one I purchased?

By now it is 6:00 a.m.  I have learned that news gets twisted – compare the Fox News story, the BusinessWeek story and the BBC story about the Iranian warships entering the Suez Canal.  I also learned that I could view this story based on what I “believe” (see Seth Godin book), and get really scared or say “Ho-hum.”  I also now wonder if what I highlight in my Kindle e-book may somehow be used in court against me some day.  BREAKING NEWS.  And now I see that Wal-Mart 4th quarter earnings are up 27 percent.

I think I’ll just go back to bed.  Too much messaging already.  (Just kidding, boss.  I’ll be in the office at 8:00 a.m.)

A $1mm Opportunity for Jackson, Mississippi Area Schools

The Talent Dividend Prize is a $1 million prize to be awarded to the city that exhibits the greatest increase in the number of post secondary degrees granted per one thousand population over a four-year period and achieves its Talent Dividend. This $1 million prize will be used to launch a national promotional campaign centered around talent development for the winning city.  According to the Eligible Cities section of the Talent Dividend Web site, the Jackson metro area is the only metro area in the state that is eligible.  It appears that any “city” in the metro area can apply, but there can be only one city.  Hopefully, an application will be made.

The Talent Dividend Prize is a joint effort by CEOs for Cities, The Kresge Foundation and Lumina Foundation for Education.



Some local newspapers should rethink their online income strategy

  • The newspaper industry is undergoing a huge metamorphosis because of the Internet and technology.  As print subscriber numbers go down and advertiser dollars shrink, the online edition of the traditional newspaper is being built, shaped and refined daily.  Strategies abound on how newspapers can make money in this new environment.  This post is one perspective on the strategy of requiring online visitors to the newspaper Web site to become print subscribers before being allowed to view an article.  My perspective is that of someone in the economic/community development business.

    In my role as an economic/community developer and a business columnist I often tweet and blog about articles related to that subject.  I also publish a regular e-newsletter to just under 1,000 people who would be classified as community leaders.  I generally link to more positive newspaper stories than negative ones, especially when it comes to announcing new businesses.  Doing so, spotlights that business as well as the newspaper and the community.  A few newspapers now are requiring print or paid online subscriptions to view the entire article that was linked to.  Some require a name and e-mail address only.  I think that is a mistake or at least three reasons.  First, people like me are not going to mention the community or provide the link to their subscribers and e-mail recipients.  That causes a missed promotional opportunity for the community, the newspaper and the business.  Second, it just plain makes the newspaper look bad, especially when almost all other online editions are free.  And when the local newspaper looks bad the community looks bad.  The newspaper – and its online edition – is a reflection of the community.  Third, the newspaper is missing an income opportunity in the belief that it is creating an income opportunity.  Ads can be placed on the sidebar beside the newspaper article, allowing the newspaper to receive income from click-throughs, while at the same time charging local advertisers for space on the Web site.

    Allow me to give you a specific example.  I went to a local newspaper’s Web site and discovered that a local company had been named to a national magazine’s list of best companies.  I clicked on the link only to be informed that the article could only be viewed by print or online subscribers to the newspaper.  Having no desire to pay $6.00 for a 30-day subscription, I did not read the story.  I did an online news search for the company, found the news article in the national magazine, and then made my links to that of the national magazine.  The result is that my readers did not go to the local newspaper’s Web site to read the article, which, in my opinion, was a missed opportunity for the local newspaper.

    Each local newspaper must evaluate the pros and cons of so-called free online editions.  I realize that there is really no such thing as a free online edition of anything.  Somebody pays.  Nevertheless, the evaluation to be made is whether there is more income from display ads on the Web site or paid online subscriptions.  My guess is that unlike national newspapers, industry newspapers and magazines and specialized publications there will be little demand for paid subscriptions to online local newspapers.  It is, of course, different for every newspaper, but local newspaper need not look for links from this writer to a Web site that requires a paid subscription to be viewed.


    What community leaders should know about the 2010 census numbers

    The 2010 census data are resulting in a plethora of local news articles about population growth and decline.  Many community leaders are cheering because their communities had a population increase.  As sports commentator Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend.”  Population increase alone is misleading if migration is not also considered.  So what is “migration?”

    Migration refers to the movement of people from one area to another.  To calculate the migration for a community take the current population, subtract the previous population, add the number of births during the period, and then subtract the deaths during the period.  Consider this example of a fictional community I’ll call Center City:

    52,000     2010 Population
    50,000     2000 Population
    2,000     Population increase

    Most people would say that a population increase is a good thing for a community.  In general, that would be true.  But what if Center City had 3,000 births during the 10-year period and 900 deaths?  The difference in those two numbers is 2,100, which is how many new residents there would be if somehow a wall had been around the city.  In other words, Center City would have a natural population increase of 2,100.  But it only grew by 2,000.  What happened to those 100 people?  The answer is that they moved away, which is another way of saying that there was out-migration.  Conversely, if the population increase is greater than the difference in the number of births and deaths there is in-migration.

    In summary, failing to consider migration could lead to a misinterpretation of a community’s true growth trend.

    What do Jay Leno and Phil Hardwick have in common?

    Both have had their shoes shined by Doc Cousin, the Shoe Shine Doctor.









    Today I had the opportunity to have my shoes shined by the best.  Doc Cousin, more commonly known as The Shoe Shine Doctor, operates out of downtown Jackson, Mississippi, but don’t be surprised to see him at special events and conferences just about anywhere.  At the host’s invitation he sets up shop and offers a free shoe shine, being compensated only by what tips he earns.  From what I saw at the 2011 Mississippi Economic Development Council Conference I would say he is doing alright because every time I went by his stand there was a line for his outstanding shine.  Speaking as a former U.S. Army M.P. I know a good shine when I see one.

    The Shoe Shine Doctor has a compelling and interesting story.  Here’s a clip about the Shoe Shine Doctor from another Web site:

    Darrell “Doc” Cousin is a native of Youngstown, Ohio who has been an entrepreneur in the shoeshine business for over 30 years.

    After Doc’s father retired from the steel mill, he opened a family business consisting of a hat shop & shoe shine parlor.  Doc took interest of the shoe shine art at the age of six.  It was then that he learned the craft from one of his father’s employees who worked the shoe shine stand.  At age 13, Doc was diagnosed with bone cancer.  Doctors only gave him a maximum of 6 months to live.  In spite of this obstacle, Doc continued to hone his craft in the art of shoe shining.

    In the early 70’s, Doc moved to California with his mother and took his developed skills with him.  After experiencing an accident while working construction, Doc decided to go back to the craft of shoe shining, and opened up a shoe shine stand at the Ramada Inn.  It was then he realized this was an art form he loved.  While working at the local mall, a client tipped Doc off that Floyd Jackson, the long time shoe shine man at NBC Studios was retiring and a replacement was being sought.  The client dropped Doc’s name to NBC Studios executives which resulted in them calling Doc in for an interview.  The rest (as they say) is history.  In 1985, Doc signed on as a contractor for NBC Studios where he was in charge of shining shoes for the entire lot.  His biggest clients were “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” staff and guests who appeared on the show including Johnny Carson, Ed McMahon & current host Jay Leno.  Doc serviced other entertainers as well.  One such entertainer was James Jenkins.  Doc was dispatched on a house call to service 98 pairs of shoes for Jenkins!

    Doc moved to Mississippi in the ’90’s to be with his family after his father passed away.  Doc has been featured in numerous newscasts, news & magazine articles, a documentary on Mississippi Public Television, “Mississippi Roads”, and appeared in movie “Top of the World” starring Peter Weller and Dennis Hopper.

    Doc gave me an immaculate shine, an inspirational story and some good old-fashioned fellowship.  I’ll be stopping by to see him at his main shop in the Pinnacle Building, 100 East Capitol Street, Jackson, Mississippi.  He can be reached by phone at 662-523-7795. Call him to add a unique feature to your next conference, convention or meeting.

    See more photos of The Shoe Shine Doctor with his celebrity clients.