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June 2009
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July 2009

Sum_Of_Valid_Charges ???

A funny thing happened on the way past our developers today.  I was asked what reports and calculations may be necessary to collect and display out of the next iteration of our shopping cart.  Now, I’m not a tech guy and the database schema was laid out in all its complexity for my review.  I was stumped by the column temporarily titled “Sum_Of_Valid_Charges” and asked what it was.  Our otherwise brilliant database guru explained the data field to me (at least three times – I’m slow) and how it was calculated and the relationships among the various pipes and tables.  I asked if there were “invalid charges.” No?  Ok then, what is it?  In the end, I got “well, it’s pretty much the total billed minus refunds.”  Eureka – there is your title.  Why not just called it what it is?  The expression on his face was priceless.  He sheepishly looked at me, sighed, and said I really hate you, in a most respectful way, of course.  “Total_Billed_Minus_Refunds.”  It pays to call it like it is.

DMA Advents Article - Creative and Data Collection

James Michelson from JFM was recently featured in the DMA's Advents magazine on how to "Get The Most Out Of Marketing Dollars With Good Creative Plus Simple Data Collection." 

Check out the entire cross media / cross channel marketing article here.

Cross Media PURL Campaign for Caterpillar


Caterpillar was searching for a lead generation system to supply its outside representatives with appointments that would decrease wasted time and drive sales. The program would need to touch diverse market  segments over a wide geographic area and handle regional and even local nuances. Each industrial segment uses different equipment and there were several tiers of customers represented in each. Based on various criteria there needed to be different copy, art, graphics, and offers which varied dealer by dealer.


Caterpillar chose the VDP Complete® lead generation system to meet these requirements. Variable data postcards were customized to new business prospects and mailed to their business locations. The copy and offers were tailored to each lead’s demographic information that included industry, number of employees, revenue, and other relevant factors.

VDP Complete developed personalized landing pages which included a survey form and variable data fields throughout. Every piece of information was variable and was based on the same demographics as the card from a shared database. The call to action was to fill out a survey for a chance to win various prizes that varied by region.



Every prospect that visited the web page triggered a real time alert to the appropriate sales person. The alerts could be received and easily read on a laptop, PDA, or cellular phone. Combined statistics were available to each branch on line and on demand.


The campaign generated a consistent flow of actionable leads. Many were prospects in the buying cycle. The mailings consistently pulled response rates in excess of 4%. The leads created from the campaign and generated sales provided a healthy return on investment.

6 Low Cost Steps to Maximizing Revenue During Downtime

A few firms we know are slow for the summer (or because of the economy) and they are taking the opportunity to relax.  Our suggestion is to take staff and management time now to revamp web sites, create new content, and get involved in social media.  The investment in brand and content can be leveraged across multiple channels to capture additional sales and make the case for your firm as strong as possible.


Review & Revise Strategic Plans

When was the last time you cracked open the business and marketing plan from those dusty binders on the bookshelf?  More importantly, when was the last time the leadership team got together to systematically discuss strategic issues?  For most firms I know the answer is rarely or never.  Resources are limited and a review of plans against current operations may point our weaknesses or deficiencies that have been overlooked.  Resources can be dedicated during down time to address any issues that are discovered.



Blog, Tweet and get LinkedIn

I was almost certainly the last owner of a tech firm to break down and get a smart phone. For a long time the entire concept of social media seemed silly to me and not a real business activity.  At some point in the last three years press releases stopped performing unless it was picked up by a well read blog and I started to see the light.  After a recent sales call, the first thing the prospect did was look me up on LinkedIn and then he spent time reading my blog before he agreed to a meeting.  The prospect never even went to our website.  Social media exposure only costs time and if you are slow, now is the time to jump start a program.  And when things pick up?  Keep at it, five minutes a day.


Update Paid Search

If your firm is anything like mine, paid search is like a Ronco rotisserie… “set it and forget it.”  I know that running these campaigns can rapidly become a full time job. In the face of pressing matters, doing more than checking a few reports seems onerous.  Now is the perfect time to double check keywords, revamp ad copy, and freshen the campaign.


Review your Search Engine Optimization

There are lots of checklists and procedures floating around the web on how to improve your naturalized search position on Google and the other search engines.  There are all kinds of tests that can be performed and small, cost effective steps that can be taken to improve how your site is indexed.  Although beyond the scope of this article, downtime is the perfect opportunity to dedicate resources to this project which can passively support the sales cycle 24/7.



Add Fresh Content

As a part of search engine optimization and as a sales tool, update and add content to your website.  Google loves updated content.  Consider creating specialized landing pages that highlight company strengths and integrate those pages with your social media and paid search efforts.  This is easy to do even if your web work is outsourced or the IT guys are hard to get along with.


Reach out to you prospect list & clients with a newsletter

When was the last time you sent something to clients and prospects without a call to action?  Was it a holiday card?  Since the time has been spent to create new content for social media, SEO, and the website it is ready for direct communication to our contacts.  If you’re slow, chances are they are too.


The only objection I can find to these steps is coming from the driving range.

Cross-Channel Marketing - Oct 14-15 Toronto by OpenDialogue

JFM Concepts is proud to announce that it will be delivering the keynote address at Cross-Channel Marketing 2009 in Toronto on October 14-15, 2009.  The program is presented by Open Dialogue.  The content is timely and relevant to today's marketers and the location is spectacular.  We cordially invite all our friends to join us there. 

The Present & Future of Cross-Channel Marketing

James Michelson, Principal, JFM Concepts

New marketing channels seem to be appearing every day in ways that continue to dilute audiences.  The proliferation of television/radio channels, the growth and subsequent splintering of social media marketing, the rise and fall of email, and the decline of traditional newspapers and magazines have made coordinating and controlling marketing efforts an ever more daunting task.  The Internet is constantly reinventing itself as today's stars are eclipsed by newcomers.  It has become increasingly important for marketing providers to distribute content away from its originating channel.  In a fragmented environment, James will explore how to generate interest, build audience, collect data, and begin a two-way conversation with current and potential customers. 

Download the brochure here.

SEO - 6 Great Tips

The following post is from Xander Marketing in Wokingham, England that I thought was succinct and well written - they also have a clever marketing alphabet worth checking out.  Visit them here at and check out their informative blog.

And we quote...

Search Engine Optimisation is the buzzword for small business websites at the moment. Having your website ranked highly on search engines for your keywords is more important than ever. Here are 6 simple things you can do to your site today to start moving it up those search engines…

  1. Page titles - Many people say this is the most important part of search engine optimisation at the moment. Write an accurate, keyword rich page title. Don’t say “Xander Marketing – Home”. Say “Xander Marketing | Marketing Agency for SME | Berkshire”
  2. Meta description – This is how your site is described in search engines. If you don’t have a description search engines will just pull the first bit of content off your page it can find. Again, make it keyword rich and try and keep it to 160 characters.
  3. Descriptive URLS – Don’t use URLs like Do use URLs like
  4. Meta tags – Not as important as they used to be but still easy to implement and they do have some importance for search engines.    These are keywords that go in your code to inform search engines of your keywords.
  5. Replace images with text – If your links or headings are images search engines can’t read these. Replace as many as you can with text links.
  6. Create an XML sitemap for your website – This informs search engines about URLs on a website that are available for crawling. To create a free sitemap for your website visit:

Special thanks to Alex Cohen for his generous permission to reprint this material.