Apr 8 2011

Starbucks vs. Einsteins

I had a coffee with a lovely girl this morning at the UNR Starbucks. I kept the cup all day. On my way back from the Wal this afternoon (there was a going-away party for one of my student intern coworkers who got a job) I stopped in to Starbucks to get my free refill.

To give a little backstory, I’ve been at Starbucks more often recently – our office participated in a recent KNPB user perception and awareness survey. Between administering surveys at various Starbucks across town and fueling myself in the final days of data entry and presentation preparation, I was at Starbucks almost every day. I’d buy one grande bold brew. Then, a few hours later I’d get a refill. It was the perfect amount of caffeine to get through the tasks at hand.

When I asked for my refill today, I didn’t have a receipt. That hadn’t stopped me before – the baristas knew me and didn’t seem to care.

However, today it was a young gentlemen (I use that word loosely) who asked me if I’d like a refill. I presented my cup and said, “Yes.”

He asked if I had a receipt.

I said, “No, but I promise this is the first refill I’ve gotten in this cup today.”

He said it didn’t matter – I needed the reciept.

I said, “Are you sure?”

“Yes,” he said, firmly. “I’m sure.”

I left, irritated.

I ran into my friend and his girlfriend on the way to class. I told them the story and he showed me his girlfriend’s fancy new Einstein Bros. to-go cup that she purchased for $2.50. The first cup of coffee comes free with every refill costing only $1.

I turned around and went back to Einstein’s, which happened to be just upstairs from Starbucks.

“I’m gonna get an awesome to-go cup and walk past Starbucks proudly,” I thought.

Unfortunately, Einstein’s had only one color left. I guess the moral of the story is that despite the color, I still bought it.

Nov 28 2010

Businesses want to be your friend on Facebook. But should they?

Facebook built on the MySpace concept by allowing individuals to create profiles and connect with each other. Once they stopped limiting the user base to only those who had university email addresses, Facebook quickly proved to be a useful tool to keep in contact with people you care about and let them know what you’re up to. To businesses however, it became obvious that the “people” with whom one could easily communicate could very well be potential customers and brand advocates, and so businesses began building personal profiles on Facebook and haphazardly inserting their business name into the first and last name spots. It didn’t take long before businesses out there were trying to be friends with you. Facebook didn’t like that. I know I didn’t particularly care for it. And to be fair, it wasn’t in keeping with the concept of Facebook.

Thankfully however, Facebook realized that allowing people to connect to products and brands they valued was not only profitable for Facebook, but it also allowed individual users to better express themselves. Thus Facebook acquiesced to this problem by creating business / organization pages. Now organizations could have a legitimate presence on Facebook! But there were some key differences in the structure and use of these pages – differences that are important for any business to understand and adopt.

1) You never “sign-in” to an organization page

Organization pages are not the same as profiles. Rather they exist independently are controlled by an administrator (or multiple administrators) who are able to edit the information on the page. This means you never actually “sign-in” to your business page; you always sign in as yourself. If you then, as a personal profile on Facebook, happen to have admin privileges to a specific organization page you can edit that organization page. This also means you must have a personal Facebook profile to edit an organization page.

2) Only admins can speak as the organization

In fact, whenever you are adding pictures or typing on the wall of an organization page of which you are an admin, you are acting as that organization. Thus, your posts on that wall will look to be coming from the organization, not you as an individual. However, as soon as you go to another page of which you are not an admin, or to a friends page or your own personal profile, you will resume posting as your individual profile. Put simply, when an admin is on an organization page of which he is an admin – he acts as that organization. When an admin is on another page, he acts as himself.

Sometimes this little quirk of Facebook is important to get around. For example, imagine the owner of a business is also a central personality to that business. If that owner is an admin to the organization page, fans will never see a personal response from the owner to any fan comments on a wall; it will only look as though the organization is responding. Therefor, the owner may choose not to be an admin of the page, or may choose to make a separate “professional-face” profile that is not an admin of the organization page, so that he or she can comment on the organization page wall and still have a personal response to fan comments/questions.

3) Organization pages can’t “friend” individuals

This may sound like a major limitation to businesses, but it’s actually sound marketing. While it requires more patience, the spirit of inbound marketing is such that people pay much more attention to that which they find of their own accord, rather than to that which is advertised to them. This doesn’t mean you can’t be proactive. You (as an individual) can suggest any organization page to any of your friends (you don’t have to be a fan to suggest it to others). Your friends can, in turn, suggest the same page to any one of their friends. Additionally, you can link to your Facebook organization page from your company website and send links to your organization page out via Twitter or in blogs. It’s important, however, to always remember that people will visit your page only if you provide something of value to them – not just because you sent them an invitation or blasted them with an ad.

The other aspect of not being able to “friend” users as an organization is that the limitation provides a way for fans to become a fan of your product, service, or business without giving you all the privileges that come with being a friend (i.e. the business does not have access to their pictures or personal information). This really makes it easier to amass many fans who, by “liking” your page elect to hear from you, but who don’t necessarily want you to hear from them (see when they change their status, post pictures, etc.) Remember, you (as an organization) are there to serve the customer, not the other way around, and Facebook shaped the organization pages accordingly.

Oct 15 2010

They’re our Reno/Sparks Events – but are they appealing to us?

Events represent a culture

When I was invited to attend the most recent A2N2 meeting, “Marketing Reno/Sparks Special Events: Tackling New Challenges in a Tough Economy,” I got excited at the chance to hear first-hand about those events that make our community unique – especially considering I’d just blogged about the communities (and cultures) I experienced on my recent trip to Europe.

During my trip, I felt that unique traditions and events within those European locales tended to strengthen the overall sense of culture I felt for each. On top of that, the stronger that sense of culture, the more I desired to experience that culture (especially the aspects of their lives that were new to me) and the greater lasting effects those cultures had on my perception and in my memory.
Continue reading

Oct 11 2010

Solar site visit

Ben and I visited the Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station to be present for the unveiling of a 30 kW photovoltaic (PV) solar array on the roof of the Ag Station’s Greenhouse Complex. John Sagebiel, the Environmental Affairs Manager here at the University of Nevada, Reno, was kind enough to speak to us about the array and we learned the following:

  • The system is the third solar system located on campus (the other two are at the Joe Crowley Student Union and Nye Hall dormitory).
  • The Greenhouse Solar system provides an estimated yearly savings of $6,300 (approximately one-tenth the overall energy costs to run the facility).
  • Based solely on the installation cost of the project (close to $120k), the system would take nearly 20 years to break even. However, the NV Energy Rebate (in compliance with the state’s Renewable Energy Rebate Program) shortens the monetary recuperation time period dramatically.

Continue reading

Oct 4 2010

A sense of community

The many cultures of Europe

Europe is different than the United States in that despite its size (Europe is only 3% larger geographically than the US), it has far more native languages and cultures than does the United States. While I’m not a sociologist (and I’m writing this on my first trip to Europe, while having only visited France and Belgium), I would guess that this amazing variety of cultures is due largely to the longer lengths of time for which these different communities have existed (and warred) prior to our current age of communication and globalization, such that they still maintain their strong cultural differences despite their close proximity. The US, on the other hand, is a single country and is only approaching two and a half centuries of cultural development, a large percentage of which occurred during and after the technological revolution – a force that pressures cultures to become more homogenized due to the economies of scale accompanying mass production and large-scale advertising.

That being said, there is much to appreciate in cultural differences that exist from place to place: specialties of cuisine, language, and custom that allow someone (especially a tourist such as myself) to feel as though they have really experienced a place and better understood its heart. Continue reading

Sep 13 2010

A little about a lot

Perspective gained

Fall semester, 2010 has just begun. There’s a chill in the air, accompanied by a sense of optimism and excitement at the upcoming school year. Lots of people beginning what will likely be a multi-year journey toward an academic degree, which at the onset can seem daunting. For me though, I’ve been at UNR long enough to feel very comfortable with school starting again. Only two semesters now from graduating, and I’m finally getting a greater sense of just what my MBA program has and will have provided by the time I graduate in May of 2011. Continue reading

Jun 21 2010

Just write

This year’s Wordcamp

I recently attended a Wordcamp in Reno, at the Joe Crowley Student Union on the UNR campus. Wordcamps are locally organized seminars that take place across the country. They bring together those looking to improve their understanding of WordPress as a blogging platform and Content Management System (CMS) and how to use it most effectively for their businesses or personal websites. Instructors include local and out-of-town experts who speak on a variety of topics, from design, to philosophy, to search engine optimization (SEO).

The challenge to be awesome

While each of the speakers made important points, I was most intrigued by the keynote given by Merlin Mann. In a humorous, non-structured thought piece, Merlin mused on the potential dangers we all face when we focus more on the functionality of a website (its design, plugins, features, wow-factor) than we do on making sure the content – the stuff the customer really cares about – is awesome. Continue reading

May 26 2010

The digital doors are open

Ben and Chuck - Business Services Group Booth at NCET

My humble beginnings

It was just over a year and a half ago that I first put my fingers into the realm of Digital Marketing.

“I think I’d like to learn how to build websites, Ben,” I said to our office web-designer, who has been instrumental in creating the Business Services Group portal page and many of the official program websites. Ever the optimist, Ben assured me that I’d be able to learn the process in no time and that he, despite his never-ending commitments, would be willing to help.

A year and a half later I’ve worked on over ten sites, some of which I built almost entirely on my own. While the learning didn’t take “no time”, I have become decently proficient in building and customizing WordPress-driven websites – much to the credit of Ben and his patient instruction. While this is an accomplishment of which I’m proud, I know that much of my progress is actually a product of the environment; websites have become increasingly user friendly and less reliant upon users knowing that scary old word: code. Continue reading

May 17 2010

The conferment of an MBA

This weekend my roommate, coworker, and Russian friend Eldar received his MBA from the University of Nevada, Reno. Many of his friends (myself included) were there to watch Eldar graduate – alongside the other MBAs, graduates from the College of Business, and masters students from colleges across campus – from Social Work to Bio Molecular Engineering. Soon, Eldar will be working full-time for Amazon (where he’s worked as a finance analyst for the last few years).

I personally have another year before I graduate, and I watched the ceremony with a mixture of envy and relief; as much as I want to finish school I enjoy the sense of belonging that comes with campus life and my steady job as a graduate assistant.

The pressure to find a job after graduation touches everyone, and while Eldar has one lined up, others are busy scrambling to secure employment in this economy. The weekend’s ceremonies – especially the variety of majors among the graduates – reminded me of an ongoing argument I’ve had with family and associates regarding the usefulness of a college education that is not directly related to a specific field.
Continue reading

May 14 2010

Marketing is a practice

A practice.

I have extensive experience in teaching clients simple steps to creating effective internet marketing campaigns. Build a blog. Jump on Facebook. Make friends. Connect to your customers. Serve their needs.

All of these tasks are achievable, and yet campaigns tend to fall apart quickly.



Marketing is a practice. It’s a habit. It’s lifestyle choice. And this blog is so that I remain accountable, because as much as I believe in the effectiveness of truly organic digital marketing, I won’t stay current – nor will I remain authentic – if I’m not putting my knowledge to use consistently.

I must watch. Learn. Act. Repeat. And so must you – it’s the only way.

And not just with marketing.