Your Customers Know When You’re Full of Shit

As the saying goes, “you can’t bullshit a bullshitter.”

But it’s also true that you can’t bullshit an expert.

And that’s something you had better keep in mind when you’re talking to your customers. A lot of them are experts, and they know when you’re full of shit.

Any time you’re talking to a customer, whether it be via email, video, social media or <gasp!> in person, you’re talking to someone in their world.

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Livestream On a Budget

5 Tips to Livestream Your Event on a Budget (And Still Look Professional)

On the evening of January 21, 2017 I made history. From roughly 8pm-12:30am I livestreamed a reading of my entire novel, ‘A Confession,’ across Facebook Live and Periscope/Twitter. As far as I know, I’m the first author ever to do this.

I did it all in my house, on my own, in my basement for under $100.

And now the question everyone keeps asking me is How did you do it?

When I first decided to go all-in with this event, I admit I had a few hesitations. How do I keep the camera rolling? How will it all look? Will the services even let me stream for that long?

Can my throat handle talking for 4.5 hours straight?

Well, the key in making sure the event went off as well as it did was in preparation. Here’s what I did, and what you can also do on your own if you’re ever looking to do a live event of your own.
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Free Webinar: Social Media MUSTS for Building Your Author Platform

Your “author platform.” It’s something every author hears about, and how important is to build one. Whether you’re a self-publishing or going the traditional publishing route, it’s an absolutely key component for any modern author’s success.

Now, there’s a lot of parts to building a successful author platform, including your website, blogging and guest blogging, author and book tours, live events, etc. – but in my experience the area where people seem to struggle the most to make sense of it all is in social media.

It’s been almost 10 years since I published by first novel, and I’ve been a professional digital marketer (I’m the ex-CMO of one of the top-500 e-commerce companies and one of DMN’s Top 40 Under 40 Marketers for 2016) for almost 20 years. So yes, I’ve been around the block. But one of the most important aspects of my success has been in understanding the ins and outs and pluses and minuses of most digital communications platforms.

I want to share what I’ve learned building a world-leading brand as well as my own personal platform with you.

Be aware though that building your author platform alone can’t guarantee sales. For that to happen you’re going to need to write a great book that people want to read. The quality of the product and level of appeal to consumers are going to be extremely important in turning your platform into sales. I’m not a best-selling author … and mostly it’s because what I prefer to write isn’t quite in the mainstream. But what I have done is connected with thousands of other readers and writers and built a strong brand around myself as both an independent author and digital marketing expert.

So, with all that said, there are a few absolute MUSTS that you should be doing with your social media when building your author platform, including a special section on what platforms you need to be on (and why), how to engage with readers and authors in ways that best work on each platform, and how to build your social media platform with strong cross-channel integration in mind.

I originally wanted to share this via a blog post, but honestly there’s just too much information to share and it makes much more sense when I can walk you through it all. So instead I’ll be hosting a live webinar where I’ll go through this all, and even have it open for questions from the attendees so you go away with actionable tips specific for your needs on how to best grow your author platform using social media.

Social Media Musts for Your Author Platform


VR, AR and the Inherent Challenge to Promoting What Must Be Experienced

This past holiday season, one of the hottest tech trends I saw being promoted on TV was Samsung’s swing at VR: their Gear VR headset. The commercials were on pretty constantly (at least on the programming I watched) … but there was one big problem with them. There’s no way to really show the VR experience in an ad.

It’s a challenge both Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) marketers are going to have to figure out how to surmount in order to get the kind of widespread adoption the technologies need to survive. But with all our ways of marketing, pretty much none of them can get across what the actual experience is. Sure, you could write an article “explaining it” in words or you could show a picture or video of what the person might be seeing on-screen … but I just don’t see how those are going to get the job done.
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Advertising’s Moral Struggle: Is Online Reach Worth the Hurt? – The New York Times

My Thoughts: In this recent article from The New York Times the moral struggle of advertising on “fake news” sites is discussed, and there are some good questions asked.

Decisions on where you advertise are always a complicated subject when it comes to marketing. Brands don’t usually want to be associated with false or inflammatory content (unless it’s clear parody, like The Onion) but they’re also always looking for cheap yet effective ways to get in front of customers.

With the way online programmatic advertising is set up, most marketers aren’t directly choosing where their ads are showing up anymore, but instead that’s done mostly at an algorithmic level. Of course in order to get into the advertising platform as a “publisher” in the first place you have to usually be “approved” by the ad networks, so in my opinion the responsibility should really be on the ad networks themselves who are selling the inventory rather than the advertisers.

In my time at Musicnotes I ran into similar issues with “illegal” web sites. All-too-often we would find our ads displaying on sites with unlicensed content – which was against our internal policies. While we turned off any ads we saw on these sites, the way the networks were set up made it nearly impossible to know where our ads would show up until they did so.

Besides this policing of ads though, there was the whole other larger question of if we should be advertising there or not. While we made the moral decision to not support such sites by sending ad revenue their way, we did have to deal with the fact that our competitors did not follow the same “moral rules” as we did – which put us at a competitive disadvantage in the market.

So as I see it, the advertising on “fake news” sites is just another extension of an already long-standing issue: as programmatic advertising and ad networks continue to take more ad share, how do we police where ads show up? Does the responsibility lie with the ad networks or the advertisers themselves?

Should we even be self-policing this? Do we have a moral obligation as marketers to make decisions as to what is “right or wrong” to advertise on? Or should ad dollars just go after the eyeballs?


Data and automation allow companies to connect with people anywhere on the internet, but that advertising also bankrolls sites toxic to society.

Source: Advertising’s Moral Struggle: Is Online Reach Worth the Hurt? – The New York Times

Forbes Questions the CMO Role

Forbes Questions the Value of CMO, Says “Clinging To Old Marketing Models May Be Hurting Rather Than Helping Drive Growth”

Perhaps it’s the simple job description of the CMO that is outdated or maybe the complexities of today’s marketplace are too much for any one person to deal with. Whatever it may be, it seems like the CMO position may be at a crossroad whereby it either needs to be redefined or eliminated.

That’s what Forbes asks in its latest leadership column, CMO Or SCHMO? Clinging To Old Marketing Models May Be Hurting Rather Than Helping Drive Growth

My Thoughts: Though the article headline may be a bit inflammatory, there’s a lot of valuable thought here. While I don’t think the CMO position should be eliminated (in fact, I’d argue it’s more important than ever) – I do think that what has traditionally defined the role of a CMO has to change. CMOs of today need to be closer to customers than they’ve been in the past, fluent in both data and psychology, and not only willing to change but be champions of change in our ever-more-fluent world.

There’s a huge space for CMOs today, but the version of a CMO that churns out ads and tries to speak at the customer is nearing its end. It’s the CMO that understands the modern two-way communication, the different channels those communications take and how to build a relevant, trustworthy brand that brings true value to the consumer that will be the winner as time marches on.

The other day I was having a discussion on Twitter with digital marketing folks where I bemoaned the lack of participation by the supposed leaders in the marketing world in everyday conversation. I mean, there’s honestly not many CMOs out there sharing information on Twitter, writing blogs or showing real leadership in the space beyond their own backyards. Yes, I might be patting myself on the back a bit, but I do think my success thus far as a digital marketer and CMO has been in staying close to things. Being in the “clouds and dirt” as Gary Vaynerchuk might put it.

The ones who aren’t are quickly becoming irrelevant. I don’t plan to be one of them.

AskGaryVee Book Review

Book Review: #AskGaryVee by Gary Vaynerchuk

I’ve been working my way through a backlog of “business” type books that I have piled up here and the most recent one I’ve gone through is Gary Vaynerchuk’s latest, #AskGaryVee.

For those of you unfamiliar with Gary Vaynerchuk, he’s kind of an Internet marketing / business “superstar” who keynotes a lot of events and runs his own media company, VaynerMedia. He got his start online with his work at Wine Library and has always been at the forefront of emerging technology as it relates to business and communication. On top of all this he’s an investor in quite a few startups, so he has a pretty tight knowledge of the tech business space.
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Content Marketing Is Creating a Cesspool

Content Marketing Is Creating a Cesspool (Rant)

The Internet has already had its fair share of garbage. It’s been there since the it offered everyone the ability to publish their thoughts.

But seriously people, stop making it worse.

Yes, I’m talking to you, “content marketers.” I get it. You are trying to break through the noise of traditional advertising to pull people in (it’s why they also call it “inbound marketing”) but it’s starting to get way out of hand.
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Marketing Podcast Episode 2

Podcast: Digital Marketing Week In Review Episode 2 is Now Available

It’s a new week, which means a new episode of my Digital Marketing Week In Review podcast!

Episode Two not only features hot new intro music, but also discussion on Amazon’s new test of cashier-less grocery stores, whether or not you can trust online reviews, Nordstrom’s hot “pet rock,” the UK’s Investigatory Powers Bill and some sweet stats on email marketing from Movable Ink.

Here are the articles we discuss this week:

Hope you enjoy the episode. Let me know what you think … and tune in next week for EPISODE 3!

Also, be sure to swing over to SoundCloud and subscribe to me to be notified every time I post a new episode.

Toys R Us Coupon

Coupon Psychology and Presentation Is a Subtle Art

$10 off $100? That’s stupid!

That’s what my nine-year-old son thought of the Toys R Us Coupon that came in the mail the other day – especially after I explained to him that it was $10 off $100 or more. Not just $10 of free toys.

But as I explained it to him, I started going through a dissection of the art of manipulation and psychology in how a coupon is both determined and presented. I’m pretty sure I lost his interest right around the part where he realized he didn’t have $100 so the coupon was, for him, useless … but that didn’t stop me from thinking about it all.

In my time as a marketer, I’ve obviously done my fair share of couponing. It’s just part of the world of marketing – especially when you’re selling direct to consumers. What some people don’t think about though is the amount of psychology that can go into what coupons we offer and how the offer as well as how its presented can have a tremendous impact on the business when you use the coupon to try to influence customer behavior.

The whole concept of a coupon is simple: give someone a discount so they are more inclined to purchase. At their simplest you can use them to drive traffic to your store (or increase in-store conversions) and get a boost in sales. Its why you’ll often see coupons at ends of financial quarters or other times when sales are lagging or need a last-minute boost.

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