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Book Review- Art of the Start 2.0 March 2, 2015

Posted by Jack Macholl in Book Review, Communications, Marketing, Marketing Planning.

Art of the Start tweet graphic (2)It was an honor to be selected as a guest reviewer of Guy Kawasaki’s latest book, The Art Of The Start 2.0. As a long-time follower of Guy’s thought leadership, it is no surprise that he once again delivers the goods in this revised edition of his 2004 work.

If you are thinking about or presently starting your own business, this book is a necessity. Guy’s writing style is hard-hitting and realistic. He challenges you to stop fretting over how you will scale your business and make something that people really want.

The reader is challenged with a series of thought-provoking questions that are a huge mistake to gloss over. You will also receive some “fill-in” exercises and benefit from added “mini chapters” Guy has included, offering new insights from his extensive career experience.

Amongst my favorite takeaways in the book is the section on mission statements and how much time and effort is wasted on them. Although we have never met, I swear I’ve uttered many of the same words with consulting clients over the years.

His sections on hiring people who are better than you and the art of “demoing” are stop, get your highlighter and take copious notes good.

Consistent with his reality-based presentations, videos and other works in the Kawasaki catalog, Guy provides a nice mix of entrepreneurial wisdom, humility, pointed challenges (doing and shipping) and of course, humor.

Block out some time to read this one. If you are like me, you’ll lose track of the time once you begin reading it.



2014 in review December 30, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Uncategorized.

The kind folks at Word Press prepare a year in review for clients. If you missed any of the posts, please swing by and check them out. Thanks for reading, looking forward to sharing more material in 2015. Happy New Year!


Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 300 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Gratitude Inspires A Super-Human Feat October 7, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Donor Development, Fundraising, non-profit, Peddle For Pennies, Philanthropy, Shriners Hospitals for Children.
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John Nightingale- Peddling for Pennies

John Nightingale- Peddling for Pennies

The other night I had the great privilege of doing a phone interview with John Nightingale, a grateful parent of a child undergoing treatment at the Shriners Hospital in Greenville, South Carolina.

As a display of his gratitude for the help doctors and hospital staff have provided his family, John is riding a bicycle over 1,800 miles from his home in Chattanooga, Tennessee to Boston Massachusetts raising money for the Shriners Hospitals for Children. The route includes stops at six of the Shriners hospitals including Greenville, Cincinnati, Lexington, Erie, Philadelphia, Springfield and Boston.

During the interview I asked John how he was holding up on the road, his answer was one of the most selfless I’ve heard to date. “When I don’t feel well, my legs hurt, I want to quit … I think about the kids who can’t be unbent, unbroken, or unburned, and yet they always manage a genuine smile- that is what compels me to go another day. ”

John also talked about the human kindness that he has received on this journey. As he puts it “seeing America from five feet above the ground at ten miles per hour gives you a different perspective.” For me, this conversation with a young man intent on giving back no matter the personal toll has bolstered my viewpoint on the viability of our country’s future.

His campaign is called Peddle For Pennies. John is providing a daily update to his blog and sharing thoughts from his phone as he makes this amazing trek to help children in need of specialized medical attention. To follow John’s progress and learn more about his quest, visit




A Marketing Rule- Carved in Stone September 23, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Uncategorized.
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On a recent vacation trip to Maine I felt compelled to visit Freeport Maine, the world headquarters of L.L. Bean, the infamous outdoor gear, clothing and home goods store.

Part of my need to visit Bean was the long-term connection to their catalog. Growing up in the pre-Internet world of 1960’s and 70’s permitted me to experience the power of catalog marketing. When the L.L. Bean book arrived in the mailbox it was a big deal. My Dad enjoyed the outdoors, owned hunting and fishing gear, and often ordered their “old school” chamois shirts that literally lasted decades-or your money back. Years later, while teaching integrated marketing communications at Roosevelt University, I often brought L.L. Bean marketing materials in to my lectures (particularly the catalogs) to illustrate direct marketing best practices in use at that time.

Like many catalogs of the era, marketers, graphic designers, writers, proofreaders, photographers and printers created literal art. They captured the notion an “experience” long before modern use of the term “brand experience.” This was a different type of connection, in days when people did not travel as frequently by air due to the great expense, these catalogs provided a “travelogue;” using paintings, line drawings, copy, typography and graphic arts in combination to transport you to far away hunting and fishing destinations you could almost feel when you perused the book.

After spending hours looking at their advertising and product museum, and of course, shopping in their 100,000 square foot plus store, I was struck by an engraving on a stone outside the main entrance. The inscription read:

Sell good merchandise at a reasonable profit, treat your customers like human beings, and they’ll always come back for more.”

Leon Leonwood Bean’s

“Golden Rule,” 1912

This is a common sense business principle or “code” that L.L. Bean obviously lived by. The mere fact the town of Freeport was literally built around his company, one that has survived the Great Depression, two world wars, recessions and other challenges is a testimony to the long-term soundness of this very simple business foundation.

IMG_1665 IMG_1666If more of today’s businesses installed a similar stone by the employee door, we’d all spend less time on the telephone and online having people “apologize for the inconvenience.”

Planning for 2015- Starts Now July 28, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Bank marketing, Customer Service, Event marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Planning, non-profit, Uncategorized.
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A client new to the marketing field recently asked me when to begin planning for next year’s integrated marketing activity. Typically I advise clients to begin serious work in August/September of each year.

Depending upon whether an organization works from a calendar or fiscal year will impact this rule of thumb, however, late summer, early fall is a good time to begin work.

While facilitating marketing planning sessions, these are some of the key areas I cover:

  • Results– what has worked this year?  What have we learned?
  • Research– what are the clients saying? Are you providing answers to their “pain points”? Is there something new they desire?
  • Social for the sake of being social– is there a distinct strategy behind your Marketing and strategysocial media or are we doing this because everyone else is?
  • Objectives where are we at year-to-date? Where can we realistically aspire to be? (This is the tough conversation that requires “looking in the mirror” and resource allocation.)

Of course there are many more finite areas we cover in a planning session, but these are the non-negotiable items from my vantage point.

Another issue that leaders often fail to cover is accountability and “policing” the plan. Have you established clear responsibility centers? Which individual(s) are responsible to maintain the marketing calendar and help everyone stick to the plan?

As we all enjoy what remains of the fast-moving summer (here in the midwest anyway), August is often a great time to organize a planning session. And hey, you can meet outside, no one said we can’t catch a few rays while getting the work done…

If you have any questions on marketing planning or facilitating your strategic planning meeting, please feel free to contact me at jmacholl@wisdombridgemarketing.com or on my Skype line (847) 305-1594.

Enjoy the day.



Details + Service = Satisfaction May 4, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand building, Brand personality, Communications, Customer Service, Marketing Planning, Uncategorized.
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There is much debate today about the value of social media tools like Twitter. Certainly there is no shortage of opinions being shared in real-time, 24-7, so smart organizations are monitoring their activity and protecting their brand image with vigor. The example below clipped from my e-mail is based on a Twitter post I placed online after having a few closets done in my new home.

The Container Store is one organization that clearly works hard at education for in-store employees and field installation experts (elfa System shelving). They are attentive to the details, phoning you to explain why a product is on back-order, sincerely displaying concern for any (albeit minor) inconvenience and circling back after a purchase to ensure customer satisfaction. Additional detail coverage includes little things, like installation people cleaning up, putting shoe covers on to protect your home’s interior, explaining what they are doing and offering helpful suggestions takes detail attentiveness to the value-add level. After four months of working with a general contractor who didn’t get this concept, I’d say The Container Store could make additional fee income teaching companies how attention to the details equates to client satisfaction and a long-term (profitable) relationships.

Jack Macholl @jackmacholl I love the follow-up service from the Container Store. There is a genuine concern for product delivery and satisfaction. – 01 May The Container Store @ContainerStore Follow Follow @jackmacholl That’s great to hear! Great service is #WhatWeStandFor 12:42 AM – 03 May 14 Reply to @ContainerStore Retweet Favorite

Face to Face- Priceless February 26, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Communications, Customer Service, Internal communications, Referral marketing, Sales.

We hear a great deal about the magic of a ‘Tweet” 140 characters to deliver a message.  Others say that Skype calls eliminate the need for travel and the lost time/expense associate with in-person meetings. This technology is great, it has its place, but there are still moments, projects, and situations that require a hand shake, eye-to-eye interaction, hand drawn diagrams -a human connection.

During the past few months I’ve encountered a few situations where a 15-minute meeting unwinds all the misunderstandings and fatigue caused by an e-mail trail. Sometimes reconnecting on a human level resets a relationship, energizes it, gets things back on-track. This can work internally or with external communications, both are very important, yet unique, and should be handled with due care.

Like most things in life, communications too comes full-circle.  Face to face may be making a comeback, to me, that’s priceless.

What’s your face to face success story? I’d love to hear from you.

Enjoy the day.

A Good Problem to Have January 31, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand building, Brand personality, Branding, Image, Marketing, Marketing Planning, Sales, Site visibility, Uncategorized.
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I once heard a business owner say that having too much business is a good problem to have. Lately, I have encountered several situations where it is very difficult to secure a quote for services (particularly in the building/renovation trades). Not returning phone messages and leaving requests for quotes unattended in an e-mail box presents a poor image for the company, creating an instant sense of doubt in the consumer’s mind.


Leads to Customers

Today there are many  tactical articles written about ways to increase web site traffic, generate sales leads and make the phones ring. Perhaps a more urgent need would be helping business owners find proven response methods to convert estimate requests in-hand and also acquiring the human talent to meet existing market demand.

What lead conversion and staffing models work in your field?

The Power of Thank You January 27, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Bank marketing, Brand personality, Branding, Communications, Customer Service, Image, Marketing, non-profit, Philanthropy, Referral marketing, Sales.
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Whether you are acknowledging a present, business referral or expressing gratitude to a donor at a non-profit, sending something to express your gratitude should be standard procedure.  In our hurried SMS text and e-mail world, the power of a handwritten thank-you note is astounding.

Part of my weekly routine includes sending written thank-you cards to people who have helped with a business (or personal) matter. Today getting “snail mail” is often as infrequent as a fax. Granted there is a cost and some inertia to overcome, but what is the price of an impersonal thank-you?bigstock-Thank-you-vector-stamp-24628313

Book Review- Small Town Rules January 21, 2014

Posted by Jack Macholl in Book Review, Branding, Chamber of Commerce, Customer Service, Image, Marketing, Marketing Planning, non-profit.

I recently completed Small Town Rules by Barry Moltz and Becky McCray a very interesting read that likens the connected world to a small town environment where every customer can talk with one another.

Today many businesses (including the  large companies) are quickly learning that people are seeking genuine interaction and a local connection. One of the most interesting takeaways was the desire of consumers to learn the “story behind their purchases.” Instead of mission/vision statements and value propositions, many humans want some history on the business and how it adds tangible value to the community. For many that connection may prompt a consumer to bypass a cheaper option and purchase the local product because they feel  personally involved with the product or service.

Since the Great Recession began in 2008, there has been a resurgence of the Shop Local movement which is covered in-depth. The authors cover many important points about businesses needing to do more than place “Shop Local” placards in their store windows and call it a success. Taking the Shop Local concept to an urban level is also reviewed with examples from the unique neighborhoods of Chicago, a major metropolitan market with numerous chambers of commerce.IMG_0190IMG_0197

Having worked in bank marketing for decades, I found the Bank Local section particularly interesting. Many community based banks did not participate in high-risk lending practices and actually made it through the worst of the financial crash with minimal impact. During the 1990’s and 2000’s,  many larger U.S. banking organizations eliminated local community banking charters, creating large-scale branch banking networks seeking the efficiency play. Some years later the wisdom of that strategy is questionable, as more wary consumers want a “small town type” relationship with the people managing something as personal as their money.

The lessons of minimalist business management, planning for “zero years” (storing surpluses) and exactly how small town businesses have survived for generations is wisdom many business owners large or small will surely find useful.

A devoted website www.smalltownrules.com is also available to remain connected for updates from the authors.