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Small Business Saturday November 24, 2012

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand building, Brand personality, Communications, Corporate Social Responsibility, Marketing, Sales, Uncategorized.
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After participating in the Edison Park Turkey Trot here in my Chicago neighborhood, a woman handed me a flyer for her brand new start-up business Fair Trade Gifts (6700 N. Northwest Hwy. Chicago, IL 60631).

She was one of many people with booths hawking merchandise, handing out cards and flyers. What made this lady stand out was her “elevator pitch.” In just a few well chosen words she described the fair labor and sustainable practices her goods are made within. Likely no marketing budget, no Search Engine Optimization or PR campaign- a start-up using old-school techniques to capture a few seconds of your attention.

This entrepreneur represents what President Obama calls “Main Street America.” She is opening a small business in what was an abandoned coffee shop that crashed along with many other small businesses back in 2010.

The bombardment and overkill of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc. is upon us. It might be time to step back, stop by the local merchant, hear their story and help some people trying to live their dream around the corner.


Forget the lists-just focus January 1, 2012

Posted by Jack Macholl in Corporate Social Responsibility, Freedom, Referral marketing, Uncategorized, Veterans.
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The past few days I’ve read numerous Twitter posts and some blog articles about the “top 5 or top 12” things you need to do for success in the New Year. Although these are informative I feel that real progress or “success” in 2012 will come from focus. I’m not even talking about a formal written plan, for me it will be about self-discipline and remaining focused on the things that will move my personal and business lives forward with a lean toward balance (the thing virtually all humans struggle with today).

If it helps here are some of the things on my agenda :

  • Balance– pressure often comes from within prioritizing work/personal tasks, dividing up the day in segments is what I plan to try. Working in some exercise, music, pleasure reading and family time is on the radar.
  • Doing the Work– scheduling  client assignments, meetings, writing tasks, phone calls, blog posts and other small business owner tasks even on days when I don’t feel like it.
  • Helping– waiting for the corporate hand puppets in D.C. or  the State government level to help make this world a better place is a fantasy. The elderly, developmentally challenged and veterans are largely disenfranchised and that needs to change. These are amongst the causes I plan to help in 2012.
  • Tuning negativity out– this includes much of the election year lunacy, divisiveness , lies and mud-slinging. I’ll tune in enough to be informed and then it’s off. This includes main stream news, “gloom and doom” market reports and pundits. People who want to moan and sap energy, the voicemail goes on; period. Sanity will come from interacting  with positive people that want to make a difference. Other diversions from the madness will include Sirius XM radio, my iPod and portable HD radio (a Christmas gift which is really nice).

Small business people have been hurt by Wall Street, State, County and local level governing bodies-they are clueless and don’t give a damn about you or your future. It’s time to build our own networks and move things ahead with self-reliance and old-fashioned grit.  Networking, referrals and opportunities through involvement are the key to success from my point of view.

Focus and self-help begins in 3,2,1…

Academic Outreach December 15, 2011

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand building, Brand personality, Branding, Corporate Social Responsibility, Donor Development, Marketing Planning, non-profit, Philanthropy.
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Graduate Students Giving and Learning

In these times of chronic bad news, cutbacks and political fighting a positive movement has begun with my  graduate Integrated Marketing Communication students at Roosevelt University. In lieu of a Masters thesis, students in Roosevelt’s IMC program work on a complete marketing campaign for an actual company.

This year instead of working on an assignment with a corporate partner, we “adopted” a not-for-profit organization WINGS (Women In Need of Growing Stronger). This group located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago provides emergency services, sheltered living, legal help, employment training, child care and job search services for abused women and children.

WINGS creates a large percentage of its operating fund via three resale stores in suburban Chicagoland. Two student teams worked on integrated marketing campaigns designed to raise awareness of WINGS brand, its mission and the wide selection of quality, brand name merchandise available in their shops.

A formal client “pitch” that emulates a “real world” agency new business presentation was delivered to members of WINGS leadership team. An array of low-cost, high-impact creative concepts and “guerilla” tactics- events, advertising and social media approaches to build brand and drive store traffic were delivered for consideration.

In addition to creating a plan book  and numerous cost-effective tactical ideas, the students delivered more. Many were so moved by the trials and cutbacks WINGS leadership has been required to make for survival, they opened their own wallets to help. Members of both teams donated bags of “wish list” items and donated clothing that will help meet the daily needs of the women and children served.

The talent and generosity shown renewed my faith and hope that better days are ahead in spite of the madness we see and hear on cable news each day.

The essence of guerilla marketing is action– these talented and generous leaders of the future did just that-they delivered.

To learn more about WINGS and the meaningful work they do, visit


Yes, a Dollar Matters December 7, 2011

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand personality, Branding, Corporate Social Responsibility, Donor Development, non-profit, Philanthropy.
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Working in the non-profit sector has opened my eyes not only as a marketer, but also as a human. For many years I automatically said no to the “do you want to add a dollar to your purchase?” question. Today I’m much more in-tune with the tremendous amount of human and financial resources required to provide services to those in need.

This small yet elegant display was at a Jones New York store (instead of sitting in the “guy chair” I elected to do something constructive and take a photo for this post). A tasteful point of purchase display and ribbons attached to the sales ladies clothing set the stage for a friendly ” register ask” to support St. Jude’s Hospital for Children in Memphis.

Certainly the economic times have created a multitude of donation requests from dollars to canned food. I’ve heard many people ask, what difference does my dollar make?  A lot when you are on the other side of the equation.

Jobs- Taking Action Across America December 6, 2011

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand personality, Branding, Corporate Social Responsibility.
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A few days ago Starbuck’s launched createjobsfor USA.org  and are presently selling red, white and blue wristbands (Made in the U.S.A.-what a concept) for $5.00 with donations destined to help create and sustain jobs in underserved communities.

The concept of putting Americans back to work has obviously escaped many of our elected officials, so I applaud the efforts of people and companies willing to stand up and help solve the problem versus participate in further divisiveness.

My $5.00 is in and today I put the wristband on. It’s a small statement, but it’s a start.

Book Review-Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead April 25, 2011

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand building, Brand personality, Branding, Communications, Corporate Social Responsibility, Music marketing, Referral marketing.
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This 2010 book by David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan offers some great insights on what it takes to become an iconic brand. I selected this book largely out of curiosity regarding the title. As only a casual Grateful Dead fan, I now have a new appreciation of how the band defied the “best practices” of music marketing in the 60’s and beyond.  Through a spirit of generosity (long before it ever became a social media buzz term) the Dead bent all the rules and created huge revenue streams from a community of fans.

Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead also offers a series of “call out” points that encapsulate how the band made money while giving many things away for free along the way.  The authors also point out the importance of social responsibility and how the Grateful Dead ultimately created the Rex Foundation to give back by financially supporting human services, the arts and environmental causes.

At just a tad over 150 pages, this is a brief, yet powerful read.

Interactivity- Responsible Brand Engagement March 31, 2011

Posted by Jack Macholl in Brand building, Brand personality, Branding, Corporate Social Responsibility, Environment, Image.

As a rather large fan of chewing gum with many crowns to show for years of chewing “full strength” gum, I switched over to Orbit a sugar-free brand in their product line.

I noted they have recently launched a new website  cleanorbitgum.com that connects an environmental cause in a play on words with their current “clean mouth” creative platform.

The clean connection includes a code printed on the inner flap of each pack. If you visit the site, register and enter the code, Orbit makes a .50 cent donation to the Keep America Beautiful fund and enters you in a $5,000 sweepstakes to clean up “a little corner of your world.”

 As more companies begin to work toward social responsibility, many are choosing environmental causes to associate this emerging form of goodwill with their brand. Of course they are also creating a nice database of customers which certainly does not hurt either.

 Now you too can help clean up the world and have minty fresh breath at the same time.

What are some other examples you are seeing with similar tie-ins? I’d love to hear your thoughts for future posts.

Brand leadership

Scrub before you send March 10, 2011

Posted by Jack Macholl in Bank marketing, Brand personality, Communications, Corporate Social Responsibility, Environment, Marketing, ROI.

Truly the world moves at a frenetic pace and the pressure to compete for share of wallet is intense. Each week people in marketing get e-blasts, articles, magazines packed with the latest real-time data management techniques all better, faster ways to get your offer in front of viable prospects.

In my mailbox at home I received a nice direct mail package asking me why I’d settle for “boring old cable” when I can get AT&T U-verse. Well, I don’t have to, because I’ve been purchasing U-verse since late 2008. I get at least 3-4  AT&T mail packets per year with a variety of offers (this one was $300 back in promotional gift cards) if I make the switch.

This is basic 1988 database management; scrub your list of existing clients BEFORE you send. Nothing super high-tech or real-time, just merge/purge. The credibility of your brand will be enhanced, not to mention large savings on production, natural resources and increasingly expensive postage.

Book Review- Drive-The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us January 26, 2011

Posted by Jack Macholl in Communications, Corporate Social Responsibility, Freedom, Uncategorized.

After listening to President Obama’s State of the Union speech yesterday evening  I started thinking about Dan Pink’s book on human drive and how relevant his thoughts are in regard to the President’s concerns about America’s competitiveness and future viability. This book offers a scientific point of view in regard to things that motivate human beings. Within the book he challenges us to rethink how we motivate our children, students and employees. He asks us to look within and determine what really moves or “drives” us beyond the basic motivators that sustain life.

This is not one of the many “toss out theory and walk away” books. Dan provides a very nice recap , some useful tools and web sites that build on the new “Motivation 3.0” concepts which leads us away from “carrot and sticking” for achievement.

If you are a teacher, parent, business professional or simply a human that is looking for new meaning in the 21st century world, this book is time well spent.

The passing of the neighborhood newspaper December 26, 2010

Posted by Jack Macholl in Communications, Corporate Social Responsibility, Environment, Recycling.
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Local Paper R.I.P.

This past Thursday (December 23rd) I received my last edition of the Edison/Norwood Times Review. Since the 1930’s this newspaper has provided residents with local  news and event information. We’ll miss the community calendar, police blotter and the occasional “local kid made good” story.

No doubt this is a sign of the times. Not only a cost cutting move by the Chicago Sun-Times (parent owner), but also a response to declining newspaper readership here in the Internet /PDA age.
From an environmental perspective many trees will be saved and that’s a good thing. On the human side, jobs will be eliminated (not so good), and the local publicity vehicle for many non-profits and school groups drifts to oblivion.
We’re now on our own to secure local news and event information. Gone is the tabloid sized package of neighborhood news, fun facts and merchant advertisements.   News as we know it today is at our fingertips, but will we take the time to seek it out?