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What Is Your Passion?

What does your eye doctor think of your eye sight, if they send you this kind of appointment reminder?

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Just sayin’!

Several years back, I was attending a seminar on law and legal marketing. One of the first speakers started his speech by saying that he was going to tell us his secrets for Internet marketing, but was not worried about utilizing them and taking away business. He reasoned that  the majority of us would either be too lazy, or too consumed with our work to follow through on what had made him successful.

Honestly, his speech ticked me off a little. I guess he got my competitive nature riled up. As I thought about what he was saying, it made me realize there was a better way of doing things… but like this fellow in this picture, no matter how hard I worked,  I had lots to learn. There was a better way to do things!

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At the time, that lawyer was one of major Internet marketers in the country. He had his website everywhere. Recently, someone mentioned him to me. That made me realize that I had not seen any of his marketing for a while; that his website was not reaching me. What had happened to him? He is still out there, but it made me think.

A book that I am listening to on Audible, in my car, is written by and also read by Gary Vaynerchuk titled Crushing It!  The book  just came at the end of January At the beginning of the audio book, the author acknowledges that he was going to be adding to it, as he read the audio portion. He noted that technology and marketing had already changed so rapidly, since he had written the book.

I think that’s why the earlier mentioned lawyer was not in my stream of consciousness anymore. He probably has not managed to keep up. It really was not about a competitor catching up to him.

At the Firm, we constantly challenge ourselves to be better. Not just be processors. (I think this coffee server might have just been processing. Right?)

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As Gary Vanderchuk says, “there are entrepreneurs and there are ‘wantreprenuers‘”. Follow your thrill and passion and you will find the “fulfill”. The financial reward will follow the passion. If someone simply wants money, they will not be successful. At some point their “Want To” will run out.

Our motivation and passion can be helping people, beating insurance companies, constantly learning, and seeing something different every day. If someone comes to work to simply get on Facebook or ask everyone how their weekend was, then they probably are not following a passion. It’s just a job to them. Ultimately, their “Want To” is going to run out and make them search for something else.

Coach Vince Lombardi knew how to challenge people. Here is one of his quotes that fires me up! “The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you are willing to pay the price”.

I am challenged by Martha Washington’s (1732-1802) mantra for life, “I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances“.

It’s Our Monday! It’s going to be a great day! I dare an insurance company to deny today!

And finally, for our pic o’ day, I guess this is an example of someone who may enjoy making cakes… but still be processing what someone says to put on their cakes? The definition of literally:

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Are They listening? Should I Be Concerned?

Sometimes when I start typing Our Monday Blog, I suspect that you wonder if I am getting paid by the word. I start one place and find myself easily headed down another rabbit hole. (Couldn’t help but throw in an Easter metaphor… right?)

It feels like every week brings us news of another store or company who have suffered a data breach. And a lot of people have their personal information exposed. So that leads me to ask the question, “Are we inviting hackers into our homes because of our purchased equipment. Which now leads me to write about Facebook and Amazon… and what patents they are seeking. A question of privacy.

But honestly, I feel a little like this in discussing some of this technology:

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When it comes to technology in the future, I just like to keep it simple. Much like this watch!

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Practically speaking, at the start of their season, Michigan and Villanova had a plan to win it all. But there is no way that they could have been certain that they were headed for the NCAA Championship game tonight. To give them a chance.

But technology companies think a little differently. Nothing about just a chance.

For instance, Facebook would have us believe that their future plans are here for Us. Here is their privacy statement:

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Something tells me that “my control” would be better described as “what they control of me”. As to Facebook’s new products, here’s what we know. Facebook already has new home products in their arsenal to introduce, that would compete with Alexa and Echo.

But, they have delayed introducing these products and hardware because they are concerned that it would play into the public’s perception of Facebook invading our privacy and using it against us; or having some third party or country use it against us. This delay occurred after it was reported that 50 million Facebook users had their personal information harvested by that creepy company Cambridge Analytica.

Which also leads me to the discussion of their filed patent applications. A view to the future of products.

A recent Gallop Poll reports that 22% of Americans use devices in their homes like Echo or Google Home. (A NY Times article that also discusses the eerie laugh that Echo was strangely making) Which is why we are concerned about companies eavesdropping on us, even though they all insist otherwise.

Amazon and Google assure us that their devices only react to certain trigger words and then shut off. They assure us that unless the green light is on, there is nothing happening. Never mind what happened last fall when Google distributed its Home Minis to journalist… and the equipment never stopped recording. (AndroidPolice.com)

And yet… all these advancements are for our benefit.  But we all agree that voice data from this technology is evolving and here’s where these companies apparently see the future.

For one patent application, Amazon describes a “voice sniffer algorithm”  for home and mobile devices, to analyze audio almost in real time and to react when it hears words like “love,” bought” or “dislike. ”Here’s what they are working on as indicated in a NY Times article titled,  Hey, Alexa, What Can You Hear? And What Will You Do With It?

And here is how they can use such triggers under the patent, “for our benefit”. You could be talking on the phone to a friend… and then get an offer for travel or a sale on pants. The patent describes a diagram where “to your benefit” might mean that you then see an ad for a Wine of the Month Club membership.(Here is the rest of the story)

Google’s patent applications would “benefit you” through their home by providing smart product advertisements that are generated from your audio and visual signals.

So should we be concerned about the applications and just consider them as advancements in technology? No so fast! So says Jamie Court of Consumer Watchdog, which is a California non-profit organization that recently published a study of some of these futuristic applications for patents in an article titled, Home Assistant Adopter Beware: Google, Amazon Digital Assistant Patents Reveal Plans for Mass Snooping (Here)

As I started writing this blog, I got myself crazy researching. If you are still with me this far… maybe you are shaking your head too!

One final thought on this. Google has said that it will generally not provide audio recordings of users to third parties, but may send transcriptions of your voice and your information. It’s listed (Here under their privacy category of “Does Google Home share my information with anyone)

And…. no surprise, Amazon may give app developers this same information as well. (Here) Hmmm!

And for pic o’ day let’s go far away from technology. I guess this is what they call airline humor and it makes me laugh!

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STOP CALLING?

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Are you tired of getting phone calls from strange numbers. Or worse yet, now the calls are coming from phone numbers that look familiar. Telemarketers have taken their schemes to a whole new level of “fake” caller i.d. numbers. Sometimes I answer and sometimes I don’t. Each time it irritates me. I know the same thing is happening to you.

I find myself hollering at a prerecorded voice, “I don’t need a new deal on my cable TV“. Do people still have cable? And what happened to all those lonely cable boxes? I seem to remember that someone suggested that you make cat beds out of them. That is a horrible idea!

I don’t need to hear about insurance or their concern about my car maintenance plan. And now I strangely receive calls… and no one is there. I have found myself repeatedly saying “Hello...Hello“.  What in the world? What is going on?

I remember hearing a warning not to answer phone callers who immediately ask, “Can you hear me?”. Supposedly, when the person would say “Yes“, their voice could be used for fraudulent credit card approvals. Come on!

So what can we do besides throwing our phones out and hollering real loudly. Or, hooking up the two Campbell Soup cans to string, to talk to each other. (Do you remember that?)

Let me attach two articles from USA Today that can better describe the problems as well as identify possible actions that you can take to protect yourself.

The first is titled The robocall battle continues at the FCC and the FTC. (Here)

The article reports that the Federal Communication Commission gets about 200,000 complaints about robocalls each year. In 2017, The Federal Trade Commission received 4.5 million complaints about unwanted calls. Now according to the agency, they get about 400,000 daily. Fraud from unwanted calls is reportedly costing about $9.5 billion annually.

The article goes on to discuss the actions being taken and the regulations that are being proposed, to track these callers and to stop them. The government also calls on consumers to notify the FTC and FCC about robocall complaints at ftc.gov/calls and fcc.gov/robocalls.

The FTC representative quoted in the article notes that “The FTC is publishing complaint data daily, which is helping in the fight. Companies are sharing information with each other to trace back illegal robocalls.” Also, both agencies have a Stop Illegal Robocalls Tech Expo scheduled for April 23 in Washington.

The second article:  How to stop those annoying endless robocalls to your smartphone (Here) gives ideas on what we can do personally.

Ideas include googling your phone number to see if it is being fraudulently used; add your number to the National Do Not Call list; use your phone settings to block numbers; and purchasing apps that assist in blocking and eliminating these calls.

The article is thought-provoking. (I find that so descriptive. Plus, apparently I am fascinated with random thoughts in quotes.)  The cost and applications are discussed.  I also have to show respect to the marketing idea of naming an app NoMoRobo!

And finally for Our Pic O’ Day:

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Happy Too!

I always like to start Our Monday Blog with some positivity. This pic o’ qualifies as reaching goals. Right?

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While driving down the road recently, I saw a billboard advertisement for a grocery store chain that simply said, “Groceries Delivered“. That seems to meet a need, but it also is becoming more popular. Perhaps the aggressiveness of Amazon is causing everyone to step up their game in the grocery business.

I remember being one of the first law firms to advertise “We will come to you“. I had noticed a trend of several new potential clients failing to show up for their appointments at the office. I learned that once someone had crashed their car, it made it very difficult to come to our office. Missing the appointment made total sense. I had to come up with a solution… going to their home on their time.

Which brings me to the thought of how to step up our service now? What message or new service could I advertise.

I love the positivity of my father-in-law. When someone asks him for help, he regularly responds with, “Happy Too“. Be willing and ready to help! If I could convey that in all of our ads… then I have maintained our true hopeful message. If someone needs our help… I hope that they feel our response of “Happy Too”!

 

And finally, for our pic o’ day, I think many of us relate to this as we sit in that chair!

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It Makes Me Hungry!

It’s already well known that grocery stores are manipulating us with their product placement. Stores place their name brand items on the middle shelf at eye level of the shopper. And of course, they place those “quick grabbers” at the checkout counter.

I am more fascinated with food and marketing. For instance, bakeries like Cinnabon place their ovens in front so those baked cinnamon rolls attract us to buy. They call it scent marketing. The one time that they decided to move the ovens in the back, sales plummeted. (Story here)

Food marketing also uses colors to influence us. Many use the color green on their wrappers, where the nutritional information is listed. Research has taught them that people perceive food with the color green as being a healthier choice.

Of course, I started thinking about this topic because I ate breakfast at Bob Evans a couple of times this week, and they always have the apple pies at the register. In big bold letters “they” remind me that it is a double crust pie. Now, I am still thinking about that pie. I like pie. And, doesn’t it seem like it should be a good breakfast food! I feel like I am being manipulated, and I don’t mind it.

That’s just my random thoughts on a Friday. I hope you have a great weekend!

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Puffery or False Employment Promises

I like to think that I’m one of those jumpers into Monday!

 

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Which brings me to the blog topic of marketing versus puffery. I remember the first time that I heard the word puffery in law school. I thought that the law professor was kidding.

I soon learned it was a real legal concept. That it’s really a promotional claim that no reasonable person would consider the advertising statements literally. I guess it’s perfect for sales. Like the salesman who always claims that I have “lots of things in the pipeline”, when his manager questions his lack of sales.

How about those horrible commercials for Chevrolet, with the people so amazed at the cars and trucks that all they can do is jump around and say wow. I have never seen “not actors real people” seem so excited about car seats and looking at the half of a car. That’s not puffery in marketing. That’s just nonsense.

A better example is the advertising of Papa Johns Pizza. It’s puffery because no one really believes that they have better ingredients and therefore better pizza. Someone could potentially like the taste of their sauce or think that Peyton Manning is funny in the ads. However, no reasonable person would think they have better ingredients, since all pizzas basically have the same ingredients. But that is acceptable puffery advertising.

Unfortunately for Uber Technologies, they crossed the line from puffery, into a claim of misrepresentation. Now Uber  is paying a 20 million dollar settlement for claims of driver deception. (CNBC)

The agreement was made with the Federal Trade Commission relating to statements that Uber had made regarding claims of income that their drivers could make. Between the years of 2013-2015, while they were trying to recruit drivers to their service rather than competitor Lyft, the advertised potential driver earnings far exceeded what drivers really were earning. Plus, drivers were paying substantially more for leased cars than advertised.

The attached article provides a great discussion of earnings in the major cities. It also provides a reminder that companies just can’t get away with misrepresenting benefits, just to assist their growth. Meanwhile, Uber says that they are glad to settle this dispute.

Still, I am glad that Uber is doing well. At least that’s good for us when we want to catch a ride. Right?

And for pic o’ day, it’s really a thought that was sent to me about the progress of New Year’s resolutions:

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Television Commercials and Marketing

On Tuesday, I am going to shoot a couple of television commercials for our firm advertising.  I have to forward the scripts to the TV station where we are shooting the spots. Admittedly, I haven’t finished the scripts, but I am working on that right now. (Yes, I stopped to quickly blog!) I have to make some quick decisions about what the ads should say.

I am told that successful advertising is not telling, it’s experiencing. Some things need no words.

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Nike has long been considered a standard bearer in advertising. The ads that aired during the 2016 Olympics were analyzed for effectiveness. (Adweek.com)  Google found that 34.4 percent of consumers remembered seeing Nike’s “Unlimited” campaign. The ads showed stories of athletes like Chris Mosier, Sister Madonna Buder and Kyle Maynard, (the first quadruple amputee to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Nike learned long ago that they were successful by advertising experiences not product. They don’t advertise that their shoes are tremendously cushioned insoles; or that they are better than their competitors, or that they sell more shoes than anyone. Instead, their ads make us feel. They call it emotion branding. (602Communications.com)

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Google then surveyed how the ads were accessed. Eighty-three percent of Google searches that resulted from the Olympics ads came from smartphones. The other 10 percent from tablets, and desktops made up the remaining 7 percent.

A wise marketer told me a long time ago to remember this one thing in my marketing. Don’t market about yourself. Instead, market what you can do for others. And that’s also a pretty good life lesson!

And for pic o’ day, a special thanks to Mike Thomas for posting this on his Facebook. Marketing for the YMCA?

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Marketing and Medicine

First, I start out with our our Monday something my mom sent me…

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I love this time of year for many reasons. And on Friday, someone delivered a gift basket that included “Grandma’s Homemade Boysenberry Jam”, which is entirely unlike anything my grandmother ever made. But that’s the fun part of the season… plus it is truly some amazing marketing to make a jar of sugar sound like something from my grandmother. Right?

So quickly to the blog. It’s a situation where health meets a lifesaving idea. Dr. Henry Heimlich (wikipedia), famous for developing an anti-choking technique, has passed away at age 96. His obituary in the New York Times describes his life and story.

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He was known as Mr. Lifesaver because in the 70’s when he proposed the maneuver that was named after him, choking on foreign objects was the sixth leading cause of death. It was estimated to be the cause of over 4000 deaths per year. This included children who were choking on toys.

Not only did he come up with the idea of the Heimlich Maneuver, but he then marketed it. Initially, he was viewed as a self-promoting crackpot. But when saved lives began to accumulate because of the Heimlich maneuver, skeptics were silenced and state and federal health authorities began to endorse his procedure. Today, the American Medical Association says that it now is estimated to save thousands of lives each year. The two pasted articles above give a good description of his life and idea.

I am impressed with the thought that he would not allow critics to derail him and that he was not effected by peer pressure. Even in the early stages when the medical community frowned on any kind of marketing; he was doing interviews, writing books, and going on TV to promote. As he put it, “I can do more toward saving lives in three minutes on television, than I could do all my life in the operating room”.

 

And for pic o’ day:

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And because I can’t get enough of these!

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Secrets Not So Secret

Luke 8:17 tells us that nothing is secret…everything shall become known. That Bible verse is descriptive of how Facebook tracks us and how politicians and advertisers can use that information.

Are you Republican, Democrat or Independent? If you are unsure… Facebook can tell you.

As described by the NY Times, go to facebook.com/ads/preferences on your browser. (You will probably  have to log in to Facebook first.) That will bring you to a page with your ad preferences. Under the “Interests” header, click the “Lifestyle and Culture” tab.

Then, look for a box titled US Politics. In parentheses, it shows how Facebook  categorizes you. Such as liberal, moderate or conservative.

If the US Politics box doesn’t appear, try clicking the See more button under the grid of boxes. Facebook gathers information about your political views based on the pages that you have liked — or on your political preference, if you list it on your profile page. For instance, if you like the Hillary Clinton for President pages, Facebook might categorize you as a liberal. If you are forwarding Trump articles… you are probably Republican.

If you didn’t feel like clicking through that “labyrinth of crazy instruction”, it really breaks down pretty simply. Companies like Google and Facebook are constantly collecting information about us.  If you are forwarding political rumors about either candidate… Facebook knows and can provide that information to advertisers.

Things that you do, like the websites you visit or videos you watch, gives clues about you. Amazon knows the books you read and the products you buy. Then, they target with ads for similar items.  When you sign-up and provide your birthday, friends, calendar events or photos, you are uploading easy clues about you.

For more, here is an article from salon.com that tells you 4 ways Google is destroying privacy and collecting data. Surveys or “calling on the home phone” to ask your opinion, or who you are voting for have basically gone the way of the 8 track tape player. I would have said the record player, but that has made a comeback! What does it say about me for constantly buying ice cream?

 

And for our Monday pic o’s… how about some encouragement:

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And thanks for that one adoring fan!

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Competition and Advertising

I like the TV show Better Call Saul  which is based on a lawyer named Saul Goodman. It has some local flavoring to it, because the female main character is from Virginia Beach and the creator of the series is from Chesterfield.

The last couple of episodes have been about Saul sneaking into his brother’s house to change document dates, as a way of defeating the competition. I won’t bore you with the details, except to include that Kinkos copying and the changing of documents, is the basis of the story.

A 1946 law went into effect called the Lanham Act, which prohibits false advertising and provides civil penalties for such “competition” activities.  We hold false statements in business to a different standard than just defamation.

In 1991 Procter & Gamble won a $75,000 lawsuit against James & Linda Newton after they were found responsible for spreading rumors that the company supported the Church of Satan. The two were distributors of Amway Products, a competitor of Proctor & Gamble.

They had published information to indicate that the President of Proctor and Gamble had appeared on the Phil Donohue Show to announce that “due to the openness of our society, he was coming out of the closet about his association with the church of Satan”. The Newtons went on to say that people should understand that a purchase of Proctor and Gamble products was a conscious effort to support the church of Satan.

Unfortunately, such “false advertising” doesn’t seem to apply to politics. I guess we just assume it’s all false in political advertising. When you see that kind of advertising, can’t you almost see that as a political ad? Yes you can!

And for pic o’ day, this is one to make you think:

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