Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Twitter Tip-Branding

If you use Twitter, your tweets are generally branded with the service
you use (Twitterrific, TwitterFeed,, TweetDeck, etc.). If you'd
rather that your tweets be branded with your own website name and
URL link, use the free TweetBrand service.

TweetBrand allows you to brand your tweets (with your website link):

Monday, December 28, 2009

Crowdfunding, Microfinance, Micropatronage, Collective Action, Middlemen and the Movies

Boy, just keeping up with all the terms is a chore these days. A not so new one is crowdfunding. Wikipedia defines it: Crowd funding (sometimes called crowd financing, crowd sourced capital or "mass funding") is an approach to raising the capital required for a new project or enterprise by appealing to a group of people (figuratively, "the crowd") for contributions from one or many. When such an appeal is global it is mass funding.

Crowdfunding is a neat derivative of microfinancing, which offers financial services to poor or low-income people. It’s a form of micropatronage that is being experimented with as a funding mechanism for creative work like film projects. Micropatronage is a system in which the public directly supports the work of others by making donations through the Internet. Micropatronage differs from traditional patronage systems by allowing many "patrons" to donate small amounts, rather than a small number of patrons making larger contributions.

Crowdfunding is circumventing traditional funding mechanisms like bank loans or venture capital. Basically, it says let's see if we can get a ton of people to chip in a very small amount of money that in aggregate can help somebody to do something. Sounds like mass collaboration with our pocketbooks. And mass collaboration is a collective action. Collective action is the pursuit of a goal or set of goals by more than one person.

Very similar to sponsorship term though I think sponsorship is more applicable as a verb meaning to sponsor something. To support an event, activity, person, or organization financially or through the provision of products or services. A sponsor is the individual or group that provides the support, similar to a benefactor. Which basically means a good maker.

And since so many of us want to make good, the creation of crowd funding comes into play. One site trying to use crowdfunding to benefit film is, a collaborative way to fund ideas and fuel innovation. They act as a resource market, where visitors can watch a pitch trailer for films in varying states of production, share clips with friends (thereby creating a buzz), ‘demand’ screenings in their area and even contribute to a film’s release costs.

On IndieGoGo, projects use the fundraising, promotion and discovery tools provided to build an engaged fan base of funders. They take 9% of the money filmmakers raise themselves and deliver what? Fiscal sponsorship? An escrow account? Most fiscal sponsors charge less than 5%.

If someone managed to raise $200k, Indiegogo would take $18k. That's two days of shooting at that budget level. I can't think of many things worth two days of shooting. For $18k you could build a web site, incorporate the production, set up an escrow account (or an account that holds funds separate from the production's operating account), pay for a few decent meals for the crew, hire an extra PA, etc.

Has indiegogo helped anyone? So far the stand-out IndieGoGo success story has been the documentary Tapestries of Hope, which raised US $25,000 through the site to expose the shocking child abuse problem in Zimbabwe, where young girls are raped because of a mythological belief that virgins can cure Aids and HIV. Another film, The Lilliput, a feature based on the true story a Jewish dwarf who hid in garbage bins during the Holocaust, raised $10,000.

I've always thought that the potential for funding entrepreneurs via crowdfunding was a very powerful concept. I thought of it years ago, even before crowdfunding existed as a term.

But I'm certain that it's only a matter of time before crowdfunding overtakes angel investing and other traditional financing mechanisms as a great way to fund a new business concept.

But they are going to have challenges. If a small contribution obtained via crowdfunding is actually an equity investment or even a loan, then crowdfunding companies may soon have issues with securities laws. I forget the details but if you raise money from over a certain number of investors, you start being subject to all sorts of securities laws.

Is it a IndieGoGo a valuable tool? Depends on what type of project, I suppose. If you are looking for small amounts, it might be a good ticket item. Maybe I am shortsighted but they sound more like a finder or a middleman taking a piece of the pie like we have always done. A middleman is simply someone investors listen to — often another entrepreneur or investor. Now getting investors to listen, telling the story they want to hear, and you gotta have traction aka product testing. Investors don’t invest in businesses they invest in stories. You must start building your product and start testing it with your market before you start raising money. A story without traction is a work of fiction but then again, that’s the movies right?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Some cool links (HARO) – Get notified of journalists looking for sources to interview for their stories. - Also notifies you of reporters looking for sources - not as populated as HARO. – Set up a conference call for free. – Record your conversations using Skype or other VoIP application. – Find experts to help you with any project. – Create a social media newsroom. It’s FREE for 30 days! – Distribute your press release online and in newsrooms. – Look up the contact information for any celebrity. – Grab screen shots and turn them into JPGs. – Convert your documents into PDFs for FREE! – Resize any image for FREE! – Download sample legal forms and documents. - A great site to create a simple, low-cost website. - Make a video and get it professionally edited. They even mail you a camera to use! - A site that helps you identify and track awards for you and your business.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


According to Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2009, there are over 112 million active blogs in the world. Many of them are maintained by professional bloggers and are integral parts of company marketing plans. Who would have thought that blogs would grow so big. As we learn to harness the power of the Internet, business blogs are using this sphere as a way to talk with customers and clients on all sorts of things, from new product and service offerings to simply inform investors of the state of their companies to wishing them Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I had a conversation this week explaining the many great reasons to pursue major national coverage. First, getting coverage in a major national publication like USA Today, or a market specific trade journal like Private Label Magazine sets in motion a chain of events that will raise your company’s visibility dramatically. There’s the article itself, which you can get reprinted and include in sales and proposal packages for additional creditability. Then, you can issue a local release that says something like: Regional Firm’s Accomplishments Gets National Attention, that sort of thing. A single “hit” in a major publication can be leveraged in a multiple ways – over an extended period of time (long shelf-life). That enables your company to “amortize” the cost of getting the attention over multiple uses during an extended time frame. Priceless! Second: getting this kind of coverage catapults a company into an entirely new and more significant category of player. There’s something about the “gravitas” that comes with the attention from a major. That’s not to mention the points I have highlighted in the past about increasing perceived value of the company, better positioning it as a candidate for acquisition, all of those positives as well. No brainer. If it’s easy, and doesn’t cost a fortune, it’s worth a shot.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Expect the unexpected. Even the best plans cannot anticipate everything that might happen, so you have to improvise as you go forward. And one such improvisation is Twitter. When you wrote your Marketing Plan, maybe Twitter did not exist but it does now. Twitter started in 2006 and according to Wikipedia is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author's profile page and delivered to the author's subscribers who are known as followers.

Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or, by default, allow open access. Users can send and receive tweets via the Twitter website, Short Message Service (SMS) or external applications. While the service itself costs nothing to use, accessing it through SMS may incur phone service provider fees.

The 140-character limit on message length was initially set for compatibility with SMS messaging, and has brought to the web the kind of shorthand notation and slang commonly used in SMS messages. The 140 character limit has also spurred the usage of URL shortening services such as tinyurl, and, and content hosting services, such as Twitpic and NotePub to accommodate multimedia content and text longer than 140 characters. Since its creation, Twitter has gained notability and popularity worldwide.

Now for some stats:
•According to a recent report on Pew Internet “the median age of a Twitter user is 31, which has remained stable over the past year. The median age for MySpace is now 26, down from 27 in May 2008, and the median age for LinkedIn is now 39, down from 40. Facebook, however, is graying a bit: the median age for this social network site is now 33, up from 26 in May 2008.”

•According to a recent study by of 1900 social media professionals:
◦65% have less than 2 years of experience working with social media.
◦ The companies represented by these professionals are just as new to the ballgame with 71% having less than 2 years of experience with Social Media.
◦In 66% of these companies the marketing department leads the social media efforts.
◦In 23% of these companies the customer service department leads the social media efforts.

Twitter is a great way to develop relationships and promote yourself and your product or business. But it's important to avoid being seen as someone who just promotes themselves. Most of your tweets should be about helping others, but you also need to inject some personality to help people get to know you.

Here's a great blogger who offers tips about Twitter:

Here are some ideas for tweeting:

1. Link to helpful or entertaining articles, Web sites, and blog posts and recommend products and services you find useful.

2. Offer an incentive to subscribe to your ezine or blog, or offer a free eBook or sample of one of your products with no strings attached.

3. Announce your live and virtual events.

4. Teach a mini-lesson in 140 characters.

5. If you make a mistake say so.

6. Get to know your followers.

7) Twitter is as a "knowledge network". A "network" of people to whom you can pose questions and - usually extremely rapidly - get back responses.

8) Conduct a survey.

9) Twitter as a Travelogue, plane late? traffic? Check it all out on Twitter.

10) Use Twitter as a tool to drive traffic to blog entries.

One final note. If you have actually read this far along (thank you, if you have!), you might have come to the conclusion that I spend a lot of time using Twitter. The truth is that I really don't, but I have found a way that works very well for me to fit occasional glances at the twitterstream into my regular daily workflow.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Viral Campaign Begins

Earlier this year, I was retained by DoodleBra to get them some press for their product. My initial meeting with Randy, Betty Ann Segal, Deborah Delaunay and one other person was to discuss how Midtown Marketing Group could help them grow their brand awareness. I explained – the rules of marketing change rapidly and public relations is front loaded. Most of the work is done in the beginning; interviewing them, learning more about them and their business, their product line, researching potential media outlets that would be interested in their press release or pitch, and preparing their pitch grid. (A pitch grid is a fancy name for a story-pitch tool that is visual and laid-out in grid fashion.)

Once the research is done, press releases, new product releases and pitches are written based on what is learned. The power of their brand relies on the ability to focus. That is why defining their target market would help to strengthen their brand's effectiveness. In the initial meeting, I saw fashion, teen entrepreneur, and party favor attributes as the assets that I could leverage. Once retained, we could flesh-out the strategy over a few days, and build-in the flexibility to roll with the punches. Mounting a visibility campaign and build awareness in target top-tier dailies, weeklies, long-lead monthlies, syndicated columnists, reviewers, radio and TV talk shows, and bloggers. Blogs also have comment fields, allowing users to leave comments and be more interactive with the blog author.

Their web site was good but needed to operate more like a product driven site. Who comes to the site should experience easy navigation and be able to find what they want. The web site works more as a digital, online brochure and information gathering site. Adding a shopping cart is a good idea, so when a buyer does come - they can buy. Randy said he was working with an India company to get that done.

I advised they would need an online press kit. They had the makings for one since they had been published locally; the information just needed to be re-structured and included into a link on the site called PRESS. (A press kit is a promotional package that includes press releases, tip sheet, bios, FAQ sheets, photographs of you, your business, product shots, logos, etc., reviews, published pieces and other pertinent information.)

It all boils down to budget. Different amounts get different things. I am, however, mindful of the budgetary constraints. Randy stated they would love to have press right away as they want to sell bras. I explained it does not always work that way, sometimes you can get the press right away and other times, the press picks you up when they have the need. I added that I could pitch them to my sales database. We could try and get a rep to rep his product but they generally want a line not just one product. Randy said he would retain me to pitch my PR and sales database. I pitched 1200 contacts including manufacturer's reps, resident buyers, QVC rep, television, radio, print and bloggers. And whala!

Fab Sugar

Glamour Magazine

Lingerie Buyer Magazine

The View

Friday, November 6, 2009

Making a Product in China

The pathway to a successful product is challenging enough for big companies, but for the average person with a great idea, getting a product to market can be downright intimidating – to the point that many great products are never made.

Beyond the hurdles involved in getting a product in front of buyers and customers is the fundamental task of actually making a product. While it may be easy enough to make a prototype or two or ten, making 10,000 or 100,000 or millions of almost anything at a globally competitive price will most likely require an entrepreneur to manufacture overseas. Yet unless an inventor-turned-entrepreneur can assure a major buyer that their product can and will be available in quantity, there’s no real chance for growth.

As manufacturing in Asia, Eastern Europe and elsewhere becomes more standard operating procedure than strategic competitive advantage for businesses of every size, first-time inventors often find themselves slogging through the cultural quagmire of dealing with foreign languages, inconvenient time zones, different manufacturing standards, and unusual business practices – all real-world issues that are part of the process of off-shore manufacturing.

John Mulry, founder of Rescue Facts in Central Point, Oregon, is such a budding entrepreneur. John – a retired EMT– saw a need for a way to quickly provide emergency personnel with critical personal and medical information about the victims of automobile accidents. This basic concept led him to develop the Rescue Facts product – an inexpensive nylon wrap that secures around your seatbelt with Velcro. An embroidered universal medical symbol alerts EMS and Police that there is important health information inside.

Initial prototypes were well-received by potential customers and large scale buyers. His business was off and running. Their first production run was handled by a Southern California agent who got their product made in China , but at a price that left quite a bit of room for improvement. Working with me, John was introduced to one of my subcontractors, specializing in U.S./China business facilitation. He provides U.S. companies with a bi-lingual, bi-cultural, time-convenient channel of communication to sources of manufacturing in China through their partner in Guangzhou, which specializes in sourcing and facilitating all manner of manufacturing in China from low-tech to high-tech.

For Mulry, it was a perfect match. Not only was he able to shave a large percentage off his wholesale price, but he ended up with a much better product. From beginning to end, getting things made (and made right) overseas is all about communication. We first took John’s basic product description and drew up a detailed product specification that served as the foundation for the manufacturer to quote against. It assures that both sides understand what is expected – particularly when there are language and cultural issues involved.

Then we worked with both parties to write up a well-structured statement of work and quote. Once their order was placed, Rescue Facts had the opportunity to sign off on samples of every aspect of their production including materials, workmanship, printing and packaging and packing. Together, we work out the details of the process and troubleshoot the problems in both worlds so my clients don’t have to.

What can happen along the way? Lots of things. Most problems arise from simple mis-communication over details that are exacerbated by language, metric conversions, and a lack of technical understanding on the part of the entrepreneur.
First-time inventor/entrepreneurs often don’t understand the manufacturing process and what goes into mass-producing their product. The value-added of a subcontractor is that we not only address the East/West business issues, but also helps bridge the tech/non-tech gap between my clients and the Chinese manufacturers. This really can’t be done effectively by e-mail alone.

For Rescue Facts, the key to quality was both in the production process and in the shipping. Their first batch of products from their original Chinese manufacturer was basically okay, but the packages were unsellable. The product packages were packed improperly allowing them to be damaged in shipping. Mulry was disappointed with that first production run. But now that he is working with me - in English and during normal business hours – everything’s worked out fine. Everything looks good for this new international small business venture.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Are Big Retainers Really Necessary?

I've been quite taken with the breathtaking ability of large Ad and PR agencies to demand up-front retainers that look at lot like a King's ransom. Now what we do is front-loaded to be sure, but I've been getting the feeling that a lot of the fancy retainers being paid in the market today are more about what the client will bear than the delivery of actual value. Ya think?

So Midtown Marketing Group is working on a new model, that we will be announcing more formally in the near future. I wanted my blog readers to know it was coming. It seems to our group like a change in business-as-usual is in order, given the new economic realities. Cost-cutting and efficiency are now mandates, and at MMG, we get the message.

Look for an announcement next week detailing the specifics. If you're tired of big retainers and questionable value propositions, stay tuned.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

History Repeats Itself

I have been wrapping myself around the new catch words…Cloud Computing. It is the latest incantation being chanted by the IT Business World. It is being presented as a new idea but it really reminds me of the old mainframe computing of the 1960’s and early 80’s. Remember the days of when mainframes were the predominant model of computing, transitioning through the creation of the personal computer to ASP’s, managed services, Saas (Software as a Service), and now the new catch word…Cloud computing?

I remember the ASP (Application Service Model); it came right after the dot com boom. It was an acronym that had to evolve a few times too and had its buzz for a short time; it never really gained a strong business acceptance. Then the metamorphosis started and whala! The managed services market. This is basically what we all do in business. But to give you an idea, this is Wikipedia’s definition:

A managed services provider (MSP), is typically an information technology (IT) services provider, who manages and assumes responsibility for providing a defined set of services to their clients either proactively or as they (not the client) determine that the services are needed. Most MSPs bill a flat or near-fixed monthly fee, which benefits their clients by providing them with predictable IT support costs. Many MSPs now provide many of their services remotely over the Internet rather than having to perform on-site client visits, which is time consuming and often expensive. Common services provided by MSPs include remote network, desktop and security monitoring, patch management and remote data back-up, as well as technical assistance.

In 2006, Peter Sandiford, Intel’s Resource Center wrote this: With managed services, an Information Technology provider monitors your systems remotely, as if you have a full-time professional IT staff right in your office. From printers to e-mail to network maintenance to storage backup, managed services can keep your computer systems protected and operational.

Where I see this is channel partners aka the middleman. Channel partners is a term that came up with tech companies but the middleman has been around for years. Thank goodness. Think about how many middlemen there are in business: stock brokers, publicists, manufacturer’s representatives, food brokers, resident buyers, VARs, OEMs, MSPs (there’s that term again).

Computers have made our jobs busier and easier. The creations affiliated with computers like software have standardized or simplified our life. And for business, the commercial model varies. Instead of buying hardware, servers, etc., and creating our own network, thanks to the Internet we all can use the network. We are all trying to figure out how to make a living utilizing the new medium…Internet. True it is not so new but capitalizing on it, is constantly evolving.

So what I can figure out at this point is another term has been born. It basically takes what I have been doing for years for very small businesses, pay as you go. But cloud computing is more about a new management and commercial model than it is about a new technology per se. Or here just think of the Internet as the cloud.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Need Funding?

I know, I know. You are probably thinking finding funds to finance your business venture may come from anybody or anywhere. But I have taken the time, over past 15 years, to create a list of over 4600 funding sources that came from everybody and everywhere. Whether your funding source is your spouse’s savings account, your friends, your family, your banker, or your customers…you need a story! Once we put your story into the hands of “the money”, you will be in the spotlight! You will carry your passion laden dream, along with rock hard numbers to the potential investor's ears, heart, and perhaps, even touch their soul! You may be exactly what they have been looking for!

If you have the equity, we can introduce you to banker types. If you have an emerging technology, maybe you don’t want to go into the manufacturing business then maybe an invention licensing executives would be right for you. Say your business is seed or start up, then you might be perfect for an “Angel”. These "Angels" are high net worth individuals who may have been entrepreneurs in their early days and now look for ideas, new companies & individuals they can embrace. They really want to succeed along with you. The "Angels" bring important business connections along with their money and can open many doors.

OK, you’re not a start up. Your Angel has taken you as far as he/she could and it’s time to breakout. It’s time for you to run your story past the big boys…our venture capitalist, investment banker, hedge fund manager, and merger & acquisition firm friends. Your dream has become reality and you need breakout funds to reach the next level. Your story doesn’t matter anymore, you’re a big boy or girl now and the numbers tell their own story. You may feel that you are in a race to reach the next stage of growth before competitive forces swamp you. We can put your name on the itinerary of the big boys and they will respond…if your numbers & your history can move them. Are your numbers attractive & your history impressive?

The essential ‘reaction’, is to take action! But where to start? An executive summary of your business in our hands will get the process started. We will present our synopsis of your summary to the “4600”. ‘Our portal’ is your access to potential investors who may be moved by the synopsis offered and are interested in getting more information. If they are interested, we will be contacted and we will turn these interested contacts over to you immediately so that they can hear your story directly from you. You will now be in control of ALL communications!

It’s that easy…only one issue remains…it’s not that easy! Connecting for you is hard work. “4600” is just a number to you. To us it is 4600 names, faces, phone numbers, email addresses, attitudes, synergies, investment goals, relationships, and trust…mainly trust…that we analyze and sort through. Take action NOW, your future is well worth it!

Whew, I needed to get that out. Now that was a sales pitch if ever I heard one.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Firm - Our Practice

Midtown Marketing Group has evolved over a couple of decades of development. I opened the business with an emphasis on sales, marketing and pubic relations. In the ensuing years, MMG developed extensive databases of contacts in all three areas of focus. That is, we developed a database of investors and funding sources; a database of sales channel intermediaries, and, a database of key media gatekeepers and opinion makers.

The agency specializes in "the pitch." MMG works with clients to develop superior, attention-getting elevator pitches; business plans, investment marketing memos, and the kind of documentation required by traditional Venture Capitalists and Angels. Or, we generate the kind of press materials and pitch your business requires to build visibility, brand and message. Finally, MMG professionals with years of experience pitch your company's products or services to the kind of channel intermediaries; distributors, agents, buyers you'll need to get onto retail shelves or into the highest levels of the B2B market.The MMG team targets your pitch to the correct sub-set of our extensive target databases - based on your goals and objectives. We document the process, and provide our clients with regular updates and reports.

MMG serves clients nationwide - in a wide variety of industrial and institutional sectors. The company works on a project retainer basis, billing accrued hours against our monthly invoice. We are located in beautiful, sunny southern Oregon - which means we don't charge "big city" prices for our services. Tired of agencies that require hefty monthly retainers and produce very little results? Ping us, you won't be disappointed.

Best regards,

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Welcome to Midtown Marketing Group's blog. Based in Medford, Oregon, MMG serves the communications needs of small-to-medium size busineses, non-profits and institutions through our comprehensive website and databases of funders, sales & channel intermediaries; and, writers, reporters, columnists and correspondents.

MMG serves start-ups as well as growing and expanding organizations throughout the United States. Our digital, Internet-based model leverages the latest technology to put your pitch in the hands of precisely targeted gatekeepers.

This blog will give me and our professional staff and partners a platform for sharing our practice, our clients and our experiences with interested readers. Of course we'll be focusing on our successful projects, but we'll also share the lessons learned along the way. Weblogs being what they are, journals in diary format, we hope to post regular notes and a few in-depth articles. So look for weekly updates, and we'll point toward a goal of two-to-three posts per week after all the kinks are resolved and we've achieved warp speed.

Best regards,