Interview With Wei Yang - Atlanta "Tweeting" Company Easy Auto Sales


Earlier this week I posted about Atlanta Companies that are micro blogging using Twitter. Toss of a pink boa to Will Fleiss, director of organic search for Easy Auto Sales, who was not only listening but joined in on the conversation. He was the only person out of the 34 companies that were included in the post who dropped a comment. He even said thank you. Nice.

So I asked Will how he found the post and why he commented.
Will_fleiss_bigger Will Fleiss: As far as how I came to comment on your post about companies using Twitter, we use utilize Google Alerts to monitor mentions of "easyautosales" online.  Your blog post appeared in our alerts, and of course I had to check it out. Our business model is based primarily on Ad revenue, so as you can imagine we rely heavily on traffic to our site.

Well girlfriend, I was so impressed that I wanted to know more about how Easy Auto Sales was using social media and in particular Twitter. Wei Yang, co-founder - business development, kindly agreed to share a few insights.

Easyautosales_logo_3 About
: My favorite line from the website -
Since we're just a small group of entrepreneurs with crazy dreams; we figured we'll aim high and hope for the best. is America's fastest growing, web 2.0 automotive service designed to help auto dealers and private sellers pinpoint qualified buyers. The website now lists over one million vehicle listings from 9,000 dealerships and private sellers. provides support for video, interactive questions & answers, and unlimited pictures for all vehicle listings. Private sellers and dealerships are encouraged to advertise their vehicles on for free.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Why is the Easy Auto Sales Twittering?
Wei Yang: EasyAutoSales is a startup that embraces social media and we are using Twitter as a medium to build relationships with early adapters in the auto industry.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  Who are the people you hope to reach and have you had any response from them?
Wei_yang_2 Wei Yang: We originally used Twitter to reach social media people as well as using it as an extension for our blog advertising.

To our surprise, we were also able to build informal relationships with various auto bloggers and industry leaders in the autos field.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  Who is/are behind the "tweets?"
Wei Yang: @wei_yang and @willfleiss - who are both co-founders of EasyAutoSales.

Toby/Diva Marketing:  Is Twitter part of a larger marketing/social media/marketing strategy and if so how does it integrate?

Wei Yang: Twitter has the potential to be a part of our larger marketing strategy. However, we are waiting to see how Twitter works out their scaling issues before committing to the technology.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Are you promoting the Twitter imitative and if so how?
Wei Yang: At this time, we are exploring options using Twitter to help our users extend their experience on our website. However, we're still ironing out the features we have in mind so that it would make sense. As for promoting the fact we use Twitter - that is not something we're actively doing yet. Many of the dealers in the industry still do not know what Twitter is and for the ones that do, we are probably linked already in some way.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Can you share any innovative ways you'll be using Twitter?
Wei Yang: Soon! Hopefully very soon. =)

Toby/Diva Marketing:  How have you gone about identifying "followers?"
Wei Yang: Using Twitter based search engines, we have been able to identify users who have shown interest in cars or are related to the autos industry. From there, it's just a matter of seeing what these users have in common and who they are following, etc.

Toby/Diva Marketing: One more .. Why do you think Twitter works on a local level?
Wei Yang: Twitter works on a local level more so due to the people using it than the platform itself. The people who first jumped on board are mostly social media experts, teens or early adapters. I think people on line who are always seeking out other like-minded individuals is what makes Twitter unique. However, the unstable platform is definitely a cause for concern and as more and more general public people use the platform, its uniqueness may fizzle like Facebook.

Change Can Be Inspirational


Spent last week in Miami speaking at The Women's Congress conference. The Women's Congress is a 2-year old organization with a mission to bring small business owners and corporate executives together for mutual learning. Change_posterI knew the conference would be great. What I didn't know was the day would be inspired by change.

My thanks to Rebecca Weeks, Director of Business Development, Real Girls Media Network, Inc. for the invitation to moderate the panel on Web 2.0. In addition to Rebecca our session included two other savvy divas - Anne Murray, Senior Director of Interactive Marketing, Southwest Airlines and Virginia Simmons, Online Communications Manager, The ONE Campaign. Sidebar: Biz Blog Profile interviews coming soon. Love that networking online and off digital too! 

Companies are tightening their training and travel purse strings and one of the first to feel the pinch is professional development conferences. Moments before our panel we changed direction. We decided to merge the Web 2.0 and social media sessions. So .. we tossed out the preplanned Powerpoints and the agendas. We pulled chairs into a big Conversation Circle and in true bloggy style, and similar to what I had done at the Healthcare Summit last fall, we trusted in our audience to tell us what they wanted to know. And they, of course did! Again, the feedback we got was "Best session I attended." "I learned so much." I must admit that having successfully gone down this road before I was pretty comfortable with the formate and new direction. Something to be said of experience. (smile)

Sidebar: Slides from the Healthcare Summit are posted. If you're looking for a basic 101 How to Create A Blog Strategy check it out.

What made this especially fun was my friend and winner of the Entrepreneurial Champion for Women Award (!) none other than Ms. Lena West, xynoMedia Technology, was the moderator of the social media panel. The panelists included Nina Kaufman, Making It Legal, and Cory Edwards of Symantec. Yes, the conference did include a few smart men .. and Cory is that indeed.

The session on Leadership And Change Change Management was particularly interesting to me since for so many companies a dive into social media marketing constitutes not only a new strategy but a change in company culture. The panel members not only shared their experiences about leadership, change and how women are likely to handle change differently than men (more talk, more involvement, more sharing of information) but were inspiring. The prestigious panel included: Jeri Dunn, Chief Information Officer, Bacardi Limited, Juanita T. James, Chief Communications Officer, Pitney Bowes Inc., JoAnn Lilek, Chief Financial Officer, DSC Logistics. Lisa Gibbs, Executive Business Editor, The Miami Herald.

For your reading pleasure my notes and a few random thoughts.

"Ships are safe in harbors but that's not where ships are suppose to be." Like sailing a ship change involves risk but you don't grow unless you sail out of the harbor." Jeri Dunn, Chief Information Officer, Bacardi Limited

On Change

  • Systems are just tools.
  • People often feel that change is a threat that is done to them on a personal basis.
  • Remember when you institute change within an organization you also change people's lives.
  • It's critical to clearly articulate both the vision of the new direction and why the need to change.
  • You need to learn the rules before you can change them. 
  • You can not influence change in isolation .. it takes team work.
  • The role of communication in change management is critical for both (internal) employees and (external) stakeholders e.g., customers, media, shareholders. Communication must include: listening, understanding and then talking.

On Leadership

  • Leaders grow over time. A good leader understands the culture and how to work within to make changes. Listen to the experts but in the end you must form your own opinions. 
  • You may not always have all the information to make a decision but a good leader understands what is essential and what is nice to have. 
  • Understand the role of everyone in the organization and treat all with respect.
  • Employees will share knowledge with you if you ask them; don't overlook some one who appears shy or quiet. 

On Mentoring and Personal Learning & Values

  • Get yourself a good mentor. Mentors come in different packages; you may find a mentor in a peer or a younger person.
  • As important, help others realize their full potential.
  • Make yourself vulnerable. Openly seek and accept feedback from wherever you can get it. Learn not to take it personally.
  • Your personal values must align with the values of your organization if there is a disconnect that's when the work  and your life begins to unravel.

You can not define yourself by your work, by your title or by your position. Those are things that people can give and take away from you. Juanita T. James, Chief Communications Officer, Pitney Bowes Inc.

Consulting Lessons From Emory Students


Handshake Many of the folks who pop into Diva Marketing are consultants. Some people are traditional consultants who serve many different clients. Other are internal consultants whose job it is to provide support within their own organizations.

Consulting is a profession where head and heart are both critical. In fact, often the person with the best technical skills may not succeed to the extent as the person with the best people skills. The ability to form and sustain collaborative relationships is key.

One of my favorite undertakings has been co-teaching a management consulting class at
Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. This is my 4th year as part of this innovative course where undergraduate (juniors and seniors) students are matched with non profit "clients" and assume 95% of managing client relations. This unique program was profiled in Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell's ebook Creating Customer Evangelists  - click on Bloomberg Marketing and highlighted in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

It's always a time of fun learning for me. This year I had the pleasure of working with a great class and with one of the most talented consultants in O&M (organization and management)- Prof. Peter Topping. 2007 clients were: AHMENhousing, PeopleTV, Camp Horizon, Cobb Medical Society, Literacy Action, Theatre In The Square, It's A Journey, Atlanta Police Foundation

At our pizza party last class the students told us some of their lessons learned about consulting.

  • There is no set path you have to be ready to change as you go along.
  • I will never forget how important it is to define the scope.
  • You need to know if the client has the ability to implement your recommendations.
  • It would be nice to know if the client will actually do anything with your strategy.
  • Never know how much red tape there will be and what will be simple or easy to get (note in terms of data from the client) or more difficult.
  • I learned I don't want to be a consultant.
  • Understanding the organizational structure and who to go to for information.
  • Everything takes longer than you think.
  • Opinions (about what to do and how to do it) can vary within an organization.
  • Every time we met with the client there was a new piece of information that could have helped us if we had known it sooner.
  • The client's list of stuff he wanted from the project seemed to grow every time we met.
  • Every project is different and you have to adjust to the company (culture).
  • Keep your eyes on the primary goals.

Agree? Disagree? What are your lessons learned from consulting or from working with a consultant?

Doing Business in Your Bathrobe


Friday Fun is Diva Marketing's virtual happy hour from cosmos to Jack to lemonade. A waiting for the weekend 'playground' time to be sophisticated-silly. Or sometimes just plain silly.

When my mom did it in the '70's it wasn't talked about. When I did it in the '90's it was still something people found to be well .. different and a little secretive.  But now the shades are drawn and the secret is out and lots of people are doing it and lots more wish they were!

Home-based, Working Virtual, Working Remotely, Working at Home or Working In Your PJs .. yes, Divas, there have been a few of those PJ days for me too. But the commute sure is easy and I'm doing my part to help with the horrid Atlanta traffic challenges.

Bathrobebunny Kristie Tamsevicius, WebMomz, thought there should be a celebration for home business ownership. So much so that she created a holiday - Doing Business in Your Bathrobe Day now celebrating it's 5th year; and although you may not find a Hallmark card - yet - it's become an international holiday sponsored by International Robes.

In addition to a reason to stay in your bathrobe all day, the idea of owning a holiday is a brilliant marketing strategy. If you can make it work.  Kristie kindly agreed to an email interview. She lets us in on the back-story of Doing Business in Your Bathrobe Day and offers some thoughtful ideas of how to create and promote a marketing holiday.

Toby/Diva Marketing - Now I must admit, that sometimes I work in my PJs. Where did the idea to create a holiday around working in your bathrobe come from?

Kristie T - Five years ago when I published my book, I was looking for a fun way to create buzz. My business partner and I were joking about how entrepreneurs work at home in their pajamas. And then we said, "Hey, we should make a special holiday for working in your pjs and bathrobe or something…" And then we looked at each other and a light bulb went off. And that was how we created "Doing Business in Your Bathrobe Day" – a day to celebrate the freedom of entrepreneurs.  And it's really caught on. Today the holiday is celebrated in 7 countries around the world.

Toby/Diva Marketing - Your website is WebMomz. Is this a day for women only?

Kristie T - The holiday is for any work at home entrepreneur. It's not exclusive just to moms.

Toby/Diva Marketing - How does one celebrate "Working in Your Bathrobe Day?"

Kristie T - Well by wearing your bathrobe of course on February 12th.  We also hope that you will drop by our website, WebMomz and enter to win a plush bathrobe and other cool prizes.  There's also a cool press release you can grab and send to your local paper that tells them you are celebrating the holiday.   It's a great way to get some free press for your business.  And finally, if you are game… we'd love for you to send a picture of yourself working in your bathrobe and we'll post it on the site.

Toby/Diva Marketing - I did a bit of search research and learned that this holiday is celebrated in Britain and in Australia. When you began promoting "Working in Your Bath Robe Day?" what was your original goal? Where would you like to see your holiday go?

Kristie T - When I started the holiday, I never dreamed how big it would become.  But it's a fun celebration around a big idea – the freedom of a work at home lifestyle.   And I think it strikes a cord for many people. 

We registered it as an official holiday.  Before we knew it, some Canadian work at home communities came on board, then it was the Australian mums.   Then it was moms in the UK, Ireland, and Iceland.  This year we had a mom in Bulgaria announce she was celebrating.   

It's become a bit of a phenomenon really.  I think part of it is because of the element with the press release that gets people PR for their own work at home business.   That's the "what's in it for them" piece.  I think too that the media is looking for "good news" pieces.  This is a fun story and people want to hear that there are good things going on in the world too.

Toby/Diva Marketing - Creating and owning a holiday is a terrific marketing strategy. What advise would you give entrepreneurs who want to develop a 'holiday' of their own?

Kristie T - You need to find a big idea, something exciting that grabs people's hearts and makes them want to be a part of it.   Entrepreneurs thrive on freedom.  They are passionate about what they do.  So that translates into excitement around a holiday celebrating something they hold dear.

Second, see if you can find a sponsor to join with you.  Early on InternationalRobe saw what we were doing and wanted on board. Teaming up with a big league company gives you a lot of credibility.

Third, find a way that people can be a part of it.  Can they enter a contest?   Is there something they can do?

Submit a national press release.  Pay the money to have someone write something to catch the media's attention.   We get tv, radio, and newspaper coverage every year just from one press release.  It's totally worth it.

Let bloggers spread the word for you.  This has been key for us getting the word out in a big way online.

Make it official by registering your holiday.  You can submit your holiday at Chase's Calendar of Events to make it a real holiday. 

And if you don't want to go to the trouble to create your own holiday, see if there is a holiday that you can piggyback off of.   If you are a virtual assistant, maybe you want to make a big deal when Secretary's Day comes along with a celebration, a special discount on products/services etc. 

I say go for it.  Having your own holiday is fun and what a wonderful way to go down in history than to your own special day. 

Read More About Creating A Holiday As A Marketing Strategy


business astrology for fun -
from The Astro Divas Paula Dare & Donna Page

Be careful of spending money on impulse with Venus square Uranus today. Do you really need that $1,000.00 chair to make your office look better? If you’re having a bad day don’t go home and pick a fight with your partner especially if you were hoping to get lucky tonight. The fight could drag on over the weekend as the Sun opposes Saturn. You could end up skulking around all day and feel sorry for yourself.

This really isn’t turning out to be a great week for good communication. Everyone’s favorite falls on Wed. 2/13/07. Mercury goes Retrograde. This should be an interesting Retrograde as it is in Pisces. Communication may end up really twisted and jumbled up and be understood as something  completely different than what comes out of your mouth. The mind wants to dream in Pisces. As standard practice, it isn’t wise during any Mercury Retrograde to sign contracts. In this case it’s a double whammy.

Don’t be duped by anybody painting a pretty picture – it could turn into the swampland in Florida. Hold off till Mercury turns Direct 3/7. Then we have Valentine’s Day 2/14. Please make the best of it – kiss and makeup.

At BlogHer With Elisa Camahort - Interview Part One


Last December I had the pleasure of leading a panel discussion at the first Healthcare Blogging Summit. Elisa Camahort, one of the founders of BlogHer, was a panelist and Sunday am we met for  a DBO .. Diva Breakfast Out.

Although I've been involved, as a speaker, editor and supporter, of BlogHer since the early days that be .. 2005, I was curious to lean how within, what seemed like seconds, BlogHer had morphed from one workshop - to an online community - to an ad network - to two niched conferences.  Elisa agreed to recreate our conversation about the back-story of BlogHer and the challenges and opportunities facing the  Blogher_2Diva Trio -  Elisa Camahort, Jory Des Jardins and Lisa Stone - as they build a social media company.

Part One - The Back-story of BlogHer and Why A Biz Blog Conference

Toby/Diva Marketing - Let’s give Diva Marketing’s readers some of the BlogHer back-story.  How did BlogHer come to be?

Elisa Camahort - Back in early 2005, Lisa Stone and I were introduced by a mutual friend, who insisted we needed to know one another (probably because we were the only two avid bloggers he knew.) We had lunch and talked about our frustration over a question roiling through the mainstream (political) blogosphere, namely “Where are the women bloggers?” We each were not only bloggers ourselves, but knew and read many many more of the same.
The assumption was all too often that women weren’t blogging about the topic being considered, whether technology, politics, business etc.  So when Internet and technology conference speaking rosters were skewed 80­90% toward male speakers, and when media reports on the burgeoning blogosphere quoted and cited nearly 100% male bloggers, the rationale was that the rosters merely reflected the gender ratio out in the real world. The only problem with this rationale was that neither casual observation, nor, more objectively, the statistics reported by the Pew Internet & American Life Project supported it.

So Lisa asked me about an idea she had: How about a conference for women bloggers – would I join her to make it happen? If we did, would women bloggers come? My emphatic answer to both questions was “yes” – and our partnership was born. We got right to work on it. We decided to see how many women bloggers we could gather at a conference by and about women bloggers. Men were invited and welcome, but the point was to feature the voices of women bloggers. We threw the idea out to the community in a series of blog posts and were met with an immediate and passionate response.

We also discovered almost immediately that while two heads are better than one, a triumvirate was what we really needed. I had met Jory Des Jardins at a conference…where we bonded over being the only two people taking notes on paper (not typing away in a laptop) during a session.  We started out asking her if she’d like to “help a little”, and ended up sucking her completely into the BlogHer way of life!

Toby/Diva Marketing - Who does what? How are responsibilities defined?

Elisa Camahort - Lisa, Jory and I are co-founders of this organization, and we’re organized to leverage our unique strengths and experiences.

Jory handles all of our sales, business development and partnership activities. This includes both conference sponsorships and advertising network customers.

Lisa is our editorial and community guru, and is really the chief user advocate. She manages the web community, both technologically and editorially. She also handles blogger relations…making sure our editors and ad network partners are taken care of.

I manage our overall marketing and our events in particular. This means logistics, of course, but also programming. I’m constantly on the hunt for great, fresh voices to bring to our conferences.

We are each advocates for our particular area, and advisers to the other two areas. Most significant ideas in any of our three areas are shared amongst us, and it’s inevitable that three of us are way smarter than any one of us.

Toby/Diva Marketing - Let’s step back in time to 2005.  How in the world did you pull off the 2005 BlogHer Conference with no infrastructure, when you, Jory and Lisa were holding down full-time jobs and with minimum funding? 

Elisa Camahort - Because of the community. Don’t get me wrong, Lisa, Jory and I worked like madwomen…but at every step of the way when we asked for help, someone stepped up to deliver. The women’s blogging community didn’t respond to the idea of a BlogHer Conference with a passive “entertain me” attitude. On the contrary, they reacted with an active “What can I do?” spirit. Volunteerism contributed to every aspect of the conference. We like to call it “do-ocracy.” (More on that concept is here:

Toby/Diva Marketing - What was the vision that you, Lisa and Jory had for the first BlogHer Conference?

Elisa Camahort - We wanted to answer that question “Where are the women bloggers” with an emphatic “Right here!” We wanted to make that question sound ridiculous if anyone asked it again. And we wanted to create an opportunity for women bloggers to meet one another and find common ground no matter what their blogging passion was.

Toby/Diva Marketing - Flash forward to 2007, BlogHer is now the premier online community for women bloggers, an ad network and not one but two conferences are planned for this year.  What is the difference between the two conferences?

Elisa Camahort - Thanks for the kind compliment Toby. The BlogHer ‘07 Conference this July in Chicago will be the next generation of the annual conference we’ve had in Silicon Valley in ’05 and ’06. It’s for all women who are interested in blogging, be they as bloggers, bloggers-to-be, or blog readers, regardless of topic or focus. We’ll continue to have the diverse schedule of sessions and events we’ve had, covering everything from the highly personal to the politically charged to the purely professional.

We’ll continue to promote do-ocracy, and look for ways to expand that empowered do-it-yourself approach beyond the Birds of a Feather sessions and Room of Your Own tracks. And we’ll continue to help all women to attend by heavily subsidizing the conference registration fee and feeding people!

BlogHer Business is our inaugural topic-focused event. Essentially we took the Business track from BlogHer and decided to expand it.  Lisa, Jory and I are were all heavily involved with business blogging and helping businesses to grok social media long before we formed BlogHer, so this was a natural first focus area for us. Lisa helped launch such blog networks as and Jory helped launch the ThirdAge blog network and consulted for such companies as Pluck and Rojo. I was an early business blogger, blogging for clients on topics as varied as healthcare, theatre and Internet trends. (I wrote for five client blogs at one time.)

We also had been to multiple business-related blogging conferences and felt we could add value in this arena. We consider BlogHer Business to be a “deeper dive” into a part of Blogher’s overall agenda. And in future we hope to expand the kind of deeper dives we make. BlogHer Tech? BlogHer Election ‘08? BlogHer Arts & Crafts? BlogHer Finance? We expect the community will point us in the directions we should go.

Toby/Diva Marketing  - Does a separate conference for business bloggers have anything to do with the buzz last summer about mommy bloggers and business bloggers having different interests?

Elisa Camahort - Actually, no. As I said, we’re not dropping business topics from the annual event at all. We’re just digging deeper. It’s an incredibly rich and deep topic area. The BlogHer annual event is about finding common ground and celebrating our differences. And promoting one another. And validating quality work and writing, no matter its subject matter. If anything, we’re figuring out how to address our greater community’s divergent interests head-on and see what we can learn from unexpected sources.

Toby/Diva Marketing - Why the steep price increase for the NYC conference?

Elisa Camahort -  It might be easier to explain how the annual event prices are kept low. And why we want to continue to do so. Lots of the people who attend the annual event aren’t blogging as part of any business or job. They can’t expense it to anyone or deduct the trip at tax time. It’s pure out-of-pocket expense…it is really a luxury for a lot of folks. So, if we keep the registration fee low, if we feed you all day, if we try to find hotel options that are affordable…or at least can easily support room-sharing, then we can make sure that we can accommodate, or rather be accommodated by more bloggers.

Sponsors make a lot of that possible. Their involvement means we can feed people. Their involvement means we can have more meeting rooms available. Their involvement helps us have subsidized childcare. Their involvement means we can help speakers with travel expenses…which means that we can feature a broader diversity of voices than just folks who can afford to travel to conferences all year long, All of which means that we don’t have to rely on registration fees to cover the expense of the conference. Which they don’t.

BlogHer Business, on the other hand, is targeting folks who are exploring social media as part of their business or job. In addition, it’s a targeted event with a much smaller planned size. Fewer attendees with a more niche interest, means a smaller pool of sponsors will be involved. And in order to serve these bloggers where many of them are (New York) rather than less expensive cities, the cost of doing this conference will be much greater.

Thursday Jan 25th - Part Two: Vision, Future Direction

Part II Bob Prosen - Kiss Theory Good Bye


Kiss_theory_good_bye_1 In Part II of Diva Marketing's interview with Bob Prosen author of Kiss Theory Good Bye Bob offers marketers two keys on How To Rub Shoulders With the CXO’s, Five Positive Habits That Get Companies Places Fast and more. (Part I of Diva Marketing's interview with Bob Prosen)

2 Free Kiss Theory Good Bye books to Diva's readers.

Before you get into part II, Bob has generously offered 2 Free Kiss Theory Good Bye books to Diva's readers. The first 2 people to drop a comment on this post and request the book will find themselves with quite an interesting read.

Toby/Diva Marketing - I believe it was President Truman who said, “The buck stops here.” However, how involved should employees be in developing processes and in decision marking?

Bob Prosen - Yes, the buck stops with the leader. But every decision shouldn’t end up on the leaders desk. It’s important to remember that the higher up you go in an organization the fewer decisions you should be make.However, the magnitude of those decisions is far greater. For this to work others within the organization must take responsibility for day-to-day decisions or the organization will become stymied, slow to act and less competitive.

When it comes to developing processes, I use the following rule of thumb: Managers work on the process and employees work in the process. Meaning, managers are responsible for approving processes that employees help design. Because process changes generally require reallocation of resources, its management’s responsibility to approve such changes since they control the budget.

Toby/Diva Marketing - I found Kiss Theory Good Bye to be very insightful. The book addresses leadership, sales, finance and operations and customer loyalty. However, strategic marketing seems to be relegated to a step-child role. In fact, one example even placed the responsibility of developing the product mix in the hands of the financial team.

“The products with the smaller margins were being sold to make quota. The solution recommended by finance was to change the sales incentive plan to encourage the sale of the higher-margin products.” Page 88

The decision to sell higher-margin items did not appear to take into account, the market or customer dynamics. Perhaps the lower-margin products were loss leaders that led to the sale of higher margin items. Perhaps the lower-margin products were a strategy to enter a new market. Perhaps the lower-margin products were the glue of a customer loyalty strategy.

That is not to say, that sales and marketing should not be ROI-based or accountable. However, it appears that this was a short-term fix to what might be a more complex situation.  It also seemed that the organization was comprised of tightly held silos if the marketing team wasn’t brought into the discussion. Perhaps the conversations should have begun with marketing and included finance.

That said, where do you see strategic marketing in the c-level suite?

Bob Prosen - Toby, I agree with you that today most companies do relegate marketing to a step-child role which is very unfortunate. Often times marketing is like a diamond in the rough and will only show its brilliance when the CEO respects the ROI it delivers. So for any marketer who wants to rub shoulders with the CXO’s here are the two keys:

First - Marketing must understand and communicate in the language of business leaders, this includes knowing how their programs impact earnings, cash flow, ROI and NVP. If not, marketing will be underutilized and viewed strictly as a discretionary expense that is continuously targeted for budget cuts.

Second, make sure your best friend in the company is the head of Sales, because he or she is always seated at the planning table. Here’s how it should work. When sales is asked to commit to the top line they should agree only if the required marketing plans are approved. A tight relationship with sales makes marketing invaluable.

Smaller companies rarely have to deal with this because they don’t have a dedicated marketing department. Instead, the CEO and head of sales take on the responsibility with accounting in the background keeping score.

Toby, your question is spot on! I recently delivered a keynote presentation at a Business Marketing Association conference on this very subject – What Top CEO’s Expect From marketing. It’s a hard-hitting presentation packed with specific actions that, when employed, will dramatically enhance the power of marketing.

Getting Places Fast

Toby/Diva Marketing - To wrap up our interview, you describe five crippling habits that get companies no where fast:
1.    Absence of clear direction
2.    Lack of accountability
3.    Rationalizing inferior performance
4.    Planning in lieu of action
5.    Aversion to risk and change

Can you give Diva Marketing readers Five Positive Habits That Get Companies Places Fast?

Bob Prosen -
1.    Hire people smarter than yourself
2.    Deliver on commitments
3.    Develop an accountability based culture
4.    Under promise and over deliver 
5.    Reward results not activities

Toby/Diva Marketing - Looking in your crystal ball, would you share your thoughts with Diva’s readers about the challenges and opportunities you see in store for the next generation of businesses and business leaders?

Bob Prosen - We’re entering that next generation as we speak. One of the biggest challenges is information overload and how do you stand out given the unbridled accessibility to the customer and all of the social and Web 2.0 bombardment they are subject to.

What will separate the winners from the losers is the ability to use this technology in such a way that future clients want to hear from you.

The other challenge is the changing work ethic of the Generation Y employee who demands a balanced life. Winners will have created an environment where employees are encouraged to “kiss theory good bye and kiss their life hello” thereby attracting and retaining top talent.

The answer is creating the right work environment combined with state of the art technology that enables this life balance.

Part I Interview With Bob Prosen - Kiss Theory Good Bye


Bob Prosen's new book Kiss_theory_good_bye Kiss Theory Good Bye begins with the line, "Business Leaders  Need Less Talk and more action." My notes to self were "Right on Bob!" Then I read his Acknowledgement, "To my faithful schnauzer, Oreo, who brings me joy and endless companionship." How can you not at least try to read a book that is dedicated to the author's dog. And so I did.

Sidebar: One of the nice benefits of writing a business blog is that authors sometimes send copies of their work. My agreement is that I'll read, as time permits, and instead of a (yawn) book report review they agree to a mini interview for Diva's readers.

Our conversation was longer than I anticipated and Bob's responses so in-depth that I split the interview into two parts. In Part I of my interview with Bob Prosen we talked about the impact social media has on developing business leadership, the role accountability culture plays in business and more.

Toby/Diva Marketing - Let’s set the stage for this mini interview by first talking about leadership. We live in a world where technology plays a critical role in many business processes.  However, how do you think that technology, and specifically social media, has impacted the dynamics of business leadership?

Bob Prosen -  Social media is having a profound impact on the way we look at business. Blogs allow us to discuss and study issues almost instantaneously in a way where PC doesn’t carry the day. Take for instance the recent HP scandal. Leaders can no longer take refuge behind friendly reporters or PR spin machines. Because information is instantly available, tough questions are asked which leads to greater transparency.

Some leaders are proactively using technology to their advantage. Done effectively, leaders can get their message out to many constituencies quickly and inexpensively. Advances in video and audio technology remove any excuse leaders had for not communicating with employees on a regular basis. What this means is that leaders can maintain alignment across the enterprise and speed decision-making, which leads to, increased competitiveness and profits.

Toby/Diva Marketing - Do you believe there are different skill sets a leader should bring to a start-up operation versus a more mature organization?

Bob Prosen - Absolutely! The environments are completely different even though the goals are the same. Both want increased performance and profit. However, this is where the similarities end. Start ups have different challenges. Here are a few of the key ones. They have a shorter runway. In other words, less time to get it right before they run out of capital. They have to make quick decisions without the benefit of history.Every employee matters and must be able to wear multiple hats. Finally, the leader can’t be afraid to fail.

Personally, I prefer the start-up environment. It’s more exciting and everyone has the chance to make a real difference. Once a company makes it, leadership must adapt and change. It’s a different ball game leading a professionally managed company versus a start-up. Here’s the challenge. Being able to maintain an entrepreneurial culture inside a growing company where procedures and policies are required to maintain alignment, ensure quality and improve efficiencies. Sometimes it means the leader has to change.

Organizational Culture
Toby/Diva Marketing - You mentioned an interesting statistic that although 70% of business leaders say their companies’ objectives are clearly defined, only 48% of employees understand the organization’s goals.

Bob Prosen - This is interesting. In fact, one might say it doesn’t make sense. How can goals and objectives be clearly defined and employees not know what they are? The only sensible answer is that these leaders either keep the information to themselves or even worse, fail at communications.

Organizations that are aligned where everyone knows what’s important, how they fit in, what’s expected of them and how they will be rewarded will out perform their competitors. It makes no sense for leaders to know the objectives and then struggle to explain why the organization falls short of achieving them. The leaders job is to ensure everyone who reports to her wins! This can only be realized when the entire organization pulls in the same direction – and goals set the direction.

Toby/Diva Marketing - Going back into the organization, what extent do you feel culture influences a highly profitable company?  How can senior management create a culture that permeates and ensures that culture is reflected through out the organization from HR’s hiring to internal communications to employee buy-in of values?

Bob Prosen - Let’s start by defining culture. Simply put, it’s the way things get done. The unspoken hand that guides what people do, and, it’s undocumented. It begins at the top and no one else can set it. Therefore, the leader must establish the organization’s culture or risk wandering off course just like a ship without a rudder.

Personally, I like an accountability based culture because it’s easy to explain, everyone gets it and it works. In fact, one of the top questions I’m asked is how to create accountability so I developed a formula that works in any organization. Here’s a great way HR can help establish an accountability based culture.

Think about all the people you’ve worked with that got results, you liked working with them and nothing stood in their way of achieving their goals. No one had to hold them accountable because they did so on their own. Now think about all the people you’ve worked with that constantly complained, failed to deliver on commitments, fell short of the desired goal, had to be motivated, cajoled and performance managed. These people are not innately accountable and don’t like others holding them accountable. This tells me we better screen for accountability during the hiring process.

Creating or changing an organization’s culture is one of the toughest jobs a leader has. Done well, things just seem to work. Done poorly, it’s a constant struggle. After hearing all the horror stories I decided to demystify culture and make it simple to understand and shape. To learn more read chapter two of Kiss Theory Good Bye – Superior Leadership, and pay special attention to page 34.

Continue reading "Part I Interview With Bob Prosen - Kiss Theory Good Bye"

How Many Biz Owners & C-Level Execs Use Pay Phones?


Quick marketing case study for savvy Diva and Divo marketers.

Situation: You are VP of Marketing for a popular on-line and traditional publication that targets business owners and c-level executives.

Goal: To reflect the on-line brand's growth to your target audience

Challenge: You have been charged with developing an outdoor ad campaign.(Don't ask why,  your boss is Miranda Priestly) Where would you place the media?

Phone_kiosk_adINC's Solution: Outdoor ads will be placed on 20 public telephone kiosks located throughout the midtown Manhattan business district. The ads will feature copy and artwork touting the key features available on

I realize that the medium "telephone kiosks" is a tactic of in-your-face-at-eye-level messaging for pedestrians and an opportunity for multiple repeat impressions. But somehow Girlfriend, it feels like a disconnect. Target audience biz owners and c-level executives .. busy people passing by  while using their cell phones. Perhaps this post should be titled, " How Many Biz Owners & C-Level Execs Notice Ads On Telephone Kiosks?"

Now that is an interesting thought! Spin it into a YouTube video strategy. Cool idea if I do say so myself. Videos of business people on their cell phones bypassing the ads on the telephone kiosks in midtown Manhattan. A little consumer generated content. A little viral from YouTube. A little drink from the 2.0 kool-aid..make mine purple.

Heard it from: Media Buyer Planner

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Three Cherries For Blogs


Spent the earlier part of this week in the mountains of Nevada speaking to the AMA Reno marketers about social media. Slots_cherries_1 Girlfriend, it was the first time I ever talked about marketing blogs in a casino - Harrah's Reno to be exact. Nope there were not any slots in the room. In fact, it was the only floor in the entire complex without a slot machine. I'm thinking .. add a few slots and it might be an interesting way to pay a speaker .. % of the audience's winnings.

Kind thanks to Dave Roberts, SMC3, for showing a southern diva Reno style hospitality at a wonderful restaurant overlooking the Truckee River. High fives to Robert and Josh the rockin' guys from Twelve Horses who continued talking blogs with me on their podcast.

Update: Twelve Horses Podcast

Flying into Reno my seatmate was a guy who grew up in a small town east of Reno. As we flew over the desert he gave me a guided tour of his home state. He pointed out Area 51, we of course flew around it, Death Valley, Lake Tahoe. His enthusiasm made for a fun ride and of course, I found myself thinking .. this would be a great podcast.

Talk turned to Reno and the casinos and gambling. Although Georgia has a state lottery (which I helped launch. Great fun to give away money .. but that's another story.) there are no casinos. My seatmate laughed and said for him slots and casinos were "all over the place .. just part of the Reno scene." The locals take it in stride and pretty much for granted.

I quickly found out what he meant about just part of the Reno scene. The second I stepped into the terminal I was greeted by the flash of slot-lights. Now here's the marketing thought that flashed and rang a few bells.  I'm placing a bet that you know your products and services pretty well.  But - how well do you know your products/services from the perspective of a new customer?  A few Diva Marketing Questions to help place three cherries in a row for a big win!

  • Do you know your products and services so well that you've forgotten what a new prospect or customer might experience?
  • When was the last time you experienced your product/service - from the perspective of someone who has never heard of your offerings? Is your product manual easy to understand? Don't forget to try opening the package. Do you dare attempt that one with a new manicure?
  • When was the last time you read your marketing communications materials - from the the perspective of someone who has never experienced your offerings? Does it provide direct information or is it a buzz word spin dance?
  • When was the last time you called your customer service department or sales department for information - from the perspective of someone who has never experienced your offerings? Are people polite and caring? Do they talk in buzz words? Is the hold time reasonable .. what is reasonable anyway?
  • When was the last time you navigated your corporate website - from the perspective of someone who has never experienced your offerings? Can you find answers to basic questions easily? Is contact information readily available .. where is the link?

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What Do Corsets & Ducks Have In Common?


Sunday mornings reading the NYT on my little patio with a great cup of java. It's feels like stolen down-time moments. I even like the news-print on my fingers .. so Diva Retro!

Last week's NYT Business Section included 2 articles, that at first glance, seemed very different. Brendan I. Korner wrote about an entrepreneur who is turning vintage lingerie into lampshades. On page BU9 the chairman and CEO of the duck (quack!) was profiled. That is of course, Daniel P. Amos of Aflac.

Question: What do corsets & ducks have in common?
Answer: Innovation

Nashville artist, Kelly Butler took a risk when she left a secure job to open her Tramp_lamp bordello of unmentionables. She had some success selling her Tramp Lamps but as any small business owner knows yesterday's taste of success does not a business make. Most new entrepreneurs experience second and third and fourth thoughts along the way. Kelly did as well.

The support of friends and relatives play an important emotional role in the success of a start-up. The NYT article describes the time Kelly's burlesque friend (that's what the article said .. burlesque .. do you think that is the NYT PC for exotic dancer or stripper?) gave her bags of corsets and bustiers to turn into trash lamps. Girlfriend, even the name Trash Lamps, underwear that turns itself on, is Diva fun!

Where does the Aflac duck fit in? Aflac begin as a family business called American Life Assurance Company. Seems the public associated the name with Ed McMahon and the American Family Publishers sweepstakes. Why? I have not a clue.

But Daniel Amos wanted to change the name and rebrand it and was given the go ahead. As Mr. Amos said he was "..allowed the opportunity to fail." Being "allowed to fail" is the biggest vote of confidence one can give a person. It says green light ahead go for it all.

Mr. Amos sure did when he 1) changed the name to Aflac and 2) introduced the duck (quack!) as the new mascot. The result of his daring to be different ... name recognitionAflac_duck_1 at 92%.

Question: What do corsets and ducks have in common?
Answer: "It just shows what's possible when you take a bigger risk." D. P. Amos

Sidebar: Should the duck (quack!) blog?  Blog buddy Shel Israel would probably say no .. but then again after the ball of tin ... However, a Trash Lamp blog .. the stories Kelly could tell. I'm thinking .. pre lamp and post lamp  .. even the Divas at MySpace would find that cool!

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