July 2014


Marketing Lessons from the Lemonade Stand

Saturday morning in Chandler, Arizona wasn’t cool. What you’re about to read really is. These lessons from the lemonade stand provide a refreshing example of the power of marketing.

In Arizona, garage sales are a sub-culture, a segment of society, and a way of life. Let’s just say these events are “interesting.” We’ll say the same for some of the people who participate regularly in this home retail activity.

Most Arizona garage sales happen early on Saturday mornings. The hosts have to get up and their stuff out on display usually before the sun comes up. People are early risers in the Valley of the Sun to beat the heat. Furthermore, shoppers are early risers and early hunters. They’re hoping to secure the best deals before someone else does.

My neighbors directly across the street are moving out of state. My son and I will miss them. They were having a garage sale. We offered to help.

The 4 kids involved set up a lemonade stand as well. A cup of their lemonade cost 50 cents. My son and the oldest girl were passionate about marketing and selling their product. They wanted to go knocking on doors to tell people about it. We had them stay in place for the garage sale shoppers.

When a car or truck pulled up, the kids pounced. They rushed over and were waiting at the door before people could get out of their vehicle. They made their adorable pitch. People were politely saying “no thank you” or “maybe later.” It seemed you couldn’t even sell lemonade in the Arizona heat. Hmmm…

I observed the process closely. I wanted the kids to be successful and feel good about themselves. I watched. I listened. I waited. When the time was right based on the kid’s frustration rising with the temperature, I quickly but quietly slipped on my marketing consultant hat. I asked the kids if they wanted to sell more lemonade. They did. I asked if I could help. They said “yes.”

I suggested to the kids they change their marketing tactics. I pointed out that it felt unusually hot outside for early in the morning. It was uncomfortable. It was not a dry heat. All of us were sweating through our shirts. Our faces were sweaty. This doesn’t happen in Arizona’s well-known “dry heat.” The kids agreed.

Here was my marketing advice:

1. Wait. People are coming to shop at the garage sale. They are not coming for lemonade. Give them a chance to get what they want, then approach them with something else they might want.

2. Wait. When people arrive at the garage sale, they are hopping out of an air-conditioned vehicle. Let them bake in the heat for a couple minutes and they will be more inclined to want and buy your lemonade. The heat will help do your marketing and sales for you.

3. Soften your sell. The kids were using a direct pitch, “Would you like to buy a cup of lemonade for 50 cents?” I had them say, “Excuse me. I know it’s really hot outside. Could I interest you in a cup of ice cold lemonade?”

4. Give people choices. I dashed over to our house and whipped up pitchers of pink lemonade. Now people could choose regular or pink.

What were the results?

Ka- Ching! Ka – Ching!

The kids were thrilled. Their sales conversion rates skyrocked. They needed multiple cups to hold their cash. The cash cups needed to be emptied multiple times. More lemonade needed to be made. More ice was needed. People went from tolerating the lemonade experience to actually enjoying it. They even seemed to enjoy the lemonade more. People were complimentary of the kids and how good the lemonade tasted. They were appreciative. Some were even giving tips to the kids on top of paying full price.

The marketing lessons from the lemonade stand for you may be:

– Be open to change. – Hard work doesn’t always pay off like smart work.

– You don’t need to change what you sell. You may need to change HOW you sell it.

– Know what your customers want. Give them what they want.

– Give your customers choices whenever possible.

– Be willing to give away the lemonade you’re selling for free if your inner voice tells you to do so.

– Sometimes you get so caught up on the inside of what you do, the most valuable marketing consulting for you can come from someone on the outside.

The saying goes, “When God gives you lemons, make lemonade.” How you make your lemonade matters. How you do your marketing can also make a world of difference in how strong your sales will be.

By Thomas Baldrick     Google +

Read more

Small Business Self-Marketing: Time Well Spent or Time Suck?

Yeah I know. If only marketing a small business was romantic, and as easy as it looks in the photo. No need to fantasize. You will love marketing your small business when you do it right.

The universe is talking to me. I know I might as well listen. I know I might as well write it down and share. You might benefit here, too.

You see the matter of small business self marketing came up for me yesterday. It came up not once. It came up not twice. It came up in three different consultations with small business owners. Safe to say, when the topic of small business self marketing gets put on the table…it usually lasts longer than a good meal. It can also linger like indigestion.

Is it right for small business owners to do their own marketing?

This is like the chicken or the egg stuff. Ask a hundred small business owners, and you won’t get a hundred different answers. Nope. The most likely scenario is you won’t get many definitive answers at all. Instead, what you will get are plenty of shoulder shrugs, and plenty of looks of frustration and confusion on people’s faces.

Deciding how to effectively do marketing of a small business and deciding who does it, have been challenges for all types of industries for quite a long time. Back in the day, it could have been figuring out who wrote the classified ad for the local newspaper, or who dealt with the folks from the Yellow Pages once a year. Then, the information superhighway rolled in.

Internet marketing changed small business and big business, didn’t it?

That’s a relatively easy question to answer. Today, the trendy hats to wear in marketing include Social Media, SEO, Blogging, Video Producer, Circus Master, and more.

The following questions are some of the ones which aren’t so easy to answer.

– Do you consider yourself most effective as a businessperson or blogger?

– Do you hire an internet marketing consultant or agency, or do you try to put the YOU in “guru”?

– Are you the best pitch person to appear in videos, or do you have someone else such as a professional spokesperson to deliver the messages you want in the ways people want to receive them?

– What is the best way for your marketing to save you money and make you money now and in the long run?

Yesterday, I was asked to answer these questions for 3 different smart people. I took what I know to be a smart action in return. I only made observations, suggestions, and repeated key points I heard. It’s not my first rodeo. Choosing yay or nay on small business self marketing is a fundamental decision which usually works out best when the decision maker arrives at the conclusion on his or her own.

I recommend every small business owner or executive answer these questions by asking herself or himself one more very probing and problem solving question.

“What’s the best use of my time or my staff’s time?”

Asking this question honestly provides real insight. You can determine if it is better to save some money or sacrifice quality, productivity, and efficiency.

You can explore if there is someone else in your company who can do your job better than you or in place of you while you are the marketing guru.

You can look closely at how best to maximize time, skills, and results.

I will point out many small business owners come to the conclusion they are their own most effective marketer. They say they are going to dedicate themselves to doing it and being it.

But as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” New needs and priorities pop up. Procrastination and frustration show up. And their self-marketing machine gets held up. Nothing gets done until the cycle repeats itself weeks or usually months later.

Maybe your small business self marketing can be different. Maybe it can’t. You choose.

Let me know if AZ STRONG can help with marketing solutions.

Call (602) 535-2320. Or Email


Read more

Creating Change in Marketing: Do Nothing. Change Everything.

In life, in business, and in marketing, change can be exciting. Creating change in marketing can create new opportunities for your business, increase your profits, and lead to greater success. Creating change in marketing your business can keep people, products, services, and relationships looking and feeling fresh. Whether it involves technology, messaging, practices, or products and services, change can be profitable physically, mentally, emotionally, and of course financially. This is reality.

But is it yours?

Creating change in marketing strategies can be just what the doctor ordered. Yet, just the idea of changing how you promote who you are and what you have to offer can bring on enough stress to make you sick.

Whether it involves changes you know you need to make to your brand, website, social media, or advertising, the need to take new action in sharing your messages is like an itch you can’t scratch, or a toothache you hope will magically go away. It will nag at you and send you constant reminders until you take the action you know is necessary. It can make you less productive, angry, and make others less productive but angry with you.

Fighting change in marketing changes you. It changes everything.

For many, change can also be intimidating as well as overwhelming. In fact, change can be so scary it actually stops many people and businesses to the point of paralysis. Even during times when people know change is desperately needed (and inevitable), they choose fear and denial. They choose to do nothing.

There is a price to pay for the choice of doing nothing.

I’ve dealt with business owners whose resistance to change hurt them badly. It hurt their brand, online presence, hurt employee morale, and relationships with customers. Each of these changes caused by resistance to change had a negative impact on the bottom line. I’ve seen businesses throw more time, money, and resources into old tricks which had proven they no longer did the trick. But, they were familiar. They were comfortable. And in the end, they were failures.

Relying on yesterday’s solutions creates new failures today and tomorrow. This hurts employee morale even more. This turns off and turns away bored, unsatisfied customers. This hurts the brand and the bottom line even more. This widens the gap with competitors. Seeing less customers and less sales and interaction is one thing. Pretending stale marketing efforts are just a long slump everyone is facing, blaming it on the economy, Washington, D.C., illegal aliens, or aliens from outer space is another thing. Those types of excuses are piling problems on top of the problem. What is needed is a solution. What is needed is change.

“Unless you’re living on the edge…you’re taking up too much space.”  

I love that saying. I love the visual image it creates. I use it at times when I’m feeling scared or stuck. It lightens the situation. It works for me.

While the idea of going out on the edge may seem extreme to you, resisting change in marketing, advertising, and promotion simply brings the edge closer to you.

Your competitors are creating change in marketing. Your competitors are taking action. Guess what? Your customers are doing the same. You already know you want and need a positive change. The first step toward your solution is to do nothing more than own your fear of change.

If my earlier “living on the edge” gift wasn’t received well by you, try this one on for size. It might be a better fit. A wise spiritual teacher of mine helped me to look at fear in simple but successful ways. Here is what I’ve come up with and have shared with many people. It has been well-received. Now the above funky photo of my hand should make sense.

An Exercise for Overcoming Fear of Creating Change in Marketing

If you’re right-handed, hold out the palm of your left hand. (Lefties do the opposite). Look at your hand and say, “Okay. You’re fear. But you’re just fear. That’s all you are.” Now hold out your power hand and say, “I choose you. You’re my Power. You’re all of the Possibilities I haven’t considered. You’re my Hope. Everything else in life including my solution is right here in the palm of my hand.”

This exercise puts you in a much better place. Here you can breathe. You can see, hear, and think more clearly. You can feel power and hope. Now you can take action or reach out and listen to others who know how to help you create positive changes. Here you’re within reach of your solution for improving the marketing, promoting, and advertising of who you are, what you have to offer, and why the world benefits from you.

If I can help you further with ideas, and putting positive change into action, just put your smart phone in your power hand and let me know. Email me at AZ STRONG or call (602) 535-2320. By Thomas Baldrick   Google + 

Read more

Arizona Dust Storm Video

Writing can be a dirty job. I’ve said it many times. 2 nights ago, I did another dirty job. This one was different. The old adage, “somebody’s got to do it” didn’t apply. I didn’t have to do it. I wanted to do it. I wanted an up close and personal encounter with the first Arizona dust storm of the 2014 monsoon season. Others have asked me to write about it. Since I am cleaned up, I am doing so.

It was around dinner time. I was heading home to Chandler, Arizona from a good meeting in nearby Scottsdale. I got 2 alerts on my cell phone about a major dust storm approaching. It was warning me to get off the road. At the time it was sunny on the 101 southbound. But the more I drove south, the more I could see the weather was heading south, as in deteriorating.

At 7:00 p.m., I stopped a mile from home because it was time to speak on Skype with my boy who is away visiting his mother. I spun my phone camera around to show him what was coming.

The Baldrick Boys had been though a good Arizona dust storm a number of times together, most while we were at home. The worst was on our way back from Disneyland. It was terrifying. We were on I-10 just inside Arizona from the California border. Visibility was down near zero. There were fatalities in that storm. I chose to keep going, believing when it came to keeping my boy safe and alive I trusted me more than any other driver. On that long white knuckle drive we passed multiple collisions where cars pulled off the road were hit by visually impaired drivers. In trying to keep my son relaxed I told him the Buzz Lightyear line from the movie Toy Story, “Not today Zurg!”

Since I was solo 2 nights ago, after our father-son chat, the approaching Armageddon was so close I didn’t even have to “storm chase.” I decided to go to an open field area near my home. This way, I would be much safe from other people as well as any flying debris. I learned this years ago at ABC News. I covered a hurricane where a flying door decapitated a guy who ran out in the street during a neighborhood house party.Yeah I know. Ouch.

This most recent Arizona dust storm experience was amazing, but by no means pleasant. A “brownout” completely blanketed the sun, and the Chandler Intel facility I used as a landmark. Visibility was lost and my eyes weren’t too happy either. Having covered many hurricanes and tornadoes as a television journalist, I guessed the winds went from zero to 40 miles an hour in an instant. There were also gusts much higher which nearly knocked me off my feet physically.

Armed with only my trusty i-Phone, I created this Arizona Dust Storm video. Others have enjoyed it. I thought you might enjoy , too.

by Thomas Baldrick  Google +

Read more

Storytelling in Marketing Delivers Solutions

Think of marketing success today like this. You’re sitting around a constant campfire. (Yeah, I know the triple digit temperatures in Arizona make it feel like that anyway). Are you good at storytelling? Or, is your competition burning you like a marshmallow fallen off a stick?

For good reason, I wanted to follow up on the storytelling in marketing video I did a few days ago. The truth is for many businesses and people, marketing around that campfire is a struggle like trying to keep a dying flame alive. You want it to be stronger. You aren’t sure exactly what to do, or how to do it. But you do know doing the same thing you did before, or failing to do anything is going to end in the result you don’t want.

You’re not alone. For many, marketing is getting to be tougher by the day. When the internet burst onto the scene, it opened up a whole new world, didn’t it? You either had to get on the ball and get online, or stay offline and drift off into oblivion and likely failure.

First, for internet marketing success the science of SEO was the way to go. Then, Social Media and Smart Phones opened up more new worlds and more paths to marketing success. Now, the long-awaited “Content is King” key way of life is finally reality, and well in the mix. That little marketing campfire seems like it’s spreading out of control, doesn’t it?

Storytelling is your marketing solution. Those you’re hoping to reach may also find it to be their solution. Storytelling has been a known effective tool for centuries. Plus, this approach sounds much less intimidating and much more doable than developing a comprehensive marketing strategy, doesn’t it?

What is Storytelling in Marketing?

I realize this approach could mean a new chapter for you. So before I answer, here’s a few more fascinating relevant questions to get you into the perfect place.

Did you know there are more than 5 trillion ads created every year?

Did you know there’s around ¾ of a billion Google searches every minute?

And on a more personal note, did you know it’s said on average we process over 100,000 words every day?

Let’s put out the campfire analogy and move on to the world. Storytelling in marketing means slowing down the crazy, fast, super-stimulated world. It’s cutting through the clutter. It’s not getting on a louder speaker to try to override the noise of the crowd. It’s creating marketing content which speaks to someone where they are, whether you’re talking about geographically, physically, or emotionally. Storytelling is making the world smaller and easier so you and those you want to reach can connect. It’s making a sound investment to create an emotional bond and enjoy the ROI which comes with it.

Why do we read stories to children? To teach them, entertain them, inspire them, help them focus, help them relax…and to connect with them. Now apply that to storytelling in marketing. Ah ha! (Insert light bulb here).

The stories you tell could include the rich history of your company, unmatched customer service, the super team which makes up your organization, the need for your mission, or your passion for what you do. Look no farther than your own mirror. With the new world of technology, you’ve changed along with it, haven’t you? There’s emotional super glue with your smart phone, tablet, computer. You’re more of a skimmer now with information than a deep diver. You’re pretty good at tuning out spam, standard advertisements, and other unwanted messages. You’re so good at cracking the code of the constant flow of content you make instant decisions all day long. Much of the time you do it subconsciously as though it’s now in your DNA.

Effective Storytelling in Marketing Involves Giving and Receiving

Through telling your stories you give the gift of quality content so others may receive. Some will give back, and you’ll receive the results you want. Others will like your content so much they’ll become volunteer evangelists for you. They’ll share your messages, and promote your brand and value with their connections. Once again, you win.

Storytelling is connecting with your audience by connecting their heads with their hearts. It’s helping them to make choices which both make sense and feel good.

Storytelling is not selling a small box of chicken nuggets with fries or apple slices. It’s a “Happy Meal.” Storytelling is not taking apart a boxer engine. It’s “Love is what makes a Subaru, a Subaru.” Storytelling is like you creating your own kind of effective Super Bowl Commercials every day on your level, to support your mission, with your target audience, in your own world.

Storytelling in Marketing is delivering the messages you know people want to hear, not the mantra you want to say.

It’s the difference between bragging and presenting benefits. Of course, direct marketing still has its place. The right price in the right place at the right time will always have value. But a steady diet of hard-selling is hard for people to swallow, and it grows old. Marketing has made all of us aware how difficult diets are. It’s why they fail, right? Instead, storytelling is more like a weight loss program. It speaks of the results people want.

Just like with weight loss, achieving long-term success with marketing storytelling often requires you to make a lifestyle change.

The old way of Sell – Sell – Sell becomes Tell – Tell – Tell. Then, once you Tell – Tell – Tell, you have to Show – Show – Show. You have to prove it. You have to be it. If you can tell when someone isn’t genuine, don’t you think others might notice it if you aren’t? I am always preaching to clients, “If you just do what you say you’re going to do in business today, you’ll come out ahead because so many people and businesses don’t.”

You Want “Yes!”

Hold on. I get it. You may want and/or need to get into someone’s budget, wallet or purse so they will buy your products and services. I know. The change which may be scary for you is storytelling uses a different approach to succeed in our different world. You do more tapping in to the genuine human experience. You use good content to ignite the solution-seeking, decision-making and buying power which lives inside people. The goal is to get others to pay attention to your story. Then, the action and results you want such as sales, support and other types of “yes” will follow.

How to Do Effective Storytelling in Marketing

You need a marketing strategy which fits who and what you are. Within that strategy you must identify your unique stories and embrace them. Next, you find the best ways to tell them, show them, and live them because you believe them.

Remember the world in which we live. Once upon a time telling a story once might have been a solution. Times have changed. It’s like getting a website online. The marketing loser thinks that’s the end. The winner knows it’s only the beginning. For maximum results, it’s best to do your storytelling multiple times across multiple media and marketing platforms.

Track the results. Discover what works and run with it. Still, stay open to change.

Effective storytelling in marketing positions you as the solution for others. They in turn become your solution. Using this approach generates results and builds your brand and credibility. If that’s not enough, it also humanizes the brand of who you are and what you do with who you’re trying to reach…humans.

by Thomas Baldrick      Google +

Read more