How to Break WordPress and Destroy Your Blog

WordPress Logo Cracked

I broke WordPress.

Everything was working fine. Let’s get that out there just to start. My blog was not broken, nor did it need any specific adjustments.

But still I said to myself, “today…we optimize!” And that was the beginning of the end…and how I broke WordPress.

I’ve been developing websites for a long time. I got into this business in 1995 and the web was a very different place. There were fewer tools for generating webpages and they were buggy and frustrating to use. Making content online required generating HTML code by hand, which meant you really had to learn it.

I don’t mind monkeying around in the code. Experimenting is good, but you can go too far.

And now, let me give you a tutorial on how you can do exactly what I did to mess up my blog.

You too can break your WordPress installation, cause yourself hours of aggravation, lose productivity, and learn a very, very important lesson.

Ready for some fun? Break out the Rolaids ’cause we’re going to break WordPress! Continue reading

5 Tips for Professional Networking on LinkedIn

Square version of LinkedIn Logo

LinkedIn Logo

Because of the rapid growth of social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, many people are unsure of how they should draw the line between professional and personal communications. It’s a bit of a balancing act, but if you follow a few rules of thumb, you’ll do a better job of managing your professional brand.

First off, if you aren’t yet familiar with it yet, LinkedIn has become the hot destination for professional networking. It’s the ultimate social and professional mixer that helps people connect through career experiences.

Essentially, you go to LinkedIn to create a living resume. It may help you get discovered by HR recruiters or former co-workers. So it is essential for you to market yourself properly. Here are five easy tips for making the most of LinkedIn.

1. Be professional.
It’s strange to even say this, but you need to treat LinkedIn as you would any other workplace. Consider LinkedIn just another extension of your career, because for now, it kind of is. There are enough working professionals on LinkedIn that you must assume that everything you write is going to be seen and interpreted by some of your co-workers.

Separate your personal online life (e.g., Facebook) with your professional online life (i.e., LinkedIn). There is the “work you” and the “home you.” LinkedIn is the place for the work version of yourself. Continue reading

Three Steps to a Better Presentation & Story

PowerPoint Logo 2008 Mac

Precondition your audience at the start of your presentation.

If you’re delivering a business pitch, you are trying to share an idea that the client will want to buy. That means it needs to be memorable. As a presenter, you need to make sure that your future client knows what the heck you are trying to say.

Don’t just tell them that you’re good at delivering a powerful message. Prove it in your presentation.

Here’s a good piece of advice for making presentations memorable, which I learned from my friend and co-worker, John Spingler (aka Sping).

Here are three basic steps to delivering a memorable pitch and marketing story:

  1. Tell them what you are going to tell them.
  2. Tell them.
  3. Tell them what you just told them.

Sounds really simple, right?

But if you’ve ever suffered through a dull PowerPoint presentation and wondered “where is this going?” then you know that delivering a clear message isn’t so simple. When a presentation lacks focus, it’s hard for your listener to remain focused. Continue reading

Defending Your Creative Ideas

Defending Ideas Sketch

Defending Your Ideas - A little sketch from the corner of my notebook, as we were brainstorming new ideas.

If you want to get into the business of marketing, you’re going to need to develop (a) a thick skin and (b) a strategy for sharing your ideas. Neither of these tasks are easy, but trust me when I tell you, they are necessary.

Many people think that marketing is easy, since just about anyone can come up with one good marketing or advertising idea. The real challenge, of course, is to come up with multiple ideas. Ideas that adapt to evolving strategic direction and new media channels. That’s not quite as easy.

In a brainstorm, there are some good ideas that everyone agrees is on target and makes sense. If there’s a whiteboard, it gets written in big bold letters as “an idea.” Kudos to you if you were part of that brainstorm session.

If you’ve ever been part of a brainstorm session, it can be fun and exhilarating, but it is also a little scary. Why scary? Well, if all of the ideas are safe, the group may not be trying hard enough. There may be fear in the room. Nobody wants to share their best idea, only to be rejected by the whole room. Making it to the whiteboard builds confidence. Not making it to the board is depressing. Continue reading

Historic Gas Prices – 1992 – 2008 – Log at Pump

Back when I was a kid, my father used to keep a log of his gasoline expenses. He would meticulously record the cost of the gas, how many gallons he put into the car, and the total amount he spent.

He maintained several different notebooks, most of which were lost over time. He found two or three of these tiny notebook from 1992 – 2008. He took the time to transfer them to Excel. And here is this data, through the magic of the web, now available to you.

My dad’s historic gasoline logs from 1992 – 2008. Continue reading

Marketing: It’s Just Too Easy

A friend of mind and I were talking about how to first brand and then market his company’s brand. We had a long, rambling conversation about marketing channels like YouTube, Vimeo, blogs, Twitter, etc.

When he told me, “on Twitter, anybody can build up a massive following, so it’s not really worth doing,” he stopped me in my tracks.

Upon further clarification, he told me that on Twitter anyone can follow a bunch of people and then unfollow them to build of your following. That traffic building technique, he explained, was one of the reasons Twitter didn’t really matter. It just seemed too easy. That, and anybody can get 50,000 followers, if you know how to work the system.

Anyway, the conversation continued normally until my kids got hungry and began demanding dinner. So we broke off the call and went to our respective families.

My friend was being honest and candid as he talked about the marketing channels that he thought were most effective. This was due, in part, with his feeling that Twitter was too easy. Continue reading

Marketing Obscure Comic Book References

Captain America The First Avenger Movie Poster

Superheroes are back! Well, at the movie theaters at least they are. Love ’em or hate ’em epic comic book battles are generating big buzz and big dollars on the silver screen.

As a marketer, it’s easy to observe the big, obvious things about movies based on comic books. There’s a built-in audience: check. There are usually top stars and/or directing talent: check. There’s usually some impossibly large budget: check. That’s the obvious stuff.

Then there’s the geek stuff. As you may know, I am a big comic fan, so I get into these tiny references that are like catnip for fans. It’s small stuff (and some big stuff) that won’t even register for the average moviegoer. But for the devoted comic fan, it can be pure joy. Continue reading

3 Easy Email Marketing Tips to Improve ROI

Few things in the modern world are as ubiquitous as email. In a few short years, the medium of email went from being a small part of the online experience to a centerpiece of our professional and personal lives. And yet, oddly enough, many marketers are unsure of how to properly utilize email as part of their branding campaign.

Here are three tips for getting the most out of your email marketing efforts. (Why only three? Well, for starters, email marketing is a massive topic that is far too important to tackle in just one blog post. So let’s just start with three and see how that goes.)

1. Understand How Images Load
These days, many of your target customers have the ability to receive HTML email, which means that you can include snazzy images. But many email programs do not show images when the email is opened. That means your splashy email may not display as intended until the user clicks “load images.” Be sure to design your emails, so that key messages display on the preview mode.

This video by my friend and technical advisor Chris Cullmann details how to optimize the images in the body of an HTML email. Note how certain techniques that work well on a website (white navigational text on a black background), just doesn’t work on HTML emails. Listen to Chris. He’s smart. Continue reading

Viral Videos Can Launch Your Brand

Karmin is having a good year. A really good year. Don’t know who they are? First, check out this video.

This is a talented young duo doing a cover version of a song by Chris Brown featuring Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes. It’s catchy, fun, and very watchable.

As of this posting, this little video has garnered over 10 million views in less than one month. That’s a lot of views for something that’s being spread word of mouth. Continue reading

Nook Upgraded & the 5 P’s of Marketing

Nook Color ereader

Nook Color ebook ereader now supports Android Apps

And just like that, the Nook matters again. Yes, in the war to win the hearts and eyeballs of readers continues to rage on, and Barnes & Nobles has just proved that it’s not out of the fight.

In 30 seconds or less, the Nook was upgraded from being a humble ebook reader with an attractive color screen, a market where Amazon dominates. A software patch pushed the Nook into the crowded space of tablets, where Apple dominates.

Soon the Nook will have full access to the Android Marketplace, which includes the kinds of games and apps that makes the iPad so popular.

Here are five reasons why this matters to you as it relates to the Five P’s of Marketing (loosely interpreted, of course):

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place (distribution)
  • Promotion
  • People

1.PRICE: Nook competes on price and features. Everyone from the media to the average buyer is enamored with tablets. The venerable iPad 2 is one of the most coveted gadgets on the marketplace, but with prices starting at $499, it’s not exactly within reach of all buyers. For a while, the Amazon Kindle was the device to beat, but it’s still a black and white technology in a color world. At $250, the Nook offers a sharp, full color display. It may not be as full featured or sensitive as the iPad, but it suddenly feels light years ahead of the Kindle, but with a very attractive price point. Continue reading