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December 12, 2012

Repetition, repetition, repetition

December 12, 2012 | By | No Comments

RepetitionToday’s a funny date. 12/12/12. Lots of repeats there. It also happens to be a significant birthday for me, one with a repeated number.

Repetition is a funny thing. Some folks hate it. For example, D.H. Lawrence once said,

“…better die than live mechanically a life that is a repetition of repetitions.”

(Well, sure, when you put it that way.)

Of course, not everyone sees repetition negatively. That great philosopher Reggie Jackson stated,

style=”float;position:relative; left:25px;””A baseball swing is a very finely tuned instrument. It is repetition, and more repetition, then a little more after that.”

And Norman Vincent Peale noted,

“Repetition of the same thought or physical action develops into a habit which, repeated frequently enough, becomes an automatic reflex.”

Though I suppose that last one could be both positive and negative.

So here’s a thought for today, this very repetitive date: What’s worth repeating in your life? What’s so worthwhile that you’d do it again and again and again, happily honing your life’s habit? What’s automatic? And are you glad that’s so?

If not, what’s stopping you from changing?

Habits can ease you through your day. They can just as easily hold you back. Don’t forget, one habit worth repeating is changing the things that don’t work for you.


If you can help those dealing with the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy, please visit the American Red Cross.

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December 3, 2012

What creates success?

December 3, 2012 | By | No Comments

What drive success?The Atlantic has a great interview with author and, more relevant to the story, bookstore owner Ann Patchett discussing why her new venture succeeded. And there are lots of reasons: good market, strong demand, excellent timing, amazing PR. But I can’t help thinking the main reason comes down to this quote:

“Amazon doesn’t get to make all the decisions; the people can make them, by choosing how and where they spend their money. If what a bookstore offers matters to you, then shop at a bookstore. If you feel that the experience of reading a book is valuable, then read a book. This is how we change the world: We grab hold of it. We change ourselves.” [Emphasis mine]

Just because you want something, won’t make it so. You have to work for it.

But, if you really want something and are willing to work for it and are willing to change yourself and what you do? Then very little can stop you.


If you can help those dealing with the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy, please visit the American Red Cross.

Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

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Tim Peter & Associates helps companies from startups to the Fortune 500 use the web to reach more customers, more effectively every day. Take a look and see how we can help you.

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July 20, 2012

7 Small Business Leadership Tips (Small Business E-commerce Link Digest – July 20, 2012)

July 20, 2012 | By | One Comment

Follow the leader smallRunning a small business takes lots of your time and energy. Here are some things I’ve read over the last week or so that inspired me as a leader:

  1. Starting off, McKinsey offers 3 tips to become more strategic (free registration required) .
  2. Forbes reminds you not to discount your best business marketing weapon: Your friends.
  3. Speaking of your friends, Social Media Examiner (one of our 2012 E-commerce and Online Marketing All-Stars) looks at how to influence people using social media.
  4. Leaders are great at focusing on what’s important. And I’m a big fan of using a “To Don’t” list to keep track of the important stuff.
  5. Want to be more efficient still? Harvard Business Review looks at how you can use social media to partner with customers and improve service.
  6. Also, Harvard Business Review has a quick tip about improving your own performance by recommending you conduct an informal 360° review to identify areas of strength and opportunity.
  7. Reducing the demands on your time can help you lead more effectively. Inc. has an excellent look at 7 easy ways to reduce email overload.

Have a great weekend, everyone. We’ll see you back here next week.


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July 18, 2012

Do You Have a "To Don't" List?

July 18, 2012 | By | No Comments

Stepping stones to productivitySo, I’ve been debating the merits of Conversion Volume Optimization vs. Conversion Rate Optimization the last few days. And conducting this exercise got me thinking about all the different ways you can try to grow your business.

Let me tell you my favorite one.

It’s called a “To Don’t” list.

Not a “To Do” list, mind you. A “To Don’t.”

If you’re like me, every day generates a host of ideas about what you could do. New product ideas, potential customer groups, project follow-ups, etc. I post those ideas into a note in Evernote as they come up (incidentally, I love Evernote. It’s one of my favorite tools for capturing blog ideas, business concepts and it works on my iPad, iPhone, laptop and via the web. Way cool).

Anyway… at the beginning of each day, I review the list and file anything that doesn’t move my business forward into a “To Don’t” note (technically, I call it “Later,” but you get the idea). I then select the key items and move those to my “To Do” list for the day. That process of “clearing the decks” and getting all those other ideas out of the way helps me focus clearly on what matters. Sure, I periodically review my “Later” file to see if anything leaps to the top of the list. And it’s always there in Evernote if I need to remember what I was thinking about. But on any given day, that clutter of ideas is out of the way. Which leaves me “bandwidth” to focus on what matters.

When I was young, I thought I could do everything. And, technically, I suppose I still could. But what I can’t do — more important from your perspective, what you can’t do — is do everything at once. Picking the ones you aren’t going to do frees your mind and your attention to focus on the critical few you will do.


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July 12, 2012

Of Course It's Possible

July 12, 2012 | By | No Comments

Opportunity I’ve heard many technologists over the years explain the way development works:

  • You can have it fast
  • You can have it cheap
  • You can have it good

And you can have any two of the above you like.

Bullsh… er, um… I mean, “Nonsense!”

Now, it’s true that it’s very difficult to build something — anything really — quickly, inexpensively and well. It’s merely very difficult (and to be fair to my friends in development, sometimes it’s very, very, very difficult). It may turn out to be impractical. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It takes exploring every option, questioning every assumption, demanding the very best of yourself (first) and freeing your team to do their very best (second).

Of course, the flip-side is that if you’re willing to work very hard and surround yourself with talented people, you can accomplish just about anything. Doing that may not be cheap. And finding and developing talent may not always be fast. But, you can usually get one or the other.

So, the option is yours. You can select from the Fast/Cheap/Good menu (I typically recommend Fast/Good or Fast/Cheap depending on the circumstances, by the way). Or you can work hard and surround yourself with others who want to do the same.

But, in either case, what you are trying to do is almost always possible, no matter what it is. You just have to be willing to work for it. And that’s just as true of life as it is of development.


Are you getting enough value out of your small business website? Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

Or subscribe via email.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to follow Tim on Twitter.

Tim Peter & Associates helps companies from startups to the Fortune 500 use the web to reach more customers, more effectively every day. Take a look and see how we can help you.

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April 25, 2012

How to get hired for that marketing job you really want: 6 tips for job seekers

April 25, 2012 | By | No Comments

Tips for job huntersThe jobs market, while improving, still isn’t everything you want it to be. That’s a fact. However, things are starting to get better, little by little.

Whether you’re between jobs right now or ready to find something new, trying to get found by hiring managers or already have the interview lined up, here are 6 tips that can help you land the marketing job you really want.

  1. Show that you care about the company’s products or services. Take some time to look at the websites, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages or Pinterest boards of the companies you’re interviewing with. And of their competitors’. If they’re a public company, take a look at their latest annual report. If they’re a private company, check out their reviews on Yelp, Angie’s List, TripAdvisor and the like (you can do it for public companies, too). Doing a little homework before the interview and asking insightful questions shows you’re interested and prepared for the job on Day 1.
  2. Showcase your results. Even if you worked for the very best companies, followed the most charismatic leaders, or graduated from the most exclusive universities, most hiring managers want to hear more about what you did to create results than who you did it for. Even more so, they want to understand how you’ll create those results for them. Keep the focus on how you improved things for your past employers to show future companies how you can do it for them, too.
  3. Admit what you don’t know… if they ask about it. There are lots of snake-oil salesmen in social media and search engine optimization already. Don’t add yourself to that group. If you’re talking to a hiring manager and you don’t have experience in a given area, admit it and explain how you’d close the gap. Or demonstrate how your related experience applies. Nobody knows everything. And it’s likely you’ve had to pick up some new skills in the past. Just show that you’ve done it before and that you have a plan for how to get there in the future. They’ll get the message. And what if they don’t ask? Then it’s time to do your homework, talk to friends and colleagues with that experience, read a book, etc. Which leads to the next point…
  4. Learn something new. Online marketing changes every day. Who knew a year ago that Pinterest was going to be anything? Who saw Facebook buying Instagram? in truth, very few people. But watch at how innovative companies are using tools like Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Google and the rest. Or take a class (if I can be bold, I highly recommend the Mini MBA programs taught by people like Mike Moran and me). Then share that information with your potential employers. They’re likely to remember you.
  5. Choose the right company. Now, for many people, this is difficult advice to live with right now. But, if you can afford to, don’t just jump at the first opportunity. You’ll do the best work for the people you like the most and who best represent your values. I certainly wouldn’t suggest you hold out for something better if the alternative is to stop feeding your kids. At the same time, try to find opportunities that let you do what you love. That almost always leads to greater success in both the short term and the long term.
  6. Don’t give up. There may be no better advice I can give you than this: Don’t give up. Times are tough. And success rarely happens all at once. But, there are no failures; there are only setbacks. If you’ve been looking for a job for a while, no matter how hard it is, keep looking. It’s awfully trite to say tough times never last. But the fact is, they don’t. You can outlast tough times. Just keep plugging away.

While there are no guarantees in life, it’s unlikely you’ll never again find a company that you like and that likes you back. It’s a fact. Your success depends on working to improve and making the most of opportunities that come your way. Try putting these tips to use. You’re not likely to improve the overall job market. But you’re very likely to improve the market for you.

Interested in learning more about the future of marketing? Register to receive a free copy of my new special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals. And, if that’s not enough, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of marketing as a profession, including:

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April 19, 2012

The most important skill

April 19, 2012 | By | 3 Comments

What's the most important skill?What’s the most important skill in business? Not just marketing skill, mind you, but business overall? What separates companies that “get it” from those that fall by the wayside?

Hang with me for a second and I’ll let you know.

But first a story.

I recently gave a talk and was asked whether I’d studied e-commerce and Internet marketing in college. My answer? “There was no e-commerce or Internet marketing when I went to college.”

And let’s be clear. I’m not that old. I’ve been working in e-commerce and Internet marketing for a little over 16 years and hadn’t been out of college for that long when I started.

Here’s one more clue.

How many of you work in the same job you did ten years ago? How many of you for the same company? How many of you work in the same industry?

While hard numbers are hard to come by, it’s likely many of you would answer “no” to those questions. If we assume that the average person changes jobs about once every 4 years, odds are you’ve changed jobs twice in the last decade. And it’s entirely possible that job change meant you switched employers, too.

The number one skill that enables that change is the ability to learn. There’s simply no greater skill you can possess — or your company can promote — to remain competitive in a rapidly changing economy.

In fact, one of the things that bugs me so much about CEO’s barring access to Facebook and other social networks for employees is its inherent distrust of new methods for communication. Yes, some employees likely take advantage of open access to goof off. But a greater number are learning how to use social tools to improve their lives and their company’s business results.

The likelihood that you’ll be doing the same thing 10 years from now is pretty slim. But the companies that encourage their employees to anticipate and adapt to the changes in the marketplace are the ones best positioned to succeed. Not just today, but for the long run.

What about the risk that you’re training your employees to go work for someone else? Well, sure, that’s a possibility. But’s look at it from this perspective: As we’ve already seen, there’s very little likelihood that your employees are going to stay with you forever.

For instance, one of the best project managers I’ve ever worked with recently moved into an entirely unrelated field, one that offered her outstanding growth opportunities and greater personal satisfaction. Nothing that her employer could have offered in terms of training, benefits or salary was likely to dissuade her from moving on. But, in the interim, her company benefited from providing her access to project management certification and tuition reimbursement by having a highly motivated, incredibly effective project manager on their staff for almost a decade.

So, sure there’s a risk. But you know what’s a bigger risk to your business: That they learn nothing and stay.


Are you getting enough value out of your small business website? Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

Or subscribe via email.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to follow Tim on Twitter.

Tim Peter & Associates helps companies from startups to the Fortune 500 use the web to reach more customers, more effectively every day. Take a look and see how we can help you.

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April 16, 2012

Should CEO's ban Facebook?

April 16, 2012 | By | No Comments

Should we ban social media from the workplace?Mashable has a solid infographic explaining why CEO’s should allow Facebook in the workplace [scroll down for the whole infographic].

My first reaction was, “Really? There are still CEO’s who block Facebook?”

As a matter of fact, there are. According to Gartner, 50% of CEO’s completely prohibit the use of social media at work.

Here are my questions:

  1. Do those CEO’s restrict mobile phones? Because anyone with a mobile phone (i.e., everyone), can easily get on Twitter or Facebook or Google+ or Tumblr anytime they want. And let’s not forget texting. In fact, most employees are probably doing at least one of these right now.
  2. Do they prohibit email? It’s well established that busyness in email is as much a time suck as anything in the modern workplace. Why not limit that, too? Because, when used right, it’s a critical business tool. Just like social media ought to be.
  3. Do the CEO’s prohibit the Internet as a whole or only “social media”? Of course, I put social media in quotes because the Internet is the world’s largest social network. Stopping your employees from accessing “social” sites while allowing Internet access is a little like playing whack-a-mole, continually removing access to tools your employees have found useful.
  4. Finally, do those CEO’s prohibit employees from going to the bathroom? Because, after all, who knows how long your folks might be spending in there?

OK, the last one may seem ridiculous, but think about it for a second. You’re not typically tracking every moment of your employees’ day. Yes, some companies do. But it’s not the norm.

So how are those companies ensuring productivity from their people? I’d suspect they’re doing it by the same way good companies have ensured productivity for years: by measuring and managing results.

As I’ve mentioned before, social is people. And if your people are using Facebook to ease communication, maintain contact with customers or, yes, just taking a quick break to check in with their mom, it shouldn’t matter so long as the results are there.

I’m not trying to start a holy war here. There are certainly areas where it’s entirely appropriate to limit employees’ access to activities that might distract them from the job at hand; train conductors, airline pilots and brain surgeons come immediately to mind. And people in front-line customer service shouldn’t be sitting there texting their friends or posting status updates when there are customers to assist.

But if those folks don’t know that, your problem isn’t the social network, it’s the employee.

Here’s the full infographic:

Why CEO's should allow Facebook in the workplace

Are you getting enough value out of your small business website? Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

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Tim Peter & Associates helps companies from startups to the Fortune 500 use the web to reach more customers, more effectively every day. Take a look and see how we can help you.

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February 29, 2012

Today shouldn't exist

February 29, 2012 | By | No Comments

Rare eventsFebruary 29th. Leap day. A once-every-four-years event where we whack the calendar with a small hammer to get it running right again (much the way I used to keep my old ’78 Nova running). If the calendar actually worked right, there wouldn’t be a need for a “leap day.” We’d either have February 29th every year or we never would (though I suppose there’s a chance we could end up with March Eleventieth, or something).

Loads of people make a big deal about Leap Day. Y’know, stuff like, “Do something awesome! Take advantage of a rare event! Make this extra day count!”

But here’s the funny thing about it: Every day is a rare event. February 29th only happens once every four years, but tomorrow’s date only happens once. Ever. Same thing with the day after that. And the day after that one. And the day after that one (you get the idea). Eventually, you’ll run out of all your days, whether it’s the 29th of February or 6th of April or, even, the Eleventieth of March.

It’s inevitable.

So, yes. I agree. Do something awesome today. Make this extra day count.

But do it tomorrow, too.


Are you getting enough value out of your small business website? Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

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And while you’re at it, don’t forget to follow Tim on Twitter.

Tim Peter & Associates helps companies from startups to the Fortune 500 use the web to reach more customers, more effectively every day. Take a look and see how we can help you.

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January 18, 2012

Stop SOPA

January 18, 2012 | By | One Comment

I make my living from intellectual property. My consulting services, my blog, my other writings and my forthcoming book feed my family. I believe that piracy is an awful thing. It harms our economy and kills jobs.

But the two bills under consideration by Congress—the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA – House Bill 3261) and Protect-IP (PIPA)—are deeply flawed, harm our economy and have the potential to kill even more jobs.

Worse, they won’t actually stop piracy.

Google has a great blog post explaining why that is. Or you can read this post on the New York Times or this one on the Atlantic showing how to work around current “blackouts” sites have enacted to protest the bill.

Obviously, these workarounds only address the self-imposed shutdowns, but they provide insights as to how determined pirates will be able to bypass the restrictions imposed by SOPA and PIPA. The Internet was designed to route around failures (a process known today as “the Streisand effect”). Roadblocks between consumers and content—even pirated content—look exactly like a “failure” to underlying Internet technology. The very nature of the ‘net prevents many of the measures SOPA proposes from working.

Worser still (yes, I know “worser” is not a word, but it feels right here), proponents of the bill cite examples of totalitarian censorship as positive evidence for the bill’s effectiveness:

“When the Chinese told Google that they had to block sites or they couldn’t do [business] in their country, they managed to figure out how to block sites.”

That quote is from former U.S. Senator and current Motion Picture Association of America head (i.e, “lobbyist”) Chris Dodd. Again, I’m not arguing that piracy is a good thing. But emulating the Great Firewall of China cannot be the right answer to the problem in a democratic society.

Yes, we need to find an answer. SOPA is not it.

Finally, it’s not like an alternative bill doesn’t exist. The OPEN Act offers an alternative that protects copyrights and ensures an open Internet.

I usually prefer to keep my politics close to my vest. I grew up in an era where politics, religion and sex were verboten in professional settings. But in this case, I’m asking you to contact your representatives in Congress and tell them to vote against this bill. It’s bad for our economy. It kills jobs. And, by the admission of its own backers, it moves the United States towards Chinese-style censorship.

To make it easier to contact your legislators, I’ve included a widget below that will let you call them directly. Or you can sign Google’s petition. Regardless, don’t sit on the sidelines for this one. Stop SOPA. The Internet you enjoy today depends on it.


Are you getting enough value out of your small business website? Want to make sure your business makes the most of the local, mobile, social web? thinks helps you understand how to grow your business via the web, every day. Get more than just news. Get understanding. Add thinks to your feed reader today.

Or subscribe via email.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to follow Tim on Twitter.

Tim Peter & Associates helps companies from startups to the Fortune 500 use the web to reach more customers, more effectively every day. Take a look and see how we can help you.

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