Dan Gershenson

I've always felt strongly that thoughts and ideas are the great equalizer of brands. No longer do we live in an era where only the largest of companies dictate their degree of influence based on how much money they spend to get in front of more eyeballs with one more 1-way message that's all about them.

The greatest influence can now be in the hands of the most helpful, transparent and personal brands of the world. Are you ready to be one of them? Caliber's Revolution of Influence blog aims to equip you with the strategies, content know-how, tools and trends to find the path that catapults you to newfound success.

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Conference call group:

“Can you repeat that again, Rick? I couldn’t quite hear that last part.”

Rick: “Oh, sorry. I was going through a tunnel. What I was saying was as;dlkfjad;flkjasd;gajk;dklafj;daslfjkdsz;laskjf;.”
I recently came across a firm that claims supreme expertise in brand strategy, content, graphic design, web development, SEO, advertising, public relations, video and business operations.

Oh really. Is that all?

Some web development firms say they are also experts in SEO. Fair enough. But oh, by the way, they also do content and graphic design and strategy too.

My, where do you ever find the time to be absolutely brilliant in these five different areas at once?

Getting More Mileage Out Of Your Posts

Video shared by on in Caliber Video


Dan Gershenson of Caliber Brand Strategy + Content Marketing speaks to the virtue of slicing, dicing and adapting content in a variety of formats to help your posts connect to more audiences where they "live" online. So that one post goes a lot farther than just one online environment.

A continuation of my conversation with the founders of Barefoot Wines.

In our previous post, I spoke with Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, the founders of Barefoot Wines, on their advice for aspiring entrepreneurs like they once were, as they were about to release their New York Times bestseller, "The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America's #1 Wine Brand." They had so much to share in our time together that I had to share a second helping of their advice in a second post.


b2ap3_thumbnail_photo.jpgA 2-part conversation with the founders of Barefoot Wines

When I first spoke with Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, founders of the brand we know today as Barefoot Wines, they were about to release their New York Times bestseller, “The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand.

Our conversation at that time was about Michael and Bonnie’s most improbable journey of entrepreneurship, with humble beginnings of running a business out of a laundry room in Sonoma County. Without a lot of capital whatsoever, Michael and Bonnie became the brand of Barefoot Wines – a brand they would ultimately sell in 2005.

Whose Rabbit Are You Chasing?

Posted by on in Guest Posts
b2ap3_thumbnail_37a57c4.jpgToday’s guest post is by Josh Middleman, Co-Founder of Present Possibility, a company that helps people discover and develop their power through a focus on self-awareness, self-expression, gratitude and purpose, leaving them capable and confident to achieve their goals and face their challenges.

“There was not a moment to be lost: away went Alice like the wind, and was just in time to hear it say, as it turned a corner, ‘Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it’s getting!’”

- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Why do you chase the White Rabbit? Yes. You. The one reading these words. Why do you do it?

Seriously. Have you thought about what it is that you are chasing after in your career? Is it money? Prestige? Are you seeking greater control over events in your life, or possibly freedom?
b2ap3_thumbnail_sheilap.jpgI’m often fascinated by how the foods we eat unlock the creativity and energy when we need it most. What if there a way we could almost call upon our most creative moments on demand, like when we’re on a deadline and need a big idea?

For the answer, I turned to Sheila Petersen, CHHC, AADP. As a Certified Holistic Health & Lifestyle Coach and graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Sheila helps people nourish their bodies through food to experience weight loss, better mood, better sleep and sustainable energy.

When it comes to maximizing brain function and getting your creativity on, look no

further than these six ingredients that are simple to keep on hand at all times, no prep time needed and great to take on-the-go.
One of my favorite new shows I’m enjoying is CNBC’s “The Profit” in which billionaire Marcus Lemonis attempts to turn around struggling businesses by offering them a check and in return, he gets to do pretty much everything his way for a week, including making all decisions on the company. And the current managers can’t do a darn thing about it.
The program for people who want to take a sledgehammer to inaction.

Sufferers from Marketing Meeting Fatigue can’t always spot the warning signs right away. That’s because MMF sets in after the 15th meeting about the position of the market you feel you can truly own better than anybody. You may have disagreements on your best attributes, your best audience to hear about those attributes and what you want to say when you’re actually in front of them offline or online. You debate over and over about what you believe clients believe about you, which then diverts into unfocused thinking, thanks to the new hipster intern who thinks you should be on Pinterest rather than addressing the real business problem at hand first.
“Jazz It Up”
“It’s Not There Yet.”
“I Don’t Like It.”
“Can I See Some More?”

It’s not easy for a writer to hear these. But it’s not that I have a problem with making changes. In my career I’ve probably made more than 25,000 changes. It’s that this kind of feedback is so vague that by itself, it does nothing to help ensure a better product for the next round.

Therefore, what we need to do is probe deeper with questions that draw greater specificity out of clients, even if it has to get slightly uncomfortable or difficult. If you’re an AE or Creative Director, you owe this to your team. There have a been a few times where said AE/CD flippantly replied “figure it out,” to my request for greater detail. But perhaps they were too scared to ask the client. After all, how dare we ask the people paying us for more information so that we can do our jobs well for them.
Inside the mind of a writer is a truly terrifying experience.”
– Robert DeNiro at the Oscars, March 2014 Ouch, Bobby. As creatives, are we that insecure and in need of constant praise? Really? Well, maybe we’ve got the confidence and passion but like anyone, we do need to be recognized.

That’s where many agencies can maximize a terrific opportunity to show they care about the work, the work, the work. If it’s all about the work, recognize it. “Oh, do we really need to give everybody a cookie or sticker?” says The Insensitive Account Director. No. But if you did a good job in hiring talent at all, you’d know their work is worthy of recognition. Not cheesy recognition (“you win a free apple!”) but real recognition.
Sometimes in one of the networking groups I help lead, we have 15-20 minutes for an engaging topic of discussion relevant to entrepreneurs. This week, one raised an important question:

“Is anybody else tired of haggling to death over pricing? If we’re small businesses and the lifeblood of our economy, why are we beating ourselves up?”

It’s a very fair question. Rather than bemoan the problems and challenges that come with haggling over price, let’s do something about it. See, if you know who you want to deal with and who you don’t as well as if you know what your value is, then negotiating doesn’t have to be the experience you might regularly dread.

Banging Your Head Through Your Own Four Walls

Posted by on in Events
There was a time years ago when that saying about the “cobbler’s children have no shoes” was worn like a badge of honor for me. I was working so hard on other people’s stuff back then that I would neglect to make myself a client. That was common but dumb.

I’ve also worked for agencies that acted this way. I just took a look at one of them and lo and behold, it’s the same website it’s been for years – barely anything has changed, including anything in the portfolio. But there they probably go, “humblebragging” about how they just work so hard on their own clients that they never have enough time to work on their own stuff.
As temperatures in this part of the country reach epically historic lows and videos depicting Chicago as the ice planet Hoth from Star Wars go up, one of the more common things for a company to do is to keep their customers informed on social media of delivery status or whether or not they’re open for business on a day like today.

Hey, no problem with that. That’s just keeping people in the loop, which is the right thing to do. But I wonder if there’s an opportunity to go further that some could take advantage of to host a captive Q&A session via Google Hangouts or reminding them of some of your more “live” customer service mechanisms in place such as video chat or a dedicated handle for customer service on Twitter. It may be an opportunity to speak to how your team works remotely and seamlessly, even when sudden conditions force you to not be in the same place. Are there tools you use to protect your communication lines internally and ensure data sharing that may, in turn, be of use for your customers to know (me – I’m a Hangouts and Dropbox fan)? In the process, you’re sending a subtle message about your flexibility, culture, technological level, teamwork and – most importantly – being helpful. Not just the fact that you’re open or closed. This doesn’t have to be complicated or require a ton of internal coordination – some updates or images via social media may do the trick.
This week, Erik Hultman and I talk about the influence of Google Hangout in search results, why you shouldn’t believe everything you read about the impending death of Facebook, how Amazon is trying to get even smarter in anticipating what you want and what the Sears closing of its flagship State Street store means for the brand’s future.


What are your thoughts on some of these issues? Love to hear them.


Every Growing Agency Needs A Coach Thibs

Posted by on in Culture
Sometimes we place so much emphasis on the first year of a business as its most challenging, we don’t always consider that the real challenges to come happen in Year 3, 4 or 5 – when tough transitions need to happen. When they do, your people on the ground can’t necessarily see the grand vision for what your organization is trying to accomplish high above. We can look no further at an organization like the Chicago Bulls to see how they struggle with this present/future paradox. The organization trades Luol Deng to save itself $20 million from the salary cap and avoid a dreaded tax for repeat luxury tax offenders. Which makes all the sense in the world from a financial standpoint. But for the actual players and coach, it makes no sense at all. They can’t relate to the move. They try to respect management but they also know that same management doesn’t take the court every few days like they do – even if they were former players. Managers aren’t their brothers. Managers don’t go into battle with them. Managers don’t communicate everything to them.

Fragile Marketing: Recognize The Symptoms

Posted by on in Guest Posts
b2ap3_thumbnail_3612116.jpgToday’s guest post is from Donnie Bryant of Donnie Bryant Direct Response Marketing. I’ve had many online conversations with Donnie and I always love interacting with him on multiple channels. In his view, marketing and copywriting isn’t a job but a calling. In addition to be quite talented, he’s just one of the most generous guys in the online universe I know and you can never have too many friends out there like him. – Dan
By now, we’ve heard and talked about Phil Robertson’s extremely controversial anti-gay comments in a media interview. Seriously, anyone who has followed this show as well as the programming heads at A&E had to know it was only a matter of time before Phil uttered the kind of hardcore statement that would upset a whole lot of people for good reason.

Do I think Willie Robertson would have said anything along the lines of what his father said? Absolutely not. I think as CEO, Willie will believe whatever he wants but also understands he has an ever-growing brand to protect in front of the media. He’s always understood the massive potential and growth of Duck Commander and its properties, taking the brand to a level that his father never could have dreamed of.
The following retailers were not open on Thanksgiving Day: 

Apple
Burlington Coat Factory
Barnes & Noble
Cabela’s
Costco
Dillard’s
Home Depot
Lowe’s
Marshalls
Nordstrom
Radio Shack
REI
Sam’s Club
TJ Maxx
Verizon

To me, it’s just common sense. To these brands, it represents an opportunity to show that they actually care about the home life of their people over the almighty dollar (and seriously, shoppers couldn’t wait until Black Friday anyway?). It’s a stand worth continuing for their culture, loyalty and values. Kudos to them.
When I looked at the invitation from OfficeMax for a store opening, I had to admit wondering what was going to be so different about this occasion versus several hundreds that preceded it. But what I learned from the unveiling of the first OfficeMax Business Solutions Center in the Chicagoland area is that the office supply giant intends to be far more than just the place you turn to when you’re out of paper, toner and pens.

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  • "I hired Dan to freshen up the writing on my website, and am delighted with the results. Dan GOT what my consulting business is about in a way that I hadn't experienced from anyone outside my field! More importantly, he was able to take that understanding and write clear and compelling language about my services – AND suggest format changes to the site to make it more effective. I highly recommend him."

    Dina Petrakis, Renovation Coach, Littlerock Construction, Inc.
  • "Dan did a great job crafting our website's language as well as developing our brochure. His work was top notch and very impactful. We really appreciate the way he worked his "magic." Dan has our strongest recommendation."

    Michael Casaburi, CEO at Revulus Growth Partners
  • "Dan is not only a person with creative ideas, he is a professional with high intelligence and integrity. He has tremendous energy and technical acumen. Dan is is focused and loves what he does...creating brands and building relationships. He is always willing to offer a helping hand and brings a strong dynamic to any team he is on. I highly recommend Dan to any company that is seeking exposure, growth, financial results and brand development."

    Chadia Meroueh, V.P., Auto Tech and Body

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