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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n today’s post, guest blogger Melonie Boone, Co-CEO and Owner of Complete Concepts Consulting (an HR consultancy focused on compliance and management) takes a look at how strong employee retention can have a positive impact on your culture and overall brand strategy. 
You may be thinking that your employees are happy and even if they do leave, it’s an employer’s market out there so I won’t really be affected, right?

If your organization is a revolving door, frequently churning employees it makes a negative impact on your reputation, current customers, prospective clients and business partners.

Take A Really Tiny Page From Urban Outfitters

Posted by on in Loyalty
As I was in Urban Outfitters yesterday buying some fridge magnets I didn’t really need (c’mon, they were those iPhone button magnets, how could I resist?), I was waiting for my receipt and found that instead of providing a paper receipt, they took down my e-mail address. I’d get the receipt e-mailed to me.

A little move but actually quite brilliant when you think about it. They now captured my e-mail address and had a new way to connect with someone who had clearly shopped at the store. As long as they don’t bombard me with daily messages, it’s a smart maneuver on their part.
What are you doing on the morning of Thursday, November 3rd before 9:00am? If you’re free and near downtown Chicago, I think you’ll walk into work energized and with a fresh perspective on how what you build internally can do a world of good externally in terms of your customer relationships.

I’ll be speaking at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce along with my colleague, management consultant Rob Jager, on:

Building The Brand Within:
How To Deliver Unexpected Surprises For Your Customers 

Smaller institutions may leverage outrage behind “Occupy Wall Street” and “Bank Transfer Day” to their advantage if they know how to act instead of analyze.

You’d like to think they saw this coming. You’d like to think they wouldn’t be surprised. And at the end of the day, I’d expect the biggest banks in America, including Chicago’s, to still be standing tall. Yet the movement known as “Bank Transfer Day” is gaining momentum and it’s important for all of us to note the new speed with how audiences mobilize, no matter where we stand on the issues. For marketers of financial products and those of us who advise them, it represents an opportunity to listen to audiences and pause before considering what to do in the name of getting more money from customers without giving them something in return.
Note from Dan: Today’s Chicago Brander post is from guest blogger Steve Congdon of Thunderclap Consulting Group. Drawing on the experience of over 200 pitches, Thunderclap helps marketing communications agencies and other professional service firms win more new business. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Steve and find his blog a must-read for anyone seeking a better way to get into more pitches and improve their close ratio. Call him at 773.637.5203. You’ll thank me after a conversation with Steve.
Note from Dan: Today’s Chicago Brander post is from guest blogger Steve Congdon of Thunderclap Consulting Group. Drawing on the experience of over 200 pitches, Thunderclap helps marketing communications agencies and other professional service firms win more new business. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Steve and find his blog a must-read for anyone seeking a better way to get into more pitches and improve their close ratio. Call him at 773.637.5203. You’ll thank me after a conversation with Steve.
“Could I just have some college kid do it?”

It’s a question I’ve heard before from small business owners when they consider the prospect of taking on social media. Before I answer that question, let’s do an experiment – and I genuinely don’t mean to sound like a smart-aleck when I say this, but rather to illustrate a point:

I’d like you to give up control of your company.

Not for a day or a week, but the next 3 months.
As I learned of the details of Jeff Pearlman’s new biography on Walter Payton, “Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton,” I admit my reaction was the way many Bears fans would react: I wanted to find Jeff Pearlman in a bar and ask him to step outside. But after I cooled down a little, I realized that, regardless of what Pearlman has written about Payton in the way of his painkiller use, extramarital affairs and depression, his book is as useless for touching the brand of Walter Payton as a New England Patriot in Super Bowl XX.

This is not the voice of a pure fan talking, believe it or not. It’s the voice of reason based on what I know about how iconic sports brands endure above those that shockingly fail us. Particularly those born and bred here in Chicago.
Around the time Rahm Emanuel took office in Chicago, news began to permeate throughout the press that the new Mayor was considering trimming the number of City Council seats in half, from 50 Aldermen to 25 Aldermen. With a city facing a mammoth budget deficit of $635 million, Emanuel had mentioned along the campaign trail that many people had wondered aloud why Chicago needed 50 Aldermen when similarly large cities such as L.A., Houston and Philadelphia operate with far less.  Chopping the Council in half won’t solve all of the city’s financial problems. Yet a new online outlet set up by City Hall made me ask what might amount to a silly question to some, but so be it:

If an online forum set up by City Hall, Chicagobudget.org, enables Chicago’s citizens to voice their ideas right to the source where those ideas can be effectively heard, shared and responded to, why do we need as many Aldermen whose primary job it is to do that? 
This photo from someecards.com (yes, proofers, there’s a misspelling in it, but you get the idea) pretty much sums up the “uproar” every time Facebook makes a change to their structure, layout and functionality.

Blessed to be in a city with solid public transportation, not a week goes by that I don’t use a bus, El and Metra train to get me from Point A to Point B. And while you have to put up with the usual annoyances (Exhibit A: Man talking on cell phone at ridiculous decibels), I’ve found that the CTA is doing a good job of meeting expectations in forecasting the arrival/departure times on buses and El trains – in fact, technology has made it about as smooth an experience as you can expect in a city as big as ours. We can tap a Chicago Card to a designated payment area and we’re on our way. We can look down on our mobile devices and see thanks to apps like Buster, the 156 really will be here in 4 minutes. Things are indeed getting better. Not perfect, but better.
“Wait – what do you mean? Are you saying e-mail is going away? No way does e-mail go away. Everyone uses e-mail.”

I figure that’s the response I’d get from a headline like the one above. But e-mail marketing in its 1st generation form should be history. E-mail in its next generation form is where we should be thinking and how we should be acting in our marketing efforts already. Right now.

Why? Spammers and Yammer.
It’s time we wish the first generation of direct mail and e-mail a happy retirement to Del Boca Vista. I recall stories of when ol’ direct made the eyes of David Ogilvy twinkle with glee. Or when e-mail came on the scene, a hot, young upstart in the electronic world.

But like all things, there’s a new generation of direct mail and e-mail taking over and doing things differently. A generation of mail made for new technologies. Therefore the people receiving their messages demand more. The people using them for marketing purposes had better demand more of themselves in how they create, strategize and measure.

Let me explain. The ways we use mail has worked well for some period of time but like anything else, they are evolving.
new Accenture survey of global marketers yielded some results that at first, may not seem that extraordinary. Among them, marketers said the three most important business issues were improving customer retention and loyalty, acquiring new sales and increasing sales to current customers. The survey went on to say that in the coming year, marketes expect to see their marketing budgets flatline or decline.
Over 700 posts have been written about the shocking suicide of social media expert Trey Pennington and I won’t attempt to compete with such beautiful tributes that have already been said by Jay Baer, Mark Schaefer and others (Pennington was a popular South Carolina-based expert on social media and spoke at a variety of conferences to great acclaim – tragically, he took his own life on Sunday in a church parking lot). I’ll just add this thought: As a result of Pennington’s influence, many are writing about the renewed need to reach out and form meaningful offline relationships with people in the business world. They are so absolutely 100% right. But I hope people won’t dismiss the relationships we have online as artificial and without meaning either. True, there will be people that we will connect to on Twitter or Facebook who we will never, ever meet in person. But the key is to strive for balance between the two worlds. It means little to compile 50,000 followers on Twitter without injecting personal interactions into the mix. By the same token, just networking alone has its limitations because it doesn’t make you what John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing describes as a “converged” business. You need a component of being a “wired” business or you will lose out to competitors who are. They will blog, they will post, they will upload videos and they will share. Assuming it all isn’t self-promotional puffery, this sharing of knowledge helps expand on a person’s credibility in ways a business card exchange never could. It means something to walk into a room and have someone recognize you by your blog. It means something to meet someone and have that person research you further and find your insights posted all over the online realm.
Newspapers need a new pricing model that reflects the online age of readership.
I’ve got 3 ideas on how to help.


The front page of the suburban The Daily Herald, penned by the Editor, shouted the newspaper’s stance loud and clear: “Why our digital news cannot be free.

The 139-year-old newspaper has officially made the decision to charge for most content from the paper online. If you want to read The Daily Herald online from now on, you’re going to have to pony up $19.99 a month to do so. And by the way, no other paper in Chicagoland is charging digital readers on this kind of scale.
I’m a gigantic social media fan, but I can never automatically recommend everyone be on social media. True, I could analyze a company from a brand perspective and I’ll invariably recommend social media channels for them. But as I dig deeper, I come to realize that there are a few cases that it’s not right for. Less because it isn’t right for their brand or because their audience isn’t living on any social media channels, more because their internal culture just flat-out isn’t ready for it or isn’t fully behind it when they do decide to go down that path. I’ll give you some examples:
The San Francisco Giants are the world champions of social media. Oh, and I suppose they deserve that World Series trophy too.

Let me explain. I began to write this as a Cubs vs. Sox comparison of social media usage – and I do speak to this. But I also wanted to show the whole picture of how both the North Siders and South Siders compare against other teams in baseball. Plus, I didn’t want Sox fans to think I was trying to intentionally be biased against their team as I fully disclose my passion for Cubdom.

What happens when your leader IS your brand?

Posted by on in Positioning
Most of us have bosses. Some of us have great CEOs. And a very precious few of us have what can only be referred to as a legend – the kind of iconic visionary who is responsible for making the brand what it is today in the eyes of many.

Of course, nobody is immortal. Time ensures we all move on, whether it is due to a new job, retirement or (not to be morbid), expiring. The challenge Apple faces today in the wake ofSteve Jobs’ resignation as CEO (but he is staying on as Chairman) is no different than what Chrysler had to face in the post-Iacocca era, Ogilvy had to face without David Ogilvy, Disney without Walt or what Virgin will face when Richard Branson steps away someday. These are imaginative, charismatic, exciting people who not only shaped the foundation of their companies but have had influence far beyond it for managers in all kinds of industries. They are not just people associated with the brand. They ARE the brand.
A post today in Crain’s comes from an SEOer who claims that SEO is what drives traffic above all else, not social media.

I certainly don’t disagree with him on the power of search engine optimization to be a big traffic driver, but I’ve got at least one case study that says social media can be a primary traffic driver, even over SEO: My own.

First and foremost, let me add one gigantic disclaimer: Everybody’s website and blog is different, with different audiences that behave in various ways. Some people are more searchers and have a great idea of what they’re looking for. Some don’t and stumble upon something they like, then share it with others.

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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 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
  • "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

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