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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A new IBM study shows social media is being integrated into business processes beyond channels – to learn more about the insights, I had a fascinating conversation with Eric Lesser,Research Director of the IBM Institute of Business Value. 

Generally speaking, I don’t have to convince too many entrepreneurs that this social media thing is here to stay. By now, the conversation has largely shifted from “is this viable?” to “what should our presence on social media look like and how does this fit into the overall brand?”

Don’t look now but the conversation about social media’s about to change once again. Not merely about this or that new channel. Not about what Facebook is adding or restricting.
The other day I was watching a show called “Hotel Impossible” in which a consultant gives shabby, unprofitable hotels and resorts the makeover treatment from a design and operations standpoint. As you can expect, he didn’t pull any punches on what was wrong with these places, whether the rooms were dirty, the color scheme was boring, the staff was disorganized and more. Many times the hotel owners thought the location would make up for a lot of these miscues (nice try). Worst of all, these shortcomings had translated into an awful time for the guests, who would surely never come back if the hotel remained in that condition.

No you Can't Evaluate my Website

Posted by on in Social Media
Every now and then, I get one of these offers by a web development company to evaluate my website to see what I’m doing well and what I’m not.

You probably have too.

It goes something like this:

“We would like to provide you with a complimentary site evaluation. We will pinpoint any issues we see within your company’s website. Then we will provide recommendations on how to increase web traffic…”

Sounds like a reasonable enough thing, right? You’re not paying anything and they’re offering to help. Except for one thing – getting this kind of evaluation often confuses the heck out of the company that’s receiving it and raises more questions than answers.

We Don’t Need The CEO To Tweet

Posted by on in Social Media
Virgin Group’s Richard Branson wrote a post yesterday called “Why aren’t more business leaders online?” in which he described a lethargic response by the C-Suite to social media tools, pointing to the fact that according to a recent study by IBM, only 16% of CEOs are currently participating on social media.

There were 1,709 respondents to IBM’s 2012 Global CEO Study.

Guess how many of those CEOs had their own blog?


Almost as incredible? “Some” were on LinkedIn. Some. Not all. On the #1 social media channel for business. Fewer still were on the other channels like Twitter and Facebook. The CEO on Google+ appears to be a rare one indeed.
Dinosaurs are fun to look at in The Field Museum. It’s not actually fun to look like a dinosaur in an entrepreneurial setting.

“Oh, that’s not our company,” you scoff. Well, put down the phone in your cubicle and stop sending that fax because depending on the tools and practices you’re using, you might not be quite as progressive as you think. Especially if you witness the opinions of more than 7,000 professionals surveyed by LinkedIn as part of its “Office Endangered Species” study released yesterday.

Northwestern ups the ante for football brand

Posted by on in Brand Critique

5 Trade Show Inspirations Manufactured by IMTS

Posted by on in Creativity
I’m writing this from the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS), the largest manufacturing show in America, at McCormick Place. Over 90,000 people have registered for this gigantic event so far.

Walking across a floor of 1800 exhibits, you quickly get the sense that, at a time when marketers tend to question if trade shows are worth attending, it’s clear there are no such hang-ups as it applies to this show. There’s a whole lot of heavy investment from manufacturers going on here in their presence. With this in mind, I can’t help but wonder about Return on Investment and what kind of steps brands can take to help themselves stand out once they say, “If there’s one trade show we want to be at this year, that’s the one.”

Here are some takeaways and tech ideas from IMTS I’ve witnessed that you can consider incorporating for your own trade show efforts this Fall, especially if you’re preparing for a massive, high visibility trade show like this one.
The other day I had a client meeting not in a conference room or a Starbucks but the local establishment down the street serving cold frosty ones. It’s not mandatory by any means that my clients go out for a beer with me…but there’s an interesting pattern I’ve seen emerge over the years with the ones that do.

The ones who do seem to open up a little more about what’s on their mind, where they want to take their brand and the greater vision for what they want to achieve will invariably find themselves talking about it to me outside of their walls. And when they do that, they tend to say, “C’mon. Let’s go have a few beers. I want to pick your brain about…” 
I don’t just mean mainstream adoption. I’m talking about the point there’s a total switch-over. It’s a Shift when…

There are no more search engines to search for anything.
We have mobile apps and Siri-like functionality that pinpoints exactly what we want, when we want it.

There are no more desktops or laptops.
We have tablets for that.
While there’s been a lot written about the aftermath of Groupon’s IPO, falling share price and certain investors now leaving, the part of the story that’s getting lost a bit in the shuffle is how important a culture shift can be to a company’s trajectory. It’s no coincidence at all to me that Groupon’s struggles happened around the same time that its culture appeared to go through a fundamental change.

Up until about late last year, every other article about Groupon seemed to be about its loose dress code and vacation policy, its management’s quirky sense of humor, the transparent vibe, the customer service people who spent time at Second City, the actor who was hired to walk through the offices in a ballerina tutu.
Create a profile. Ask people to connect with you. Update your account with new info.

Technically speaking, it may mean you’re on LinkedIn. But it isn’t really making LinkedIn work for you.

These three steps represent the basic, passive approach that the majority of businesspeople take once they join LinkedIn. In fact, some people don’t even get that far, merely entering the basics into a profile and leaving it as is for months at a time.

Which is a lost opportunity, considering the vast potential and promise it holds, particularly for entrepreneurs
If you don’t have a brand strategy and rich, compelling content to supply people on at least a semi-consistent basis, I don’t care how many social media channels are out there. You should not be on a single one of them until you figure out what your purpose is and what you’re going to supply in the way of content that people can benefit from.

The Dumbest Thing You Can Do On LinkedIn

Posted by on in Social Media
LinkedIn isn’t for racking up as many connections as possible and turning people into a pack of baseball trading cards. At its best, it’s a way for taking the next step in a business relationship, forging a strategic partnership, getting educated from a trustworthy resource and/or introducing two parties that could be a fit.

It can also be a great way to share blog posts, presentations, groups, associations and bolster your personal profile. Nothing wrong with that at all.

That should be at least enough to start with, right?

Panera Cares baking up an evolved business model

Posted by on in Culture
“Being an entrepreneur is about seeing opportunity. It’s easy to write a check. But the real challenge for corporations like us is…what if we could solve some of these core problems too?”

- Ron Shaich, Founder, Chairman and Co-CEO, Panera Bread Co.

Sometimes when entrepreneurs talk about giving back to the community, it can feel as though it’s a convenient extra that’s good for PR or a team bonding day. Is it a nice gesture from that company? Absolutely. But it’s not exactly baked into the fabric of what the brand is all about either.
Should highly visible C-Level executives state their political and religious opinions freely without fear of repercussion to the brand?

I didn’t ask if they can. I asked if they should. Should we defend what is Constitutionally correct if it is strategically inconsistent with the brand?

“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.”
– Chick-fil-A Company Statement

“We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business and we are married to our first wives.”
                                                             – Chick-fil-A President-Chief Operating Officer Dan Cathy
Do you ever notice that there are no awards shows in the advertising industry for being the fastest?
Do you ever notice there are none for being the cheapest?

I do, however, notice a whole lot of awards for being the most creative. Or the most effective.

Clios. One Show. Addys. Effies. Cannes. And so on.

Some of us get lucky enough to hoist these awards high in front of our peers and put them in our offices. And let’s face it with no apologies. It feels really, really good.

When it comes down to it, you will never get awarded for being the cheapest and you will never get awarded for being the fastest. It’s not even a great thing to get referred for – when I actually was, it was a disaster.
“So, we’ll like, create a series of posters that are really in your face. Offensive to some, but whatever. It’s going to generate such a buzz. And everybody will be all over it in the media, so it’s a win-win.”

I picture the person saying this to be a Creative Director with a goatee, thin glasses, maybe a funky hat of some sort that’s backward. Oh, he’s so cutting edge. After all, he worked at DBKCF&GHA and worked on (Insert Campaign He Likes To Name Drop Here). Yes, I’m stereotyping. Like you haven’t seen a version of this person.
The strangest thing about the food truck debate in Chicago is why it’s taken so long to resolve, considering every other town is doing it.

The second strangest thing is why brick-and-mortar restaurants are this upset about the prospect of a food truck parking nearby. Why? If they looked a little deeper into who their audience was and developing their own brands, they probably wouldn’t have the burning desire to turn over a truck. Here’s why.

Finding new biz during the summer slowdown

Posted by on in Events
Anyone who knows me will eventually learn that I can’t sing the praises of people I know and trust enough (although I probably should). One of those organizations I’m always happy to tout is Sales Results. If you’re a person who knows how to provide a great service but doesn’t know how to sell himself very well, you’re not alone. Most people I come across are like that. They’re very good at what they do, but they freeze up at the thought of giving a really compelling “pitch” to others over 30 seconds or more.
It’s not easy to put social media users into nice and neat demographic profiles, but we’re getting smarter about it by the day.

Personally, I like to err more on the side of how people behave online and level of interaction with social media when classifying them anyway over too much of the traditional “age/race/income” classifications. I’m not sure that all 65-year-olds shy away from social media, for example. They may have a Facebook page and/or LinkedIn profile while displaying a comfort level with e-mail and using search engines.

It's not hard to connect with us.

Are we a fit for you and you for us? We certainly could be. But let’s start simple. Take a look at your calendar and see when you have no more than 45 minutes to talk further about your goals while receiving greater insight on next steps.

Let's Schedule a Time

  • "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
  • "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.

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