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Have you ever slipped into the assumption that just about everything (and everyone) is fully connected over the social web?  That a connection is one click away on the latest smartphone?

Randall Craig at North York Harvest Food Bank. Sorting food at North York Harvest Food Bank

Recently I had a stark reminder, in the most unlikely of places, that this is absolutely not the case.  For several hours, I spent sorting food at the local food bank. Instead of going through the front, where patrons were able to pick up their food, I went through the back, where potential food bank users had to register for the privilege of being able to eat.  This group wasn’t sitting in chairs surfing on their smart phones (they didn’t seem to have them). They weren’t using the “surf station” (there wasn’t one), and they weren’t talking to each other about the latest innovation on Facebook or LinkedIn.  The only computer in the entire area seemed to be a 1990s-era machine used to record the volume and type of food collected.

While you and your organization may not consider food bank users a target market, this experience was a great reminder that in our haste to adopt social and mobile marketing, we may inadvertently ignore bona fide groups that either do not have access, or choose not to use, these channels.

This week’s action plan:  Has your excitement about social and mobile caused you to inadvertently de-emphasize or ignore an important, but unconnected group?  This week, look between the cracks of your existing outreach plan, and seek to identify parts of your market that you may have left behind.

Internet insight:  The reasons for “not connecting” are quite varied. In large parts of the country – particularly rural areas – high speed internet is simply not available.  For others, it may be a philosophical barrier: they have concerns about privacy.  For others it is educational: they don’t feel comfortable with technology.  And for others, economics play a role, either for the cost of the technology, or the cost of data access.  And of course, there are many others, including language, accessibility/access, and even lack of awareness about your organization.  Connecting with each of these overlooked populations may mean the difference between success and failure.

Lessons from the food bank:  I had the opportunity a few years ago to interview Gail Nyberg, Executive Director of the Daily Bread Food Bank.  This organization distributes over 1 million pounds of food monthly, through 170 member agencies.  Here is the interview:

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


New year, new thinking?

by Randall Craig on January 6, 2017

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Marketing, Strategy

Tagged as:

While the new year may in fact be refreshing, have you ever considered that your approach to marketing might be, at best, dated? That you might be following a strategy of incremental improvement, when a completely new approach might be what is really called for?  If so, you’re not alone.  But why?

It is much easier to use that new post-holiday energy to look for marginal gains using the paradigm you know and love. And it is far harder work to question the conventional wisdom that has delivered success in the first place.

Consider the following marketing initiatives, vs an alternative – and perhaps transformational – approach:

  • Improve conversion from 5% to 6%.  Instead, why not figure out a way to target the “other 95%”?
  • Spend time asking for referrals.  Instead, why not figure out a way to help referral sources build their business?  They’ll eventually reward you for it.
  • Spend more money on pay-per-click ads on Google and Facebook.  Instead, why not develop content that your prospects actually care about?
  • Update part of the website for a new service launch.  Instead, skip the website as an archival file cabinet, and re-charter the website in the context of lead generation and a tight connection to social, marketing automation, and CRM?
  • Refresh the logo.  Instead, refresh the brand by building a high-performance culture.
  • Enforce CRM data entry by staff.  Instead, figure out how to expose the CRM’s data using custom dashboards for leadership, middle-management, and front-line staff. 

This week’s action plan:  In your organization, is the new year’s energy squandered on incremental projects?  This week, use this energy on substantive “re-think” projects that can significantly move the needle.

Marketing insight:  There is absolutely nothing wrong with incremental improvement: in fact, it should be part of the day-to-day processes.  But when there is an inflection point – new year, new strategy, new staff in the role, new senior leadership, etc – it is a shame to squander the opportunity to make substantive, and possibly transformational, improvements.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)




Don’t tell me how to think: Trump, Trudeau, and the realpolitik of marketing today

by Randall Craig November 11, 2016

Was there really a surprise that Donald Trump won the American election?  Or that Justin Trudeau won the Canadian one?  Or that Brexit happened? While Americans may eventually rue their choice of president, these three results have much in common: Politicians and insiders who are perceived as privileged, and think that they know better. An enormous group of pundits, intelligentsia, […]

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A Different Market Research

by Randall Craig October 7, 2016

You invest in events, send out emails, educate, and send invoices.  But how well do you really know your target audience?   Beyond the basic demographics, perhaps not as well as you might think.  Do you capture the answers to these questions? If asked to describe your organization to a third party, do you know […]

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Eight email marketing letters

by Randall Craig September 9, 2016

Do you use email every day for marketing and outreach?  Not every email is the same – there are a number of different types, each with a different goal.  How many have you used?  Great marketers know that using the right stimulus at the right time will yield the desired results.  Using marketing emails inappropriately will only annoy the recipient – […]

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Pricing strategy

by Randall Craig August 12, 2016

If you are a service provider, how do you set your price? And if you are a buyer, how do you know whether the price that you are given is reasonable? Beyond the obvious, price itself is an indicator of a number of factors: value, credibility of the service provider, work effort on the project, […]

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Viewpoint: Virtual and augmented reality

by Randall Craig July 22, 2016

Back in the 1960’s, the venue of discovery was outer space, and particularly the race to the moon. In the late 1980’s, Star Trek popularized the holodeck, a virtual reality simulator that people walked into and “experienced.” Today, we have the Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, and Pokemon Go.  One can debate the merits of these specific […]

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Trust Killers

by Randall Craig May 13, 2016

How much does your organization invest in marketing?  Beyond thought leadership and inbound marketing strategies, there is advertising, promotional items, trade shows, CRM, marketing automation, the web and social media.  Any way you look at it, the investment is substantial. Yet despite this focus, and despite all of this strategy, why is marketing so often ineffective? […]

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Ten Questions to Improve Data Quality

by Randall Craig May 6, 2016

Marketing has progressed significantly from the days of direct mail addressed to “occupant”. Or has it? I recently received a snail-mail letter from a major corporation, addressed to Rondo Greg – not Randall Craig. My wife recently received an email addressed to her work address, asking whether her company – a major financial institution – would be […]

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Brand Building and Brand Transfer

by Randall Craig March 4, 2016

Beyond ads, media mentions, and the web, is there another mechanism to build your organization’s brand? One that might cost significantly less, yet yield powerful positioning advantages? Brand Transfer is the “borrowing” of another organization’s brand to better convey – or even amplify – your own. Consider the following examples: How differently is your organization perceived when […]

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Brand Building: Strong On the Inside

by Randall Craig February 5, 2016

How much does your organization spend on your brand? Usually, this question yields answers in the following categories: logo design, collateral production messaging, and ads. And for more sophisticated organizations, it also includes elements of Social Media. While all of these items are important, this list is missing the two fundamental delivery mechanisms of the brand itself: people, […]

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8 must-reads on growth: best of the year

by Randall Craig January 8, 2016

Benjamin Franklin said that there were only two things certain in life: death and taxes.  But at the end of the year if you watch TV news, read magazines, or read a newspaper, you know that there is also a third certainty: the end-of-year retrospective.  In the case of the Make It Happen Tipsheet, a retrospective is […]

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Website launch checklist

by Randall Craig December 11, 2015

While websites aren’t new, most organizations only redesign their website every 3-4 years – which is just enough time for everyone to forget what needs to be done to properly launch it. While every website (and organization) is unique, here is a partial list of activities that can help: Three months prior to launch: Confirm metrics to evaluate the […]

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Ten Tests for Assessing Influence

by Randall Craig November 6, 2015

Influencers are incredibly powerful, not just because of their reach, but because of their trusted relationships. They can bring your name and your services to a completely new audience. They can provide insights into your market – and the market’s view about you – that are uniquely valuable.  They can recommend you – or skewer […]

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Ten webinar utilization strategies

by Randall Craig October 16, 2015

Many marketers use webinars as an important strategy, but given the large investment developing the content, finding (and registering) attendees, and the logistics of production, how can you maximize the return on your webinar investment? Here are ten ideas that can help: Include a clear and easy call to action near the end of webinar.  Information is nice, […]

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Building Your Marketing Stack

by Randall Craig October 2, 2015

Most marketers think of themselves as builders. Their work grows the organization, grows market share, grows the portfolio of products and services. A bit more tactically, the marketer builds page views, conversions, and social engagement; underlying all of these activities, the marketer builds relationships. But is there merit in growing marketing itself? Not the ad […]

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Choosing your Marketing Voice

by Randall Craig August 21, 2015

Have you ever considered why some emails resonate, and others seem just a bit off? While the general topic of copywriting has been handled here quite well, too often emails – especially ones that for part of a marketing automation sequence – fail because of one thing: voice. Consider these four examples: 1) Passive Voice […]

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Marketing Fluff: Increasing your value per word

by Randall Craig August 14, 2015

When you write, does everything that you put down on paper deliver exceptional value? Or is there a certain amount of low-value filler that invades your communications? There are three strategies that can significantly upgrade your value in the eyes of your audience: Target: right audience – right message: What is high value to one group […]

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Nine Key Marketing Automation Sequences

by Randall Craig July 31, 2015

Back in the dark ages of the internet, building “the list” was a best practice for email marketing. The theory was great: send a monthly ezine, sales offers, and any other buzzworthy content down the pipe and a certain percentage of people will “convert.” Money automatically transferred into your account as the list was monetized. Today, however, […]

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