Archives for : Telling Your Story

What Keeps You From Becoming A Commodity?

I saw a tiny red “20” over one of the apps on my phone this morning. So, to try to catch up just a little on channels I follow, I tapped the YouTube icon. I caught Gary (@garyvee) Vaynerchuk’s Daily Vee #356 today. (Yep, my phone took me to yesterday’s today. Thank you, phone.)

About 12 minutes in, he said, “There is ONE THING that will keep you from being a commodity: your brand. (Emphasis: his)

Commodity vs. Differentiation
…and it really got me thinking about my Gulf Coast Virtual Tours business. I realized that some of the things I do, brand-wise, push it toward “commodity” instead of toward distinction & differentiation. So let’s do an exercise today…

Take out a piece of paper, or create a note on your device. List 3 things you do that tilt you product or service toward becoming a commodity. Then, list 3 things you can do to “un-commoditize” it with your branding. THEN, circle the most important one, and get started on it before the end of the week. BONUS POINTS: share 1 thing on your un-commoditizing list in the comments below.

Getting Over the “Hiccups”


Due to some unusually large orders in the month of April, I have shot, reviewed, edited, and delivered about FOUR TIMES the photos in the last month than ever before!

Just having a little fun with one of the "outtakes".

Just having a little fun with one of the “outtakes”.

This wore me out physically, and I got sick this first week of May. Just a bad cold – fortunately nothing too serious.


Don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely grateful for some new opportunities that came my way.

Here’s the catch. May and June are traditionally my busiest months. And I started the month of May “under the weather.” Not only did I struggle for most of April to keep up with the workload, I got way behind on my home lawn care responsibilities. This time of year, that means that, among other things, my grass got REEEEALLY long. I had to hire a pro to come and “mow me out”! Not that big of a deal for some of us, but I actually enjoy mowing. It takes about 3 hours or so. I listen to music in my big earmuff headphones, and think, and sometimes pray. And, I get some much-needed exercise.

What’s worse is that, during this rough patch, I’ve neglected the platform I use to keep in contact with you – my blog, my Facebook fan page, Twitter (@mmercenary), and even some networking opportunities. When you don’t stay in contact with your audience or customer base, people will look elsewhere for the resources you provide.

What did I learn from this hiccup in the generally smooth Marketing Mercenary process? Two main things:

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Grab That Testimonial – Part 2

Capture that testimonial! (See Part 1)
Yes, I’m a professional videographer/director/editor (I could add some more slashes, but that’s enough for now). Why would I suggest that you capture it yourself? Well, you might have a customer standing at your counter, telling you how much your great products and service make their life better.

Get out your phone camera, or Flip Cam, or laptop webcam. Record it yourself, right then, to capture two things:

1) The words and ideas that convey the true emotion your customer is feeling.

2) The ~willingness~ of that customer to share their feelings with you at that moment.
This video clip can be edited to remove the stumbles, or to enhance the audio and visuals. I can add a logo and title at the beginning, your customer’s name where appropriate, and your contact information at the close.
“But what if it’s really noisy and shaky, or the customer had an embarassingly awful time getting their words out?”
Let’s use that “outtake” to write a script (or at least an outline) for a reshoot, where the customer can prepare, and we can set up lighting, a microphone, control the background noise, and get a much more professional-looking and great-sounding recording. Once it’s edited, you’ll have a great story to let potential customers hear from one of your happiest clients!
This social proof helps change a person’s mind, from “will they buy from you?”, to “when will they buy from you?” Happy shooting!

For more unbelievable helpful advice, feel free to shoot me an e-mail: jr (at) Or, call (7650 997-8687.

Grab That Testimonial – Part 1

You may have heard that the personal testimonial is the most powerful way to influence would-be customers to patronize your business. The second-most-powerful marketing tool is a similar testimonial, captured on video. A testimonial is a great example of “social proof”.
You can use the video (or a link to the video) in the following:
  • Social media posts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, CraigsList, Yelp, or almost any other)
  • E-mail
  • Printed link in your brochure or business card
  • QR code link for mobile consumption
Because of this flexibility, video is a perfect tool for all businesses.
I’m not going to be one of those “marketing experts” that tells you what a great idea something is, without telling you how to accomplish it. Tomorrow: Grab That Testimonial – Part 2 (How and Why)

Don’t Make a List, Tell a Story

Top-of-mind awareness is the Golden Ring of marketing, and when you succeed in marketing, your business grows.

Tell A Great Story

One way to achieve T.O.M. is to “touch” your customers and potential customers frequently. Monthly, weekly, daily, even HOURLY with social media or mobile advertising – TOM can happen if you have the time and resources to constantly remind your audience that you’re ready to serve them.

Making a strong impact and being memorable is another way to stay Top Of Mind with the folks in your world. I’m not saying that being memorable will make the constant touches unnecessary, but – let’s face it – unless you have a HUGE advertising budget, it’s tough to be everywhere all the time.

Let your customer’s memory do the work for you. HOW? By telling stories about your company, your products, and your people.

“What should I tell them?” Make sure your stories illustrate the values that your company holds, and how those values are demonstrated to a particular client, in a particular way, by one of your employees or ambassadors.

I’m often guilty of answering the question, “What do you do?” with a list of services I provide. The response is typically, “Oh. OK.” But when I talk about a client that I’ve recently served in some exciting or fulfilling way, it ALWAYS leads to further questions – a deeper conversation about being the Marketing Mercenary. Which do you think that person will remember?

BONUS TIP: There have also been times I’ve talked about a business challenge, rather than a success. People naturally want to help. They want to show you that they have good ideas, connections, and resources, too. So, even talking about a challenging situation can help someone remember you when showed your appreciation and gave them recognition for their intelligence and resourcefulness. This is what’s know as a Win-Win, my friend.

We recently helped a local restaurant owner update numerous facets of his marketing platform at a very affordable cost. I’d love to tell you the details. Send me a note –

(NOTE: I was only briefly tempted to entitle this article “3 Reasons to Not Make a List.”)


Hard-Core Networking: 4 Tips for Being Unforgettable

Hard-Core Networking: 4 Tips For Being Unforgettable

Networking is about starting and building relationships. And, about getting referrals. Yes, it’s also about giving referrals. But for the next few moments, we’re going to talk about making an unforgettable, share-able impression when you attend networking functions.

These can also be used when you make initial contact with someone in a business or social arena. The main point is your first impression, and each subsequent one, being as strong as possible. Now, the faint of heart, please return to Facebook at this time. For the brave, we forge on.

1) Know your company, your product/service, and why YOU are in the position to acquire customers. This knowledge is power in any business conversation.

2) Give a brief, hard-hitting introduction that covers all three.

3) The “Tight Ask”* – make sure you ask for something or someone specific enough that 80% of the people in the room think of a specific THING or PERSON to which they can refer you the INSTANT you say it.

4) Make it DROP-DEAD easy for people to contact you:

  • A great business card
  • A memorable website domain name
  • A memorable e-mail address (based on that memorable domain name)
  • A freebie that folks will use, like a bottle opener, pen, or flashlight, imprinted with your name/number/e-mail

When I say “memorable” it could be funny, clever, or just really, really easy to remember due to it’s clarity or simplicity.

You don’t have to do all these things at your next opportunity. I don’t do them all, but I have seen all of them done to great advantage. I’m confident in this: when you start adding these strategies, you start seeing better results.

You want better results, or you wouldn’t be reading this, now would you?

If you would like to find out how on-line and traditional tools can give even greater impact to the strategies above, contact J.R. via Subscribe to my forthcoming newsletter by clicking HERE.

*I first heard this phrase used by Tony Scelzo, founder of the Indianapolis-based networking organization called Rainmakers. You can find him at

Grow and Give

I was reading Jeff Goins’ blog about writing and being a writer. He recently posted an article about building a “platform” of content that people come to anticipate and appreciate. Perusing the readers’ comments, I ran across this statement, and I think it’s a gem, a thing of beauty:

“So I have found peace in being me. And as I grow, I give more.” –Ngina Otiende

I’m finding that the more positive a blog is, the better the comments tend to be. Great job, Jeff, in fostering an audience that listens, and contributes value as well.


“Community of the Year 2011” Awarded to Kokomo

Kokomo Community of the Year videoKokomo City Hall in Kokomo, Indiana, October3, 2011. The Indiana State Chamber of Commerce awarded Kokomo the title of “Community of the Year 2011.” In this video, you’ll hear the announcement and related comments from Mayor Greg Goodnight. You’ll also hear remarks from Kevin Brinegar (Indiana State Chamber of Commerce President) and Jeff Cardwell (Kokomo/Howard County Chamber of Commerce Chairman).

Marketing Mercenary shot, edited, and delivered this program to you via Please click the image to watch.


Top 4 Things You Might Read Here

Ja, det er jo ikke det værste sted at holde pa...

More content is coming soon, that fits one or more of the following categories:

  • fun
  • useful
  • inspiring
  • ridiculous

I just want you to know that I haven’t quit on my blog. I’ve been mighty busy with numerous projects (grateful to God for that), but haven’t spent any of my free time right here. Feel free to post any comment you like. (Please keep it clean.) Thanks for reading! –JR

MMMM Food for Thought – Smooth

It’s Marketing Mercenary’s Monday Morning, and this is what I’m chewing on.

MMMM - smooth

Food for Thought

Today, I was remembering how I have worked with clients on their branding. When we discuss their marketing message, they had difficulty expressing what their main marketing message or target demographic was. These were not folks that were new to small business or to marketing. However, no one had ever (or recently) pushed the issues with them:

What is your main marketing message?

To whom are you trying to communicate that message?

Then, in trying to carve out these important matters, another challenge appears:

How do you make it “smooth?”

How do you make your marketing message easy to convey, and easy for the first person that hears it (reads it, eats it, whatever) to pass it on to the next and the next and the next?

Thanks to Seth Godin for the ideas behind the term “smooth.” from his book, Unleashing the Ideavirus.