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Lessons Learned from the County Fair Corn Roast

folks enjoying cornGreetings!

My Lions Club has a tent at the Howard County 4-H Fair (www.howardcofair.com) every year. Every year, we roast and sell corn on the cob to raise money for our scholarship fund. Our fire-roasted corn is, year after year, the best and most popular at the fair. Now, I could wear you out with stories about why we do it the way we do it. Instead, I’ve been thinking about how I could share some of the lessons that I’ve learned by helping as a worker since 1999, and leading the effort for the last few years. So far, I’ve come up with the following three main lessons. I think they can be applied in almost any business.

1) Be Consistent

In years past, when we’ve had to serve roasting ears that were less than great, word spread almost instantly! Our business would fall off the very next night, and some potential customers would come up to the counter and ask, “How’s the corn? We heard it wasn’t very good.” WORD GETS AROUND QUICKLY WHEN YOU DISAPPOINT SOMEONE. Take all necessary measures to deliver your product or service consistently.

2) Have Fun

The crew works better, and produces longer without a break, when the mood is light, and the members in charge are trying to keep a good rapport with the customers, rather than just filling orders. Silliness is OK, as long as it doesn’t keep you from serving.

3) Continue to Improve

Since 1973, the corn roast operation has evolved dramatically. But from one year to the next, the changes are usually more like “adjustments”. Baby steps. The last two years, we have increased the involvement of students and adult volunteers. They have to be trained and supervised a little more, but they become part of a very important group: potential permanent members of the club. They also tell their friends about it, and we get more customers. For you, your continuous improvements can similarly broaden your network and expand your influence in your community and your industry.

If you would like to hear more about what we’ve learned by roasting corn at the 4-H fair, drop me a note at jr (at) marketingmercenary.net. If you’d like to discuss how to better market your business or organization, use the same e-mail, please.

Disaster Recovery Plan(s)?

flashlightI hope that your business was not damaged in the heavy weather yesterday. Damaged or not, you might be thinking what I’m thinking today: “I need disaster recovery plans.”

Plans? Why not “plan”? Because we might lose power for a few hours, or overnight. And we might lose power for 48 hours. Or a week. These various scenarios might all require different strategies for business continuity AND marketing!

Different marketing following a disaster? Absolutely. Let’s say that a large part of the area is affected by a severe weather event, and is without power for several days, but road access is restored. Your marketing can no longer be delivered to a portion of your audience via your website, Facebook, or e-mail (some will have mobile access, but many will not). You might have to rely more heavily on traditional forms such as radio and newspaper.

Action Steps:

A) Meet with your key employees, and maybe your vendor reps as well. Brainstorm ways to anticipate and overcome adversity when disaster A, disaster B, or disaster C strike.

B) Want to make a “brilliant” impression on your  clients right now? Get your top 50 customers a really bright flashlight, complete with a spare set of batteries. Alternatively, get them a weather radio.

Have a safe week. –JR

(I can consult with your business on marketing strategies in good weather or bad. See the “About JR” tab for a million ways to contact me, or just message me here: jr (at) marketingmercenary dot net.)

Daylight Savings Time?

 

I don't like Daylight Savings Time.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Now, don’t forget to set your clocks ahead (“Spring Forward”) tonight.

Local Fireworks Displays for 2012

Fireworks from Tipton, IN 2011

Fireworks from the 2011 Tipton, Indiana display

I’ve been doing a some quick research on local fireworks displays for today, July 4th, 2012.

From the chairperson for Walton‘s annual display:

Just so everyone knows………WALTON will have their Fireworks on July 4th. Festivities include Parade at 2pm, Booths DT Walton open at 11am, 4pm Car Show registration at Vol. Fire Dept, Fish Fry at Vol. Fire Dept. & Fireworks at Dusk. Hope to see everyone here!

Sounds like a great time in Walton tonight!

I was told recently by one of the Greentown Lions Club members that they will be having their annual fireworks display at the Howard County Fairgrounds tonight at dusk.  I’m trying to get a confirmation directly from the Lions Club, and any additional information. I’ll update this post when appropriate.

Fireworks are also banned inside the city limits of Kokomo, but the rest of Howard County may use consumer fireworks.

Miami County is still under a fireworks ban at the present time. According to WISH-TV, Peru, Indiana’s display has been postponed until Labor Day.

Tipton’s annual display has been cancelled, also according to WISH-TV in Indianapolis. WISHTV.com has a lengthy list of Indiana towns and counties that have announced their plans to cancel or continue. It can be found here.

Be safe, and enjoy your Independence Day celebration!

 

 

HOT HOT HOT – Quick Marketing Ideas for Today

[warning]Record-setting heat is expected across the Plains today. Is your business taking advantage, with a fun weather-themed promotion? Consider these easy-to-implement ideas.[/warning]HOT HOT HOT

OFFER 10% off everything, PLUS another 10% off one item for EVERY DEGREE ABOVE 100! You think people would never root for a 106 degree day? Wrong. (Sorry, friends in Dallas, Texas.)

“Hotter Than Hell” Open House. This is for the business that can get away with something more edgy. Offer visitors Devil’s Food cake and ice water. And, of course, great specials and prizes.

Serve free ice cream and popsicles. That’s it – just be a good neighbor. Thank people for coming in, and ask them to please be careful today. Hand them an ice-cold bottled water on the way out. Just show people that you care.

What are your ideas for a HOT HOT HOT day? Note them here, or e-mail Marketing Mercenary (jr@marketingmercenary.net) to bounce your ideas around with someone.

Partnership – Just Do It.

Kit Wessendorf and Greg Bell

Kit Wessendorf and Greg Bell

Marketing Mercenary was recently called upon to shoot video for Indianapolis-based 12 Stars Media. They are developing training materials for the Indiana Association of REALTORS, in conjunction with Neupath. Neupath is one of many small businesses housed at the Kokomo business incubator site, Inventrek.

I say all that to say this: It’s the complimentary nature of these various businesses that have brought them together (MM included), and their willingness to seek help with certain tasks, instead of “doing it all in-house”. The direct benefit will be some great training tools at very reasonable cost. The side benefits will be the relationships formed and renewed, that can lead to further business or referrals for future opportunities in multiple directions.

To paraphrase “Hannibal” Smith from The A-Team, “I love it when a team comes together!”

Pictured are Kit Wessendorf, producer for 12 Stars Media, left, and Greg Bell, former Kokomo sportscaster from WIOU and Z92.5 fame, on the right. They are recording voice-overs for the “non-talking-head” segments of the training videos. Marketing Mercenary supplied the audio equipment, set-up help, and comic relief, of course.

Also present was Kathy Harbaugh, Indiana Association of REALTORS, (former VP of the REALTORS Association of Central Indiana in Kokomo), and Don McCreary, Neupath.

It was great seeing Greg and Kathy again after several years. I worked at Z92.5/WIOU while Greg was the sportscaster there. I met Kathy when I first started my own business, producing virtual tours for various realtors in Kokomo and surrounding areas. We have all progressed in various ways, but are all still doing things we love and value.

Who knows? There may be room for you in the next project!

“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 YouTube.com. Please click the image to watch.

 

Gallery – Tipton County IN Fireworks

Clear skies and little wind made for a great fireworks display at the Tipton County Fairgrounds in Tipton, Indiana last night (7-3-2011). I hope you enjoy this gallery of photos I shot last night!

[ My blog has been getting hundreds of hits for the schedule for area fireworks displays for the Indiana towns of Tipton, Greentown, Walton, Peru, Burlington and Kokomo. This tells me that the Internet marketing for the official sources of this information could use improvement. If your business or organization is in need of traditional or internet marketing assistance, please contact me: Marketing Mercenary (the About JR page of this blog), or via Best Property Marketing. ]

Thanks for visiting! Happy 4th of July, and God Bless America!

2011 Fireworks Displays for the Kokomo Area – UPDATED

Tipton Indiana Fireworks

Tipton Indiana Fireworks

Our local paper, the Kokomo Tribune, posted the following times for area fireworks displays yet to happen for the 2011 Independence Day holiday. They are accurate in that I could not find any up-to-date sources that contradicted them, except for the Kokomo Tribune itself. I was able to confirm most of these dates via other sources. UPDATE: Kokomo fireworks were postponed due to weather. Please see red text below.

  • Peru – At dusk Sunday at the town park

  • Burlington – At dusk Sunday at Burlington Park

  • Greentown – At dusk Monday at the Howard County fairgrounds.

  • Tipton – 10:10 p.m. Sunday at Tipton County Fairgrounds.

  • Walton – Monday at dusk, Walton town park.

  • Kokomo – Friday, July 8, 10 PM at Foster Park

It’s our family tradition to enjoy the Tipton County fireworks. The Tipton display will reportedly add a substantial 35% more fireworks to their 20-minute “sky concert” display. Music is provided on the FM country station, WWKI.

Enjoy yourself, and BE SAFE! –JR

Michael Kelsey Performs in Kokomo – Photo Gallery

Michael Kelsey performs in Kokomo

Michael Kelsey at Oakbrook Church

Around 300 folks gathered at Oakbrook Church Friday night. Three aspects made this an usual group to attend a concert by a solo guitar player and singer:

The age group – from under 7 years old, all the way up to the senior years.

The broad response – everyone I could see was enthralled, from the kids’ participation, to the whoops of enjoyment from an older fellow sitting near me.

The dedication – it was my first time for this artist, and I was strongly in the minority.

I’m going to cut to the chase here – I was impressed, enraptured, overjoyed, and will definitely see him again.

You might have guessed that, from the number of photos, or just from the fact that I’m writing about Kelsey’s show. I might be just trying to avoid the part of this review that will prove the most difficult: describing Kelsey’s performance.

His only instruments were his acoustic guitar and voice. To be truthful, he occasionally used an electronic drum pad as well. He also employed a number of electronic gizmos that “looped” the percussive sounds, music, and acoustic textures, and provided reverb, echo, and other effects. But this was not a celebration of technology. Far from it.

He built and morphed and evolved layers and beats and his voice in an extremely organic and acoustic-sounding stew…yes, it seemed more like cooking…or did it? Perhaps I could describe it as a tapestry that doesn’t reveal it’s pattern until it’s finished. No, still not right. I think the musical experience was more like a kinetic sand painting, where the artist develops one image seemingly from nowhere, then uses parts of that image to make the next image in a story he develops as it moves and grows. *Whew!*

But wait – the show was not just sonic textures and rhythms. Sometimes, Kelsey crafted a rhythm section out of vocal samples, thumps and notes on his guitar, and used it as accompaniment. In other segments, he built an orchestra that swirled and danced with his arms, head and legs – he was physically involved in every way – to tell a sound story that he used to touch the minds and hearts of his audience.

After opening with a sensitive cover of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes,” his song selection was mostly original. Other compelling covers were “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” All though these songs were extremely good, his original material was most gratifying. My personal favorite was “Bus Driver,”