Subscribe in your email box!

Subscribe in your feed reader!

I try to write about three times per week. Most of it is pretty good and will probably help you grow your business. If it doesn't, then I probably can't help you.

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

Throw Away Words

posted this on Friday, October 11, 2013 at about 9am.

You hear them every day. The words that mean nothing but are used to describe the services you buy. They have become jargony (that's a word, right?). They are used to describe things that we don't really understand how to explain.

Personally, I think that "space age technology" is the worst offender so I'm going to start my rant there. Let's think back to when the space age started. Let's look at Sputnik 1.

Sputnik 1 was the first artificial Earth satellite. It was actually pretty small. It was only 58cm in diameter (almost 23" around). The Soviet Union launched that sucker into orbit on October 4, 1957 at a height of 577km (359 miles). It orbited at 29,000km/s (about 18,000mph). It took about 96 minutes to orbit the earth. It fell from orbit on January 4, 1958. It had travelled approximately 70 million km (43.5 million miles).

So, with Sputnik 1, the space age began and triggered the space race between America and the Soviets.

So, think about it for a minute. If you are selling technology and say it's space age technology, what you are really saying is it's over 60 years old. Velcro is space age technology. Skylab is space age technology and it hasn't been in space since 1979. The retired Space Shuttle program is space age technology. Shoot, even Tang is space age technology.

Think about the words you use to describe your business or services. How do you discuss them?

Do you use words like "value added?" What does that really mean? Do you even know what value your clients are seeing? You probably don't. Value is simply when you get more thing for your money. But it's based on your personal perceptions, not marketing spin.

What about "thinking outside the box?" This is my favorite cliché that really doesn't mean what people think it means. Sure, I know, it means to think differently. But, did you know that its roots are assumed to have started in the 1970s? How can we still be thinking that thinking outside the box is really thinking differently? Thinking outside of the box has become the new box.

It's time to really communicate who are and what you do. Buzzwords don't help communicate. They simply create a false sense of security. What they really do is simply demonstrate that you are lazy and complacent in what you do and say.

Corey Smith and his wife are the proud parents of five wonderful children and live in Meridian, Idaho. He is the president of Tribute Media, a Meridian based Web Design & Marketing Agency.

He is the author of two books, "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter." You can learn more about his books here.

Interested in having Corey speak for your organization? Need help building or marketing your organization? Want to tell Corey how cool you think he is?

Email Marketing Blunders

posted this on Friday, December 23, 2011 at about 9am.
Spam Can

When I selected my email address name (I use smith [at] coreysmith [dot] ws) I never thought it would be a filter of stupidity. I am amazed at how many emails I get from ‘marketers’ that think my name is Smith. It’s obvious that these marketers really don’t know what they are doing.

Let’s me explain why.

Last night I received an email from a company called TalkSeda. The message was extraordinarily long but the intro and the first paragraph really got to me.

Hi Smith,

This is Adrian from TalkSeda-GVO, I was given your contact info by our marketing team. I am wondering if you are using some web-conferencing services for online meetings because TalkSeda is totally browser based web-conferencing software, with Literally NO software to download or install, enabling you to host live meetings, classrooms and webinars in seconds - right in your browser.

So, let’s talk about this paragraph just a little bit.

First, my name is Corey and not Smith. I have never liked it when people call other people by their last name. I think it’s impersonal and disrespectful. You should either call someone by their first name or title + last name (e.g. Mr. Smith).

Second, they were given my contact info by their marketing team? What does that mean? Does that mean their marketing team called me and I gave them permission? Does that mean some bot mined my email address?

Third, the first paragraph jumps right into features demonstrating a clear lack of understanding of a real problem that may or may not exist.

Fourth, the letter he sent listed a number of features as their competitive advantage. The catch? Most of the features can be done well with the competitors they list and better with those they don’t list.

I decided to be a little snarky and send an email back.


I don’t know your marketing team so your introduction doesn’t compel me to take interest in your product. Please remove me from your mailing list and tell your marketing department that they need to learn better how to do their job.


Corey (my first name is not Smith)

I was disappointed that the email didn’t get delivered because the user’s mailfolder is full. Perhaps it was from all the people replying with, “Stop spamming me!” because the email wasn’t CAN-SPAM compliant.

This ‘marketing’ email alone demonstrates a significant lack of understanding how to market. However, their website demonstrates it even more. We can talk about the stupid intro landing page or the flash embedded video. We can talk about the design that might have been impressive in 2002 or the fact that I don’t know which call to action I should pay attention to.

But I won’t talk about those things. I’ll just focus on social media issues.

Marketing in 2011 (soon 2012) requires the ability to connect with your clients via social media… especially if you are in an industry that requires support as their service no doubt does. They don’t have a corporate Twitter or Facebook presence. Looking them up on Twitter, the most applicable tweet was from @paraic where he said:

Dear TalkSeda-GVO, whether you think your unsolicited email can be considered spam or not is not the point #fail #spammers

Stupid marketers.

They are an MLM company so maybe this TalkSeda is one of their ‘representatives.’ Maybe GVO doesn’t even know this is going on (probably not the case). But if GVO doesn’t know, it doesn’t excuse their website and their lack of participation in the social world.

The only real competitive advantage they have is that they are cheap (inexpensive - but they are really cheap, too). I wouldn’t consider using their services if they were free.

Marketers Don't Quite Get QR.

posted this on Friday, December 2, 2011 at about 8am.
Boston Market QR

In 1994, a Toyota subsidiary (Denso Wave) created a unique type of barcode called a QR code. QR stands for Quick Response. It was a great tool for tracking inventory (in their case, vehicles during the manufacturing process). It didn’t make sense from a marketing perspective because the masses didn’t have the QR scanners.

In the last few years, as smart phones have had the capability to scan these codes, marketers have started to use these codes more and more.

Most marketers are not using them properly.

The first application of a QR code for me personally was a year ago as I was buying a hard drive from Best Buy. I went online and found they had the best price but I decided to go buy it in the store. When I arrived at the store, I found the product was $30 higher than the online price. Upon asking for the price match, they weren’t sure if they could so I started browsing on my iPhone. I looked at the sticker on the shelf and noticed a QR code so I scanned it with my phone… it took me right to the product page online which showed the lower price. They matched the price.

It was a spectacular tool for me as a consumer.

I like to view the QR code as a way to link our analog and our digital worlds together. It’s like putting a hyperlink on a piece of paper.

The biggest problem, however, is that many marketers that are starting to use the QR code haven’t quite figured out the fact that if you scan a Web link with your smart phone, your webpage to which it links should be mobile optimized.

Recently, I was in two restaurants… one did it right and the other did it wrong. (I love both of these restaurants so I’m not disparaging them in any way).

Costa Vida

The first restaurant (bad example) is Costa Vida. On the left in the image below is the table tent that shows a call to action. It says, “Join the revolution.” I’m not sure what that exactly means but, notice the bottom right corner of the left image, it says, “Just scan with your smartphone.” It then provides a handy QR code.

On the right is the screenshot from my iPhone. It took me right to his blog. It took me to a page that was not optimized for my smart phone. I could leave a comment on the blog, if I wanted. I’m not sure how to join this revolution or even what the revolution is. This video was loaded by “admin” on Sept. 21, 2011 and, as of the date on my post here, there were no comments on the blog. I’m not sure how many people actually scanned the QR code in their 43 locations but I think that the minimum expectation for people scanning the code is some sort of joining in via an email list, Facebook page, community something-or-other.

Costa Vida

Boston Market

The second restaurant (good example) is Boston Market. On the left is the table tent that shows an even more clear call to action than our Costa Vida example. The QR code is far more prominent. Boston Market also did a much better job of making the call to action very obvious as a benefit to the customer. You’ll notice on the left side is the screen shot of the page that I saw on my iPhone after scanning the QR code. You can see that the page on my mobile device is optimized for this experience. Big buttons and clear text. I know exactly what they want me to do when I get there.

Boston Market

In the end…

There are many other uses for a QR code but linking to a webpage is the most obvious for marketers right now. I think we still have a little way to go before we see QR being using extensively well in marketing in the United States… but I don’t think we are too far. It’s used extensively in other countries like Japan. I think it’s really going to come down to enough companies using it properly.

Your next step is to try it out on simple marketing pieces… but you want to test it every time to

Subscribe to RSS - Marketing