Tuesday, March 28, 2006

"King" Karl to leave the industry

When Tim started this collaboration he asked if I had anyone in mind that I'd like to invite. Karl Wiedemann from Pedro's was the first person I thought of and, luckily he took us up on the invitation to become a Krew member. I call him "King Karl" because he's just so darn good at what he does! Every time I turn around I see Pedro's stuff in magazines, on the web, at trade shows - everywhere! All of that is a result of Karl's hard work.

I've, personally, been lucky enough to work with Karl on a few projects and have enjoyed every minute. He's also one of the best people in the industry to bounce ideas around with; we've done it often and, usually, I come out the wiser. You don't find that everywhere, in any industry.

But, after "9 years and 3 months..." at Pedro's, Karl has decided that he needs a little change. And change it will be - he's moving to a retail giant! He'll be working at Decathlon USA as their Marketing and Business Development Manager. Big, fancy title, huh? Which probably means there is a lot of work associated with it. But, if anyone is up to the challenge it's King Karl.

The bummer about the whole thing is that he'll be out of the bicycle industry where he's been a voice above the crowd. He will certainly be missed. Somehow, I don't think that Karl will leave the love of cycling that is in his heart, though. He is a guy that rides every day at lunch - you don't do that just because you work in the industry (take it from someone who doesn't ride at lunch!), you do it because you are a cyclist at heart.

All the best in your new adventure, my friend.

Posted by Donna Tocci at 4:39 PM 2 comments

Friday, March 24, 2006

Olde School Marketing.

(Before I go any further here; I know it's a Friday night and I'm blogging. Keep it to yourself!)

With all of the technology that exists today, with blogs and websites, podcasts, vidcasts, etc I find it refreshing that there is still a small place in the world left for the good old handshake and face to face conversation. I know that I spend a lot of time here talking about the power of blogging and new/ different marketing techniques, but I still feel much more comfortable looking somebody in the eye and sharing my personal passion for what I do and the sport (cycling) that fills me with so much pride and joy.

In just a few days, I will be climbing onto an airplane, towing my bike case with me, and flying to Australia. Not for a vacation (not officially anyway), but to assist our new distributor there with the launch of Masi in their market. With all of the technology that exists in this world today, I still believe the most effective sales tool at the disposal of a saleperson/ marketer is a smile and a handshake (in my head I can see Donna mouthing the words "I told you so"...).

Once I get to Australia, I will be traveling to meet with retailers, educate the salesforce, meet some consumers, conduct a few magazine interviews and ride my bike with other cyclists. Even the most dynamic website in the world can't do all of that. I could blog until my fingers bled and not accomplish all of that. NOTHING compares to having the chance to either A) talk about the things you are passionate about or B) listen to somebody talk about the things they are passionate about. Yeah, I know, some passionate people are nuts. But I'm not talking about the nuts.

Similar to my trip to Texas last month to work with a retailer and attend their sale, where I got to meet new Masi owners and soon-to-be Masi owners, this trip affords me the chance to speak directly to "my customers" and convince them that I am sincere in my passion for what I do. I don't know about you, but I listen a lot more to people who can convince me of their passion.

In a few days I hope to be blogging from Down Under. I promise I'll test the whole toilet-water-swirling-the-other-way theory. I might even see if I can find a barbie to toss some shrimp onto. But I can absolutely promise that I will be doing my absolute best to talk to as many people as I can, on and off the bike.

Tim Jackson
Chief Kool-Aid Dispenser

Posted by Tim Jackson at 8:56 PM 3 comments

Monday, March 20, 2006

New Advertising: Gamble or Genius?

I just got a look at the March 13, Velonews today. Yes, I know I'm behind.

On the inside front cover is a two page advertising spread, which can't be cheap. Maybe you've seen it. It's two plain white pages with only two things on them. Bottom left of the first page is a red frog; top right corner says, simply, www.willyoumaketheleap.com

Ok, you are thinking that it's cool because it sends people to a website. Yes. I think so, too. However, the ad is banking on your being extremely curious - and the fact that you are reading the magazine near a computer or will move to a computer nearly immediately so you don't forget. It's a gamble, in my book.

What if you aren't at your computer? What if you are past that page by the time you walk from the mailbox to the house, or get off the can or out of bed or wherever you read your magazines? Are you curious enough to remember this little frog after supper and putting the kids to bed?

Say you do remember. You go to the site and you see the same red frog move across the page and then two paragraphs of teaser text (which I'd put for you here, except it keeps telling me that I need the program to run program, which I have! Ugh, Technology...). The short of it is this: there is going to be another choice on April 7th.

Great! I love new choices! Where do I put in my email address to get a reminder to come back on April 7th to find out what my new choice is? Ah-ha. There isn't a spot. Do you need to remember this date? All by yourself? With everything else going on in the world? April 7th? Not a chance, at least not with me, no matter what my good intentions are right now. I am sure 'they' are smarter than me and they will run another ad before that time to remind us feeble minded folks. That is, whomever 'they' is.

I don't mind teasers, kind of like them, actually. I really, really enjoyed the movie teaser for The Ransom. Cool movie that drew you in, gave you a laugh and an aire of mystery. Personally, I would have liked a place on the frog's site to add my email address so I could be in on the cool announcement - because I am curious.

Now, I must mention that two guys in my office really liked this concept at least one said that he would be back to the site on April 7th. I have my doubts....but we'll see. Maybe it is a male/female thing?

And, because I am, admittedly, impatient - anyone want to tell me who the company is that is running these ads? Because, as much as I think I would have done something different, they did something right because I'm here typing away about them. It's all about the buzz, right?

But this is just my opinion. Do you think this is a gamble? Or a big win? Or something in between? Are you curious enough to remember to go back in a couple of weeks?

Posted by Donna Tocci at 3:34 PM 14 comments

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Big Day For The Chief

If you missed it yesterday, the Krew's Chief Dispenser is having a birthday today! That's right, the guy who makes us all look good by posting great conversation starters is turning another year older today.

Please join me in wishing Tim a very happy birthday and a wonderful, healthy year ahead.

Happy Birthday, my friend.

Posted by Donna Tocci at 7:48 AM 3 comments

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Open invite to the cycling industry;

Guitar Ted recently had a little post on his site about the fact that many members of the cycling industry read his site and even interact from time to time. Overall, it's been a good experience to him.

Here at Kool-Aid, we experience the very same thing. We routinely get visits from Raliegh, Specialized, Pacific Cycle (Schwinn, GT, Mongoose, Dyno, Murray, Roadmaster), KHS, Trek, SRAM, Shimano, numerous retailers and other industry companies, many overseas (lots of folks in Taiwan and the UK). Hopefully that means that we are saying relevant things and not just serving as a thorn in people's sides. (Not that the thorn role isn't still part of the plan.)

The sad-to-me thing is that almost none of these visitors has felt compelled or comfortable enough to comment using their names and company affiliations. Some folks have commented freely and I thank you and applaud you. Why more people don't simply amazes me. Why are we paranoid about saying who we are? This site is not a company site with a single agenda, but a place where people who are interested in or, involved in the industry can come for entertainment or enlightenment. The goal of this site, aside from being a little silly from time to time, is to be a relevant source of information and discussion.

With that in mind, here is my invitation (or challenge for those of you who are the competitive types); feel free to "be who you are" and leave comments with your real identity- rather than your Clark Kent identity. Nobody here is going to attack anybody, even the guy/ gal from yesterday who thinks we use too much "borning-ness".

I really believe that the bike industry is too scared of openness and transparency. We have created a culture of fear and worry that everybody is trying to steal our ideas, products, customers, etc. That is the number one reason why I sought to create this site as a collective effort with divergent personalities and perspectives. That way we have a bunch of unique voices and not just me and my potentially biased perspective. I do believe that we can all just get along.

So, Cycling Industry, please continue to come here and visit this site. Please continue to comment on posts and offer your opinions or thoughts. The more voices in the discussion, the better and more useful. If the industry is going to survive, we need more collaboration and less fear.

I'm not scared- are you?

Tim Jackson
Chief Kool-Aid Dispenser

Posted by Tim Jackson at 8:16 PM 10 comments

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Tag! You're it...

Tag lines in advertising campaigns can be good or bad. Some of us think that more often than not, they're bad.

"Tag lines", in this instance, are those lovely little catch phrases usually plastered across a magazine ad or billboard, or even fading from view as a commercial wraps up. You know, the "Just Do It" stuff. (That particular tag line actually works reasonably well.)

One of our readers, Bryan Thombs of Evomo (cycling clothing), sent the following email to get this particular conversation going;

Hello Tim.
Have an idea for a topic... thought I would run it up the ole Kool-Aid flag pole. It seems like a good topic for the bicycle industry and marketing dialog.

Just thinking today about the Evomo brand (you know the clothing company I have created) and I have people (friends, family, industry peers) telling me that Evomo needs a tag line... maybe? As they start telling me this, what comes out of their mouth is ultimately a question more than a confident statement. I also begin to think. Does Evomo really need a tag line? I had always thought no way, never!

Well, personally I scoff at tag lines. I find many of them contrived, unrelated to the brand they are attached to, trying way too hard and just not memorable so why bother even having one. Some also just seem to be telling us what to do, and I would rather decide for myself what to do, thanks.

In many cases the amount of money and time spent having a team of people think up some amazing but simple line, is so unbelievable. Not to mention all the market research and data that finally comes together to present the "ultimate" tag line that some how encompasses everything about the company and its products. It also relates to each and every customer, new and old! I think it's impossible, but does that
"ultimate" tag line some how exist somewhere? Could it be discovered one day by just the right marketing/agency monkey and become the secret hook that convinces your customers that you are the ultimate and thus your sales increase 1000% after the first month?

Now, I am not intending to rip on any company in particular. If it seems that way, it's really just my evil twin which is bitter, jaded and argues with me about everything. Its also just my dissection of a very expensive aspect of marketing a brand that I am entering into and finding completely unecessary, or maybe necessary. I mean, I would like to have my sales increase 1000% and have everyone realize that I am the ultimate, who wouldn't!

It seems that the purpose of a tag line is to be memorable and to let everyone know you are the "ultimate". Ultimate? Really, ultimate at what? I was reading a few new cycling magazines this weekend (which) had me really looking at adverts to see just who has a tag line and what it is. Funny, how right there I was already convinced that a tag line were not important since I could not remember any at all. Well, I remember one: "Just do it". Thats the only one I know off the top of my head. I had to actually look to see what other tag lines there might be.

This is a list of tag lines I found:

Wherever you ride

Redefining disk brakes
Between you and the trail
A better bike begins here
Love the ride
The art of high performance
Simply better
Prepare to ride
Get the grip
Makes any ride better
Drive your passion
Born to ride
Where you gonna yak?
Feel it
We get you

I laugh and figure the same people that write the voice overs for action movie trailers must think this stuff up.

Seems to me out of the 15, one tag actually mentions the product and one cleverly incorporates part of the brand's name. The rest can be pretty much applied to any product for sale on the open market, including cars, detergent, shoes, toilet paper, lawn mowers and denture adhesives. That didnt seem like a good thing to me. Some just seemed lame.

All of this makes me wonder:
Would it be better that the tag line describes the product and/or company rather than just be some incomplete sentence stuck onto a logo mark? What is the purpose of a tag line anyway, especialy if it's so vague? Is the risk of having people goof on your tag line or the company "good publicity"? If a customer (new or old) reads the tag line, does it positively or negatively affect their opinion of the company... maybe they don't really care. I would want to know. Is having a tag line something you have to have? Everyone else has one- so should we.

So there you have it. My 15 minutes of ranting about tag lines.
Hope all is well,

There are a lot of really good points in that email- hence this post coming to be.

Like the title bar of this site mentions; Nobody is safe, not even us, from the slings and arrows of outrageous mockery or simple praise.

So here is the current Masi ad, as seen in the current issue of ROAD magazine;

"It'll move you." I know I'm not going to get a Pulitzer or anything, but it didn't seem bad at the time. We were struggling with placing a bunch of copy in the ad, similar to the first one, or just keeping it simple. We went with the simple. As you can see, it wasn't one of those "Just Do It" moments.

This is just to point out how hard it is to come up with that winning tag line, even when you don't have a print deadline a few hours away. Tag lines are what I have called a "necessary evil" in some circumstances, but they can do almost as much harm as good. Get the tag line wrong and you are stuck with endless mockery and ridicule, which usually is not a good thing.

Now the floor is open to discussion!

Tim Jackson

Chief Kool-Aid Dispenser

Posted by Tim Jackson at 8:04 PM 8 comments

Masi Dealer Makes My Day

Since I've become personally involved with blogging, I've met some wonderful people - all of the Krew here (except King Karl...him I've known for years), Jake, Lee, Tara and a host of others. It's great to be able to share ideas with people across the country and even half way across the world. I've even collaborated with some folks on projects outside of blogging that came to be through this wacky medium. And, I don't need to tell you all how fabulous it is to be working with the Krew. The talent here is just mind-blowing!

But today I had a unique (to me) experience brought to me courtesy of this blog. I opened an email from Bernie and it made me smile. You see, Bernie's a smart guy - his shop sells Masi and Haro and Pedros. Now he wanted to ask me a question about Kryptonite (which he also sells). What the question was isn't important, what he prefaced it with was.....and I quote (with permission).... "I realize you may not be the right person to ask this question, but I figured I'd try you first, since I feel I "know" you through the Kool-Aid blog..."

Tim may be rubbing off on me but I was almost giddy. This was just too cool. I immediately went to Fort Worth's Panther City Bicycle's website and noticed that they also have a blog. Sounds like a very cool shop doing some very cool things. My only concern is that there isn't a Kryptonite sicker on the front window next to the gigantic Pedros sticker. I'm going to have to fix that. Karl won't mind if you put the Kryptonite one over it, Bernie...ok, next to it.

My friend, Jake, is creating some of his own words these days. One sticks with me and I'll borrow it now. Bernie, thanks for the email. It is nice to eKnow you!

Posted by Donna Tocci at 5:24 PM 4 comments

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Power of blogging... again.

My good friend and co-conspirator here at the Krew, Donna Tocci, sent me a Kryptonite press release today. Why? Because she feels that I am an influential blogger within the cycling industry and community. In her own words, Donna says, "Interestingly, I've sent this release to bloggers before the 'traditional' media. You, Chris Lesser and Jonathan were the first folks to get the release. I wonder how many companies can say that?" I wonder too...

I have been seeing lots of recent conversations about the blending of Mainstream Media (MSM) and bloggers. Shel Israel has a great commentary about newspapers, Media Orchard has a great piece about newspapers and MSM outlets and Philip over at Spinopsys has a great one about blogs versus corporate websites. All have very solid points and are very good reads.

As the world of blogging grows (at an amazing rate too) and matures, more and more people like Donna will be doing what she decided to do today; circulate news to bloggers first because of the immediate and viral distribution of the information. Donna's a smart, smart woman and knows a thing or two about the power of blogs. Donna knows that getting news to the right people (MSM people or bloggers) makes a difference. The right people with your news can give the news that much more credibility and then the news becomes that much more impactful. I'm hoping she thinks I can do good things with her press release. I will certainly try...

Without stepping up on my blogging soapbox, yet again, it is important to reinforce the idea that blogs, bloggers and blogging can be very effective tools. Ignoring them can be damaging, as well as just plain silly. As the conversation on Spinopsys points out as well, blogs can be a very effective corporate tool for a brand. I won't even go into details (again) about my own blogging strategies, but it is becoming more and more accepted that corporate blogs can be very effective tools. I don't personally see the new corporate blogs replacing corporate websites. I see them serving two distinct purposes; the blog is the avenue for the voice and passion of a brand or product, whereas the website serves as the primary source of specific information and corporate mission statement. The two can blend almost seamlessly into a very powerful and effective voice.

Now, Donna, I'll get rolling with your press release...

Tim Jackson
Chief Kool-Aid Dispenser

Posted by Tim Jackson at 10:30 PM 4 comments

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Toot! Toot!

This may come off as a bit of bragging, which I can not deny is at least slightly true, but I just have to share this bit of "news".

Toby Bloomberg
, the Marketing Diva, recently interviewed me for one of her Biz Blog Profiles. To say that I am/ was honored is a major understatement. If you've ever read her marketing blog, then you might know why I am so flattered to have been considered for this interview. I have been a big fan of her blog since I first stumbled on it and that could have a lot to do with the fact that I so frequently agree with the things she says. I mean, you tend to like the people you agree with more than the ones you don't... right?

Anyway, I want to extend a great big "THANK YOU" to Toby for the honor. On an actual relevant note, the interview gives the background to why I began the Masiguy blog and what my blogging theories began with. Since this is a marketing blog, this little indulgence in shameless self-promotion does serve a purpose here... lucky me!

As a good friend of mine used to say when I was in high school; "I don't mean to toot my own horn, but... TOOT, TOOT!"

Tim Jackson
Chief Kool-Aid Dispenser
(Thank you again Toby, I truly appreciate the opportunity to talk blogging with you.)

Posted by Tim Jackson at 1:49 PM 0 comments

The Krew in print

The new BikeBiz is out and our own Jill Hamilton has a half page story in it! Her December post, Hard to believe it is that time of year....again... has been turned into a half page print article titled "Why 2007 in 2006?"! Congratulations, Jill! It was a hoot to see, at the end of the article, "This article first appeared on the Kool Aid bike trade blog". Niiiice!

Jill has really raised the bar for the rest of us, now hasn't she?

Congrats, Jill! That's not just fun for the Krew, it's great awareness for your brand.

Thanks for stopping by.

Posted by Donna Tocci at 12:50 PM 1 comments